Monday, 30 July 2012

In BC!

From one tourist spot to another but oh so different. We are at the Shuswap lakes at a campground. Despite the flood of tourists in Banff National Park the remoteness, the wilderness, the nature that surrounds, was the main feature. Here at the Shuswaps, people's leisure pursuits dominant with the noise of boats, trucks,trains, people, and the noise of advertisements- it all combines to take over the scene. The campsites here are stuffed with chairs and water toys and coolers and just more stuff! The camping in the Parks was minimalist, "bare" sites with a lone tent or two. Pretty scenery here but what a contrast to the nature protection zone of the National Parks.

No one felt like doing any sight seeing or hikes today and so it turned into a driving day and we drove right through Yoho National Park - hope we don't regret it but It just seemed like we had hit our saturation point.

It definitely feels like our adventuring is coming to an end - and we are all ready for our end destination. Can't wait to spend time with Kris and Leo, Peeka and Fitzy ..... and shift gears once more.

Just a few pics from the travels today.

Lake Louise Tea House Trek

Our original though was to hike the Lake Agnes trail to the tea house at the top. Which we did and was awesome! It really was a tea house with a variety of loose leave teas to choose from and some select home made offerings of food. I thoroughly enjoyed being perched up high with mountain peaks around, small glacial lake to gaze upon and sipping a very fine Assam tea- quite civilized! But the boys did great ( 386 elevation gain) and we were feeling so inspired up there that we tacked on a 5 km hike to the other tea house ( six plains glaciers) and that was a much tougher hike but worth it! When we got there and sitting and enjoying our packed lunch we saw two mini avalanches and one bigger one- and it's the immense rumbling sound echoing in the alpine valley that was super exciting! We finished the hike at about 7pm! We were all wiped but I'm so proud of the boys for taking in such an adventurous hike (15 km in total, some rough trails and a few steady inclines to slog through). We lined up at the lake Louise campground hoping for a site and lucked out and got one next to a tour company group. Normally that may not be so great but they kept bringing over their left overs! This morning we got sausages, blueberry pancakes, real maple syrup!, fruit salad and yogurt!!! What a treat- thank you!

Today we are leaving the campsite at 11am - a very slow start - and now off to Yoho National Park! And two more sleeps before we get to Kris's!
P.s the really awesome pics are on the other camera - these aren't the best.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Sean's Blog

Today I was in Banff National Park and I went to a toy store and got something and my little brother got something also. I got a dinosaur play set and there was big Raptor and a small Raptor and a stegosaur. My little brother got a dinosaur play set too and in the set was a big triceratops and a little triceratops and a dinosaur with a frill on its back.

Also today I went to the visitor centre in Lake Louise and I got a Xplorer certificate and I got a dog tag - a yellow and gold one.

I went to a talk about bears and I learned about bear 56 who was walking along eating dandelions with her cubs and couple of cars came and stopped and started to take pictures of the bears. ...... ( sean fell asleep, I'll finish it... ) The momma bear got scared and ran into a train and died and her cubs died later too - all because of the "bear jam" - when people stop to take pictures.

Banff National Park - popular place!

Left Banff today ( but after quick stop in the toy store- you'll hear more about that in the boys blog!)

Drove along the scenic Bow Valley Parkway and was rewarded with an elk sighting- Eric and I were so excited. We thought the boys would be thrilled but they seemed sort of blasé about it ( wonder if it just doesn't compare to the all the Hd big screen 3D stuff). Castle mountain was great to see - so iconic of Banff and ended up passing on Johnson Canyon hike when we saw the cars and campers spilling onto the road for parking! We headed onto Moraine Lake near Lake Louise and again overflow of cars and campers! But we eventually got parking- wistfully waiting for people to leave and hoping the people we spot heading to rheir car are coming our way! But it was worth it- beautiful glacier lake with its blue-turquoise waters and the back drops of the 10 peaks. I think we found the perfect "hike" for the boys, it was called the Rock Pile Hike! They had fun scrambling along and making friends with a chipmunk. Ended the day at Lake Louise campground where we are fenced in - with electrical fencing! To protect us from the bears and cougars! Some how it makes us feel even less safe.

Tomorrow we'll brave the throngs of tourist like us (though not of the same language- I like hearing so many different languages spoken) and do the popular Agnes tea house trail at Lake Louise (the actual lake)- and we've been told we'll get a parking spot if we get there before 10:30!

p. s what all tourist have in common though is we like taking pictures! And chipmunks seem to have universal cute appeal.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Banff tourist day

Did a full tourist day with a stroll down the main strip of Banff, with a special stop at the candy store ( a lot of serious excitement in the store trying to decide on the candy to buy!) then up Sulphur Mountain on the gondola which was also received with excitement. Amazing views and fun to people watch all the other tourists- there was even a wedding party up there getting their photos taken - it was a busy place. But the buzz in town and and up on the mountain was fun. Seeing so many people coming from all over the world to see the Rockies helped the boys to appreciate this all a bit more(or at least has made them pause and wonder).

Then we ended the day with a stroll along the Bow River that runs through Banff ( the trail was right next to where we are staying!)

Tomorrow we are doing a family friendly hike along Johnston Canyon and then north to Lake Louise.

Can't believe we have been on the road for 28 days!

Parkers Ridge Hike

A great hike today.. we think (hope) the boys might be getting into the swing of it - gave them their packs and treats and promise of lunch at the top, that seemed to help. Also the prospect of playing in snow was helpful. (they did really well actually).  An amazing hike with a  switch back trail in the beginning (210m elevation gain)  but what an amazing ridge to hike along with views of the Saskatchewan  Glacier, part of the Columbia Icefields. It's incredible to think of how much water is being stored up there to feed into three different water systems  - Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic! We were looking at the source of so much of our water - a bit mind boggling really.

We haven't seen any "animals" yet but are definitely getting used to the ground squirrels and they are definitely used to people!

We decided to skip south to Banff instead of stopping at Lake Louise, and also decided to get a place in town so we can tour around on foot. I promised the kids a trip to the candy store. We are staying a Y hostel.. and it's really great! Very reasonable price considering we are right in Banff proper and it has a communal kitchen, laundry facilities (so good to get that done.. the laundry was really stinking up the van!) and we are all freshly showered, clean clothes and ready to hit the town tomorrow.

Hope everyone is doing well. Thanks for all the emails about the blog and pics.. I really appreciate it.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Columbia Icefields

Blog- Icefields

Entered banff national park boundaries and stopped at saskachetwan river crossing- a tourist service area and did I ever get a shock - people everyone and campers and bus tours and high prices. We entered one of the highest or THE? ) tourist zone in Canada.

But the scenery really is spectacular and the mountains , waterfalls, glacial streams- truly awesome to behold( it makes one feel reverent).

But that was all enroute to the Columbia Icefields- to the Athabasca Glacier ( officially in Jasper National Park) Another high tourist concentration zone with people everywhere, bus loads, white rental campers, cars, and people speaking dutch, French, german, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish and other scandinavian of some kind. We baulked at the $ 50 pp price tag for going up onto the glacier by sno-bus. But thanks to global warming(!) the glacier has receded so much that you can actually walk up on your own and get pretty far up! Of course there were warnings everywhere of the dangers of this but the steady flow of other tourists with kids, dogs, didn't make it seem all that dangerous. It was pretty amazing being on the glacier!

We ended the day with my iPhone and camera full of photos and nestled in a rustic campsite with views of the glacier! Amazing Parks Canada experience! And this is just our first day- we are off to do a Parker's Ridge hike and then to Lake Louise to camp.