2010 Race 2 Finish travel blog

we started the day with this view of the prairie ahead of...

Trans Canadian Highway 1 - heading west


Siksika is one of the tribes of the Blackfoot Nation

this is the Siksika reservation in south central Alberta

a bridge on the Bow River

the Bow River flows east out of the Canadian Rockies

we start to encounter a few low hills

we are still passing prairie wheat fields

not to mention oilfields

but you can feel the landscape starting to change





still a canola field or two


our first view of the cloudbank over the mountains


the hills are getting higher and we can see the foothills of...

farms are smaller and the crops are hay


out of Longview the scenery changes fast

we are leaving this

and entering this!










we found a turnout and stopped to take it all in

prairie flowers are getting scarcer

and mountain flowers are starting to appear

Indian paintbrush

we are in the mountains now

our first view of high country in many months







with scenery like this it's hard to keep your eyes on the...

but you have to or you'll hit one of these

it looks like a goat but it's a mountain sheep

and it has no fear of the traffic


we stopped so Madolyn could take some pictures of the flowers









while she was taking pictures I was watching the sheep and the...

these three women on bikes approached him

but the sheep held his ground

making them and the traffic go around him


before he went back to grazing

Ha! guess I showed them!

I'm being too considerate here - I think I'll move farther into...

movin' on



more longhorned sheep

now we're starting to see snow on some of the peaks






we're approaching Nakiska - the '88 Olympic Alpine venue

doesn't look very 'Alpine' this afternoon - and the gate is closed

but you don't get very far in this world if you let...

in '88 those flag poles flew the flags of every country that...

that hill brings back some exciting memories

the men's and women's Downhill races were on those runs

and we rode that ski lift a few times - then and...

some of the slaloms were held on other runs



Mount Allen - they built a special ski lift to the very...

a rope tow and it's still there but they don't use it...

in '88 we never dreamed we'd be back here in 22 years...

but here we are - and it's great being back!

leaving Nakiska

the last few miles of the Kananaskis Valley


we stopped briefly at this Indian Casino to take advantage of their...

then we headed for our campground at the Provincial Park


our campground is on the Bow River

across the river a small refinery is working all night

Alberta has something for everyone


Today we drove from Alberta’s flat-as-a-pool-table plain, to it’s watch-out-for-falling-rocks mountain range. A change like that can be a shock to your system - especially when you do it in a couple of hours!

We’ve been in Canada for six weeks now. We’ve zigzagged north and south, as we moved from east to west. We’ve seen a lot - but none of it prepares you for the Canadian Rockies. This is rock on steroids. Rock pushed up by some incomprehensible force, then tilted on it’s side to make it photogenic. On the plains you can see a grain elevator for miles. Here you can’t see past the mountain in front of you - and that’s usually pretty close.

We shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not like we haven’t been here before. We saw these mountains first in 1988, when we spent 17 days at the Calgary Winter Olympics. Since then we’ve returned twice, driving the Icefields Parkway and skiing at Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise. We even skied Nakiska once. I did the hardest face plant of my life on the course where Pirmin Zurbriggen won the Men’s Downhill Race in ‘88.

But flatland makes us forget the majesty of this place. Where every view is so riveting you can run off the road (or hit a mountain sheep) because you can’t take your eyes off the peaks. Where you want to point your camera at everything around you, and hold the shutter down until your battery goes dead. This is the most beautiful scenery in Canada - and it doesn’t get much better than this in the rest of the world.

Coming from the east the landscape changes gradually. First from flat plain to gentle rolling hills, then from gentle rolling hills to higher rolling hills. But you’re still on the prairie when you first see the mountains. Actually the first thing you see is the cloudbank over the mountains - the cloudbank that lives there and never leaves, dumping rain in the summer and snow in the winter. In a few more miles the mountains take shape, stretched across the horizon as far as you can see.

We came in thirty miles south of Calgary, entering the range on Highway 40 through the Kananaskis Valley. The road follows a river through a succession of provincial parks. Several parks warn of mountain sheep on the road, and they are definitely an obstacle and can be a hazard. They are used to cars and they ignore them, standing in the road while cars thread their way around them. The traffic jam is made worse by people stopping to take pictures of them.

Toward the end we came to Nakiska and we turned in to take a nostalgic look at the ‘88 Olympic Alpine venue. The road was closed, but I walked past the gate and took some pictures of Mount Allen and the ski runs. A rush of good memories came flooding back and it was good to see it again.

Highway 40 ends at Highway 1. Here you can either turn right and go back through Calgary to the prairie, or you can turn left into the most magnificent scenery you’ll ever see. We turned left and grabbed the first campsite we came to. Tomorrow is another day, but for tonight we need time to acclimate. Scenery shock is seldom fatal but it can take time to adjust.

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