Jasper, Alberta, CANADA | THE EXPEDITIONERS | DESTINATIONS | Travel Guide to the World

Jasper, Alberta, CANADA | THE EXPEDITIONERS | DESTINATIONS | Travel Guide to the World
By. The Expeditioners Roberto
Photos and time-laspe by Roberto & Bella

WHERE: Jasper, Alberta, Canada

WHEN WE WENT: Bella and I experienced the Jasper area twice this year. Our first pass through was the first week of October. The second was again for a week in mid-November.

WHAT WE DID: We went hiking along the trails behind the Jasper town. We bouldered at their municipal wall. We went for a few 2km swim sessions. We sea-kayaked on Maligne Lake. We walked the whole town, several times. We used it as a base for a winter trekking trip. We hiked through knee deep powder. Around stunning Waterfalss and hoarfrost. Until finally, at Berg Lake we experienced a magical night by a glacier..with stunning Northern Lights above. We stayed up all night staring at the sparkling sky. (See the timelapse we took below!)

WHERE WE STAYED: The Whistler’s Inn – Centrally located–just across the street from the train station and in the heart of it all. A lively bar downstairs with plenty of friendly locals. Elk grazing almost every evening in the parc across the street. Super comfortable rooms with ample space. Rooftop jaccuzi. And an uber kind and attentive staff!
Website: www.whistlersinn.com

OTHER THINGS TO DO:
1. Check out Maligne Canyon & Maligne Lake
2. Visit the Athabasca Falls
3. Explore the Columbia Icefield
4. Take the Jasper Tramway to the top of Mount WHistler
5. Mountain Biking what some call the best trails in the world.
6. Ski at Marmot Bason
7. Hike the Bald Hills
8. Of Golf at the Jasper Golf Course…if you;re so inclined:)

HOW TO GET HERE:
A. Drive from Calgary: 5 hours (some of the most stunningly beautiful driving you have ever seen..trust me–we’ve dona lot of driving all over the world, and this drive is the most stunning .. ever! | Drive from Edmonton: 3 Hours and 45min

Jasper National Park is situated 370 kilometers (192 mi) west of Edmonton, 404 kilometers (256 mi) northwest of Calgary and 805 km (500 mi) northeast of Vancouver.

If you don’t have a car, you can take the Jasper Shuttle bus from Edmonton, Banff, Calgary and Lake Louise. Check out: www.jasperadventurecentre.com/shuttle-bus.html

977038_755364007810919_478539280_o

roadtothemountains

Kayaking Maligne

elktown

1467188_754869457860374_701833547_n

1417536_575323482516676_1244763695_o

1403029_750341821646471_508245682_o

1402359_575043505878007_1592069430_o

1401983_754257681254885_1414754871_o

1401474_734081489939171_2005995351_o

1400344_741643592516294_2019372448_o

1398124_750310591649594_1209810169_o

1392046_748807881799865_1862257696_n

1391698_736252686388718_278330181_n

919471_754876681192985_1490645934_o

885296_754381671242486_1912695460_o

What Fits Into a Kayak

The Expeditioners Magazine Gear Guide: What fits into a Kayak?

The Expeditioners concept has been long in forming. It started with my adventures camping Quebec’s wilderness regions, and exploring the most remote places I could find. This video was filmed several years ago–when I was just getting into sea-kayaking. Somehow the videos got a ton of views– but I’ll be the first to admit that they’re somewhat long-winded, and that indeed, my list of necessities has changed some. Like bringing Wellington’s instead of Mountaineer Boots.. but hey, you learn:

Imagine–before coming up with The Expeditioners name, I was considering “Desert Penguin” and “My Wild” !!

PART ONE:

PART TWO:

PART THREE:

Coffee Time in Iceland- Living in a van down by the..

