Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Alberta Part 2 - The Rockies

August 11th and we have finally made it to the Rockies. I must confess that I prepared myself for mountains but nothing as magnificent as the real thing. Our first stop was Jasper and we were welcomed by these goats upon entering the National Park.  I was anxious to see wildlife (but more of that later). We set up camp for a few days and prepared our itinerary. 

Our first hike, with my weighted backpack, was up Old Fort Point. We crossed the Athabasca River and the trail passed by some quaint little cottages with wonderful views of the mountains all around. At first I thought I had fallen so out of shape with the great food/drink at Alberta Beach but I quickly learned it was altitude and it would take a little time 
to acclimatize. 

From this viewpoint we saw the wonderful Jasper Park Lodge and I thought of my sister Dee and the summer she worked there many moons ago.

We continued on to the Valley of Five Lakes where the ideal spot awaited us. From our resting spot we viewed Mt. Edith Cavell
 and enjoyed our packed lunch along with our visitor, Mr. Loon. 

21.5 kms later we were both tired but no damage to our bodies (blisters or back). This was a good first training hike for the West Coast Trail.

The next day was time to explore Jasper. There are the boring chores of grocery shopping, laundry, emailing but after all work there is play. We took Alicia's suggestion and had a couple of local pints at a u-brew pub.

Time to lace up the hiking boots again. This time it was Maligne Canyon. We set out early to ensure we found parking for the Moho at the trailhead. 
Of course the hike was not enough exercise so Don decided we would go for a little run around Lake Edith and Lake Annette. We continued on to the grounds of Jasper Park Lodge that we had viewed from Old Fort and 11.5 kms later we finally made it back to our starting point. I thought for sure we were lost!

We got a good feeling for the Rockies but it was time to move on to Lake Louise (which turned out to be my favourite).  Again, the trick was to get an early rise and head out. We decided to take the Icefields Parkway route but stop for breakfast at Sunwapta Falls (the resort that Alicia and Chris worked at a few summers ago). Of course the Icefield Centre proved to be another hot spot for tourists. We did take the time to climb and get as close as permitted to the glacier.

The first rule we learned to avoid frustration is to get beyond the tourists that linger around Chateau Lake Louise and move into the wild. 

Our first day of hiking in our new location was to the Tea House - Lake Agnes. This is named for the wife of Sir John A. McDonald. Of course there is always a reward for the work. Homemade scones with jam and tea gave us the energy to continue to Big Beehive which was recommended by Becky our massage therapist.
Thank you Becky. 

From the top of the Beehive we took an alternate route down and headed up to the very popular Plains of the Six Glaciers.

There are just too many pictures to post in the blog so I'll refer you to the Picasa Web invitation to view the awesome landscape shots.

We had one more day to explore the many hikes in the Lake Louise area so we took Becky's suggestion and completed one of her favourites, Fairview Mountain.  It was a fairly steep climb to Saddleback where we took a break and Don called his Mom to explain that we were having a snowball fight. 

However, the challenge was to follow. We climbed over 700 metres in 2 km. My only thought was "how am I going to get down"? The loose gravel made our steps quite tricky in places. But once again the work was rewarded by the spectacular views at the top.

Time to move on to our last destination in the Rockies, Banff. 
We took Alicia's suggestion again to drive the Bow Valley Parkway. This road closes at night because of the large amount of wildlife crossing.  Good news/bad news.... we saw no wildlife so I'm beginning to think I'm jinxed! It was, however, a very pretty drive with no traffic.

We stopped along the way to take a short hike into Moraine Lake which proved to be one of the more picturesque spots. It is of course the picture on the old $20. bill. Here is an example minus the image of Don & I. 

Banff is a very tourist town that caters very much to the shopper but that is not one of my favourite activities. However, the Cow's ice cream was a worthwhile treat and I recommend Messy Bessy if you are a chocolate lover.

Not to dwell on the wildlife but my eyes were sore from all the
scanning I did. One note I must mention is the amount of $$$ being spent to protect these critters. $2.5 million dollars is being spent for each wildlife overpass and not one would come out while we drove along. My only encounter was the deer that stopped by to feed near our campsite while Don & I were quietly reading outside. Our Eastern European neighbours were very excited and after a few minutes frightened the poor creature away.

Time for one last hike and this time there was a big reward.
He left our campsite after breakfast and once through town we hiked to the Hot Springs where our tired bodies could relax in the pools of 37C or 102F. Who said all work and no play? Not in my books.

It was time to move on and we thought to travel back up the Bow Valley Parkway and no not for wildlife but instead a hike into Johnston Canyon. This is a busy spot and because we could not get a place to park on our drive down three days before we figured we would get an early start and hike before breakfast. Again our recommendations proved it was a worthwhile stop.

But alas, we say good-bye to the Rockies and hello British Columbia, the last of our Provinces.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Fantastic photos you are living the life! That Photo of the two you with the lake behind it is amazing.