Sunday, September 11, 2016

Canadian Rockies

Day one was flying in. We had a good flight and customs wasn't even too bad. Now the rental agency..... We had ordered a four door sedan. They wanted to upgrade us to a Jeep Wrangler for extra money. We said no thanks and they sent us out. When we got to our slot we saw a two door Dodge Charger with low profile tires. This is not going to work in the mountains. Back to the counter and of course they had no more cars left. Anyways, we are driving a Jeep Wrangler for no extra.

We got to stay with the Brewers our first night and had a great visit with them.

Day Two:

We headed to Waterton Lakes National Park. Our first wildlife before we got into the park were hawks, and four deer. Our first hike was to Alderson Lake about 8 miles with an elevation gain of 5800 feet. Then we headed to the Red Rock Canyon where we hiked around the canyon and along Bauerman Creek. On the way up the road we had a mother and cub black bear run across the road in front of us. We spotted another black bear on the side of the mountain.

From there we went back to Waterton and ate dinner at the 49 degree Pizza Place. On the way back to Pincher Creek for the night, Lora spotted a moose in a creek so we stopped and took pics of her. A tour bus load of folks are here at the hotel so we had to blend in to get breakfast.

Day Three:

Today's hike was to Crypt Lake. On the way to the park we again saw deer and hawks. There is a 15 minute boat ride to the trailhead and being a holiday weekend, they ended up sending two boats out for the 8:30 am launch time. It was windy and the waves were large. We got a lot of good information on the trip over. It seems that bear bells and whistling to make noise is 100% useless. Those attract bears.

Now, this trail was on Grizzly watch so you had to hike in a group of four and had to carry bear spray. It was only up to a $25,000 fine if you didn't. We paired up with a couple from Canada. He was German and she was originally from Arizona.

The hike was a good climb through some beautiful woods. We had three waterfalls along the way: Twin Falls, Burnt Rock Falls, and Crypt Falls. At the second falls we got to watch three mountain goats climbing on the mountain across from us. The man that was with us tripped over a rock in the trail. He was leading at the time and as he was falling he was yelling out that he was alright. He only fell about five feet off the side of the trail, but he did it over about fifteen minutes. We saw his feet and we saw his head and we saw his feet again above the brush. This is nothing that my dad wouldn't do. When he finally stopped we asked if he was still alright. He bounced back up and off he went.

After the second waterfall the switchbacks got steeper and at one section you are walking along a 500 ft cliff. The trail sloped to the wall so that was great, but the trail was only about three foot wide. This section led to a small ladder that lead to a tunnel only four feet high. On the other side the trail got narrower and you had a cable to hold on to. Then you did a small rock scramble up and back to regular trail. After that you got back on a regular trail and the heart started working again.

Crypt Lake was beautiful. We ate lunch there as more and more people arrived. All at once a large group of them got up and moved toward us. A black bear came out of the woods for a drink. As always there are stupid people. This was no exception and people were trying to get pictures with him. Lora and I started hiking around the lake in the opposite direction planning on him being gone by the time we got back. Halfway around the lake and the bear is still wondering around and actually heading toward the trail that we were going to take. Plan B, we headed back the way we came. The bear finally headed back into the woods.

Now comes the interesting part. On the way back down there are people coming up. Lora and I ended up climbing the wall above the cable and sitting down while thirty others came by us. When we finally got down and came to the tunnel we had to have people go by us again on the outside. Finally, we got our chance and got back through the tunnel and down the ladder.

After we got around the bend and quite a distance from the tunnel, we heard someone up above us yell "Bear at the tunnel". We looked across at the tunnel where there was a group of people going both ways and sure enough a black bear came down from above the tunnel and hit the trail. We found out later that one person had sprayed the bear and he ran through the tunnel. One man in the tunnel sprayed the bear and the bear swatted him in the leg. The bear ran out the cable side of the tunnel and started climbing back up the mountain. We watched in horror as we saw all these people, knowing what an unsafe part of the trail it was and knowing that there was nothing that they could do. The bear then came back down and crossed the trail on the cable side and continued down the mountain. Yea, Wow!

Things went smoother on the rest of the trail hearing lots of stories from those directly involved. We hiked the Hell Canyon part on the way back which was very steep but beautiful. The hike was 10.6 miles long and gained 2,100 feet. We did get to eat huckleberries and raspberries on the trail.