It was mid-winter, the nights were at their coldest. Epic amounts of snow were falling on the island nation–and The Expeditioners Bella and myself had decided to explore the country, and hunt the Northern Lights, by living out of a van sponsored by Kefcar Car Rentals and 4×4’s.

While there was no wildlife to contend with, the nights were long and the days short… and always, we had coffee in ample supply. And as always, we found creative ways to prepare it!

Here Bella is making us a cup of joe as we waited for the Northern Lights to appear!

Korean Thanksgiving in Manning, Alberta

Definitely one of the most amazing things from having embarked on Expedition Canada is that we simply don’t know what the next day will bring, or whom we will meet. Every day is an adventure. A mystery.

After having driven 900km south from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories– and having slept in the truck at a gravel pit off the Mackenzie Highway the night before- we were exhausted and decided to stop by a lovely looking motel (Hillcrest Motel) in the small town of Manning, Alberta. The clock was nearing midnight- but still, a jovial lady greeted us and checked us in.

We chatted with the owner, Agnes, and left her an Expeditioners card. After leaving our stuff in the room, curiosity called and we took a quick walk to look around the tiny town. Yet again, the Northern lights were shining above, but we didn’t have our cameras and so enjoyed the ribbons of green flittering across the sky. The temps dipped, near zero, as they tend to due on optimal aurora viewing nights. And then off to our queen sized bed we went.

This morning Hillcrest jumped on-board as a sponsor (after having perused our sites) and even invited us to their Korean Thanksgiving Dinner. A feast of traditional korean fare like Kimchi was laid out before us, a little beer mixed with a korean vodka-like brew, and wonderful conversation from our host and her friends.

Here are a few photos from our meal, and video of us toasting just as it began!

That’s the wonderful thing with this kind of adventure– you just never known where you’ll end-up for dinner!

Here is where we are staying: www.hillcrestmotelmanningab.com

DSC_2063

The Willow Ridge Retreat

1236041_142545999288543_460737457_n

Where the Cameron River flows out of Prelude Lake there is a perfect venue for watching the Northern Lights Across the sky– the Willow Ridge Retreat.

Truly a retreat for the body, mind and soul. Completely off the grid, you will find full detachment from the world up here. Located 33km from Yellowknife by taking the Ingraham Trail (HWY 4) and then a tiny dirt road, you will come upon this wonderful guesthouse overlooking Prelude Lake. Now this isn’t your average lodging for several reasons. For one, the home is completely off the grid, using solar panels and a wind vane for the home’s electricity. A wood stove compliments the home’s heating system for those like us who love the feeling of a wood burning fire and the crackling sounds of a homey hearth. A fabulous dock leads off over the water– where we spent our mornings sipping coffee and book in hand. (For which I must add the Willow Ridge Library has the perfect and appropriate selection.) Another pathway from the house leads down to a menagerie of kayaks and canoes which you can take out on serene Prelude Lake. But I digress, for it is not even these wonderful things that transported us so– but the skies. The magical skies.

Away from any light pollution, every night where there wasn’t any cloud cover– we watched the Aurora sing her song. We watched them from the house’s Aurora viewing deck. We watched them dance over the lake and we watched them from the dock. But the coup came when moments before falling into slumber, we watched them through our window from our room.

1239198_143893925820417_1681739735_o

Additional Info:

The retreat is 1.2 hectares (3 acres) of property with access to seemingly unending kilometers (miles) of backcountry beauty.

Willow Ridge Retreat offers a unique experience of living off the grid at 62*N with conscious thought of our environment. Guests may be pleasantly surprised how comfortable living with renewable solar and wind energy, supplemented with mechanically generated power, can be. Guests will be invited to participate in energy and water conservation, composting, and recycling. The guesthouse is fully equipped with running water, flush toilet, and shower. Guests need only bring their own food supplies and personal items. All bedding is provided. The kitchen equipment includes a medium sized fridge and a full sized stove with oven.

