Published: April 1st 2012October 10th 2011
On the way up
It was time for a break, so I headed out west where my son and I got to spend some time together AND explore the outdoors of beautiful Banff.
My original travel plans took a bit of a u-turn with the threat of a strike by Air Canada. Instead of flying directly from home to Calgary, I spent a day driving to London ON to connect with a Westjet flight. That worked out fine since I have family there so the return home included a stop over and Thanksgiving dinner.
Banff is a little over an hour west of Calgary, where my son lives, so this was a very manageable trip. We arrived in Banff on a Tuesday afternoon and got the lay of the land. Wednesday morning saw us up Sulphur mountain via gondola (yes, that is snow you see in the photos!) which is home to one of the first weather monitoring stations and apparently a cosmic ray station - who knew?
After a hike back into town and some sustenance we decided to tackle Tunnel Mountain. All the info told us it was an easy to moderate climb, and this may be true for some.
On the gondola
Heading up Sulphur Mountain.
It was an experience for me, likely not helped by the Guinness at lunch (I know, I know) but it was beautiful and one of those things we will laugh about for years to come. Heights became a bit of a challenge for me, but we got there - and I would have bought the t-shirt if there had been one available.
Next day we took a leisurely drive along Hwy 1A to Johnson Canyon, stopping along the way at a roadside memorial to an internment camp dating from the first world war. I cannot imagine what living conditions were like for these poor souls, who were originally brought to Canada to work. But they are not forgotten and the memorial was very moving. I had no idea that internment camps were used in the first world war, and we came across the memorial entirely by accident.
Johnson Canyon is an easy and scenic hike. Again, we were there quite early, so it was very peaceful. Apparently it is quite popular with tour groups and can get quite busy. There are cabins right at the trail head, which would be a beautiful place to stay. We then continued
on to Lake Louise for a short stop but didn't indulge in any of the hikes we had been originally eying.
Friday called for a treat at the nearby spa to take care of those tender tootsies and recover from all the miles we had put on them! The next day we utilized the local roam bus to explore other areas and visit the Banff Springs Hotel. Sunday, after checking out of our hotel, we visited Lake Minnewanka and then Johnson Lake recreation area before reluctantly hitting the road back to Calgary.
It was a great break with terrific weather. The opportunity to spend time outdoors in such a beautiful place was just what the doctor ordered - and I am happy to report that our 'dinner bells' (bear bells) did the trick :)!
There are more photos below