Friday, June 15, 2012

Beautiful Banff

Once in Canada we headed to the Canadian Rockies and Banff National Park. As if a sure sign of things to come, it rained and we were driving in the low clouds for much of the trip. Our attitudes improved somewhat when, before we even arrived at our site in the campground, we saw a couple of coyotes and a herd of elk. This also was a sign of things to come as we saw many, many animals. There was so much rain that there was flooding throughout Alberta and it snowed in the mountains most nights. Our last day in Banff we experienced the worst weather we have had in five years on the road, it SNOWED several millimeters and went down to 4 degrees:( During our five days in Banff the weather was nice only one whole day and one morning and these couple of good days did make for a worthwhile experience.
The one sunny day sure shows why so many people come to Banff. What a fantastic view of the mountains looking down Banff Avenue.
The wildlife was everywhere and any time we ventured out we saw wild animals. Top corners are (left) an elk bull and (right) a mule deer buck with their antlers still in velvet. Middle is a Clark Nuthatch. Bottom is a coyote and couple of ground squirrels and part of a herd of elk cows and their young. One rainy morning the elk tried to bed down right across from our rig, but a coyote would give them no peace and ran them off. Seeing animals in the wild is always a neat experience.
  This is typical of what the weather looked like, but it also is typical of how spectacular the scenery is when you can see the mountains in Banff. These four shots were taken standing in one spot in the campground and looking in four different directions. I really do hate to say it, but the snow really did add to the beauty of the mountains. I just wish there had been blue sky behind them.
This is the famous Banff Hot Springs Hotel which overlooks the Bow River Falls that where at more than twice their normal flow. The hotel is one of several that were built by the Canadian Pacific Railroad to entice people to travel. One of the rainy days we went and checked out the hotel and shops so we could see how the 1% lives.
Maybe it is a good thing the weather was so bad on the drive in, as it was really hard to keep your mind on the road with beautiful mountain scenes everywhere you looked for well over 200 miles. A unique feature of this section of the Trans Canadian Highway is these overpasses that are built so wildlife can safely cross the road. They are used by several species of large mammals, including deer, elk and bears.
  We took advantage of that one nice day and drove to Lake Louise, one of the most famous and beautiful glacial lakes in the park. The color of the water and the soaring mountains topped with glaciers makes for a wonderful view. There were also a few natives - Canadian Geese.
We hiked along the lake and enjoyed the beautiful scene. Blue sky sure improved the view and the attitude.
The color of the water is like nothing we have seen before. It is caused by the silt from the melting glaciers, which they call glacial flour because it is ground so fine.
Lake Louise, with the famous hotel and ski slopes in the background. You can see the brown silty water coming into the lake and the beautiful blue-green water as the mud settles. 
Here I am standing on a huge chunk of ice that had recently fallen from the ice falls on the right. We  crossed several avalanche runs on our hike beyond the lake. Somewhat dangerous, but rewarding.
What fabulous mountains. The rounded bottoms of the valleys are from the glaciers and the piles of rocks are the moraines they leave behind. The mountain is still capped with a glacier.
We did not opt for the canoe trip, but it sure looked like it would be fun to get out on the water – on a warmer day.
We will take a table for two with a view. We did not, but the view lived up to all our expectations.
  Moraine Lake is near Lake Louise, but higher so it still had a lot of ice on it. The area is know as the Valley of Ten Peaks and was once pictured on the 20 dollar bill.
  Just one more wonderful view. Did I mention how sunny skies make all the difference in the world?
This is what we awoke to on our last day in Banff. Not what we had in mind when we started this follow the sun lifestyle. Bad roads, snow, wild animals and beautiful mountains, all things we have experienced this “summer” without going to Alaska.


Anonymous said...

Great scenery but Brrrrrr. Warmer here in Buxton.

Valerie said...

Fabulous pictures! Even the ones with the white "Oobleck"!

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Nice post, knew you would enjoy the place.

Judy Luke Rinehimer said...

Wonderful shots that brought back memories from our trip to the Canadian Rockies. I have many of the same shots, including "table for two". If you are headed to Calgary you should be getting close to Stampede time

Richard said...

Wow, spectacular scenery. I'm adding it to our "must do" list.