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Editorial: Slipping through spring

Peter Shokeir | editor@fitzhugh.ca

I’m a bit of a newcomer to Jasper, but I don’t think I’m out of line by saying spring is the worst time for hiking here.

Summer is perhaps the most optimal with the warm weather and lush greenery, not to mention the glaciers exposed for viewing.

Winter presents additional challenges but opens up new opportunities such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and the frozen splendors of Maligne Canyon, plus the various frozen waterfalls throughout the park.

Then there is spring where a few spots of snow stick around and the rest of the ground is a rather unpleasant brown.

This isn’t just a Jasper problem as Albertan springs are notoriously devoid of the traditional springtime motifs – blooming flowers, buzzing bees, singing squirrels – and are instead characterised by lusterless indecision.

Fall might be the only equivalent season, although you could be treated to some striking autumn colours if you are lucky.

In spring too, many trails still have a layer of ice over them that renders them difficult to traverse without the use of ice cleats.

A few weeks back, I tried to make my way through Valley of the Five Lakes and ended up falling on my rump several times.

One person even injured themselves on that icy trail the same day.

Bears are also beginning to emerge, while the warming weather raises the risk of avalanches.

Perhaps the main positive of spring hiking is that the trails are not yet jammed with tourists or littered with trash.

Maybe we just got to wait (and hope) for that sweet spot between the drab spring and bustling summer in order to get the most optimal hiking in.

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