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Canadian Rockies Adventure                                                       Bookmark and Share
Taste of Calgary, Banff Nation Park, Lake Louise, Jasper & Yoho
August 11th through August 20, 2006



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There’s a secret in Canada just north of America. A pristine wilderness, that when you see it, makes you wonder if you should even tell anyone. In fear that it will be so crowded on your next visit that it will some how lose its magic. This gem of the north is even more beautiful then Glacier National Park in Montana. Which just happens to be part of the same mountain range. I can now see where Glacier National Park gets its awesome beauty. Some of the people I met there said that there are no words that can fully explain what you see. I’ll tell you some of the words that were used a lot here that will give you some idea. Empowering, Inspiring, Fascinating and Wow! But still, each person will have his or her own interpretation and personal feelings about this place, which makes it even more intriguing.

This adventure started in the city of Calgary in Alberta Canada. Host to the 1988 winter Olympics (Population of about 1,000,000 at an elevation of 3440 feet). The Focus of this trip was the National Parks but when we landed in Calgary my friend and I thought we should spend a little time here to explore. And just our luck it was "The Taste of Calgary". A huge display of tents offering sample size portions of all kinds of food from local restaurants. I tried about 15 different types of food and loved each one. To top that off, there was a special section dedicated to the local drinking establishments. Samples size drinks of all kinds of beer, micro brew, wine and mixed drinks. Add some live music, nice weather and an assortment of young beautiful faces, and you end with a really nice experience and a full belly to top it off. I asked some local people to explain all the young faces and they all replied that the average age of Calgary is around 30 years of age. Why that is, no one said. Calgary is growing and is a nice looking city. There’s also Princes Island Park right next to the city, which was perfect, especially after eating all that food.

The next day, after our visit to the Calgary Tower, it was time to do our final food and supplies shopping before heading out. Good idea to exchange some money at this time. Even though everyone in Canada takes US dollars you’ll lose a little in the exchange. We bought a 5-gallon reusable water container from the grocery store, which came in very handy. We also bought Primus stove gas (4 season mix) from Mountain equipment co-op for our campsite backpacking stoves. One stove being my JetBoil in which Primus Power Gas worked fine. Also the all wheel drive Ford Escape we rented was perfect for 2 people with gear without having to Strap items to the roof.

Time to head for the mountains. On the drive you’ll pass some green rolling fields along the way. We stopped for lunch in Canmore “big head” (Population about 13,000, elevation 4,318 ft). Nice town.

Next stop, Banff National Park established in 1885. The oldest National Park in Canada and third oldest in the world. The word “Wow” is used a lot here to describe its scenery. The town of Banff is the highest town in Canada at an elevation of 4,537 feet. The park service charges a lot of money to be in the parks (17.80 a day for 2 adults) but I really didn’t mind because I believe it’s worth it, as long as most of that money goes towards the parks preservation. First site was the Hoodoos. Next stop the Banff Springs Motel. Right below the hotel is the Bow River and Bow Falls. The Vermilion Lakes 1 through 3 is nice to see especially before sunset. We Camped out at Tunnel Mountain Campgrounds (23.00 a night w/showers for 2 people). The next day my friend went to the Upper Hot Springs Pool while I took a ride on Tunnel Mountain Drive. The next attraction was the Banff Gondola. You can either hike up then gondola down, gondola up and then hike down or gondola both ways which ever you prefer. Next stops were the Cave and basin National Historical Site. Then the Golf Course, the Spray River, the Canada Place and then Lake Minnewanka, which I bet some English people would get a kick out of that name.

Everyone I met on this trip was really nice.  A lot of different nationalities. Everyone was smiling and enjoying the scenery, which made it an even more pleasant experience.

 Next stop Lake Louise. Time for our first major hike, it didn’t start out that way though. I always leave room to be spontaneous. The time we spend in each place is always left open too so we can be flexible depending on the weather, mood and things we end up doing. Like this 7 hour hike that included the Plain of 6 Glaciers, (5.3 km one way, elevation gain 365m, about 4 hours round trip except when you add the Big Beehive and Lake Agnes via the Highline Trail, then it’s 14.6 km tour and over 5 hours round trip not including 2 tea house stops). We kept hearing thunder on the way up on the trail and while we were near the top. We couldn’t figure were it was coming from, until the glacier broke as we were leaving, it was an awesome site. Some of the local wild life here are definitely not shy too. Next was the Tea house (lemon aid, apple pie and chocolate cake. We met a nice women from Kentucky on the trail. I called her Miss Kentucky because she was pretty enough to be a pageant queen. The funny thing about traveling in the parks is that you end up seeing some of the same people at the different places you visit. Which is always funny. We saw Miss Kentucky and her mom in 4 different places along the way. We also saw a couple of other hikers too at other places, hello everyone! We hiked up to the Beehive, down to Lake Agnes then to the next tea house (water and a cheese sandwich on some awesome bread). Then we hiked back down to Lake Louise. The only thing about the hike I didn’t like was all the horse manure on the trail. The last horse in the group should sweep don’t you think?

