Although the plan was to get up early and sneak out without paying, our morals got the better of us and we paid for our stay anyway. We headed on up to Lake Louise herself at about 7am and expected it to be pretty quiet. The roads there were pretty icy and and washrooms were locked- not by a lock but by a huge block of ice- but still there were several loads of tourists ready and waiting to take photos. What your desktop backgrounds of Lake Louise don't show you is that a)that is from a very small bracket in the year when the lake isn't actually frozen and b) the Fairmont hotel grotesquely overlooks the hotel -something that would surely not get planning permission these days- adding that tacky touristy touch that this part of Canada does so well.
After the necessary photo opportunities we got back on the road to Jasper which involved a drive through the Icefields Parkway which is renown to be one of the best drives in the world. There were countless viewpoints along the road but really the whole road was one continuous viewpoint of vistas and frozen lakes. The one trail we attempted definitely would have required snow shoes as my boot kept getting stuck at the bottom of the two foot snow drift I had just waded through. The view at the end was stunning though but we couldn't help wondering how great it would look if the lakes were as turquoise as the brochures - still there was a nice feeling in the idea that less people see this side of the Rockies.
As we travelled along the parkway we would stop off at the same lookouts alongside a familiar group of campervans that left Lake Louise with us but then at the Columbia Icefield we were suddenly joined by queues of tour buses that seemed to appear out of nowhere. If we thought we had been smothered by tourists before then this was something else! Other notable stops along the route was the Peyto Lake and Mistaya Canyon which was much more peaceful and allowed you to take in the views in peace.
The only campsite open in Jasper was called Whistlers which was south of the town and cost $32 for dumping and electricity - which was much cheaper than I had expected. Funnily enough as we were checking in we saw our old Argentinian neighbour from Banff - hopefully he won't miss the wifi here. We however were all pretty excited to have electricity for a night so went charging crazy. The group explored the 700+ site campsite before deciding the toilets were an excursion alone and so were ready for dinner when they got back. We spent the evening enjoying the perks of electricity by watching films and Paul and Gabby went a walk involving close encounters with elks and lots of mosquitoes