wildlyrandom

Our camping trip in British Columbia, Canada, including a drop down to Yellowstone National Park.

Category: Bow Valley Parkway

Banff National Park

[September 13th]

We really do need to pinch ourselves on this day as we set out to explore Banff National Park, which, only a few months ago, coming from dusty Africa, seemed like an impossible dream; a place of beauty we could hardly imagine, a place of unimaginable hues in blue and white, mountains looming large and icy conditions.

It did not disappoint.

And so, on the morning of the 13th, after a hearty breakfast, we continued from our campsite along the Bow Valley Parkway which would take us right up to Lake Louise. There was consensus, when exploring the area online, that Lake Louise should not be missed. One really needs to hang around for a very long time to enjoy this area with all it has to offer, but we have only one day, so elimination had to be ruthless.

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Breath-taking!

As the lake came into sight, it literally took my breath away!

Photos capture only the minutest fragments of the whole sensation of breath-taking wonder. I would like to just sit down and absorb it all… but try as I may I need to take photos, the compulsion to share is uncontrollable and yet nowhere near even good enough.

0018c0018d0018ethe 2 km stroll around the lake

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looking back towards Fairmont Chateau, from where we first set eyes on the lake

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Hugo walks up to Mirror Lake. Time is of the essence and I will not be able to walk fast enough – my steps are much smaller just for starters…

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Finally it is time to move on. We head out to Moraine Lake. The road up is closed. There is a man sitting on the boom and cars are lined up. We wait. It soon becomes apparent that as cars drive out, others are allowed in. The queue is not long and thus our wait neither.
The 11km road, lined with the tallest trees allowing only glimpses of towering snow-capped peaks, winds its way up to the lake with cars parked along the road long before the end point. We decide that it is worth going all the way up as someone is bound to leave sooner or later. Sure enough, as we drive into the parking area, we replace the spot a visitor has vacated right before our eyes. By now we are ravenous so linger awhile to enjoy the lunch we packed in, surrounded now by those snow-capped mountains towering above us.

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We will be looking for a rockpile. This is the quickest and easiest climb to achieve elevation to view the lake. The vision I have in my mind never equals reality, but in this case, the rockpile, right beside the lake, cannot be mistaken.

Moraine Lake, situated in the picturesque Valley of the Ten Peaks, is glacier fed and only half the size of Lake Louise. Melt water from the glacier brings with it rock flour or silt and it is the reflection off this that creates the spectacular colour.

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we do the lakeside walk

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the glacier feeding the lake

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I am reluctant to leave once again, but the day is drawing to a close and we have one more stop before heading back to camp.

Johnston Canyon.

Much as the photos of the canyon are enticing, my fear of heights is turning me into a less than happy chappy at the thought of actually doing the walk. Fortunately for me, time is on my side which means the turning point is reached at the lower falls. I am sure Hugo is more than disappointed to have to turn around, but then he did spend an extra 2 hours at Lake Louise hiking to Mirror Lake while I waited for him down below; I think it is fair to call it quits.

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lower falls

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Tomorrow we hit the Icefields Parkway… and please may there be no ice!

 

 

a little rusty

[september 12th]

Remember one thing: we come from the southern tip of Africa, where the winter temperatures seldom dip below 8degC and where snow is the stuff of fairy tales… it is with this in mind that we head out with just a little more than trepidation. We are a little rusty; it has been some time since we have ventured far off our doorstep.

We could have headed straight up to Banff from Cranbrook, but we have this desire to peep in on the other side of the Rockies and so we set out back through Fernie towards Alberta. This is a good move, as we already know Fernie, and its stores, which makes it a little less daunting to stop for provisions, which we now have to do for ourselves; no more B&G to treat us. Okay then, it is only me that finds anything new daunting for reasons even I cannot explain to myself. It seems I have difficulty processing too much information thrown at me all at once, especially in noisy and bright conditions. It helps to talk myself through my actions, which doesn’t look good at all if I am on my own; so grateful to have Hugo at my side.

A mere one week prior to this day, Fernie was still baking under a summer sun; we return now, to a wonderland of snow-capped peaks. Excitement fills the chilly air; snow is a novelty for us!

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Just around the corner, the countryside opens out into rolling agricultural plains, flanked by the Rockies to the west.
It is a good 200kms to Calgary. We settle back to enjoy the ride. I am determined not to think about negotiating the city until it is time.

And then, too soon, it is time!

Hugo is driving; that is enough for him to deal with as the traffic hurtles down at him on the wrong side of the road. His brain has yet to adjust to 60+ years of incorrect information. In South Africa, we drive on the left side of the road.
I am faced, yet again, with information hurtling down on my brain. I must remember to breathe!
We do have a GPS, but it doesn’t allow me to anticipate the next move, at least not visually, and that is when I remember google maps. YAY! I have an iPad too, with reception! Oh, how I love technology! Never before have I appreciated that little blue moving dot quite as much as right now. Once again, standstill traffic is a blessing, if one is in the correct lane! The little blue dot ensures that I can direct Hugo accordingly in very good time.

In the end, I really enjoyed the little navigation exercise.

Time to fuel up. Hugo has been watching and learning; this is not something we have to do for ourselves in South Africa. He manages like a pro. Back to the Rockies we go.

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Calgary looms

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breathing space enough to enjoy the art

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everything is super large

I can hardly contain myself as we roll in closer and closer to those magnificent mountains dusted with icicles thicker than ever I have set eyes upon before. I didn’t know which way to turn as we sped past snapshots, window-framed, in every direction.

But I must concentrate. We will need to turn off at some point and everybody seems to be in a rush to get to wherever they are going.

And then it was gone; we flew under it long before our brains could catch up with the instructions. We needed a park pass, this I knew, but I hadn’t registered that we needed it as we entered the area. Easy to panic. What to do? Eventually, the little ducks all fell into their row up there in the grey matter, and I realised that we could buy our park pass at our campground; the gates we had sailed past, sans laissez-passer, were more as a convenience for those travellers that were speeding right through and out at the other end. Breathe.

It was with relief that finally, our exit came into sight. Bow Valley Parkway was a narrow winding road through luscious scenery at a very reduced speed.

We found our pre-booked campsite in good time and settled down for a good night’s rest.

Lakes are on the menu once the new day dawns.

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Thought for the day:

“Our lives are a collection of stories – truths about who we are, what we believe, what we come from, how we struggle, and how we are strong. When we can let go of what people think, and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness – the feeling that we are enough just as we are, and that we are worthy of love and belonging. If we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and have to hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness lives inside of our story. It’s time to walk into our experiences and to start living and loving with our whole hearts.”
~ Brené Brown

 

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