Alaska, the Last Frontier - Summer 2012 travel blog

gondola panorama view

Natural Bridge

mountain sheep


Banff Fairmont hotel

Emerald Lake panorama

gondola terminal

gondola viewing platform

Minnewanka Loop

mule deer grazing

valley below


valley below

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Natural Bridge

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view from the Banff gondola

The weather gods were smiling today. The day dawned crystal clear and the temperatures approached 70º when we were at lower elevations. In the morning grazing animals were a treat to watch. They are quite accustomed to humans snapping cameras at them and don’t shy away when we approach. The mountain sheep weren’t eating; they were licking, licking, licking the rocks. There must have been some appealing mineral deposits on them we couldn’t see. Mountain sheep ice cream.

The drive around Minnetanka Lake was so much nicer than the day we arrived. We planned to take a boat tour on the lake, but it was full by the time we got there. No matter - the views on the loop drive were terrific.

We headed to the Banff cable car station and rode up the slope with two British ladies; one was so fearful she had her eyes shut the entire time, missing all those great views. At the top we could hike around the crest of the mountain a bit, but snow still covered the path in spots. As we listened to our fellow tourists, we hardly heard English at all. Banff National Park is truly a destination on the world agenda. Peering down from every angle, we recognized the drives we’ve taken the last few days and the town nestled on the flat land.

Then we drove on to Yoho National Park (the name makes me laugh) to Emerald Lake. This park is at lower elevation so the lake was melted and a brilliant aquamarine color. As we hiked around the shore we could hear loud laughter and conversation from the folks in the rental canoes. A gorgeous spot. Nearby a waterfall had carved a hold in the rock and created a Natural Bridge. The water was a brilliant aquamarine color here as well.

The Canadian Railroad had a real challenge coming through this part of the Rockies. The slopes were so steep, the trains could not hold their brakes and went careening into the valleys. Finally an engineer studies the techniques the Swiss had used to deal with such challenges and a tunnel was built in a circle inside the mountain. If a train is long enough, you can see the engine coming out of one side of the mountain while the caboose is on another side facing the other way. Too bad there were no trains to see today.

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