Published: May 17th 2010May 15th 2010
15th - 16th May Where:
Banff area of Banff National Park Weather:
This probably seems like the obvious choice after settling down in Calgary. To me it was not. But with the weather being cooperative, I said "Yes".
Banff, can be extremely crowded & overrated. But today, it was not. The mountains were gorgeous. No other word to explain. The place strangely resembled Whistler(much smaller though) & the town is pretty upscale.
And Banff is strategically placed in between those huge mountains. Anywhere you turn heavy mass mountains with sharp pointy tips grace you with their presence. In peak Summer upto 50,000 people visit Banff NP every day! That's like a lot of people. Hell more than Banff can handle, I am sure. And Summer is July- early September
When in Ca, I was overwhelmed when I am faced with a long weekend. I am in a very similar situation now, but due to geometrically opposite reasons. While I did not know where to go as we'd been to every place in Ca, I am faced with a dilemma of where to start in CA. There are so many places to see. And there is this urge
to see it all. But ah! Once you see it all, you go back to the same situation with the old reason.
On a bright Saturday morn(18C at 8am) we drove the scenic Trans-Canada highway towards the Rockies. The degrees narrowed as we neared the mountains. ~10C.
Our obvious first stop was at the Information center on Banff Ave. With endless looks forward & backward at the mountains, we ended up at the parking lot for Johnston Canyon. In 5 minutes, the half empty lot overflowed.
This is some hike(inspite of being the most popular). We enjoyed it so much. And the canyon is like nothing I'd seen before.[Though I should admit I was reminded of Ouray, CO, USA]
This trail is probably the most popular in Banff. There are a series of catwalks anchored to walls of the Canyon and viewpoints above the river and falls. I went this week to see the Ink Pots which I have never seen despite having been on this trail on countless occasions. Even on a weekday the trail to the Upper Falls is crowded. The majority of the trail is paved and has hand rails. The trail starts near the washrooms and crosses Johnston Canyon within the first couple of hundred meters. There is a giftshop, ice cream shack and cabins on the ridge immediately across the bridge. The trail heads to the right and the Lower Falls (immediately below) are only 1.1 kilometers from the trailhead. The Lower Falls are 10 m (33 feet) high and there is a tunnel at the one side that you can kneel and walk through to get a close up view and feel the spray in your face.
The Upper Falls are 2.7 kilometers further down the trail from the lower. By time you reach the Upper Falls the elevation gain is 120 meters. The Upper Falls (below) are more than 30 m (almost 100 feet) in height.
Now, the biggest feat for us is the little one hiked on the way back. Maybe a km or slightly more. She would've hiked a little more but she felt sleepy. Promptly fell asleep in her seat all the time in the car. It was impossible to wake her at Lake Minnewanka. So, we went back to our YWCA hostel & forcefully shook her to wakefulness. For sunset, we went to Bow Falls lookout & managed to
get some pictures. After realizing that we had a long day, we finally decided to retreat to our home.
Being a hostel, we met some Korean girls at the kitchen. Now, I would've not noticed or talked to them, but once of them asked, "Indian?" and promptly said, "Namaste". They had been to India to volunteer at Mother Theresa's foundation in Kolkatta for 2 months & ended up seeing quite a bit of N & E India including Varanasi. They love Indian food & recognized "Aloo" from my plate. I should've known earlier. I did not want to share left-overs with them.
And I got to know about their life a little. Looks like Korea has a deal with Canada/Germany/Australia & NZ where Koreans get a visa to work in one of these countries. As a result, one of them just landed in Vancouver 1 month ago. Moved to Banff 10 days ago & will be there for the Summer. For the Winter, she knows not where she will go. The only answer, "Some other city in Canada". You can only imagine how much I loved what she said. Half our life ends up with just planning. I replied, "I
envy you" & walked my way reminding myself I should stay in hostels more often. You learn so much & end up being modest & open about life.
Sunday, May 16th
What a sleep last night! Among the three of us, none of us knew who slept first.
The first thing I noticed in the morning were the aches & pains from the previous day's hike. Thought to self: Stretch before & after the hike, you Dumbo!
We managed to leave early to the surprise parking lot.
The hike to the Hoodoos.
~10km RT. Fairly easy. We did not see many people as we started. But we saw a live forest. Squirrels, lots of birds, bees & mosquitoes(bring a bug spray if you come after July). S fell asleep as soon as we entered the trail. And woke up at the Hoodoos.
A note to fellow hiker: Please visit at the end of the day for better pictures. And also, if you are short on time, there is a parking lot just by the Hoodoos. And it is just across from the Tunnel Mountain campground as well. But we enjoyed the shady hike.
On our way back, we let
Hoodoos trail - I think I stressed him out a little. He would shriek when he saw me every time he came out.
her hike a part of the trail. She did well. Most of it. So, even if the hike takes a little longer, I think we will increase the frequency of S taking her hike.
A short hike, a climb up some stairs & a short play at the recreation center later, guess what? S fell asleep...all the way home. In fact she slept through the night. You cannot find more happy parents.
~travelbuffs Important Info
Banff was established as the first National Park of Canada & for good reasons. A must visit. It is just breath-taking! Banff National Park Other day hikes in Banff
There are more photos below