Surrounded by ice, rock ridges, northern boreal forest, and the vast starry skies during extended dark nights in winter, Willow Ridge Retreat is the perfect place for watching the Aurora Borealis, skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dogsledding, or having afternoon tea in a canvas tent on the lake ice.

Surrounded by lake, river, rock ridges, northern boreal forest, and the vast blue skies, under our midnight sun in summer, Willow Ridge Retreat is the perfect place for swimming, canoeing, kayaking, pedal boating, or bird-watching.

Surrounded by rock ridges, northern boreal forest, and vast skies in all seasons, Willow Ridge Retreat is the perfect place for trekking through backwoods trails, photography, reflection, writing, drawing, reading, building and strengthening relationships, resting, soul seeking, absorbing beauty from surrounding nature, and always: wonder.

Please contact The Willow Ridge Retreat as you are making your plans to discuss which seasonal activities we are currently sponsoring.

Contact Info:

Willow Ridge Retreat
Hosts: Paul and Roseanne Goertzen
Box 1974
Yellowknife, NT X1A 2P5

867.920.2019 phone

Website: www.willowridgeretreat.ca

Price: $250CAN / Night

1233547_142544285955381_897858785_n

1244401_146074998935643_1416269900_o

1267951_704972046183449_373639201_o

1234254_703486256332028_1672510425_n

RGG_1087

RGG_1090

RGG_1202

RGG_1604

RGG_1513

RGG_1458

RGG_1089

Rock Out in the Wild

rockout

Do you listen to tunes when you’re camping or doing adventure sports in the wild? Or do you prefer nature’s sounds throughout your entire camping experience?

On our travels (and in conversations) I’ve found that there are two camps on this debate– those that love it, and those that scoff at listening to music in the bush. Personally, we love it. At the right time. Paddling across a pristine lake at night with the stars sparkling above and a little Enya or Sigur Ros on the earphones truly transports you. Trekking 15km of portages in a day can be awesome with the right tunes on–but without, it can be just grueling. The crackling campfire is wonderful– but add a little Jack Johnson to it and it is sublime.

Granted, there are times when the sounds of the loon are all we need. Like dawn.

So, it’s natural that we’ve gone through all sorts of earphones and speakers on our adventures– destroying many along the way. But through trial and error we eventually found the perfect little sound system for the bush. Enter Goal Zero Canada’s “Rock-Out” Speaker. The magic in this little fella’s great acoustics lie in the fact that the speaker is in a wood box inside of it’s casing–creating rich and great sound. What about batteries? No problem, plug the speaker into your solar panel and charge it up! Or you can simply charge it via USB. Still, neither of these things is what impresses me the most.

What has never ceased to amaze us is how indestructible the Rock-Out is. We’ve filled them with sand on the beach, got them wet kayaking, covered them with snow while winter camping, and dropped them an innumerable amount of times. They really have gone through The Expeditioners test…and somehow…they still manage to rock on.

Funk Factor: Purported to run up to 20 hours on a 2 hour charge–we’ve reached 15 hours!

Learn more about them at www.goalzero.ca

Photo by The Expeditioners Magazine Roberto
In photo you have the Goal Zero Nomad 13.5 charging my ipod mini and the “Rock-Out” Speaker on the left.

The Rock-Out Speaker

Our First Vehicle-Associated Sponsor: HGregoire – Canada’s Centre D’Auto / Auto Center

The Truck

It was a couple of years ago, and Bella and I were in the market for a new truck. The four cars I had ever had were: Nissan Pathfinder, Pathfinder, Pathfinder…and you guessed it, another Pathfinder. All LE Models. And we were looking for The Expeditioners next…you guessed it, Pathfinder LE.

