Saturday, May 19, 2012

Quick and Dirty finish up of Banff

So, I don't remember when we did what anymore, or even what all these pictures are of, but I'll take a stab at it.  Oh, and if you just want to see the picts, I think if you click on the first one, you can scroll through the others...

We climbed Telegraph and the next day we climbed Sulfur Mtn.  It really does smell like Sulfur, but not too bad.  That was a MUCH longer hike and it was fun when we got high enough to see the top of Telegraph and realize that we had thought THAT was a big climb!  Katie and I are not fans of cable cars but were tired enough by the time we reached the top, to brave the car back down.  It was fun and not very scary after all.  Or maybe I was just too tired to care.

This might be a photo of Pete and the kids on the way up Sulfur Mtn.
  That night Pete and the kids indulged me and stopped at the Fairmont Hotel to look around at the historic hotel.  It was lovely and had a nice view of the river we were looking at as we hiked all day.

Here are some views from the mountains, including one of the Fairmont:

We found a great place for dinner this night and we hit it again on our way back out of the park after Jasper.  I wish I could remember the name of it.  Coyote Grill maybe?

The next day we headed out to Lake Louise, where we were staying at the Fairmont there.  Everyone else thought the LL one was prettier than the one in Banff, but I liked the Banff one better.

I realized that we would pass Lake Moraine on the way up, so we stopped to look around there before going to Lake Louise.  According to the guide books, some people find Lake Moraine prettier, but I was not overly impressed.  It did become obvious over the course of the trip that I don't find lakes and mountains that interesting overall though, so maybe I'm not the best judge.  Don't get me wrong, they were all beautiful and shockingly blue, but once I've seen them, then I don't need to hang around and stare.

Pete, however, enjoyed them immensely and had a great time hiking around or looking at the many lakes, mountains and glaciers we saw all through the trip.

These are all probably Lake Moraine:

These  could be Lake Moraine, or maybe another lake we stopped at off the highway.  The kids had not spent enough time honing their stone skipping and Pete gave a few lessons on the trip:


I know we took pictures at Lake Louise, but I can't seem to find any right now.  It was very pretty and very blue.  We ate lunch one day overlooking the lake and it was very lovely, but also rather busy.  It is a big tourist spot.

That day Zack and I had had enough of big steep hikes.  We started up the tea house trail with Pete and Katie, but were both bitching and moaning and basically making Pete miserable.  I suggested that he go on alone and Katie decided to join him.  Again, I know there is a beautiful picture of Katie having tea at the top, but can't find it.  Will add later if I do.  

Zack and I walked around the lake for a while and went back to hang at the hotel.  My feet appreciated the time off.

This is when I really started to enjoy the trip.   It turns out I am a holes in the ground and running water girl.  We headed out of Banff and up the Icefields Parkway toward Jasper.  Lots of mountains and lakes, very pretty:

Views of glaciers-meh--

But also, Althabasca Falls and other falls that I forget the name of--yay!  The family indulged my love of rivers and canyons and we hiked down to the river of...I can't remember the name of it...but very fun, loud and beautiful!:

Look how happy I am!
We also saw some wildlife, although, despite what the guidebooks said, it was pretty scarce.  We even tried backroads and doubling back.  :(

I did see a black bear for a second, but not long enough to alert the rest of the family. :( :(

We stayed at a great little cabin campsite in Jasper.  We all liked Jasper more than the uber-commercial Banff and if we ever go back, I would definitely fly into Edmonton spend more time there and skip Banff and Calgary.  I think this night Pete and I went back out to get some food since our cabin had a kitchen.   We got lucky and saw a coyote!
The shopping went strangely.  We had to pack lunches for the glacier hike the next day and wanted something to make for dinner one of the nights we were there.  The food prices were killing us on this trip.  But I guess the main grocery store had closed early that night, so we were shopping in a convenience store.  I found tunafish, but no mayo or may just a huge jar, so we asked if we could have some packets and the nice clerk gave us a ton of them, free!  Plenty for tunafish sandwiches--score!
I didn't realize is that the Athabasca Glacier is about half way btw Banff and Jasper.  I was under the impression it was much closer to Jasper, so the next day we had a good ride back down the Icefields Pkwy to get to the glacier where we had booked a guided hike up the glacier.  The closer I got, the more scared I became.  I kept hoping I would be disqualified for some reason and not have to go.  I kept my cool though, so that the kids wouldn't back out of the climb.  I knew this could be a once in a lifetime adventure for them and judging from the melt markers on the road, certainly this glacier will be gone in their lifetime. 
I have never been so terrified for so long (3 hours) in my life and I will never climb a glacier ever again. BUT--I was pretty proud of myself for not having a complete freak out.  I did get pretty close and tears were shed.
The camera ran out of juice not too far into the hike, so not many pictures.  Here's a lovely little sink hole that goes a good 500K down to the bottom of the glacier.  These can open up at any time, so it's wise to follow directly in the footsteps of the person in front of you.

The guide chiseled in a little step at the side of this one so you could hold his hand and lean out over it.  I declined, but you can see Pete and the guide's shadows.

It's much more beautiful in person and there is water flowing into it so it sounds lovely too.
Back up to Jasper and I think we ate dinner in the room this night and went down into town for ice cream.  Pete was pooped and grouchy, next time he'll stay in the room for some privacy and a nap!  The ice cream was good though.
Next day on our way back down, we stopped in Johnston Canyon.  I loved this--woody climbing, a river, a tiny cave and lots of waterfalls!


I don't have a picture here, but there are a lot of wooden walkways built along the canyon walls and they we very echo-y.  I enjoyed belting out Oklahoma! to see how much I could embarrass Katie and Zack and they did not disappoint!

Back to just outside Banff and a trip to the hot springs.  Phew!  Smelly sulfur!  The warm water was great and strangely buoyant.  They are outside so you are warm in the water but freezing out of it.  We stayed a while, it was pretty crowded.  Worth the visit.

My hair smelled of sulfur for the next week.  The bathing suits took 3 washings to lose it and most of the rest of the cloths in the suitcase had a bit of a sulfur smell as well.

Back to Calgary for the night before catching the flight back home.  We passed the Olympic park again so drove around it to take a look.  The only things we could really see were the ski jumps and part of a bobsled track but it was interesting.

So, all in all a memorable trip.  Good thing, since I took so long to update this blog!!

Next up--Universal and couldn't stay away from Disney.