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Jasper in December - advice/suggestions needed

Melbourne, Australia
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Jasper in December - advice/suggestions needed

Hello All

I will be coming to Jasper for a few days in the middle of December. I already found my accommodation in a lovely B&B so i am just looking for advice in terms of activities/places to visit

So far all i had in mind was to do a nice half day snowshoeing with one of the tour companies in town.

Apart from that i heard that there is a nice trail path all around town that people can use for hiking. I was just wondering though if it is safe for a lone traveller to do that given that i heard many horrible stories about cougars attacking people. is Jasper infested with cougars? what do i do if one attacks me? am i allowed to buy/carry pepperspray around with me?

Thanks for your advice!

Greater Sydney...
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1. Re: Jasper in December - advice/suggestions needed

Welcome to TA. I could not conceive the cold that you will find in the Rockies in December, as a previous summer visitor, although the weather in Melbourne is only a bit warmer in winter. (Joke)

I did a brief search on the cougar thing for you, and have a look at this link:

canadiangeographic.ca/Magazine/mj04/indepth/…

I think that 27 recorded attacks in 100 years hardly constitutes an infestation. More people get injured by Melbourne trams each year than that statistic.

Jasper, Canada
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2. Re: Jasper in December - advice/suggestions needed

Hi! I have lived in Jasper for almost thirty years, am an avid hiker/snowshoer (i.e. out on the trails often, summer and winter) and have never ever even had a glimpse of a cougar. They are out there, but very rarely seen. There were a couple of incidents a few years back with cougars approaching people, but no attacks. To tell you the truth, by far, the most dangerous aniimals in the park are the elk - people assume they are somewhat tame and tend not to give them the space they should, but December is not a time of the year when they are aggressive (calving and mating seasons are).

The town trail (aka Jasper Discovery Trail) is 8 km long and circles the town. Depending on snow conditions, the stretch of it that is on Pyramid Bench may not be the best walking. (i.e. if it is icy). There are lots of trails up on the bench, accessible from town and they are well used by Jasperites, for walking their dogs, running, walking etc. It is perfectly safe to do so by yourself - just keep your eyes and ears open. If you are worried about being in the forest by yourself, the town trail is a good alternative.

If you don.t mind saying which B&B (or home accommodation - most of them do not offer breakfast) you will be staying at (or even a rough location, like "300 block of Patricia Street"), I can give you locations of the closest trail heads. There is a good map of the town online at www.stayinjasper.com that shows them, although the town trail is not on that map.

Pepper spray can also help give you peace of mind, and yes, you can buy it in town (about $40). You can't take it on an airplane though, so will have to leave it behind. Instead of buying, perhaps you might ask your host if they have one you can borrow?

Mid-December is a bit early for snowshoeing in the town area, but the tour companies will likely take you somewhere higher where there is more snow (maybe up to Maligne Lake?)

Marmot Basin should be open by then, so you might consider a day of downhill skiing or snowboarding. Nordic skiing may also be a possibility, although mid-December is generally a bit too early.

Will you have a vehicle while you are in Jasper?

Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: Jasper in December - advice/suggestions needed

I suspect almost all of the Canadian cougar attacks you have heard about took place on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Cougars` main targets are children, who they apparently perceive as prey; an attack on an adult is very unusual.

If you want the full details on every single cougar encounter in North America from 1991 to the present day, you`ll find this website interesting; it is compiled by two cougar researchers. Pay particular attention to the locations:

http://www.cougarinfo.org/attacks3.htm

Melbourne, Australia
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4. Re: Jasper in December - advice/suggestions needed

Hello All

Thanks for your responses so far! My B&B is called 711 Miette Avenue and even though they don't offer breakfast, the place is really amazing and it's not expensive at all.

About the cougars up until a few months ago i was not worried about them at all but then i watched this documentary series (True stories) called "I Survived..." and one of the stories was about this elderly couple who went for a hike in one of the many California national parks and they were brutally attacked by a cougar and the man was so badly injured that he almost died. Anyway i wish i hadn't watched that documentary because as they say "ignorance is blissful" and sometimes it's best to not know things if one wants to enjoy themselves without unnecessary worrying/fear.

Are those city trails that you mentioned popular/busy in winter? If i see other people hiking can i ask if i can join them or would that be rude?

What about the downtown area? are there lots of nice shops?

what are some of the best/most popular restaurants where i could eat

i imagine being in a mountain area there must be some place there where they make the best pancakes with maple syrup yeah?

Thanks!

Jasper, Canada
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5. Re: Jasper in December - advice/suggestions needed

711 Miette Avenue (accommodation name, as well as their address) is located right in the centre of town, very close to downtown (about five minutes' walk). It's a great location for someone on foot because it's so central.

On this map of town - http://www.stayinjasper.com/map.html - you will see that trail access to the Bench is located just a short block or two away, at the bottom of Maligne Avenue. That trailhead also provides access to the Discovery Trail (town trail). You can also access trails that head out toward Jasper Park Lodge from Hazel Avenue (Trail 7 along the Athabasca River, Old Fort Point). Chris and Nancy, the hosts, are nice people, and active - they would be a good source of info for you and could point you toward the nearby trailheads.

The trails close to town are generally quite well-used, with runners, walkers, people out with their dogs etc. so you will meet others on the trail. I'm not sure about asking to join other hikers - I suppose some would welcome the company, and others would not.

Jasper is not California, and while we do have cougars here, they are very wary and rarely seen. *All* wild animals have the potential to be dangerous (elk, moose, wolves, coyotes are all around in the winter; bears are hibernating) but seeing animals while out on the trail is not that common, and aggressive encounters are *extremely* rare. Things you probably do everyday, like crossing busy city streets or getting in a car, are much, much more dangerous, statistically speaking. You should keep your wits about you while hiking and always be on the look-out for animals; try to avoid them or give them a lot of space (normal precautions, just like you would look both ways or wait for a crossing light before crossing a busy city street, or wear a seatbelt in a car and drive at a speed relative to driving conditions etc.).

Downtown Jasper is two blocks long and two blocks wide. Jasper is a town of 4500 residents, with a big influx of tourists in the summer, and a smaller influx of tourists and skiers in the winter. There is a good tourism infrastructure - shops, restaurants etc. - but keep in mind, it is quite a small town. Shopping is better than it used to be, with a few interesting shops but most cater to tourists (souvenirs, t-shirts) or outdoor activities (outdoor wear, usually expensive brands like North Face and Patagonia and equipment - skis, snowboards, bikes, camping, fishing etc.)

Smitty's is a restaurant chain/pancake house that has a location in Jasper and has pancakes, waffles etc. It's not someplace that particularly appeals to locals, so I haven't eaten at the Jasper one in many, many years and can't comment on it. I have eaten at other Smitty's locations, and they usually have a very large menu of breakfast & lunch meals. By the way, I am not aware of any restaurant that serves real maple syrup with pancakes, it's usually the maple-*flavoured* syrup. (Real maple syrup is quite expensive... but there's nothing like it.) O'Shea's is also popular for breakfast & lunch and would, I imagine, have pancakes on the menu. There are quite a number of cafés - my favourites are Café Mondo and the Bear's Paw Bakery (or The Other Paw, their other location). There are also lots of restaurants.... Greek, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese etc. along with "Canadian" - what type of meal are you interested in? Most have menus posted at the street, so you can check them out when you are wandering around downtown.

6. Re: Jasper in December - advice/suggestions needed

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