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Fondest memory: No, she was enjoying this can-you-top-this trip and to be honest, we had been very lucky with the weather, with the wind not blowing at just the right time for all those reflection photos, with the bear circling the Sequoia. But doing it in Canada seemed a bit strange since the ex had been, well you know, Canadian. That trip to Banff had been short too but sweet. We had arrived the day after a big snow storm. It had been crystal clear and we hiked up to Wenkchemna Pass in knee high snow, a dusting of the white stuff making the Valley of the Ten Peaks look like something out of a fairy tale. There was no snow this time, and in fact, the weather was turning sour after a nice first day. The only way we could have topped my first time in the park would have been to do some backpacking, something prohibitively expensive in Banff NP. No, we would just move on. Believe it or not, you can't do it all even in a six month trip. Even if you do not run out of money, you run out of time.
Before leaving, we stopped by Moraine Lake. We had done a great hike above Lake Louise the day before and I was saving the best for last. If the weather had been great, I'm sure we would have paid for another day and went up to the pass I had hiked to some 15 years earlier. It might not have been quite as pretty without the snow but now that I was sitting next to my wife with Moraine Lake as our backdrop, I realized that it wasn't just the backpacking that had made this trip better, it was that instead of falling out of love on the trip, I was falling even deeper in love with a girl who refused to believe that even a great past can't be topped.
We drove out of Banff and skedaddled back to the good old USA, but we had no regrets. We still had a few parks to conquer, a couple of pretty major ones on the experience Richter scale, but I had a pretty good feeling about our chances. With a wife like the one by my side, I was figuring on slaying at least a couple of them.
Written Nov 26, 2009
Fondest memory: If defeat can be sweet, this must have been it. I was sitting next to the great love of my life, with Moraine Lake as our backdrop. We were having our photo taken by an Asian couple who we were reciprocating our taking theirs just moments earlier. I normally just use my tripod to get such shots but the wind was howling and there was no way I was trusting my Rebel to a $30 tripod. That very wind would in a few short moments blow us right out of Banff National Park. We had had enough; it was time to head home.
We had arrived in the famed jewel of the Canadian National Park system just two days prior with no set plan. This was on the heels of nearly five months of positively slaying every US National Park in our paths. Slaying probably sounds like a strange choice of words but that's just what it had been. I had done a similar trip in 1994 with my then long time girlfriend who just happened to be Canadian. It had been my first real prolonged exposure to hiking at the age of 36 and I had fallen in love with it. Unfortunately, the girlfriend in question and I were falling out of love and though the trip had been amazing, there was no escaping it was very much the end of us as a couple.
This return trip was about showing all these great parks to my wife. I knew it was going to be tough to top that first trip west but my wife was determined to make sure that did in fact happen. Park after park, we hiked more, stayed longer, did things I'd not done before. But what separated this trip from the 1994 outing, was we backpacked extensively allowing us to get some of the best photos I had ever taken by being in such incredible places at dusk and dawn. We went from one park to the next and when a park of particular fond memory would be on the horizon I would almost fear going back, of being disappointed. But park after park, they fell and my wife seemed to relish the challenge. I saw a competitive streak in her I'd not really noticed before. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)
Written Nov 26, 2009
Favorite thing: Thanks for your very useful and informative replies.
We are wondering if we will be able to see the fall colors in early October during our 5 days trip to Banff and Jesper and then from Jesper to Kamploops and Whitsler. We will be arriving in Banff on 2nd October.
Written Aug 11, 2008
Favorite thing: Banff is a year round destination and very family friendly at any time.
Find a hotel in Banff or Canmore for nights one and two. Use that hotel as a base to explore the area. Stop in at the visitors center in Banff, they have lots of great advice. Some things to do: Take the gondala up Sulfur Mtn and do some walking up there, there is a lot to see so you could spend a couple of hours and have a snack at the chalet. Enjoy the hot springs in the evening and check out a informal spot to eat, There are plenty of excellent restaurants in both Banff and Canmore. Drive up to Mount Norquay and take the trail to Stony Squaw mtn from the parking lot (a bit rough in spots). Even if you decide not to walk the trail the drive up is really nice so be sure you do it. Visit Johnson's canyon on hwy 1A for a spectacular family friendly walk, on the way to Lake Louise. Hwy 1A is nicest from Banf to Eisenhower junction, so switch to the main highway from the Junction to Lake Louise.
In lake Louise you can walk up to the little Bee Hive and Lake Agnes (a bit rough) for a great view of the lake or just take the trail around the lake if you don't feel like climbing. Visit moraine lake as well. Have tea at the chateau Lake Louise as well if you get the chance.
Lake Louise would be a good place for you to stay your third night.
Day 4 get an early start and head up the icefields parkway to Jasper for your fourth night. Be prepared to spend all day getting there with visits to Peyto Lake viewpoint and the columbia icefields. After a night in Jasper head back down the parkway to Mount Edith Caval and Athabasca Falls. See the Northern part of the Parkway from a different direction as you make your way south to Saskatchewan river crossing. Turn East and travel through the beautiful David Thompson area to Red Deer for your last night. The following day you have a short jaunt to the airport in Calgary and you are off.
