Sunday, May 22, 2016

Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada – 11th Stop on our Trek North to Alaska

Rain is forecasted as we depart Cochrane.  This is not good for Alberta's camping enthusiasts as they kick off the summer season with Victoria Day on Monday.  We took the wise advice of Canadians Rick and Cary from the Heavy Hauler Escapees Forum and booked reservations in Banff for the “holiday” weekend at Banff National Park’s Trailer Court, which has water, sewer, and 30 amp electric.  Not to mention a lot of Columbia squirrels, and a boat-load of poop specimens.  Guess this campground is inhabited by deer, elk, and bears in the “off” season!

Suspected Campground Pooper


We experienced some delays with road construction on Route 1 enroute to Banff.  Good thing they are working on this road—it is in desperate need of repairs. I thought I’d suffer whiplash from bouncing around the backseat so much!


Well, the weather forecasters picked a fine time to be right for a change!  We have had varying degrees of rain throughout our time here at Banff National Park.  But we didn’t let it interfere with our plans to tour this magnificent park.  Once we set up, we hiked along the Tunnel Mountain Loop and visited the Hoodoos.


The rock formations here are different than in our northwestern U.S. National Parks:  they are not as colorful and have more jagged peaks due to increased glacial activity.  Nevertheless, they still offer commanding views! I’ve been trying to figure out whether the mountains here are exceptionally high or the clouds are hovering extremely low.  Me thinks it is a combination of both!  


On Friday we drove along the scenic Bow Valley Parkway.  We strolled along beautiful Lake Louise, but Victoria Mountain was a bit shy, hiding behind clouds.  We visited the lovely Fairmont Hotel, where we all partook of their complimentary Wi-Fi!  Just look at these data junkies!


Mike and Claudia - Data Junkies Getting Their Fix

We were disappointed to learn that the tea houses were not open yet for the season.  Ditto for Lake Moraine!


We cheered up considerably after stopping at the Bow Glacier outlook, where we had our first up close and personal grizzly bear viewing!  Several other folks were in the area for the viewing as well.  We were all careful, staying inside or right outside our cars along the road, since the bear was only about 50 feet away, far less than the recommended safety zone of 300 feet.   Of course, there is always one moron in the crowd.  “Numbnuts” starts to enter the meadow and the bear’s comfort zone, causing the bear the growl and take a step forward.  The guys in the car next to us were shooting video and said they hoped to upload a bear mauling onto Youtube.  Daddy, always a hero, got out of the car expeditiously, and just like Marshall Matt Dillon, had his right hand at the ready to “take aim”.  No, he didn’t have a gun, but bear repellant in case the bear charged “Numbnuts!”  Fortunately, the bear’s message came across loud and clear to “Numbnuts”, as did the ass-whooping his wife gave him when he got back into his vehicle!


Almost forgot to take a photo of Bow Glacier with all the bear excitement!


We continued on to the Peyto Lake overlook, traversing the still snow-covered trail of Bow Summit.  Absolutely stunning shade of blue water at the junction of the lake and stream.


We started Saturday morning at Bow Falls, climbing the steps to the overlook like Rocky at the Philadelphia Museum of Art! Mike, who we affectionately refer to as our “Uber driver” was successful in getting us valet parked right outside the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, so we were able to admire this superior example of luxury built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1886 AND get some much needed free Wi-Fi.
We dipped our hand in the Banff Hot Springs, but decided not to partake of the “pools” here.
Instead we headed to Minnewanka Lake, Banff’s largest lake, and hiked the Steward Canyon Trail.  Known as the “Lake of the Spirits”, Lake Minnewanka has been revered and considered sacred for centuries.

Yours truly "Sharing the Red Chair" at Lake Minnewanka

We worked up an appetite, so stopped for a picnic lunch at Johnson Lake.  Worked off our calories by hiking the Johnson Lake Loop.

We took advantage of a break in the clouds and toured some sights along the Ice Fields Parkway, including Crowfoot Glacier.

Crowfoot Glacier

All the wonderful places we visited, from the wetlands of Vermillion Lakes, to the tranquility of Two Jacks Lake and Bow Lake, Banff National Park is just paradise for Mother Nature lovers like me.
Since it has been dreary weather today, we spent the day relaxing.  The aforementioned Rick and Cary dropped in to introduce themselves to us personally.  What great people we meet in this lifestyle!  And how nice to be able to put a “face” to the “name” of someone we meet through social media/RV club forums.
Well, I’ve got to wrap up this posting.  Mike is cooking us all an authentic Puerto Rican dinner and Mom’s homemade chicken soup is ready to warm my chilly bones.
Speak to you next from Jasper, Alberta, Canada!



1 comment:

  1. Great post! It's amazing how stupid some people are with "wildlife". In Valdez we had a group of 9 people including little children stop their RV in the middle of the road in front of a No Parking area and run towards a mother brown bear and her 4 cubs feeding along the shoreline just a few yards away. Somebody in the crowd finally yelled at them to get back.
    Enjoy and safe travels!