Tags: banff

2003 - July - Banff Canada

by admin  

July 27, 2003 - Sunday

0335  -  On the road again??. We headed north on I-405 in the dark, a little ahead of schedule. Our stops were familiar, the rest area just south of Bellingham for starters. We went east on Highway 11, then north on Highway 9. The sun was rising; saw Mt Baker in the distance, fields of blueberries and corn in the morning sunlight. The border crossing at Sumas was quick, they didn?t even require ID. Beautiful countryside in B.C, lots of cornfields, cattle ranches, small towns. The mountains seem to be all around us! We snacked on dried fruit. We took Highway 5 off Highway 1, saves some time. Highway 5 is a toll road, $10 Canadian. We stopped in Merritt, BC again this year, for breakfast. It?s a small town in the Nicola Valley, just as we came down the mountain. We remembered eating at the Coldwater Hotel last year, and wanted to stop again. Same waitress, friendly, good food, and this year we had Canadian money. We filled up with gas and headed out at 0900.

I called Sonya. Taylor?s birthday party was yesterday and he got sick afterwards. It was a hot day, lots of excitement and he played hard (tumble bus). Sonya said he slept soundly so she woke him at 0400 to give him something to drink. He kept it down and wanted more. Yeah!!

We saw the beginnings of a forest fire, with planes flying overhead, just outside of Kamloops. Hope they get that under control.

1530  -  (Mountain Time) We arrived in Golden, BC. We?re getting close. Filled up with gas again and continued on. It?s still sunny, beautiful views of the Rockies, which we didn?t have last year because of the clouds. This was part of the reason we wanted to come back (plus the exchange rate). We?ve seen several waterfalls, some very looooooong ones.

1700  -   We arrived at the campground. There was more traffic this year so even though we left earlier, we got in later?.we think?

Our campsite is D-43. We got the tent set up, and then went into town (Banff) to get a couple of food items. We ate at a Tex-Mex restaurant (not great), then came back to the campground. Scott went to get some wood, we built a fire and finished setting up camp.

Our tent was warm inside tonight, not much breeze outside.


July 28, 2003 Monday

We got up around 0730, I slept well, Scott was too warm or too cold. We made coffee!! Why does it taste so much better when we are camping? We ate breakfast, oatmeal with cran-raisins, and juice. We thought about showering but there were way too many people with the same idea. I called Kelly to see how Tommy was doing, he?d had a fever before we left and still had a temperature of 103, so Kelly was taking him to his doctor. We had decided this would be our tourist day, so we went to see the Hoodoo?s (rock formations dating back hundreds of years) not too far from our campground. There was a short trail that led to a viewpoint. After the Hoodoo?s, we drove through Banff, then up to the gondola on Sulfur Mountain. I wasn?t crazy about the idea of riding in this thing up the side of a mountain, but??up we went. A little scary (for me), but not too bad. We had lunch at the gondola restaurant, then followed the trails at the top. The views from the top (~7500 ft) were spectacular in all directions. We walked further up to a little hut where an explorer had lived?wow, really isolated, but on top of the world. Excerpts from his diary were quite interesting.

We made the gondola trip down with a couple from Chicago.

We did some shopping, had ice cream, picked up ice and headed back to the campground.

For supper we made pasta, and had fruit, sliced tomatoes and peppers. We had stopped at the wine store last evening and gotten 2 bottles of Canadian wine, so we had a ___________ cabernet franc, pretty full bodied but good.

After we cleaned up dinner dishes, we showered while the opportunity was good, and went for a 30-minute bike ride around the campground area. Very few empty campsites, lots of families. When we got back, we built a fire and made smores. Scott called his mom to see how she was doing. She said that Debbie, Mark?s hopefully soon-to-be ex-wife had taken off on a new Harley with some biker guy she met. Good for Mark, but probably another bad decision for Debbie.

2200  -  We put out the fire (we thought) and went to bed, not as hot in the tent tonight. I suddenly noticed what looked like flames dancing on the wall of the tent. Scott looked outside, the fire had rekindled itself, he got more water and doused it a second time. This time it worked.


July 29, 2003 Tuesday

0645  -  We got up, made breakfast, packed our fanny packs and left for the trailhead. We started our hike at about 1015. We had decided to hike the Arnica Lake Trail, approximately 5K (3.5 miles) into the lake. At the start of the trail we dropped down about 1.4K to Vista Lake, then started climbing and never stopped until we got to the lake, about 2 hours and 45 minutes. This area had a fire in 1986, so for a portion of the trail we were in a 17-year growth forest. It is sunny, warm and uphill; we had to stop a few times. We passed through brushy areas, the thought of bear crossed my mind frequently, but thank goodness, we never saw any. Beautiful vistas, we could see the parking area way below. We climbed to 2150 meters (7054 feet) at the lake. It seemed a lot longer than 3.5 miles. There was no one else there, we took a couple pictures, had lunch, swatted mosquitoes and flies, then headed back down. We?d seen a male grouse right next to the trail going up, and saw the female and baby going down. We moved in a little closer to take pictures, and they just sat there, so hopefully we got some good pictures.

1600  -  We stopped in town, got ice, and returned to the campground. Tonight for supper we cooked sausages over the fire, and had Greek salad. We didn?t feel up to a walk after hiking, so made a fire, had chocolate chip cookies (2 each) and Peter Herring. Very yummy treat by the fire.


