Banff National Park
Trip Start Apr 06, 2010
89Trip End Ongoing
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After bidding farewell to Russ and family, we pursued their first piece of advice and embraced the world of Tim Hortons (a bit of a canadian institution - a coffee shop that does cheap, good coffee and doughnuts! Oh yeah and how could we forget the Timbits aka doughnut balls). As we were to discover throughout our stay in Canada, it is almost impossible to drive past without stopping and every single branch across the country without fail is full to bursting with coffee maniacs. We then pursued their second piece of advice and set off on the scenic route to Banff National Park. The drive took us via Nakusp, which had an amazing, enourmous lake which we had to cross twice during the journey (including once on an old cable ferry) when the road on one side of the lake ran out and continued on the other side. We crashed at the end of the day in a small town called Revelstoke and spent our first night sleeping in the car (in a campsite...still not quite ready for Walmart) alongside the Canadian railroad and let our imaginations run wild about the animals that might be in those woods
20th April 2010
Having survived our first night in the wild, we continued our journey towards Banff. We drove through Roger's Pass, part of the Selkirk Mountain Range in the Glacier National Park and encompassed a LOT of snow. This narrow valley pass is used by the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Trans-Canada Highway on which we were driving. Infamous for heavy snowfall on the surrounding steep mountains and impending avalanches, the pass hosts the largest avalanche control programme in the world and the road and railway line are protected by numerous snow sheds totalling 6.5 km. The amount of snow piled up on top of some of these sheds was incredible and it was a little bit scary driving underneath them and imagining what would become of us if we just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time!
Safe and sound in Banff mid-afternoon, we checked into Tunnel Mountain Village II Campsite, an awesome site in the shadow of Tunnel Mountain. We fought a battle with a plague of mozzies as we cooked, but surrendered and retreated to the Windstar to eat in peace. As the sun set the campsite came alive with deer and prairie dogs and the stars were brighter than ever with no surrounding towns or light pollution to spoil their effect
21st April 2010
We intended to go for a long hike and set off to Lake Minnewanka (apparently pronounced 'mini-wonker', as in Willy Wonker, yeah right!). It was a beautiful clear day and the lake looked stunning completely frozen solid. We ventured into the woods around the edge of the lake past numerous and frequent bear warning signs, which we enthusiastically took some photos of and carried on regardless. However, the big footprints in the sand were all too much for our vivid 'we're in Canada, there are bears out there' imaginations and we got too scared to go any further and walked briskly back to the car. As we did so, some other hikers were setting off on our route armed with bear repellent spray and gave us the impression that they were fully anticipating their need. We went instead to Two Jacks Lake, the most beautiful so far with bright green water and boasting a mirror image reflection of the bright blue sky and snow-capped mountain behind it; the perfect impression of Canada. After the lakes we headed into Banff town centre, a lovely town overlooked by Cascade Mountain, and were treated to a heatwave of 26oC (very strange when the lakes, rivers and waterfalls are still completely frozen and the mountains are covered in snow). We soaked up some rays in the park, walked alongside the Bow River, checked out the nice shops, and chilled and read our books. Early start tomorrow...heading for Jasper up the Icefields Parkway via Lake Louise.