Archive for the ‘2009/07/20 Canada’ Category

Waterton II, Crypt Lake Trail

Friday, August 7th, 2009
Prince of Whales hotel in sunshine

Prince of Wales hotel in sunshine

The plan was to leave Waterton NP and head into the US and Glacier NP this morning. Who would have “thunk” it, contrary to every weather forecast we saw, the sun decided to make an appearance.  We woke up to what could be interpreted as a sunny day.  Since our plans can be flexible and Luke wasn’t due until tomorrow, we decided to take the Crypt Lake trail afterall. We had to stop and recapture the Prince of Wales Hotel picture with a better sky. You can see the huge difference a sunny sky makes to the quality of the views by comparing this shot to the one in the previous post.

Crypt Lake

Crypt Lake

We checked with the campground office and staying another night wasn’t a problem.  From there it was game on.   Readying ourselves for the day, water, snacks, lunch, raingear, etc… took no time at all.  We were on the trail, after catching the 10 o’clock boat shuttle, by 10:20. Our goal was to make it back for the 4 o’clock return shuttle.  The trail started out steep, with switchbacks through the woods, then worked it’s way through a few canyon/valley areas with several stream crossings.  It was a reasonable grade and some flat offered time for recovery.  We passed several waterfalls along the way and, of course, tried to get our timer shots. The last section of trail was very steep with switchbacks up a rocky knoll , a cliff like section to traverse, a ladder climb into a 60 foot narrow tunnel, another cliff section that was so steep, they had cable railings for safety… then a short jaunt to Crypt Lake.  We enjoyed a short rest and our PB&J’s which we shared with the gnats (they threatened to carry us away if we didn’t). We cruised on the way down to try and catch the early boat home.  At one point, we were distracted by a female moose grazing in the valley below.  While Kim was looking for more moose and shouting her moose call, she missed her footing and took a very graceful fall(not!) with a full roll included for effect (mind you her second fall of the day).  None the worse for wear we continued on, even braving the Hell-Roaring Falls trail.  Braving not only due to the added distance, but there was tons on bear poo making us a bit nervous. Tired, happy, and hungry we made the 4 o’clock boat and headed home to post our trek.  Well worth staying the extra day!!!

 

Waterton Lakes National Park

Thursday, August 6th, 2009
Prince of Whales Hotel and Upper Waterton Lake

Prince of Whales Hotel and Upper Waterton Lake

Having spent the money on an annual pass for the Canadian National Parks, we decided to spend a few more days taking advantage of it.  Waterton Lakes National Park borders Glacier National Park in the US.  It was established as the world’s first International Peace Park in 1932 and is considered a “hidden Jewel” of the Rockies.  Without Kim’s dad’s awesome vacation weather karma, we once again had to struggle with some wet and gray weather.  From what we were able to see, the park is pretty impressive in a much more compact way than Jasper or Banff. 

 

Top of Bear Hump trail
Top of Bear Hump trail
Since we arrived, We actually spent time catching up with emails and just relaxing in the camper.  When we weren’t being lazy, we (of course) were on the trails looking for the next timer shot of the day.  We took a short, but steep, walk up Bear Hump Trail, and yes we did see bear.  From a distance (Mom) we spotted a mamma and her two cubs.  They actually made the count 5 bears in this park already and 16 total for the trip.
View on the trail to Bertha Falls
View on the trail to Bertha Falls

After Bear Hump, it was off to Bertha Falls.  Anything with a name like Bertha warrants a visit as it was Kim’s grandma’s name.  It was a nice trail along Upper Waterton Lake.  The further into it we got, the lounder the thunder got as well. 

Lower Bertha Falls
Lower Bertha Falls

Although we got soaked, and Bertha Falls wasn’t “all that”, we had a good time anyway.  From there we headed into town and enjoyed a very tasty and well deserved black rasberry frozen yogurt, yum!

Kim practices her relaxtion skills

Kim practices her relaxation skills

The plan for our last day in Waterton was to take the Crypt Lake trail, voted Canada’s best hike in 1981.  The trail starts with a boat ride across the lake, then 4 waterfalls, a 60 foot tunnel, Crypt Lake, and approximately 11 miles and 2,300 foot elevation gain later you can rest.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate.  We woke up to rain and gray once again.  Looks like Crypt Lake will have to be on the next trip around.  We spent much of the day chillin’ in the camper then went into the park for our “last licks” (so to speak).  We did manage to see a mama bear and her 2 cubs, probably the same one from the Bear Hump hike. We got much better pictures this time… Off to Glacier National Park and back to the US.

