A vivid recounting of a personal adventure in Jasper, Canada, highlighting the exploration of its majestic wilderness and diverse wildlife. The narrative encapsulates the beauty of rivers and mountains, the thrilling encounters with animals, and the reflective lessons from a wildlife tour.

Discovering Jasper: A Journey Through Wilderness and Wildlife
Today I have a largely free day in Jasper and I've planned an evening trip to view some wildlife that comes out closer to sunset. Therefore, the day is left to me. I have no specific plans, so I decide to explore the surroundings of Jasper on foot.
To get a mental map of the area, think of something like a layered cake or pie. At the bottom of the cake are a couple of layers of the town of Jasper itself, where a couple of roads, like two slices of pie crust, house all the buildings and restaurants. The next level up is the railway line, which I arrived on. It includes not only the train station but also many containers and other structures related to rail transport. This place is a kind of centre of industry in the area.
A little further, slightly above this layer of the cake, flows a rather wide river. In this case, it looks like a greenish-white, frothy cream that's been added to this pie. Because the water flows from glaciers, it has a very characteristic whitish, cloudy colour and is not transparent.
On the other side, at the top of this cake, there's a large hotel, which I believe is the only one in this area that has its generator and feels great regardless of any problems with the local electricity supply. Also there, a whole network of walking routes depart, which is where I plan to go. 
After a cautious walk through a small grove, memories of my previous day's bear observation make me vigilant, not particularly keen to repeat such an encounter. I quietly cross to the other side of the river, capturing various photographs, admiring the graceful way the water skirts the islands, and the rocky terrains studded with spruces along the riverbanks. 
Crossing a sturdy iron bridge, I find myself at the foothills of a mountain covered in local herbs. Signposts indicate a trail called "Red Squirrel Trail," but I get the feeling I've somehow missed it and ended up on a different path - a deviation I don't regret. If I had more time, I might have chosen a more civilized road, possibly leading to the aforementioned grand hotel on the other side. However, my route goes upwards.
I begin a slow ascent along a trail leading up a mountain that seemingly hovers over the river and its banks. Often, I pause to capture the panoramic views unfolding from the top. The river appears particularly enticing from this height, sprawling out like a whimsical octopus tossed here by some miracle. 
My gaze carries me further, the climb is not too tough, but one must be careful. The trail, made of coarse, exposed stone, ascends sharply, offering no bush or object to grasp for support. One must be careful not to trip and fall down the cliff. Gradually, I ascend higher, spending approximately an hour and a half to reach what seems like a flat plateau.

This vantage point allows me to survey the surroundings, to take a series of photographs, particularly lured by the distant horizons of mountains and forests extending as far as the eye can see. Off in the distance, I can also spot areas where wildfires continue, though they serve more as a backdrop to the overall picture, an episodic part of the scene. The air is clean; there's no feeling of burning or any misty haze. 
I indulge in photography, despite the river and groups of people floating on it, becoming small dots amidst the vast landscapes. The winding rivers, nestled among spruce forests, and the brightness of the day all make for a breathtaking spectacle. Preparing for my evening wildlife-watching trip, I return approximately the same way I came
As evening falls, a minibus arrives to take me on a wildlife-watching trip. It's known that animals are more active in the evenings and mornings so this is the time when I have the best chance of seeing some. In these parts, one can certainly spot various types of deer and in more humid areas, moose. As I've already experienced, there's also a considerable number of bears in the surrounding areas. 
However, initially, our route does not venture far from the city. Across the river lies a lavish lodge, with large green plantations spread around it, something midway between a forest and a park with laid-out paths. Our route first takes us there, where due to the ample supply of grass between trees, we can spot grazing deer. 
While the scenery is pleasant, I have mixed feelings about this experience. Essentially, I could have reached this area on foot, without any vehicle, and observed wildlife purely with my naked eye. Yet, according to the tour rules and local laws, if you spot an animal, you are not allowed to exit the vehicle or approach it, which limits active engagement and interest. 
Ironically, these rules don't seem to apply to those who happen to be walking along the road or driving their vehicles. Ignorant or disregarding these rules, they get to observe the animals without a glass barrier, thereby enjoying a more authentic wildlife experience.
This tour, in some ways, seemed to impose more restrictions than what I might have experienced without it. However, the deer we saw were moving from one side of the road to another, not coming too close, but not viewing humans as particularly threatening either. Their main concern was finding grass. During the rutting season, it can be dangerous to be around them, when their rutting season starts the males might perceive a human as a rival.
However, one positive aspect of this trip was the opportunity it provided me to see the local landscapes at sunset from a different perspective. We quickly passed by Medicine Lake, circling closer to the smaller lakes, where we again encountered a group of deer blending in among the darker foliage. 
Nevertheless, out of all the tours I have taken in this area, this was probably the least interesting. It gave me the impression that to truly experience the wildlife, it might be better to explore on foot, going out for a few days rather than trying to capture glimpses of them through the windows of a minibus.

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