After our boat ride back, Lora and I celebrated with blueberry and saskatoon pie. Then we started our long drive to Lake Louise.

Day Four:

We woke up and ate a wonderful breakfast at the Deer Lodge where we stayed at Lake Louise. After breakfast we drove up to the lake to see it with about a thousand others. Holiday weekend. The clouds were low so we didn't have very good views. From there we drove to Moraine Lake with pretty much the same results.

From there we started our drive towards Jasper on the Icefields Parkway. The sky cleared up and we had a beautiful drive. We stopped at Bow Lake, Lake Helen, Bow Glacier Falls, Peyto Lake, Snowbird Glacier, Weeping Wall, Bridal Veil Falls,Tangle Falls, Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Falls. We walked up to the toe of the Athabasca Glacier and watched the 6 wheel drive buses take folks out onto the glacier. There were people walking on the glacier in guided groups....not us! We saw mountain goats on the side of a mountain while we were stopped on the side of the road looking at a glacier. And then one elk grazing on the side of the road.

We ate dinner in Jasper at O'Shea's in the Athabasca Hotel. The cook had it going on. Driving toward Hinton we saw a family of elk resting on the side of the road and then a family of mountain goats posing for pictures on a hillside.

Day Five:

We left Hinton and headed to Jasper. We saw some long horned sheep and a Elk on the way. Drove to Maligne Canyon to check it out. It is a very deep canyon carved out by the river. Then we drove to Edith Cavell trailhead on the recommendation of two different waitresses. The Labor Day crowds were still out but they stayed on the path to the Glacier. It was a steep climb to Meadows but very rewarding. We had great views of glacier but with the snow and ice we couldn't make it to the overlook. We saw marmots and a pika.

Then we drove South on Icefields Parkway and stopped at Saskatchewan River Crossing for lunch. Good chili. We stopped at Rampart Creek campground which would be a good one to camp at if anyone wants to. 

We stopped at Buck Lake but saw no bucks. Drove the Bow Valley Parkway to Banff, seeing no wildlife. We stayed at the YWCA Mountain Lodge in Banff makes us feel like we are at school. 

Day Six:

Today's hike was the Plain of Six Glaciers at Lake Louise. Once we got off the lake, the crowed disappeared and we had a pleasant hike to the Tea House. We stopped in at the Tea house for hot chocolate. We saw three mountain goats on our hike. After we left the Tea house,  we got to watch ice fall off Mt Victoria glacier down to the lower Glacier. It caused a very loud echo through out the valley. We hiked to the Upper Beehive with a wooden shelter where we had lunch. Here we saw the helicopter rescue from Lake Agnes tea house. Some hiker had heart issues.

From there we hiked down to Lake Agnes and their Tea house. They were closed for the season so we enjoyed the waterfall behind. Then we hiked to Mirror Lake and back to Lake Louise. We got to eat huckleberries on the trail which is always a bonus. 

Then we drove on West on Hwy 1 to Takakkaw Falls which is one of Canada's largest falls at 991 feet high. It was beautiful. On the way there we got to see the Spiral train tunnel and Whiskey Jack Falls. This would be a great area to day hike or overnight. 

Then we checked out the Natural Bridge in Yoho and Emerald Lake where we had dinner at the lodge. We drove the Bow Valley Parkway again, wasting our time again. There was a pretty view of moon over the mountains. 

Day Seven:

Today's hike is Cory Pass. The trailhead is just North of Banff. You have a short hike along the highway and then a "OH MY GOD" climb. During the climb we met our new hiking partners, Gordan and Linda. They had actually read the trail description so it was nice to have them along.They were from Scotland.

Once you get to Cory Pass you drop down into an old Glacier Basin which is beautiful with views of Mt. Edith and then through Edith pass with beautiful views of Mt. Norquay. We ate lunch on the slope with a rainbow in the background. All down hill from here....

We drove back into Banff for ice cream at Cows, and went by the Banff Springs Hotel to take some pics. HUGE hotel. The Bow River runs thru town with a pretty waterfall to stop and see.
Then we drove to Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake where we saw a huge bull elk. Pretty drive to these lakes.

We were meeting the Brewers in Canmore for dinner and since we were early we drove up to Three sisters dam and Spray Lake for a wonderful view over Canmore. We then met the Brewers for dinner and headed back to their house for a restful visit in the hot tub.


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