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Lake Louise and Banff, Part II

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009
I gotta get me one of these!

I gotta get me one of these!

The plan for the third day was a visit to the Columbia Icefields and the Athabasca Glacier.  Dad treated for a tour onto the glacier. The transportation was pretty cool (glacier humor), but walking on the glacier and actually drinking the glacial runoff was tres cool. 

On the Althabasca Glacier

On the Athabasca Glacier

We enjoyed our 25 minutes in the arctic wonderland (us and the other million tourists they were bussing there). It was quite the experience.

Ubiquitous fireweed

Ubiquitous fireweed

We didn’t have firm plans for the afternoon.  We stopped for a picnic lunch along the Icefield Parkway, at one of the many picnic stops.  It was there where the plan came together. Kim and her dad were going to kayak Lake Louise while Chris did some brake work on the trailer.  

Relaxing after the paddle

Relaxing after the paddle

Kim’s dad hadn’t kayaked in a long time, but caught on quickly. It was quite the experience kayaking on Lake Louise, great views, great skies, great company… It was a perfect ending to another great day.

On the way up 6 Glaciers, Lake Louise in the background

On the way up 6 Glaciers, Lake Louise in the background

Day four brought the crew back to Lake Louise to tackle the trail of Six Glaciers.  Ira wasn’t sure if he could make it but set off to try.  Total mileage was about 8 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of about 1,200 feet (Joanne and Stan- we try and kill Kim’s parents too 🙂 ). Well, he was up for the challenge and made it.  

A well deserved smoke

A well deserved smoke

Of course, he had to light his celebratory cigarette the minute he hit the top.

See the Chatteau?

See the Chatteau?

In the middle of the 6 glaciers is a teahouse, basically a coffee house in the middle of the wilderness. Ira hung out there and had some chocolate cake while Kim and Chris headed a bit further to the six glacier lookout. It was quite steep as they worked their way up the moraine to a waterfall runoff.  

Kim's summit

Kim's summit

Kim chilled by the waterfall while Chris pushed a little further.

Chris' summit

Chris' summit

 It was wild being a part of the scenery, actually surrounded by the six glaciers. Everyone was pretty beat after that.  We headed home to crack open some well deserved beers.  Yeah Dad!

Bow River Valley

Bow River Valley

Sunday was Ira’s last day.  After living through the Trail of Six Glaciers he was up for anything. We enjoyed a slow morning before setting out to Banff for yet another lengthy trail.  The trail, roundtrip, was about 6 miles and meandered along the Bow River, though the woods and valleys, and ended at a sad display of Hoodoo’s (once you have seen Bryce Canyon it’s really hard to look at hoodoos the same way).  With smiles on our faces we tallied the mileage for the 9 days Ira was here, about 35- Not bad for an old man!  Tired and hungry we finally found a pizza place to quell our cravings. We said our goodbyes early Monday, Ira heading to Calgary for his flight home and Kim and Chris packing up for the next stop, Waterton National Park, in Alberta CA. 

Lake Louise and Banff, Part I

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Tuesday was a relocation day and, while Kim and Chris slaved over packing and setting up, Kim’s dad enjoyed a day of golf.  The campground in Lake Louise was more along the lines of camping than the KOA in Jasper (what were we thinking?). 

Lake Louise

Lake Louise

We thought our adventures in Jasper would be unbeatable but Lake Louise and Banff did not disappoint. We started our first day at Lake Louise, just stealing a quick view as the plan was to hike the shoreline to Six Glaciers another day.

Kim's canoes next to Moraine Lake

Kim's canoes next to Moraine Lake

From there we went to Moraine Lake, another of the many glacially created lakes in the Rockies. 

Moraine lake

Moraine lake

We took a walk along the shore capturing the views and basking in the sun. We made a quick stop in town to get some information and ideas from the visitor center.  We also found a place with reasonably priced and quick internet. While Kim and Chris posted the Jasper adventures, Kim’s dad worked on rearranging some travel plans.

