What I (Sharon) got up to on my birthday. The campsite we stayed at in Jasper was in the middle of the forest and we arrived to see a Caribou wandering around rather happily – a Caribou is a kinda big horned deer. I woke up the next morning to happy birthdays from the others and cards to open from home – thanks to all those who sent them out, it was lovely to know people were thinking of me even though I'm miles away! I quite fancied the idea of horse riding, so David kindly booked this up while I had a fab hot shower and returned to pancakes for breakfast.
The horse riding started at 1:30 so we headed into town before hand. Jasper is quite a pretty but touristy town, it is one of the nicest we've seen in Canada so far. We got to the stables and pointed to our horse for the next hour or so. Mine was called Jackpine and was a lovely gray, while David had a skewbald called Cloudy. It was Western style riding, where you have the reins in one hand, rather than the more uptight English style where you have to hold the reins in a particular way, that I've done before. I really enjoyed the difference, it felt much more relaxed and was much more suited to the sort of easy going trek we were doing. The ride took us past three lakes and plenty of beautiful mountains. We didn't see any animals, bar one small furry brown thing running past the trees, but the scenery was stunning and it was great to see it in a different way to usual. David's horse had a sense of humour and decided to scratch his belly on a small fir tree, leaving David a little distance behind – he soon caught up though. Although it felt like we were out for quite a while, the trek soon came to an end.
Returning to Jasper, we met up with the others, who had been hiking or biking, and headed to a brewpub for steak. Since the desserts didn't take our fancy, we bought ice-cream and went up to a lake that was supposed to be good for spotting moose and beavers. We didn't see either, but we did have gorgeous views with our Ben and Jerry's. The others surprised me by bringing out chocolate cake with musical candles and singing happy birthday, it was a wonderful moment in an awesome setting. Afterwards we headed to another lake to see animals, and were rewarded with sights of lots of jumping silver fish, an inquisitive red squirrel who David thought was more ginger really, and mink who showed us their home burrows.
At the campsite, we had some beers around the campfire – a great way to have spent my birthday.
The next day, we were headed to the put in for a river section only to find out paddling was banned since that section was under a conservation scheme for some sort of birds. However, we chose to have breakfast here since we were surrounded by the most curious stripy squirrels, that were so tame that they would come right up to you if you were still enough. They were obviously after food, which we didn't give them, but they were fantastic as they placed their tiny paws on your hand and you could feel how soft their little furry bellies were. I didn't want to leave, but restrained myself from inviting one into Macy. There's photos of these encounters, which we'll add to the gallery some point soon.