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Published: July 14th 2007
This bridge was quite impressive, but a little difficult to capture on film. I managed to keep the man-made bridge shadow to a minimum, but it's better than nothing.
After getting off the Vancouver ferry, both Sara and I were spent. The long days of kayaking and excessive salt intake had both of us ready for a break. But since we didn’t want to get stuck in Vancouver morning traffic, we decided to fight through afternoon traffic instead. We made it to Chilliwack, British Columbia, about halfway across and close to the US border. After significant hassle caused by RV only “camping”, we found a campground with both of our requirements: showers and laundry. A third preference, mosquito-free, was not met, but we made the best of it and got ready for the hiking portion of the trip.
A good night’s sleep helped get us going early the next morning for a 7 hour drive to Yoho National Park. Uneventful best describes the drive, with the exception of drivers here not appreciating being passed. Not sure if the North Carolina plates have anything to do with it, but about one of every two cars we passed would then pass us, even though we were using cruise control. We splurged a bit and had Subway for lunch, then bought some backpacking food, and finished the trip by driving
One Last View
The end of our Lake Louise tourism. Didn't feel much like nature, but the views across the lake made up for the lack of solitude.
though Mount Revelstoke and Glacier (the Canadian version) National Parks, the latter of which was very impressive. Since the main Canadian highway passes through these parks, we did not have to buy a National Parks permit until we reached to Yoho park boundary. We were in for the first of many sticker shocks, as the entry fee had risen from our guidebook’s $75 to $123.60, the first of many unaccountably odd prices. Taking into account the incredible weak value of the dollar, and we paying far more for Canadian goods than we anticipated.
The first trip we hoped to do was the Alpine Circuit at Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park, which requires a limited seating shuttle bus, so a trip to the Visitor Center was in order. While nice, our fees are clearly not going to the teaching portion of the National Parks here. But the ranger was very helpful, letting us know we didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting on the bus the next day. He also indicated that the snowball in question currently resided on the trail we hoped to hike, and that this winter had been a heavy snowfall year. It
The best of the easy access lakes in Yoho National Park, this lake was much better in person than on camera. That just means I didn't do my job, but it still looks good enough.
put a bit of a damper on our plans. But there are seats available by calling in at 8 am in the morning, so we decided to try that for the next day.
Since all the campgrounds in the parks are first-come, first-served, our tardiness left only the primitive campground with spots available. We were fine with that, as all we needed was a bathroom and water source. All for the ridiculous price of $16.80! Luckily they allowed payment with credit card, as there was no one there to make change and only a drop box for payment. We met someone who had been hiking the area, and he lifted our spirits a bit, telling us he had been hiking fairly high and seen little snow. Since there was still plenty of daylight left, we explored a few of the touristy spots, like Natural Bridge and Emerald Lake, both very impressive.
The next day arrived with a bright sunny sky and we headed for the phone to try and reserve bus seats. As we were dialing, I realized that the system in question was idiotic. Not only were we competing with people calling from inside the
Unlike Emerald, we had this lake all to ourselves.
park, but also everyone from Edmonton and Calgary that might want to come up (we were trying to get seats for a Saturday trip). Seems a little unfair, especially since we had to use a pay phone with no redial. And no chance, as we never got anything other than a busy signal. On the slim chance that someone failed to show up, we tried to walk up and get seats, but five other people had the same idea and were walking back to their cars soon after we got there. We considered walking the 5.5 km, but decided to save that for a day where we could get an earlier start.
We already had plans for a hike, anyway, to Sherbrooke Lake. The lake itself has the traditional bright turquoise color of most of the lakes here, but isn’t the final destination. We hiked well past and above the lake to a glacially carved amphitheatre, then to a meadow 600 ft above. The views were great all around, especially to the peaks across the valley, covered with glaciers. I decided to wear myself out by scrambling up a scree slope to a saddle so as to look
A wide open valley, close to treeline, with a beautiful view all around. It made for a great place to eat lunch.
down into the next valley. It was a little steeper than it looked, compounded by sections of snow and mud, so I was pretty tired by the top. The views weren’t really that much better, so it was a rather unfulfilling climb.
The hike down went quickly, and we decided to head back to the Visitor Center to see if there were any updates on snow conditions. Though the girl and the desk didn’t seem too knowledgeable, at least she showed us the trail reports, which indicated that most of the Alpine Circuit was snow free, and since we had plenty of time here, we decided to save the circuit until the end of the trip. The weather had been unusually warm, as high as 95°F, so that snow would likely disappear by the time we got back. We headed back to our campground and planned for the rest of the trip. The rest of the trip, however, would be accomplished with a different tent. As I was setting up for the night, I heard a pop and a smell similar to gunpowder. The pole had snapped. Fortunately, I had a sleeve to repair the region, so I tried
View From the Saddle
After slipping, sliding, and slogging my way up the slope, I barely felt up to taking any pictures. I figured I might as well document my hard work, so this is the result.
again. Snap! A second break. Great, on to the duct tape. Snap! A third. Well, that’s what backup shelters are for, so on to the tarp, which worked perfectly for the night.
The next day’s goal was to get to the city of Banff, which the park brochure describes as “Canada’s first national park city”. I’m not sure why that would be a point of pride. Usually, I think of a national park as a place away from cities. In my opinion, it’s like making a soup and proudly pointing out the fly swimming in it. The park office there would hopefully be able to help us plan our first backpacking trip. On the way, we stopped at the most famous of Banff landmarks, Lake Louise, to see what all the fuss was about. Well, it’s because it really is pretty, especially if you get an early start, which we did. Only one hiker beat us to the trail, so we only saw two people the entire way up to the viewpoint for the Plain of Six Glaciers. We passed on the teahouse, which was open as we came back down, and quickly hiked through the gathering hordes, glad
Lake Louise Marmot
The marmots near the major trails were all tame. Camera shy, they weren't.
that we had begun so early. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the lake color and improved dramatically, and was now a brilliant sky blue. My camera got a workout.
We headed to Banff, first getting a campsite, then to the Visitor Center for information on the Mount Assiniboine area for a backpacking trip. Both tasks were easier than expected, as the campground had half of their 600 sites empty and all the camping in Assiniboine was first-come, first-serve as well. We had a busy day, preparing for the hike and swallowing hard to pay for the $24 each bus tickets for three miles to Sunshine Meadows, the start of our hike. After a delicious taco dinner, we finished our preparations and went to bed thinking about our upcoming hike. Unfortunately, those thoughts soon shifted to the hundreds of mosquitoes swarming our tent and buzzing in our ears with our makeshift mosquito netting. Sara abandoned ship in the middle of the night, preferring the car to the buzzing. Not a restful way to spend the night before a hike!
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