Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tues, Aug 11: Banff National Park, Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

Once again, we both sleep in. It is dark and cool when we get up about 9:00AM and is threatening rain. It only takes it a few minutes to make good on its threat and a light, steady rain begins.

After breakfast, we drive over to the hostel and sit in the parking lot while we sign on to their wifi router and download emails and business information and upload this blog. Back at the rig, we pack up, hook up and check out just before 11:00AM.

It is still raining, what the Irish refer to as a soft rain, and we only have 60KM or so to go to Lake Louise so we are in no hurry. We drive the alternate route through Johnson Canyon and find it to be a pretty drive. We see one moose cow
and numerous small creaturesalong with repeated warning signs that it is illegal to hike in these forests unless you are in a group of four or more persons. These signs are accompanied by photos of very angry Grizzly Bears. I guess that one hiker does not make a meal, two might not be enough and so they are sending in groups of at least four to keep the bears well fed and in the woods.

We arrive at the Lake Louise, hard-sided vehicle, campground about 1:30PM and check in. Only hard-sided campers are allowed here. All tents and soft sided campers must stay inside the electric fenced area. It would seem that they are somewhat concerned about the bear population! We are warned not to leave our campers after dark unless we are carrying a bright light and making lots of noise!

The campground leaves much to be desired. The one in Banff was very nice but this one is electric only and two units to a site, side-by-side.
It is no big deal as we have plenty of water and waste capacity for two days and will refill our water and dump before we leave tomorrow. The site is pretty barren though.

After unhooking the car, we head over to Lake Louise to see its world famous scene.
It is not far up the mountain to this lake and we luck out finding a parking place in the closest public lot. It is still cloudy and spitting rain so we do not get to see it in the sunshine but it is still a beautiful sight.The glacier, opposite the famous hotel, at the end of the valley, 7KM away, cooperates and drops a huge chunk of ice into the valley below and we hear the report of its landing some 20 seconds after the event!

Next, we drive about 14KM up another high valley past some stunning views
to Moraine Lake, another famous scene in this area and are fortunate in our parking again. More photos
and more crowds but now we can say we have been here ourselves and not just seen pictures.

Finally, we drive north and west on Canada 1 to Kicking Horse Pass
to see the sight and explanation of the spiral tunnels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1908-1909 to ease the route and dangers to the trains moving up and down this pass. You can’t see anything of the tunnels except two of the entranceson a mountainside across from the parking lot but they do have a good explanation of the how and why of the project and it is well worth the stop. The tunnels are several miles long and do a figure 8 inside the two mountains forming the sides of the pass.

Leaving here, we drive on down the pass to the village of Field where we turn around and head back up the passto get a feel for the route the trains took before the tunnels were built. Canada 1 now follows the old rail route. It must have really been a hair raising ride before the tunnels cut the grade in half. We return to our campsite only to discover we need ice so we turn around and buy three small bags of ice for $8.53CDN or $7.85US. Back at camp it is only 5:30PM so we have a snack and try to delay dinner awhile. After a supper of stuffed tortellini with homemade pesto sauce and a Caesar Salad we are both in bed by 9:30PM. Carolyn works on our Around The World Book for awhile but turns out the light before too long.

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