Now, you’re probably thinking, why would The Expeditioners need an LE? As indeed, LE stands for Luxury Edition. For one, we need the leather seats. Have you ever spilled a coffee on a fabric seat? How about a cup of water? Maybe some sand? A little mud? Some snow? Lots of snow? Rain got in? Or your friend spilled his soda and fries? Oil from your bike chain? How about some salt from your winter boots and ski boots? Water from your wet folding kayak spilled everywhere? Oh, your neoprene suits didn’t fully dry before throwing them in the back seat? How about the post camping food-bin…did the maple syrup leak out?

With fabric seats, the liquids will seep into your seat and rot the interior, the salt will leave white stains, the oil from your chain will never come off, the ketchup will be a constant yucky reminder of your buddy, the maple syrup will make everything gross and sticky, and the seats will take a smell reminiscent of a locker-room’s wet towels bin. But with leather seats– if you frequently clean your car, or wipe the ketchup stain of the seat, sop-up the water, or clean the coffee right away– then those little accidents don’t get immortalized. So there’s my argument for leather seats.

Hood

Secondly, is the sound system:) We spend many many many hours on the road. Expedition Canada alone involves over 6500km of driving… one way! And we loooooove our tunes. The Pathfinder LE has a Bose sound system. Looking out the window at mirrored lakes, sun breaking through puffy clouds, your best friend and lover sitting next to you, and the right song on… is just simply superb.

Truck afficionados know that certain 4x4s will just live longer. Many making it up into the half-million km mark. The Pathfinder is such a truck–and it has the power to pull/carry the heavy loads our adventures require. I parted with the last four around the quarter-million kilometer mark.

Now, the small conundrum is the fact that it is an expensive truck.

It’s common knowledge that the moment you drive a brand new vehicle off of the dealer’s lot, you are literally losing 30% of the original value of the car.

This is why, we never buy new, but instead previously owned. With about 70 000km on such a truck, you can literally get it for less than half the price from new. The trick, though, lies in finding the deal.

Bella and I had called every Nissan dealership in Ontario and Quebec, but nobody had what we were looking for in the price range we were looking for. I was getting stressed at not finding something–for in a few weeks, we would be heading off back-country skiing to Gaspesie, Quebec and we were going to be filming for CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.)

HGregoire

We had driven by the giant HGregoire Mega Auto Center on Autoroute 25 in Saint-Eustache, Quebec many times, but had never given it consideration, as indeed, all the previous trucks had been bought through Nissan dealerships. We thought we’d give it a check online first.

We found exactly what we were looking for! A 2007 Slate-Grey Nissan Pathfinder LE with 95 000km. Except there was no pictures…and we were leaving on a trip in a couple of days. Rushing over to the mega auto center, we perused a ton of vehicles (it was amazing the variety they had), but couldn’t see the Pathfinder we had “seen” online.

We were cordially greeted by a super jovial fellow and sales agent named Stephane Pare– to whom we anxiously inquired about the Pathfinder with no photos…and nowhere in the showroom.

“Let me check it out,” he said, and tapped away into his system.

“This one is so fresh it arrives tomorrow morning. That’s why the photos haven’t even been taken. We could have it cleaned and ready for a test drive tomorrow afternoon.”

That’s what I call efficiency! At 1pm the next day we were test driving it.Then we negotiated a little–and added HGregoire’s Premium 3 year or 70 000km warranty so that we would have no worries whatsoever. And then we bought it.

The Pathfinder

In less than 24 hours of having researched HGregoire’s immense inventory (they have numerous Megacenters) we had found our truck, test drove it, and purchased it.

And it was a great deal!

When we picked it up, we had the brief opportunity to meet HGrgoire’s Marketing and Media Head– Michelle Therrien. A very kind and sharp lady that took an interest to our concept. I told bella as we left the lot– “Maybe they’ll sponsor us one day!”

We hopped in our new truck and headed off to pick-up our friends for our Gaspesie trip and then our Pathfinder took as all over Eastern Canada.

Expeds Bella

Canoe Camping

Fast-forward a couple of years to a few weeks ago, and we approach Michelle Therrien about possibly having HGregoire be a sponsor for Expedition Canada.

