Published: July 4th 2011June 18th 2011
Next day was colder, but still dry. Another delicious FREE breakfast in our log cabin hotel to start. Then off to see the most spectacular sights in the rockies. We left the Bow River behind for the Kicking Horse River, sighting an Osprey's nest in the process.
Near Castle Mountain, we alighted from the bus to walk up a ravine to some waterfalls. I struck out on my own to get up to the furthest waterfall in the short time available, whistling to ward off any bears in the vicinity. ( We met some canoeists walking up the path alongside the raging river! They planned to canoe down the river. Over the waterfalls?)
Later, we stopped for lunch at a Ski Resort where we found lots of Ground Squirrels, standing erect outside their dens and chorusing a warning to their mates in the warrens down below whenever we came near! Next we struggled up (by luxury coach) to partly-frozen Lake Moraine next to Babbel Mountain before being dropped off into the plush surroundings of the Lake Louise Hotel. Here we were troubled with drizzly rain, but it didn't last long and it gave us a great opportunity to explore the sumptuous hotel lounges.
After dragging Mary away from the plush surroundings, we set off westwards again, and very soon we came upon a mummy bear and her two teenage bear cubs, on the railway line and feeding off the grain dropped from the railway wagons. Just another hazard for the freight trains!
Eventually, we drove across the province boundary into British Columbia without much fanfare. We 'pitched up' for the night at a place called Golden, which looked like a truckers' stop with mod cons to match. It was much lower down, though, so the air was warmer and the leaves more mature. I tried desperately to fill in a boring hour or two updating my blog - but found the messages I got from the laptop unhelpful and misleading.
Next morning, we had a snack breakfast at the hotel, served by a pair of harassed young girls with fancy piercings and short skirts. (Just like the road movies?) The redoubtable Shiela (our guide) advised us that we had a long day of travelling ahead. So we had to leave promptly.
So, up over the chilly Rogers Pass we went, stopping for coffee. En route, though, we encountered the Spiral Tunnel, invented to ease the steep gradient for the trains. (It's amusing to see the front end of these long trains coming out of the tunnel heading west while the tail end of the train is about to enter the other end of the tunnel heading EAST.)
Later we stopped by a lake to encounter a wedding party waiting in their finery for the bride and groom to arrive by canoe! We also met a moose (at last) and had our closest encounter with a bear yet, parking our bus just 30 yards from a young male foraging for tasty dandelions and other suitable snacks on the edge of the woods.
As we approached Rogers Pass, the Columbian mountains closed in more and more, leaving us up among the glaciers and under risk of avalanche (or at least we would have been at risk 2-3 months earlier!)
After a coffee stop at chilly, but sunny, Rogers Pass we set off downhill for the delights of the region known as Interior British Columbia, one of the least well-known, but attractive, areas of Canada. Kelowna here we come!