Fondest memory: Probably one of my favorite memories is taking the gondola in Jasper and hiking with my young son in a kid carrier on the top of the mountain. My wife had our infant daughter in a front mount child carrier and we spent hours at the top of the mountain just rambling and exploring.
Written May 7, 2008
Favorite thing: I know the temptation is hard but.........
So many tourists each year feed the wildlife. The wildlife is found hanging around rest areas and parking lots, looking for the occassional handout. A lot of the animals are young ones. They lose there fear of humans and put there life in danger unknowingly. Their diet DOES NOT consist of sunflower seeds, sandwhiches, potatoe chips, chocolate.....
All this does is messess up their digestive system. Because they are attracted to the rest areas on the roads, many get killed every year in the Rocky Mountains...
Take your quick picture then please leave them alone.
Written May 25, 2007
Favorite thing: Here is a topographical map of the Lake Louise Area. This was take from the map in one of my other tips. I do not know how this will look when viewed in VT. Hopefully it will look okay.
The map shows some of the local hiking trails. If you know any orienterring, then this map can be very useful. Some of the trails are described on the back of the map.
Gem Trek Publishing produces these maps. They are plastic coated for use in the rain.
Written Nov 22, 2005
Favorite thing: The Blackfoot Indians were divided into three main groups: the Northern Blackfoot, the Blood, and the Piegan. All three spoke a language which was a part of the Algonquian family.
Before being forced onto reservations they occupied a large area stretching from the North Saskatchewan River in Canada to the Missouri River in the U.S.
The Blackfeet were nomadic hunter-gatherers and subsisted mainly on buffalo, large mammals, and gathered a lot of vegetable foods. Deer and smaller game were caught with snares. Fish, although abundant, were only eaten in times of dire necessity and after the disappearance of the buffalo.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ^^^ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Oh Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me.
I come before you, one of your many children.
I am weak and small. I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset;
my ears sharp so I may hear your voice.
Make me wise, so I may learn the things you have taught my people, the lessons you have hidden under every rock and leaf.
I seek strength, not to be superior to my brothers, but to be able to fight my greatest enemy -- myself.
Make me ever ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes, so whenever life fades, like the fading sunset, my spirit will come to you without shame."
Chief Yellow Lark, a Blackfoot Indian
Updated Mar 3, 2005
Favorite thing: This large animal of the deer family is second only to the moose in terms of sheer bulk. They can weigh up to 350 kg. and stand as high as 240 cm. and 140 cm. at the shoulder.
Elk have a dark brown coat and a white rump. Actually, their other name 'Wapiti' comes from the Shawnee language and literally translates to 'white rump'.
Their antlers can become very large, growing back, almost paralleling the line of the back. The antlers begin with a single tine, off which numerous smaller tines fork. These immense antlers can weigh up to 14 kg (31 lbs.) and can stretch to 1.5 m (5 ft.).
They aren't fussy with their diets eating a variety of grasses, flowers, and herbs. They get all they need from their environment so do not try to feed them...getting too close is dangerous!
Elk are found throughout the Rockies and are one of the most popular animals in Banff National Park. They often wander the streets and back yards of the town residents. Lately the wardens have begun to evict them from the townsites back into the wild. Many visitors to Banff are injured by elk because they get too close to them. These large animals are very powerful and their front hooves very sharp!!...most especially the female hinds (not cows) when they are protecting their calves!! Do not try to venture too close and try to remember that: Wild is WILD!!!
Updated Mar 3, 2005
Favorite thing: It is not unusual to see elk in the park.
They were so plentiful that many were killed
trying to cross the TransCanada Highway!
I cannot stand the sight of road kill.
I always blame the recklessness of the driver ... although I know sometimes it can't be avoided.
I was so happy, and relieved (as I am sure the elk were too!!) when they erected chain-link fences along the highway to keep the wildlife off the road.
Anyway...if you do manage to get close to the elk...
DO NOT FEED them!!!...or any other wildlife for that matter!!!
They are much better off living a natural life (and a healthier one too!!!) if they are eating only what Mother Nature has provided for them.
Mother Knows Best!!!
Updated Mar 3, 2005
Favorite thing: ....and memories with you.
One request for those of you hiking and camping the mountain parks --- a request well-stated over 70 years ago by a Piegan chief and recorded by Walter McClintock while visiting the chief's camp in the hills north of Waterton Park (this area is close to where I was born so is very special to me too).
"I am glad in my heart that you have come to stay in my camp. We pitch our tipis in this grove of cottonwoods every summer, to gather sarvis berries for our use, when the snows are deep. You will find many kinds of berries on all sides. You can eat them now, or gather and dry them for your winter supply, just as we do. I ask, however, that you will be careful not to injure the trees, or break the branches of the berry bushes. I make this request because I am looking ahead for my tribe. I am anxious to preserve these big trees and berry bushes for our children.....
We always speak of large trees as 'The Old Time Trees' and the small ones as 'Young People's Trees'."
This is a request which I trust we will always respect as we wander through the cathedral of nature we must consider as our home.
Written Mar 3, 2005
Bow Valley Motel Banff National Park
1 Review and 93 Opinions This is a fantastic place to stay if you are on a budget. The rooms are well equip with everything...
Banff Springs Hotel Banff National Park
5 Reviews and 107 Opinions We didn't actually stay. We spent and hour and toured the building and grounds. Yup, they offer...