Archives for: July 2002

2002 - July - Banff Canada

by Scott  


0400   -  We got up at 0300, finished packing the car and we were on the road, after getting gas, by 0400. We picked up a paper, it was Sunday, and the headlines said that all the trapped miners in Quecreek, PA, had been rescued alive! We both got goose bumps.

0615   -  Customs/Border Crossing at Sumas. We needed our WDL only. We headed north on Highway 5, a toll road. What a beautiful drive.

0845   -  We stopped in Merritt, BC for breakfast at the Coldwater Hotel and Restaurant. Good food! , but we think we were gypped on the exchange rate.

1730   -   We arrived at Banff and went directly to the Tunnel Mountain Campground. Scott drove the entire way; I was weeny with my back thing from the accidents (ugh, that?s another story). We were worried that we might have trouble getting a campsite, since they don?t take reservations, but didn?t have any problem at all. We set up camp, used the canopy for the first time (good investment, it rained!), went to get firewood, then built a fire, had cheese and crackers, meat and wine, and sat by the fire. We went to bed around 2200 and collapsed. Long day but all worked out well.



0745   -  We got up and headed to the washroom, which we found was heated and had hot water. What a treat after last summer at Glacier Park where there were no showers and only really cold water. We made coffee, and had oatmeal with raisins for breakfast, thinking we would go for a hike, but it started raining! We saw squirrels (2 varieties, one very fat) and ravens. They were >1 foot tall. Nice people at the campground. We got dressed and went to town, thinking if the weather improved, we could get in a short hike later. We went souvenir shopping and just walked around town. After lunch, we drove out along Vermillion Lakes (3) and took some pictures, then went through Banff to the Cave and Basin Historical Site. There were sulfur hot springs/mineral springs up behind the building; really murky water with white plant life. The trail headed away from the site (cool now but not raining). This is the Sundance Trail, is a paved trail that goes along the Bow River. It curves to the left after 2.7 Km and heads up Sundance Canyon another 1.2 K, where there is an unpaved trail that goes up along the falls and loops back to the paved trail, another .75 K. Mosquitoes galore!! We headed back but took the Marsh loop, and unpaved trail that runs along the Bow River. We saw a herd of elk, some with ear tags, approximately 20 feet in front of us. We got pictures, then just waited until they moved on.

After our walk, we headed back through town, stopped at the grocery store for ice and the makings for smores (Scott has never had them). We went back to camp, had pasta and fruit for supper, then made smores over the campfire in the evening. It rained a little at night but the temperature wasn?t too cold.



1000   -  We headed for Lake Louise via the Bow River Parkway. There is supposed to be an abundance of wildlife along this road. We saw a dead squirrel and that was it. We hiked 1.5 miles up Johnston Canyon, saw both the lower and upper falls as well as many in between. Years of history here. The upper falls wall is called a Living Wall, made up of algae, lichen, etc.

Back on the highway, we saw Castle Mountain Cliffs on the right side. Next stop, Lake Louise, and a huge, beautiful old hotel. The weather was freezing cold with rain. We started up the trail along the lake, the sun came out, the views were fabulous. We hiked 5 K, up a trail more rocky and difficult than we had anticipated. There is a teahouse at the top (6900 feet). We stopped and had hot chocolate, then hiked the additional 200-300 feet to the Plain of the Six Glaciers at 7200 feet. It is called that because you can see six glaciers from that point. We could also look back on the Chateau way below. Scott hiked the additional distance along a narrow trail (not me!) that gives an excellent view of Victoria Glacier (around the bend and to the left) with the Abbott Pass Hut at the top of the glacier (9585 feet). It was cold, blowing and hailing up there! We essentially ran down the rocky trail until we got out of the weather. Boy, were we sore and exhausted by the end of this day. We took the freeway back to Banff, stopped to get ice, ate supper and went to bed. It rained hard and the temperature dropped tonight. When we got up in the morning, we could see fresh snow on the mountain peaks.

What was the Hut used for?



Usual laid back morning, coffee, oatmeal, washed dishes. We were at the Bourgeau Lake Trailhead at 1100. This is a gated trail, fenced along the freeway, with a one-way gate to get into the trail. This was done to protect the wildlife, to keep them from getting on to the freeway. This was a soft forest trail for about the first 100 yards, then started climbing and never stopped. We climbed 2200 feet and 7.4 km. This took us up into the Massive Range, along Wolverine Creek; spectacular falls and then up into an alpine meadow and Lake Bougeau. Many ?friendly? ground squirrels, but no mountain goats or bighorn. The many colored flowers in the meadow were beautiful. I failed to mention, probably a Freudian slip, that we saw bear scat (per Scott, I wouldn?t know it if it jumped up and bit me) on the trail coming up, as well as fresh digging in the moss (for bugs??). The trip out found both of us pretty sore, probably from the cold, long, wet strenuous hike the day before (Lake Louise). We headed to town to get gas and wine, then back to camp. After supper we showered; wait, I think we showered before supper to try to help our sore muscles. Then took down the canopy, what a useful item, and packed up what we could.



0815  -  On the road to Moosejaw. We were so lucky, it didn?t rain last night, so the tent was dry. We aren?t as well packed, but it?s all in the car. We couldn?t see any mountain peaks leaving the Rockies, the clouds were very low.

We had lunch at Tim Horton?s in Brooks, Alberta. Very good, they bake their own breads, we had good soup and a sandwich. No rest areas in Alberta!!!!

1400  -  Entered Saskatchewan. Rest areas are abundant! We arrived in Moosejaw at about 1730, checked in at the Thrift Lodge, then went to supper at Wayne and Laverne?s, a restaurant near by and recommended by the motel owner. We walked around town a bit; there are many old, beautiful buildings. One Zion church was dated 1906. We went back to the motel, watched David Letterman (out of a Detroit station). Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed.



We got up at 0600, had breakfast (good food) at Veroba?s in Moosejaw, and then headed OOT. The border crossing was uneventful, we ran into our first road construction in N.D on #52 at Kenmore. The HS graduating classes since ?78 have put white rocks on the hillsides with their year of graduation.

Things we learned:

  • Alberta has one rest area on Highway 1 across the entire province
  • Always wear boots when hiking, even if we don?t think we?ll need them (Lake Louise hike)
  • Dress in layers, the weather changes every 20 minutes
  • It would be a good idea to exchange some US dollars before going across the border-exchange rates once you are in Canada are inconsistent