Tag Archives: Canadian Rockies

Canadian Rocky Mountains: Day 8 Drive Home

Our time is up and it is time for our drive home. It is only a six hour drive so we are in no hurry to get home. I find it is always different going home. Going there I want to get there and setup. On the way home I know we have warm beds waiting for us no matter what time we get in.

Hoodoos
Hoodoos

The first stop of course had to be the hoodoos (Wikipedia) that we had missed from yesterday. Hoodoos are spires of rock where there is a harder to erode rock on top of softer rock. The kids found them fascinating.

We stopped in Yoho National Park as we drove through it and decided that we need to plan a camping trip there in the near future. We drove into the town that that the visitor center is in looking for food and decided that there were more people currently at the visitor center than live in the town. I want to explore the town on foot as there were a number of historic buildings but the kids were hungry.

Burgess Shale Fossil
Burgess Shale Fossil

The visitor center had a display of fossils from the Burgess shale. I didn’t know that we were that close to them. The hikes are a little beyond Ian at this point so that will probably factor into when we come back camping. Still it was cool to see some although not as cool as the ones that we saw still in place back in Jasper.

Another display was a black bear named Jake. Jake developed a taste for human food, garbage cans, coolers etcetera. He was trapped or tranquilized five times and moved back in to the wilderness. Each time he returned to towns. Two of the releases were what they call ‘hard’ releases where they yell, fire blanks and noise makers at the bear to hopeful give them a fear of humans. Unfortunately it didn’t work, he returned again and had to be put down. This why they are so strict on the food being left out in the campgrounds. It is far more dangerous for the bear to develop a taste for human food than the bear is to us.

Natural Rock Bridge
Natural Rock Bridge

After lunch we stopped at a natural rock bridge. I have seen these in a couple of places but it is still cool to see again. You could walk across and we saw some people doing that but at the current water levels a fall would almost certainly be fatal. The kids had to go test the temperature again. This one is also glacier fed, although I’m not sure from which one, and thus is quite cold.

Testing the water at the rock bridge
Testing the water at the rock bridge

We also stopped at an old growth rain forest. It is the only one in BC that is away from the coast. The cedar trees are gigantic. It is a striking difference from the lodge pole pines of yesterday with a lot more green plants surrounding the trees.

Rain Forest
Rain Forest

We drove the rest of the way home stopping for dinner about an hour north of home. We got in just before dark.

Canadian Rocky Mountains: Day 7 Banff

This day was not part of our original plan for the trip. We decided to add two more days to the trip when my wife was able to get the extra days off work. It meant that we (I) planned it on my cell phone. It also meant the very nice hike I planned ended up leading us back to our own campground. There are hoodoos and I wanted to show them to kids since they are cool and fit in with our subjects for the year.

Lodge Pole Pine Forest
Lodge Pole Pine Forest

The problem was that the view point was across the street from our campground. We had missed the signs to it on the way up since we were looking for the campground and going back in to town it isn’t marked. It was still a good hike just a little pointless.

Spooky Tree
Spooky Tree

We figured it out when we ran into someone coming down and in asking him how much further it was he had skipped them in hiking from the campground into town. I got out my smart phone and turned on the GPS and satellite view on Google Maps. The trail was obvious and so was where are campground was. We turned around and visited the Hoodoos the next day.

More Layers
More Layers

We had our lunch on the trail and headed into town. There is and ice cream place there called Cows. It originated in PEI but has spread. The have excellent ice cream and funny cows based T-shirts.

Native Flute Player
Native Flute Player

While in town there was a performance by some local natives with story telling and music. At the end Philip and Margaret in fine homeschooling tradition went up and asked what the native solution to mosquitoes was. The answer was that they burned sage brush and wafted the smoke around.

Kids asking about how natives deal with mosquitoes
Kids asking about how natives deal with mosquitoes

After exploring the town we went to a hot spring called Cave and Basin. This is a historical site and the First Canadian National park. It meant that there was no going in the water or even touching it. The water is home to an endangered snail that is being protected. The building was originally a hotel/spa and is part of the history of the site. Ian hated the smell of the sulphur and held his nose every time he could smell it.

