Travel: Nature Trails, Jasper, 2015

What can I say about Hinton, Alberta? It’s a beautiful small town about four hours by car from Edmonton. I’ve taken both the bus and the train to Hinton since I don’t drive. The train was a lovely experience – but it took forever to arrive in Hinton.

Whenever I visit Hinton, I stay at the Black Cat Guest Ranch owned and run by Amber and Perry Hayward. I also met the talented Hilary Shannon while staying at the ranch.

Now, I haven’t been to the ranch in a few years. It needs some tender loving care and some major updates to the guest rooms. But if all you’re interested in is a spot to park your trailer for the night – or a warm bed and cozy fire to enjoy – then please do stop by this cozy little ranch.

Over the years, as a solo traveler, I met some amazing friends while staying at the ranch. I remember chatting over breakfast with bikers who were touring Canada for the first time. And then there was the night that I did whiskey shots with the Irish couple and the American couple who couldn’t decide whose whiskey tasted better.

In the end, we were all winners. Or losers. It was a great night – also hanging out with my new pal from Germany, Astrid.

The last time I was in Hinton was in 2015. I went with a new friend for the weekend. This not driving business is fine because I live and work downtown. But it sucks when I want to take off for the weekend. I have to rely on others to get me there and around town.

The town of Jasper is only 45 minutes north of Hinton. On our 2015 stay, we drove up to Jasper for the day and took to some of the nature trails. There were Asian tourists everywhere that weekend. EVERYWHERE.

Looking back at these photos makes me feel a little sad. The first picture – shows just how much devastation from the forest fires there were that year. It had been a very dry and hot summer.

Black and white photo series:

My camera was coming to the end of its life on this trip. The quality of the photos were not great. It kept shutting off and the made this horrible noise when it took pictures. So, I did the black and white thing for some of them.

We did however get lucky with some wildlife photos. Unfortunately, I missed the photo op with the black bear that all the Japanese tourists stopped to see.

Here are a few more photos from the trip. You can see how bad the fires were. The devastation was heartbreaking to see in person and the smell of burned trees will be forever embedded into my brain. I’ve included a few photos of the ranch. Our trip was short – but we had fun wandering through the trails.

If you’re looking to visit Jasper or Banff – go during the week in off season. September tends to be less quieter with all the kids back in school. Avoid long weekends like the plague. Prices go up and there are tourists everywhere.

Also, Asian tourists. Please do not approach the animals. Especially the bears. This is so dangerous.

Enjoy the pictures. Stay safe while traveling.

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