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23 August
 

Pootled around Jasper in the morning, booking our rafting trip amongst other things. Then we took the Jasper Tramway up Whistlers Mountain (named after the calls of the resident marmots, not that we saw any. But we did see ptarmigan as well as the now-familiar ground squirrels and bighorn sheep.

The tramway isn't like other ski lifts. There are only two gondolas and the one coming down provides much of the propulsion for the one going up (there must be a scientific name for this) Whilst each one carries about 25 passengers there was a fair queue to get on. This was the only time in the entire holiday that we really had to queue for something.

The top of Whistlers Mountain is very bare and there is a climb of about 200 metres over the best part of a mile to get there. But the view from the top is spectacular. Mountains as far as you can see in every direction. It is impossible to count them all. Parts of the Lake District are a bit like that but the distance of your vision is much, much shorter.

I had the binoculars out and I was watching someone walking the next ridge. For the first time I felt a bit frustrated that we couldn't get further off the tourist track and explore.

In the afternoon we hired a Canadian canoe and went out on Patricia Lake. We discovered:

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they don't work very well with three people in, especially when there are only two seats.

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they don't work very well (even when you've got down to two people) if you're sat the wrong way round and (in effect) trying to paddle it backwards. It's all to do with the balance.

Once we got everything in order we did OK and it was good fun idling around the lake.

Still this was a fairly quiet and relaxing day. I realised how much we'd packed in over the previous week and it was good taking things a bit slower. We explored the lakeshore in the evening and heard the loon song on the lake. I'd first heard of them when I went to Minneapolis; they are the state bird of Minnesota. "Loon" is the transatlantic name for the Great Northern Diver. However I'd not seen or heard them before. Their call is an eerie, gurgling sound.

 

 

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