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Published: March 9th 2008
Ice Climbers - That is one big frozen waterfall
I can't believe we can finally use a geographical description that isn't Lake Louise!!! The level of excitement I'm feeling about that seems a little sad doesn't it??
Anyway, the reason we are able to use a description other than Lake Louise is because we are now mobile! Yes, that's right, we've taken the plunge and bought a used car. Not sure whether the plunge component relates to purchasing a car, or having to deal with used car salesmen. My guess is the salesmen, particularly as the one we ended up buying from was missing more than one tooth, and had the appropriate grin to match.
Everyone knows buying a car can be difficult, slightly scary, time consuming.... Our purchase was all of those things, and more. Firstly, we had to get to Calgary to buy it - simple, I think not. We went on Friday morning, the 3.25am bus, or so we thought. At 5am when we were still standing at the bus stop (an outdoor stop, and it must have been about -30), we gave up and went home to bed. We then went back for the 8am service, which turned up at around 9.15am. We got
to Calgary around midday (it was an incredibly slow trip as there was a massive snowstorm the entire journey), and started the process. It didn't get any warmer than around -25 all day, and it snowed sideways the whole time. It was dreadful. Made even better by the fact that I slipped over on an icy road, and Paul nearly got run over by a bus trying to help me. We returned to Lake Louise that night defeated, and on another late bus 😞
Undeterred, we tried again on Monday. We got the 3.25am bus (which turned up a little after 4am), but still arrived in Calgary at the right time as the driver decided that stopping at scheduled stops was unnecessary! (sucks if you live in Banff or Canmore) Everything went much better this time, once we came to terms with the idea that you can sell a car in Alberta with a windscreen so cracked you can't see through it, and it feels like the windscreen is going to fall out of the car, and that brakes are optional extras! We ended up getting a 1995 Plymouth Voyager, which is a cross between a Torago and a
Pajero. It will be perfect for camping as we can fit a double air mattress and camping stove in the back.
We now have the joy of having learned about shovelling parking spots, winter tyres, and why you don't use water as windscreen wiper fluid 😊
Our first adventure in the new car was Friday. and we took ourselves to Johnston Canyon. The Canyon is about halfway between Lake Louise and Banff, and was amazing. The Canyon is divided into three main parts, the Lower Falls, Upper Falls and the Inkpots. Being the adventurous (or maybe stupid) souls that we are, we decided to head out to the Inkpots, which are 6km each way from the starting point. We thought we were prepared, and even took snowshoes with us! The first 3kms are on a track (a track covered with about a foot of snow of course), and it was unbelievably beautiful. The falls must snap freeze at the start of each winter, and the water freezes while going down the falls. It kind of makes the falls look like curtains, and in some places, not all the water has frozen, and you can see the water rushing
behind the ice.
After we reached the Upper Falls (and saw people ice climbing, which I might add seems like a terrifying way to spend a day - they have to keep hammering picks into the ice to find their next safe stepping place, and the ice kept falling into the canyon about 50 feet down), it was time for the snow shoes. Not sure whether anyone else has had the opportunity of using them, but it's like wearing tennis rackets on your feet! Because they're so wide you have to walk like you've been on a horse for too long, and they are pretty easy to trip over if you don't pick your feet up enough. We got the hang of them though, and hiked out to the Inkpots. The Inkpots are like natural springs that constantly bubble out of the earth, and don't ever freeze over. Not sure what the temperature of the water is when it comes out of the ground, but it must be amazingly hot for the pools not to freeze.
Being the food lovers we are (and also as we decided that we would celebrate Valentine's Day with a gourmet picnic) we
took a beautiful lunch with us, including pate, camembert, leg ham, and a few other tasty bits. It was the coldest picnic I have ever been on. We managed to find a bench to sit on (after we cleared the snow and ice off it), and were even attacked by birds (not sure why they hadn't frozen to death - I guess they were the Canadian equivalent of seagulls). It was a pretty short picnic. The trek back was pretty uneventful, except at one point both Paul and I thought we were going to faint from having to hike up this massive hill. I think the altitude really got to us (and maybe all the camembert), and the weather closed right in, so we couldn't see too far ahead of us.
The more I think about it, the more I realise what an eventful week it was! Yesterday (Saturday), both Paul and I had to work, however Paul and team still found time to participate in (and I still found the time to watch for an hour) the 'Cardboard Box Downhill Derby'. A race course was groomed beside one of the runs, and a stack of teams (mainly staff)
jumped in their boxes and flew down the hill. Some made it, some didn't, but Paul's team - "The Raiders of the Lost Beer" - won best design! The race was great fun, and went really well, except for when one of the designs picked up too much speed, crashed through the end barrier and knocked out a spectator. The spectator was later taken to hospital with a dislocated shoulder...
Details from Paul how it felt to come down the course...
Not completely satisfied with the course provided by the hill. The night of the day after the race a few teams decided to test their cardboard creations on a run that was a bit steeper. Instead of choosing something sane like a green run, it was decided to give the sleds a crack at the one of the steepest groomed run on the hill - Mens downhill. Yep the one the olympians go down. (Beer does bad thingss to yoour sense of safety) One rider bailed about 50m down as his sled began to desintergrate, but the other runner held on and was last seen heading down the mountain at about 80km/h. Mind you that was what
the speedo on the skidoo chasing him was saying and thhe sled left it behind. The pilot bailed before the "gunbarrel" run and the cardboard sled was found halfway up a tree a bit further down.
It's Family Day weekend here at the moment, and according to the locals, the public holiday was created in response to a goverment official being found out to be a drunk, and his son a drug addict - seems like a good excuse for a public holiday each year to me!
Our next adventure will most likely be next Friday, and at this stage we're planning to head to Radium, BC. There are hot springs there, as well as other little small town things! If we don't go there, we may end up at Kicking Horse Mountain (another ski hill), or somewhere else we haven't even thought of yet!!!
Have a good week everyone, and keep sending through the emails and messages...
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