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Published: June 16th 2018
Groundhog day - up early, bags out, buffet breakfast, onto the bus, mountains, forest, waterfalls, lakes, sun, rain, clouds.
Started the day back on the Icefields Parkway on our way from Jasper to Banff, and because we are on a bus tour, and that means seat rotations, every morning is "find where we are sitting today". Because we were on the "good" side of the road when we travelled to Jasper, we had to be on the other side today. First stop after we left Jasper this morning was Athabasca Falls. A little walk to the falls, viewing area fairly crowded, but very nice waterfall. We see lots of waterfalls, on sides of mountains, and near the road as we are driving, guess we stop at the special ones!
Then a coffee stop at Sunwapta Lodge - we stopped here on Wednesday, not particularly impressed so decided to walk the 1.1km to the Sunwapta Falls (just for something different), again, very nice waterfall.
Continued on the Icefields parkway, stopped for lunch where it crosses the Saskatchewan River, at a service centre/truck stop, surrounded by mountains. Even the truck stops have views!
After lunch, we continued on to
Peyto Lake. This was supposed to be a stop on the way up, but bus driver/tour guide decided the weather wasn't that great for viewing (didn't really understand at the time). We have been dodging the rain all week, it has been mostly when we are on the bus. Bruce, bus driver, must have a magic wand he waves when he stops the bus, and the sun comes out for a little while. The viewing point for the lake is at Bow Summit, elevation 2135m, (Mt Kosciuszko is 2228m) so pretty high! We had to walk down a short trail to the viewing point for Peyto Lake, and wow! So beautiful! The colour was amazing, and the sun was out while we were there (now we get the change of day, blue not so bright when it is cloudy).
At the end of the Icefields Parkway, we drove east on the Trans Canada Highway for a short distance and crossed into British Columbia, and the Yoho National Park to see Natural Bridge, a rock formation spanning the Kicking Horse River. A short drive away, another stop at Emerald Lake, then back on the Highway to Banff.
are driving down the highway to Banff, there are cries of "bear, bear" inside the bus, but we are on a highway, and the bus is not able to stop, so we catch a glimpse of a black bear as we drive past. Our tour director, Darcy, has been looking for a bear from day one, think he was getting worried that we wouldn't see one at all! A little further down the highway, and Darcy spots another bear. This time, although still on the highway, Bruce is able to reverse the bus (on the shoulder) and we are able to get a good look at the bear, who is in a clearing, up a little hill, but quite close to the road. Everybody happy now!
We are staying tonight at the Banff Springs Hotel (called the "Castle in the Rockies"). It is huge, 757 rooms. This tour (called Great Resorts of the Canadian Rockies) stays at the three Fairmont managed properties, Chateau Lake Louise, Jasper Park Lodge and Banff Springs Hotel - so we get a chateau, a cabin and a castle! The chateau and the castle are historic properties built by Canadian Pacific Railway in the early
1900's (replacing smaller buildings from late 1800's). (Bathrooms have been updated since then!)
Dinner on our own tonight, but weather was bad, so decided to stay at the hotel and eat in the Rundle Lounge - champagne view tonight was beautiful mountains, instead of beautiful lakes.
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