After one false start last year having not booked well enough in advance for what was the lone three bedroom cabin at the preferred accommodation near Jasper we made sure to book a year in advance for a three night stay over the August holiday long weekend this year and the long anticipated family escape arrived much to everyone’s delight.
We turned into the parking lot for Becker’s Chalets and after a short check-in were unloading baggage, food and ourselves into cabin #33, a vintage three bedroom riverfront chalet that sleeps six in two bedrooms with one double bed in each and a third with two twin beds and next to nothing else in the way of furniture save for a luggage stand. The cabin while cozy – too cozy as it turned out for some – oozes rustic Rocky Mountain log cabin ambiance and commands a prime location closest to the riverbank that overlooks the raging Athabasca River. This amazing view can be soaked in from the comfort of brightly high back wooden chairs and my family and I enjoyed this vantage point for long spells over the long weekend.
The little cabin’s allure was added to when staff informed us that Marilyn Monroe had stayed in it for a short time in the summer of 1953 while filming “River Of No Return“. You can tell updates have been made since then, walls moved and doors refitted but everything was in good working order and for a three night stay it was all I’d hoped for. The hot weather provided an unexpected bonus as we left the screen windows open all night and let the river’s rhythms relax us to sleep. It must’ve been this mountain air that helped me sleep more soundly than I had in months and for that I am grateful.
The height of the summer season saw many white water rafts of all sizes floating past Becker’s and screams could be heard as the boats traversed the small rapids. The aquatic adventure proved enticing enough for me to plan my own river run for a 50th birthday next year.
While two thirds of the family was at Becker’s a third was nearby at Wapiti Campground which is only a ten minute walk through the woods as a few of us discovered near the end of the stay. The mainstay of any camping experience is of course the campfire and so it was that most nights we gathered to catch up and swat mosquitos in unison while roasting marshmallows on their own or in s’mores.
Not having visited Jasper for decades I was looking forward to cycling into town on my trusty mountain bike kindly brought up by the family of campers. Becker’s is only a few KM south of Jasper on the Icefields Parkway, downhill outbound and uphill inbound though luckily it’s a pretty manageable incline. Once in town I locked my bike up and walked around coming upon a local bear who seemed fairly harmless.
Truth be told a few scant hours after my ride family who were in Jasper town site after an afternoon at Pyramid Lake spotted an adolescent bear observing the rules of the road and crossing at a marked pedestrian crossing. Luckily my ride was without wildlife interruptions as it might’ve been almost unbearable to have a four-footed friend follow me back to the cozy cabin.
The Wapiti Campground had a babbling brook nearby which proved endless hours of entertainment for my nieces and myself as we searched for special rocks or managed the water flow.
A morning excursion through the twisty roads leading to the foot of Mt. Edith Cavell, named in 1916 for Edith Cavell, an English nurse executed by the Germans during WWI for having helped Allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium to the Netherlands, in violation of German military law. A 2012 landslide changed the terrain as tonnes of snow and rock fell from a hanging glacier into the pond at the base of the mountain causing a mini-tsunami to send a cascade of water & mud into the valley below. The public walkway is at a higher elevation and numerous warnings are posted discouraging ill prepared hikers from venturing down to the Cavell Pond in case of more changes in the mountain landscape.
A mountain retreat is a really nice escape with family every few years and I look forward to exploring more of the mountain parks in the years ahead from both land and rivers.