The trip from Jasper to Banff was nothing less than 180 miles of magnificent scenery. I have included many more pictures but believe me we took five times that many. I figured you may be getting tired of the glaciers. I know we have seen at least 50 in the last three days! They have so many that they don’t even name most of them. We left early this morning and the sunrise in the mountains was spectacular. If you ever get the chance to drive the Icefield Parkway, take advantage of it and “Just Do It” as Reebok would say!
We arrived here in Banff National Park a little before noon and quickly had camp set up. The site we have is a full hook-up pull-through which is nice but the Jasper sites were much more private and larger. We do have cell service and I was able to shoot the satellite without much trouble so we also have DirecTV for a change. I still have no internet though so I don’t know when these blog posts will be posted?
After setting up camp, we went in town to the Visitor’s Center and got some info on trails we can hike and what to do in general. Banff, the town, is much like Jasper but is much larger (over 9,000 population) and seems more quaint and pretty. There are flowers everywhere downtown and at the different businesses. It is hot. It was in the 80’s in the shade but the sun is really, really hot when it is on you as we are at about 5,000 feet elevation. We even had to turn the A/C on in the Mothership for a change. :) We also found a Chili’s to have lunch.
After lunch we took a drive around a nature loop that was supposed to have Bighorn Sheep and we found about five but decided to go back later in the evening when it cooled down a bit, especially since I had forgotten my camera again. We did go back and saw a bunch of sheep. There we three different groups, the largest having 10 sheep so we got to see more than 20 overall. One walked right over to my window so close I had to roll it up to keep her head out of Libby. I think she was looking for a handout so someone had obviously broken the rule about not feeding wildlife. The groups also had some young lambs that were cute.
Saturday we first went on a hike of the Fenland Trail. This is a two kilometer hike on an interpretive trail that was very educational. They had displays every so often explaining how that area of the trail was used by nature, both plants and animal. It had everything from deep forest to lowland marsh to creek side terrain. It was also one of the prettiest trails we have hiked. Doris’ knee is doing much better so that was just icing on the cake.
We then drove to Lake Louise along the Bow Valley Parkway. It was a beautiful drive though we didn’t see any wildlife. We got to Lake Louise and found it to be jam-packed with tourists, so much so we couldn’t find any place to put Libby. The nerve of these tourists to come out on a Saturday and ruin my vacation!!! We came back home and decided to try again tomorrow.
Well, we decided not to put up with the crowds at Lake Louise and take a couple of hikes on Sunday. The first one was to a place called “Cave and Basin National Historic Site.” This is an area at the edge of Banff that is home to sulfur hot springs that have created a unique environment for this area of Canada. The springs feed a small pond that never freezes over and is home to many species that normally go south in the winter such as mallard ducks and killdeers. It had a short trail where we walked through some of the environment the springs create. We were glad it was short – you do know what sulfur smells like don’t you???
Afterwards we went to Lake Minnewanka just north of Banff. You have probably seen a picture of it recently as it has been all over the news. This is the lakeside picture that the squirrel popped up just as the shutter was taking the picture of the couple. It is a beautiful lake at the base of a few mountains and is fed by the Cascade River flowing through Stewart Canyon. Our hike here was about two miles long back to the canyon. We encounter Big Horn Sheep on the way but they were polite and waited for us to pass on the trail before they went down the same trail behind us! :) The restroom there was really unique in that it had a large rock garden in front where people had constructed many different symbols called an Inukshuk. These are ancient stone symbols that are found in Northern Canada and Alaska that symbolize the safe passages, natural shelter and good hunting. Since they were frequently in the image of a human, they provided a secure and comfort feeling to the lonely traveler.
Our last item here was a viewpoint overlooking the Bow River coming into Banff and the Hoodoos on the side of the hill leading down to it. This overlook is only about a half-mile from the campground and is on the same mountain. Those of you that have been to Bryce Canyon in Arizona should know what Hoodoos are as they make up the whole canyon there. This little thing here doesn’t really do the name justice.
Tomorrow we head for our last stop in Canada – Waterton Lakes National Park just above our own Glacier National Park. I will probably be unable to get this posted until we get out of Canada. I just realized when I went to post this that I had forgotten to take pictures of the campsite here in Banff – sorry.