We had a fantastic conversation on the phone. We talked about our truck and our travels. Michelle had been following our galavanting around the globe since we bought the truck and happily said they would love to sponsor us–and take the major logo placement on The Expeditioners Truck.

I put the phone down, and turned to Bella and said: “Do you remember what I told you when we left the parking lot when we first bought the truck?”

Sometimes, you’ve got to just believe!

Thank you very very much to HGregoire’s team and Michelle Therrien for believing in us!

You can follow our epic journey across Canada via our Facebook Page, Website and Twitter. Make sure to look for the hashtag #ExpeditionCanada and if you’re looking for a great deal on a pre-owned vehicle in Canada, well you know where to go!

www.hgregoire.com

H Gregoire Website

On the road

Diving Africa Part 3/10

DIVING AFRICA
Post 3/10

The streets of Dakar, Senegal were hustling and bustling when we arrived. Vendors hawked their wares. Cars honked without purpose, and people filled every empty space. Not exactly the backdrop I imagined for scuba-diving, but hey..you never know.

The dive shop–named Oceanium was easy enough to find, and was located around an open bar/cafe area, overlooking the Atlantic. We got introduced to our dive-master Mamadou- a tall fellow with a ready smile- who marveled at the quantity of gear that we pulled out of our Jetpacks.

Conversation flowed and we got to spend some time explaining our kit to him and sipped some coffee that would wake-up a 12 year old dead horse. The vibe was like that of most dive-shops, relaxed–but ebbing with an excitement… an excitement to dive.

We detached our bags from the BC’s and prepped-our kit for what was to be our first dive in Africa.

Gear Guide: AERIS Jetpack BC is adjustable to all sizes. From the back, to the shoulder straps to the waist strap–it all adjusts. I’m 6’1 and Bella is 5’4. And the Jetpack fits us both. It was nice not to have to rummage through my checked-luggage for dive gear. Everything was snug in my Jetpack bag section…even my Accel fins!

Find part 1 and 2 at www.theexpeditioners.com

Sponsored by Aeris, Oceanic Worldwide, Lavacore Int’l, Ikelite Underwater Systems

Attaching Jetpack

The Engines

Dive day

Diving Africa Part 2/10

The Expeditioners
DIVING AFRICA
Post 2/10

By visiting different countries (Senegal, Mozambique, South Africa) on Expedition Africa–we really got to tell the difference between cultures. Each country was so clearly distinct from the other– which was fascinating! Likewise, our diving experiences were extremely different in each country. But that’s to be expected from destinations so far apart from each other.

From Dakar, Senegal to Gansbaai, South Africa it is about 6800kms– and from Gansbaai to Vilanculos about 2000kms as the crow flies. We were hoping to get the Sardine Run as well, but alas, it just wouldn’t fit into our scheduling.

Senegal was out first testing ground for our new gear. We were happy that we didn’t have to fidget with the equipment, as dive was challenging to say the least.

When we decided to go to Africa, we knew that a trip to the continent wouldn’t be complete without diving with great white sharks– and so we booked with Sharklady Adventures. Little did we know how up close and personal we would get to be with them!

Our principle reason for choosing Mozambique as a dive destination was in the hopes of seeing Whale Sharks, as Tofo and Vilankulo are known for their sightings. But nature beats her own drum, and from what I understand, those sightings of the gentle giant have become more and more rare. Still, we got to spend some quality time with a giant grouper!

Dive Gear Tip: Taking your AERIS Jetpack as your carry-on is a fantastic solution for flying with your dive kit. But what happens when your plane is a little itsy-bitsy plane who’s overhead compartments are half the size of regular planes? Simple, once you are on the plane and stowing your bag un-clip your BC from the bag section of the Jetpack (making it half the size,) and stow the two sections separately in the overhead, OR put one section in the overhead and the other under the seat in front of you.