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travel / travel magazine / summer 2007

Parkland


Jasper by starlight
Up the road from the bustle of Banff lies its quiet, often unnoticed cousin, Jasper National Park, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year
By Linda Goyette with photography by Mike Grandmaison

MAP: ROBBIE COOKE/CANADIAN GEOGRAPHIC
Click map to enlarge
ONE NIGHT LAST SUMMER, I left my tent after midnight to look up at stars I had not seen before, so clear and so close, and they sent down a question. Where have you been?

When you live in northern Alberta, Jasper National Park is a place you take for granted. On my first visit at 13, slouched in the back seat of the family car with my nose in a book, I muttered the words that defined the snootiness of adolescence to my dismayed parents: "When you've seen one mountain, you've seen them all." At 23, I returned to camp at Snaring River on summer nights and to cross-country ski at Maligne Lake under a soft snowfall. I discovered a place that had much to teach me.

One trip to Jasper tumbled into another, punctuating my life and deepening my attachment to the place. I came to the banks of the Athabasca River to celebrate on the day I learned I was pregnant with my first child. Soon, I was tucking babies and toddlers into my sleeping bag to keep them warm on nights at Wabasso or walking with the same children on twisting trails to find the eight waterfalls along Beauty Creek or the wildflowers in the Valley of Five Lakes. In the flash of a dragonfly, they grew up to pack their snowboards or tattered tents into borrowed cars for independent adventures in the park.



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