The Rockies, so bold and unforgiving yet emerging from a ridged rock face a lone clump of Spotted Saxifrage grows as though it has always been there. Here life can grow but but in a single heart beat life can be taken away. One must respect the Rockies, take in all its beauty and leave with an appreciation of what nature has gifted to us. 

I would like to thank my cousin Anna for keeping a diary of our trip to the Rockies. Without her notes I wouldn't be able to give such specific details so thanks Anna!

Yes, the Rockies where alpine wildflowers grow amongst the majestic mountains like a carpet of delicate creatures. Our Canadian Rockies vacation was unforgettable. Our trip started from Calgary. We flew in from Toronto and rented a car. From Calgary we drove to Dinosaur  Provincial Park. We had to back track because the park wasn't exactly on route but it was something we wanted to see. Dinosaur Park has  one of the largest deposit of dinosaur fossils in the world. We took a bus tour of the park but it was really meant for kids but it enjoyed it nonetheless. We also did a little hike - Coulle which was a nice hike by the water. It was very hot so water was a must.

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Dinosaur Park

 

Fernie. The drive was beautiful. We were surrounded by mustard fields and the colour was spectacular. Fernie is charming ski town. We stayed at the Grizz Inn Hotel. We hiked some trails in Fernie. nothing difficult-easy to moderate hikes but but one thing I remember was watching the horseback riding tours and seeing a goat follow along with the horses. During one of our hikes I had to stop by the stable to see what up with the goat. A girl in charge of the stable told me they had this little guy on the farm who was very friendly with the horses and every time the horses went off on their trips the goat would always cry. One day they just let him out and he started to tag along with the horses and since then he was part of the trips-so cute.

Kootenay Park. We stayed at the Lake Louise Inn. The room was disappointing - it was small and didn't have a nice view. Then we realized we were directly above the laundry room which was very noisy from the hotel staff. My sister wasn't about to put up with that and stormed off to the office to complain. An hour later we were upgraded to a fantastic room. I believe it was the Executive Suite. The suite was great but it was probably one of the most expensive rooms they had. Sometimes it pays to be the squeaky wheel.

While there we hiked Paint Pots and Marble Canyon. The water falls were amazing. One nice surprise was that it didn't get dark until 10:00-loved that! We took the gondola to Pika Trail. It had 12 switchbacks with a view of Paradise Valley at the summit. The view was beautiful. On the way back we had our first wildlife siting! We were confronted by this dangerous beast with it's razor sharp teeth-okay it was only a marmot but it was a wild marmot :)

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Lake Louise was definitely one of the highlights our our trip . It was exactly as I envisioned it. Known for turquoise water Lake Louise is simply spectacular. I know now why it is called the "Jewel of the Rockies." But what makes the lake even more spectacular is that it is surrounded by rugged snow covered mountains. Amongst the jewel lake and the mountains sits one of Canada's best known heritage hotels, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. If you need a reason to splurge on your trip this is it. We didn't stay there but wished we had.

Image of Morraine Lake courtesy of explorerockies.com

Yoho Park in British Columbia was our next stop. We checked in the Paradise Bungalows-a rustic lodge but it was fine for our budget. We visited the Takakkaw Falls, Canada's 4th highest falls which was beautiful. Lots of winding roads and swithback.s The next morning we hiked the Saddleback Trail. It was an arduous hike reaching an altitude of 2744 meters. I remember vividly an eerie feeling when we approached the summit. Not a soul in site and the weather started to change. The clouds moved in and it started to snow. The layers we removed earlier on the hike were now needed again. Have to admit I was a little nervous unsure of what was happening with the weather but everything was fine. That's just me being a little dramatic. It was a fantastic hike and I really enjoyed the challenge. It took us 7 1/2 hours to complete the hike.

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A must see was the   Columbia Ice Field. There was bus that drove you up to the top of the ice field but the admission was $28 and being on a strict budget we declined the transportation and walked. The walk was freaky. There were holes everywhere with rushing water below our feet. We didn't realize  the dangers of walking on the ice field until our return when we saw the warning signs NOT to walk on the ice field without an experienced guide, oops.

Columbia Ice Field photo courtesy of explorerockies.com

 

columbiaicefieldholeColumbia Icefield hole

 

We also read about people that had died falling through the large holes in the ice fields in the past. Once you fall in a hole it is not likely you can be saved so that was a little scary. No regrets though. How often does one get to climb on an ice field? Due to climate change the ice field has receded since our visit so it's highly unlikely anyone can just walk out onto the ice field.

 

 

Jasper. Our first stop was Mistaya Canyon. The rocks were amazing. Jasper is a great town, I thought there was something very unique about it. We stayed at the Pine Bungalows. A nice cabin with a good view of the mountains and the Athabasca River behind us. There were Elk hanging out on the property but we knew not to disturb them. They may appear innocent but like any wild animals if they feel threatened they will charge at you. We heard a story or two about that -silly humans.

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Another amazing hike we did was  Mount Edith Cavell Lots of switchbacks and from what I recall the path along the mountain was a little confusing. There were a lot of false peaks and at times we didn't think we would ever make it to the top but we kept going and going and going and finally we made it. It was like climbing to heaven. We felt as though we were on top of the world.  The view of Angel Glacier was incredible. That hike is my favorite of all the hikes I have done in Canada.

Image courtesy of explorerockies.com

Mount Robson, BC. The trails were very lush and the trees appeared to be larger than what we had seen. The only way to hike to the top is by primitive camping which we hadn't planned on doing so we were not able to complete that journey. We did however enjoy a leisurely hike surrounded by natural habitat and exquisite beauty. From there we visited the Athabasca Falls and Peyto Lake. The lake was incredibly blue. 

johnstoncanyonOur next destination Banff. Banff National Park is Canada's first national park. The park is a nature lovers dream with valleys, forests, mountains, glaciers and rivers and meadows.  During our stay in Banff we thoroughly enjoyed our hike in Johnston Canyon. The hike was not difficult. We took our time and were quite fascinated with the geology of the canyon. Later we enjoyed an afternoon of shopping in the city of Banff and of course had to visit The Banff Springs Hotel.  It really was a wonderful visit.

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Caving in Grotto Mountain

 

 

 

 

                                                    Johnston Canyon

 

 

 

 The next day we drove to Canmore for a guided tour of Grotto Mountain. If you are claustrophobic you do not want to take this tour. The tour takes you into a cave but you don't walk into the cave, you have to crawl and squeeze through tight crevices which was a little unsettling at first. We were given jumpsuits, a helmet and a helmet flashlight. At one point we turned off our flashlights and were in complete darkness which was really scary because I am afraid of the dark. I really enjoyed the tour and would recommend it.

While we were in Canmore we hired a guide and enjoyed a day of rock climbing. That was a blast and couldn't ask for better weather. We also had our one and only bear siting which was exciting.

We wind down our trip with one last hike on Sulphur Mountain. Below we can see The Banff Springs Hotel and Bow River. We take it all in knowing that the next day we're heading home :(

Additional photos of our trip to the Rockies.

Jasper

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Base of Mount Edith Cavell

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Seven Sisters

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