July 30, 2003  -  Wednesday

We got up around 0715, had our usual breakfast, and got ready to go biking. My front gear rings are stuck, so Scott adjusted it to at least stay on the middle ring. We went over to Lake Minnewanka and biked maybe 2.5K over very rough, some shale-like terrain, with steep drops down to the lake. It looked like a rock slide (which it wasn?t, we learned later from a biker who regularly bikes this trail) on the trail so we turned around and went back. There was a herd (5) of stampeding mountain sheep on the trail going back, so we pulled off and watched them go by and cross over the bridge. We reloaded out bikes on the car rack and drove over to the Cave and Basin area, where there is a trail that runs along the river. Nice day for a bike, we headed out and didn?t ride too far before we stopped at a bench by the river for lunch, then continued on the paved trail to where it turned to the right and on to gravel, the Healy Creek Trail. It was hard going, uphill and loose gravel for the first quarter mile or so. Then the trail dropped down quite a ways and just seemed to wander with no end in sight. We didn?t know where this trail was headed, plus there were quite a few berry patches (bears!), so we decided to turn around and go back. Just as we made that decision, we met another biker (named Nick), from Calgary, who told us what was ahead, also he?d seen bear scat and there was a reported bear in the area yesterday. So??.we continued on. Nick said we could follow him. It turned out to be a good ride, past the river then over Healy Creek to a parking area. We stopped there, rested, and from there rode on the freeway back to the turnoff to Vermillion Lakes. There we said thank you and good-bye to Nick. We followed the trail back, went through town and back to the car. We think our ride was about 20K (15 miles)-very nice and nope, we didn?t see any bears..

When we got back to our camp site, Scott picked up a small load of wood, we cooked supper; soup, corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes. We made smores over the camp fire.


July 31, 2003  -  Thursday

0530  -  Rise and shine! We dismantled the camp site, packed up and were on the road by 0705. We saw a herd of elk as we were leaving, they were back in the trees so pictures may not be great. We got coffee and gas in Canmore.

1650  -  We arrived at the motel in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, unpacked basic stuff and decided to walk to the Boston Pizza on Main Street North for supper. It ended up being a longer walk than we thought, but worth it. We shared a small Greek salad, had a Tuscany pizza and beer. Fabulous pizza! We had to leave some behind, that was hard. We walked back to the motel, saw a colony of ground squirrels and their burrows on the way back.


August 1, 2003  -  Friday

0630  -  We planned to get up around 0530, but both woke up around 0515 so we got up, showered and walked over to the small restaurant for breakfast, but it didn?t open until 0700. We?d eaten there last year, so it must be opening later, we think? There didn?t seem to be anything open so we decided to start driving and find somewhere along the way to eat breakfast. About 0830 we stopped at the Weyburn truck stop for breakfast. We had tried to stop at a little gas station at Rouleau, but the fellow there said it was just a movie set, not a real gas station.

Weyburn is a quaint little town. It is park-like with a river running through it and iron work stalks of wheat at intersections, very picturesque.

On to the border??..

1200  -  We had to pull over at the border and open the trunk. This was kind of a pain as we had to remove the bikes and bike rack. We had thrown our leftover fruit at the duty-free store, so we passed inspection. We called dad and mom because it looks like we will get in later than we had planned.

Sights: There was a herd of cattle crossing the road, being herded using ATV?s (South Saskatchewan). Then in ND on Highway 52 a crop duster passed just in front of us on the road (a little unnerving) and a deer jumped out on the road on Highway 28.

We lift Bismarck around 1600 after getting gas and arrived in VC at 1750. Dad and Mom look great, it is so good to see them.


August 2, 2003  -  Saturday

We had washed some of our stinky camp, hiking and biking clothes last night, so this morning we packed a few things and headed down to the lake house in Minnesota. It was initially windy and cool but cleared up some later in the afternoon.


August 4, 2003  -  Monday

We?ve had beautiful weather at the lake the last 2 days. I went swimming with Sarah and Rachael, lots of frogs on the beach. We went back to VC by way of Horace, ND, to see Scott and Deb?s new house. They are building it south of Horace along the Sheyenne River on a large wooded lot, the site is beautiful. Deb wasn?t at the house, so we stopped by the clinic to see her.


August 5, 2003  -  Tuesday

A little cloudy this morning, it rained during the night. A lazy day, we did go out to Sue and Rod?s farm in the afternoon then met Sue and the girls at Pizza Corner for supper.


August 6, 2003  -  Wednesday

We went on a bike ride out to Lake Ashtabula, approximately 24 miles round trip. We saw deer, cranes, hawks, pelicans, and an owl. At the dam there were several pelicans at the bottom of the spillway, we got pictures. On the way back we stopped at Faust Park (used to be Faust Dam). We also stopped at the fish hatchery, and from there, took the road into Maryvale, living quarters for nuns. It is a very peaceful, serene setting. We got back to Mom and Dad?s around 1230. Nice ride, rolling hills, good road, friendly people.

Today is Mom?s birthday. We drove down to Fort Ransom for supper. Dad gave us a ?little? tour of the town, with its ski area, new houses and downtown (approximately on block long). We looked around in a craft store, then went over to the café for supper. Scott bought a raffle ticket for a quilt that will be given away toward the end of September, during Fort Ransom Days.

Addendum: Unfortunately, he didn?t win the quilt.


August 7, 2003  -  Thursday

0500  -  We are on our way back to Seattle. Mom brewed some coffee this morning for us to take along. We stopped at Perkins in Bismarck for breakfast, then drove through a thunder and lightning storm with rain on the way west.

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