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Sunday 3 Jun 2007
Jasper, Canada

White water cometh!

We were pleasantly surprised to discover that we had miscalculated how much time was left before the car had to be returned, and in fact we had an extra day!

So rather than start heading west back toward Vancouver today, we decided to take a white-water rafting trip!

Finally settling on a rafting company, within an hour we were off on a bus to the Sunwapta River along with a German couple, plus 2 Canadian/US couples. We decided on the Intermediate course which would cover grades 1 to 3 (Grade 3 is like a rough sea... the grades go all the way up to Grade 6, which is basically a waterfall!).

Kitted out in our padded gear, we hit the water of Sunwapta river and it didn't take long into the trip before we encountered white-water turbulence. It was intense.. we had our own paddles to help guide the raft through precarious rocky waters as if our lives depended on it (which in a way, they DID!). We zoomed by sink holes and swirling eddies while getting some fantastic views of the world's second longest mountain range.

We obligingly had to down several mouthfuls of the river water in the course of the trip, and I announced that I thought it tasted fine, at which point the guide 'helpfully' informed that the water shouldn't be drank as it can give you beaver fever (which gives you serious diarrhoea!)... cheers for the advance warning guy!

The company provided a photographer to take some shots of the trip.. you could then opt to buy a CD for 30 dollars!

Luckily for us, the bus back to Jasper had a fuel-leak, which delayed the trip back by an hour. As compensation they gave us the CDs for free. Joy! Laugh

On the route back we passed by a herd of mountain goats. Now I was pretty sure I had seen mountain goats before (just looked like normal goats, except with a small beard that stuck on the end of their chin), but these creatures were among the most unusual I've seen in a while: they had thick pure white long-long hair like a lamma with a very regal looking full beard. They were about as large as Shetland ponies; rather huge for goats I thought.
In fact a lot of the animals we've seen on this trip have been larger than the norm: such as the sheep with their HUGE curled horns on their heads. Elks are as big as 2 deer in Ireland, and moose are larger than horses!

That afternoon we headed up to the beach I had seen yesterday on my bike trip at Lake Annette. The water was a little chilly, but so clean... I swam out a couple-a hundred metres until the depth was around 10 metres and could see the bottom so clearly.

Jonny decided to sit this one out on account of the cold water! Wimp!

Our plan that night was to drive up to the Miette Hot Springs and camp in nearby Pocahontas.

As we drove up to Pocahontas, we started to notice distinct differences in the climate on account of the hot springs and sulphur spewing into the air. Wisps of cloud floated between valleys of deep green tropical forest. The scenery couldn't get more New Zealand-esque than this.

Now to Pocahontas camp ground. Oh man, this was such a joke. The camp ground itself was fine, but the real problem presented itself as soon as you left your car: Mozzies!

The place was full of them.

Jonny got attacked on his head (for some reason) and I got about 7 of them on my leg within the first 5 seconds. They were fast little buggers.
Quickly the 7 became about 50. We were literally swarmed!

We drove to a spot that may have less mozzies. Jonny got out to "test" the area. He went off to have a wander while I sat in the car waiting. 5 mins passed when suddenly the door whizzed open, a freaked Jonny jumped in and slammed it behind him.

"We're going!" ... "What happ...", I begin to ask .. "GO!" he interjects.

Evidently the man was scarred for life after what had just happened.

I think we can safely say this place is the worst mozzie nest we've ever encountered. Even beats the one I saw in New Zealand.

Apparently the reason we never saw mozzies in Two Jack lake in Banff is because it was significantly colder.

We camped that night back in Jasper town...

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