Cave and Basin Hot Springs
Cave and Basin Hot Springs

Dinner tonight was hot dogs cooked over the fire and banana boat also cooked with the fire. It would have been better if it hadn’t been pouring. Fortunately we were able to reach the fire from under our tarp. After dinner the kids went to a kids presentation and I stayed and watched the rain put out the fire.

Kids looking over from the to of a wall
Kids looking over from the to of a wall

The presentation was about the wildlife overpasses and underpasses. The kids got to take part, Ian and Margaret were a pair of wolves called Yip and Yap, Philip was golfer and got to yell “FORE”. They said that Ian was the most enthusiastic wolf of the season.

Yip and Yap
Yip and Yap

There are six animal overpasses over the highway and 38 underpasses. To determine where to put them they mapped where the animals were crossing. They also put a lot of work into how they looked to the animals that used them.

Animal Overpass
Animal Overpass

Canadian Rocky Mountains: Day 6 Ice Fields Parkway

Once again you get a day from out camping trip. This week has been all about cleaning and getting ready for the school year. We start back on Tuesday. The teachers for the public schools are on strike in our province and there is not much hope for a settlement soon. So while we will be back at it most of the rest of the province will not be. If I was willing to take in a pair of kids I could make a little extra money doing daycare. Not going there!

Family at the Falls
Family at the Falls

Our time in Jasper is over and it is time to move on to our second camping spot in Banff. To get there we drove the Ice Fields Parkway. We knew we had a reserved spot in Banff so other than not wanting to set up in the dark we could take our time.

Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls

The first place we stopped was the Athabasca Falls. It was a short walk to see everything but it was still cool. The falls are impressive. Again this is glacial melt and that is the source of the color.

Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls

The first cool thing is there are fish above the falls but they don’t know how they got there. The prevailing theory is that human hand way back had something to do with it.

Athabasca Falls Abandoned Channel
Athabasca Falls Abandoned Channel

The second was that we were able to walk down an abandoned channel of the river. It was cool to see the effects that the water had on the rocks over the years. One point on the walk down was called a pothole and it was where the water had formed a whirlpool and had worn out a little round area. My wife at this point started channelling Ms Frizzle and had them pretend to be water molecules wearing down the rock. They pretended to be fish trying to get back up.

Pothole Athabasca Falls
Pothole Athabasca Falls
Kids Pretending to be water
Kids Pretending to be water

We also saw an Inuksuk (Wikipedia) on a cliff face. Us Canadians tend to build these as markers to say we have been there. Originally they were build by the native peoples of the north. They probably used them as landmarks in the barren tundra. I am figuring this one was built by young men since it was a fairly risky endeavour.

Inuksuk on a Cliff
Inuksuk on a Cliff

Our next stop was the one I was most looking forward to and the one that I was dreading. I remembered seeing the glaciers back in the 70s as a child. I knew that they would have changed in the many years since my last visit. I took a picture from the 1982 sign, you can’t even see the toe of the glacier from there. When I was there it was a much shorter and easier walk to the glacier. Now you can not even get to the glacier. The river runs in front of it and there is a lake under the toe making it unstable. This river is the Athabasca that we have seen a number of times on this trip.

As close as we can get to the Athabasca Glacier
As close as we can get to the Athabasca Glacier

I liked being able to see the thickness of the snow and ice on top. I don’t remember being able to do that when I was a child. Was it because I just didn’t notice our has it changed in some way in the last several decades.

Depth of Snow above Athabasca Glacier
Depth of Snow above Athabasca Glacier

We got into Banff around dinner time and got the tent set up. It was nice and clear but then I heard what I thought was thunder. We were trying to decide if it was my imagination (Danielle didn’t hear it), or in the next valley over. The second one I did see but it must have been in the next valley over and we couldn’t see the cloud. Looking it up online told me that it wasn’t uncommon for that to happen in the Rockies and that the concept of clear sky lightning wasn’t real. There is a cloud it is just farther away and the lightning can go quite a ways.

Kids on a bear
Kids on a bear

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