Jasper National Park, Mount Edith Cavell
By Kay Barbaro
Mount Edith Cavell is one of the most historically interesting areas in Jasper National Park and the Canadian Rockies, and also offers a great scenic drive and some great hiking and sight seeing opportunities.
Traveling south from Jasper, follow Highway 93A for 5.2 km (3.2 mi.). Turn right onto Cavell Road shortly after crossing the Astoria River. The narrow, winding nature of this road precludes motorcoaches, trailers and large motorhomes. Trailers can be left at the parking lot at the start of Cavell Road.
The switchbacks begin immediately, and rapidly climb out of the valley bottom. During the winter months, when this road is closed to traffic, it becomes a popular cross-country ski trail. Skiers often stay overnight at the Mount Edith Cavell Hostel before venturing out into the backcountry of the Tonquin Valley. The Astoria River takes its name from American fur trader John Jacob Aster.
Two kilometres beyond the Hostel, at kilometre 15 (mile 9), the road ends at the Mount Edith Cavell Parking lot.
From here, two short interpretive trails show the two sides to life in the alpine. One, the Path of the Glacier Trail, takes you through the debris left behind by the retreat of local glaciers. In its path, it has left mounds of glacial debris (called moraines), rocks scoured and scraped by the passing ice, and two remnant glaciers, the Angel and Cavell Glaciers. The trail ends at a tiny meltwater pond littered with icebergs, and a fine view of both glaciers. The Cavell Meadows Trail takes you above the glacial debris to a subalpine meadow. This is the trail for flower lovers as it explodes into life each July.
Edith Louise Cavell (1865-1915) was a British nurse during World War I. In 1907, she went to Brussels as a nurse, but by 1914 was put in charge of a unit whose main purpose was to help soldiers trapped behind enemy lines rejoin their units. To the German army, this was treason, and she was executed by firing squad. Today she is remembered as a heroine, and to some, a martyr. In 1916, the snow-capped face of this 3,363 m. (11,033 ft.) peak was renamed in her honour.
Highlights: Astoria River, Access to Tonquin Valley, Path of the Glacier Trail, Angel and Cavell Glaciers, Cavell Meadows Trail.
Activities: Sightseeing, photography, walking, hiking.
Location: 5.2 km (3.2 mi) South of Jasper.
Time: Minimum of one half-hour at the meadows.