Takakkaw Falls

Takakkaw Falls

After taking care of business in town, we set off to see Takakkaw Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Canada.  After a short walk we were rewarded with some tall fast moving water and several photo ops.We all tried to capture the impressive views from each direction.

Chris' scenery shot

Chris' scenery shot

Chris’s take…

Kim's scenery shot

Kim's scenery shot

Kim’s take…

Bowe river

Bowe river

The next day we once again decided to divide and conquer.  Chris set of on his motorcycle while Kim and her dad worked their way towards Banff. 

Johnson Falls

Johnson Falls

First stop was Johnson Canyon, which was very crowded, where a quick hike brought them to the lower falls.  Having a busy day planned, they opted to move on instead of fighting the crowds to get to the upper falls.

Johnson Lake

Johnson Lake

Johnson Lake was next on the agenda.  Kim and her dad enjoyed a 3 mile trek around the lake, wishing they had remembered their bathing suits.

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka

Further up the road was Lake Minnewanka, the largest lake in Banff.  Not the favorite lake on the trip, but there is always a picture. Kim and her dad took a hike along the shoreline to Stewart Canyon. 

Friendly bighorn sheep

Friendly bighorn sheep

There were LOTS of big horn sheep along the trail. They went into the town of Banff for a looksee then headed home to join Chris for dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jasper National Park

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

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Kim’s dad arrived on Friday, shortly after we got set up in the Jasper area.  His travels were long but without incident and he was happy to be here.  Jasper is well… WOW!  Honestly, we think it is even better than Alaska, which may be related to the sun finally making an appearance. There was wildlife everywhere and we made several stops during our travels to capture pictures of giant elk, mountain goats, big horn sheep, coyote, and more.  Haven’t seen any bears yet mom, so don’t worry 🙂 

MLake

Maligne Lake

Our first day was spent at a few locations.  We started out at Maligne Lake, the second largest glacier fed lake in the world, with a walk and then a cruise tour that included a short stop on Spirit Island.  The sun was shining and the views were outstanding.  We saw several glaciers and 360 degrees of mountain views. Everywhere we turned there was another picture to be taken. 

Mountain Goat on a cliff along the roadside

Mountain Goat on a cliff along the roadside

From the lake, we set out to see Althabasca Falls, one of the most powerful waterfalls in the Canadian mountain parks.  It was an impressive water flow, but the area was quite touristy so we didn’t stay long. Everywhere we go is a drive, but there is so much to see we really don’t mind.

Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Lake

Our next stop was Pyramid Lake which is just outside of the town of Jasper.  There are many small lakes all over and they are all non-motor with beautiful blue clear water.  We took a nice hike along the lake and through the woods, which was a good ending to a full day.

Jasper from above

Jasper from above

On Sunday we decided to divide and conquer.  Chris took off for a motorcycle ride while Kim and her dad went to Whistler Mountain via the Jasper Tramway.  They walked from the tram to the summit to get the full 360 degree effect, which was well worth the effort. The views from the top were incredible.  While they checked out the peaks Chris found a great glacier, glacier lake, and ice cave.  It was so cool, he had to bring Kim and Ira there the next day.

Inside an ice cave

Inside an ice cave

Our last day in Jasper was the best yet.  We retraced Chris’ route from the day before and visited the Mount Edith Cavell Glacier area where we captured photos of the glacier, ice lake, and of us playing in the ice cave.  When the rocks started to fall at the entrance to the cave, we decided it was time to leave.  Ira really enjoyed seeing his first glacier. 

Chris is in BIG trouble

Chris is in BIG trouble

From there we headed to the Five Lakes Trail, which came highly recommended as both picturesque and refreshing.  This easy/moderate trail went by five different lakes each a brighter blue from the previous.  Dad was prepared with his bathing suit and it didn’t take long for him to jump into the perfectly temperate water.  Chris followed shortly behind in his shorts.  Kim also took an unplanned swim while trying to capture a timer shot (anything for the blog).  All was good, as she saved her hair… Until Chris splashed her…

 We ended our Jasper adventure with a trip to the local brewery to sample some Canadian Rockies brew.  We all enjoyed our well deserved drinks after clocking over 5 miles of hiking.  Tired and content we headed home after a bite to eat.

 Tomorrow it’s off to Lake Louise and the Banff area. Cell sevice and internet is extremely costly up here, so please forgive us if we are slow in responding to inquieries/comments.