The RV parks in Canada Parks are crowded, so we decided to stay just outside Jasper National Park in Hinton at a lovely KOA. We arrived early and took a walk at nearby Beaver Boardwalk. The boardwalk is a marshy area where you traverse the marsh on boardwalks, built by the local lumber company and volunteers. As we arrived, there was a quartet playing music out in the marsh. Can you imagine that? We walked over about a half mile of boardwalk, but did not see a beaver just their houses. I guess everyone went to bed early that night after the concert.
The next day was filled with Jasper and its beautiful and unique areas. Pyramid Lake is a jewel in the mountains, perfect for kayaking and canoeing with its clear calm waters. Athabasca Falls is a thunderous waterfall with a walkway around it for viewing. It can take your breath away.
Our last foray of the day was a 2.5 Km hike to the Five Lakes Valley. These lakes are known for their vibrant blue / green color and they did not disappoint us. The color was magnificent. The forest around them was dark green and filled with birds, squirrels and bears. The hike was moderate and I was all tired out until the very end, when we met up with a group of ladies just finishing their hike too… and one of them was 84. They have been making the hike every year. Was I embarrassed!
On the way to Banff and Lake Louise we drove through the Icefield Parkway, which is just one stunning glacier shrouded mountain after another, and each more beautiful than the last.
We camped at Tunnel Mountain Provincial Trailer Camping area in Banff, and were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it was. The first afternoon we toured the elegant Banff Springs Hotel, which is now owned by Fairmont. I was afraid it would not be as lovely as I remembered, but it was even more beautiful. However, the number of visitors had multiplied by thousands, and I mean thousands.
We still had a few hours of daylight, so we drove to Bow Falls, which was stunning, and then to the Bow River Lookout to see the Hoodoos. I couldn’t help but think of the outstanding hoodoos in Bryce Canyon.
Our aim was to see Lake Louise and surrounding area the next day. We started out at the Lake Louise Chateau and found that parking was a momentous problem even in the Honda Fit. To say parking was limited would be an understatement. The number of tourists was unbelievable. Cars, trucks and RVs and busses full. The lake and the Chateau were as magnificent as I remembered, and we were able to take a hike along side of the lake for about 1.5 Km. We were blessed with clear skies and sunshine. The color of the lake was opaque blue; the surrounding mountains varied colors of green, and grey.
From there we went to beautiful Moraine Lake and found the same parking problems. The color of the lakes comes from the rock sediment of the glaciers that feed the lakes, from which all the colors are reflected but blue, which gives them their indescribably beautiful blue color. We were able to hike along this lake too.
On our way home we decided to take the 1A scenic loop. We couldn’t have made a better decision. We left the maddening crowds behind and had the road almost to ourselves, bringing back memories of Alaska.The route had many little stops where you could look over beautiful rivers or hike down trails. We stopped at Johnston Falls and took the trail to the lower falls. (A little over ½ mile.) The hard part was the dogs were afraid of the narrow bridges over the canyons, so they had to be carried over the bridges. The good news was, I was so worried about them, I didn’t have trouble with the height myself. The falls were spectacular. The water curses through the canyon with such vengeance it carves out the canyon, leaving layers of multicolored sediment on the walls. It was a spectacular hike.
We were famished by then and it was almost seven at night, so we ate a lovely dinner at the small restaurant at the bottom of the falls. Later as dusk settled, we saw buck elk in the meadow and even got a glimpse of a huge black bear. It could not have been a better day and we counted our blessings once again.
On our last day in Banff National Park we awoke to gray skies and rain. We had planned to take a float trip on the Bow River, so we hoped for the skies to clear and they did. The float trip was serene and relaxing until the end when the rain started again. To make up for that, Lennard took me to the Banff Springs Hotel for a lovely lunch in the upper grill room, and we had a table looking out at the river and mountains.
At the end of this last day, we drove to the Vermillion lakes. We hoped to see the sunset turn the lakes vermillion, but the clouds came and it rained off and on. We were able to hike a bit and then sat on a bench to watch the birds on the marsh and the colors of the lake change by the minute. No, they weren’t vermillion, but they were beautiful shades of blue, grey and gold. We even saw a rainbow over the famous Mount Rundle.
Tomorrow we head back into the US and will be ecstatic to have our phones back and the internet. It has been problematic trying to get a few things done without our usual services. We are also looking forward to meeting up with our friends Jan and Tim, and Lennard’s former neighbors and good friends, Tom and Joanne. It will be a nice peaceful time before we begin our trip across the US to the east coast. Yes, we are still talking to each other and have not yet resorted to the boxing gloves.