November 25, 2000
Everyone should see the Jasper Park Lodge, whether staying there or not. Its lobby, dining rooms, and other public areas are furnished in an elegantly rustic style that recalls a bygone era of travel. Most guests are housed in individual cabins. We enjoyed a casual lunch in the Emerald Lounge and a stroll through the shops before leaving the hotel. The front lawn slopes gently down to Lac Beauvert, a blue-green glacier fed beauty. We found that the paths around the lake were closed for elk calving season, but the view from the terrace made up for our inability to get too close.
The stables are a short stroll from the hotel. They offer lessons and a variety of trail rides of different durations. When we got to the stables, we knew we had made a wise choice. It’s always a pleasure to see horses that are well cared-for, and the Lodge obviously does an excellent job in this area. Sleek, glossy, and well-fed, the horses were also gentle and well-trained.
Our ride took us first along the shoreline of the Athabasca River. Why wasn’t this shoreline closed to humans as the lake’s had been? Well, a human on horseback is larger than an elk, therefore the elk won’t bother a horse and rider. We didn’t see any elk, but our ride along the shore was enlivened by a pair of osprey -- a type of eagle -- attending their young in a nest near the river.
After a pleasant ramble by the river, the path narrowed and turned upward. We began to climb slowly through a forest of conifers. There were few flowers in the early spring, but the woods on either side of the path sparkled with hundreds of tiny, lavender "fairy orchids." The dappled shade, beautiful surroundings, and easy movements of the horses combined to create a relaxing , quiet two hours on the trail. I was sorry to say goodbye to my new friend, the gentle and patient Bob, and I left him with a kiss on his velvet nose and a promise to come back and visit him again. I hope someday I’ll be able to do just that.
A visit to a brand-new foal in the barn, followed by a cold beer in the Emerald Lounge, completed a wonderful afternoon.
IF YOU PLAN THIS TRIP: Reserve ahead of time. Dress in your jeans, but you’ll be most comfortable in a pair of shoes with heels rather than sneakers or hiking boots. The Lodge offers rides for all skill levels.
From journal Toronto to Jasper on "The Canadian"