The local campsite at lake Louise was full but they said we could use the showers here because the other campsite they sent us to, Protection Mountain, about 15 miles away, didn’t have any. We had some really nice campsite neighbors. A Canadian family of 3 that let me roast some of their marshmallows at their fire. They also shared some insights on places and even gave us a map, a very cool family.

 Next was Moraine Lake. Hiking the trails beyond the lake require groups of 6 or more hikers because of grizzly bears. I love the way people speak here. The words like “A”, “ fur sure” and “no worries”, which I think they got that one from Australia.

Next was the Ice Highway to the Columbia ice fields. Great Lakes along the way. Bow Lake, Peyto Lake and Mistaya Lake. After the drive over Sunwapta Pass we did a nice hike on Parker Ridge Trail (2.7 km one way, elevation gain 250m, 3 hours round trip) Starting in the trees then going above 2200m which is above the treeless alpine zone.

Next was the Columbia Ice Field Athabasca Glacier across the street from the Ice field Center. Camped out at Wilcox creek campground. Next day was Sunwapta Falls then Athabasca Falls. Our traveling is a little aggressive and fasted paced at times. Like kids in a candy store, running around to see what other incredible things are around the corner. The whole time I’m dreaming though of a future return that would be a much slower paced and more laid back because this is a great place to escape and disconnect from everyday life. Families, especially the kids, need escaping once in a while too. Just as long as the children don’t drive there parents crazy while they’re vacationing. That would be a shame in this place. But even freedom must have a little restraint at times and we should all have awareness of other people’s peace of mind while traveling.

Next stop Jasper National Park. Cool town. Nice food. Next site was Mount Edith Cavell (3367m). Next stop was Medicine Lake. Then Maligne Lake, the largest lake in Jasper at 22km long with the deepest part at 97km. We camped at the Wapiti Campgrounds next to the Athabasca River. Next stop Jasper Tramway. Great views, one of Mount Robson the highest peek in the Canadian Rockies at 3954m. Next was Lake Beauvert. Then a Lake swim in Lake Annette and Lake Edith. We even saw some Mountain goats, a Coyote and a Inukshuk.

Time to leave Jasper. After a 3 hour drive back down we visited Yoho National Park near Field, British Columbia (named for a Cree word expressing awe). Camped out at the Kicking horse campground next to the kicking horse river and Takakkaw Falls (254m or 833 ft.), (means magnificent in Cree). We ate at an awesome restaurant called the "Truffle Pigs Cafe & General Store" in the town of Field. The best brownie desert I ever had in my life and great food as well. Next was the Emerald Lake. Great hike around the lake with different sceneries on both sides. The next stop was the Natural bridge which was right down the road.

From Yoho it was 3 hour drive back to Calgary were we spent some time on 17th ave., which has plenty of outdoor restaurants and clubs. Next was Nose Hill Park to take one last breather and too get ready for the flight home.

The things I loved the most.  How the color of the lakes change when the sunlight hits them at different times during the day. The same for the mountains, oh the mountains, so mesmerizing. The air, how fresh, cool and crisp it was. I was constantly taking in big breaths in hope of some how storing the air in my lungs to take back home with me. The water falls, their sound, their power, their spray. The rivers and river stones. The trees. The Wild life. The wild flowers. The sunsets, the sunrises and all the happy faces you saw along the way, who were all more then glad to share this magnificent place with you. It would be impossible to see it all, but this was a great start. Someone mentioned that tourism is down here, which is really hard to believe after seeing all this beauty.

 

Trip Itinerary
From August 11th to August 20, 2006  (9 days & 1,500 miles of driving)
(2 days Calgary, 2 days Banff, 2 days Lake Louise, 2 days Jasper & 1 day Yoho)

7 Nights Camping, 1 Night Hotel, Rental Car, Gas, Park Passes, Food, Round Trip Air Fare all costing approximately $1,500.00 in US Dollars for each person.

All photos on this trip were taken without a tripod with my pocket size

Leica D-Lux 2 Compact Digital Camera 8 MP.
I was very happy with the convenience and quality of photos.

The Canadian Rockies Super Guide (Paperback)

 


 

Wade Davis: Gorgeous Photos of a Wilderness worth Saving (video)
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