During the last week of September, I get 4 free tickets for tours in and around Banff and between Banff and Jasper. The first two are great to cover one afternoon. Lake Minnewanka is just a 15 minutes drive from Banff and very easy to find. It’s name means ‘Water of the Spirits’. A glacial lake of 21 km. long and 142 m. deep and with an abundance of wildlife on the land around it, like Elk, Mountain sheep, Mule deer and Bears. It also supplies Banff with hydro-electric power, through the dams, built in the lake. I join one of the last boat cruises of this season and enjoy this one hour ride, looking at the impressive shore line and feeling the first signs of winter, while sitting outside at the rear of the boat.
From Lake Minnewanka I drive back to Banff, where I pick up my son and his girlfriend, who supplied me with all the free tickets and we all drive up to the base of Sulphur Mountain, from where we take a 4 persons gondola, which takes us high up the mountain to the upper terminal. Once there, we start walking the Skywalk along the summit ridge with a 360 degree view over the 6 mountain ridges. This point is 2,281m. high and indeed you feel like standing on top of the world! It is by now late in the afternoon, the sun is going down already and it is freezing cold. Not the best weather for pictures, but still very impressive to witness the amazing views from all sides.
Also this week, my son, the dog and I are going on a day trip, via the famous Icefields Parkway (Highway 93 North) towards Jasper, with destination the Columbia icefield and the Glacier Skywalk Adventure. The road towards Jasper is amazing; no villages, not even one house, just wilderness, waterfalls, glaciers, lakes and silence……
We drive until the Columbia Icefield and first walk the dog on the immense parking spot, opposite the Icefield. After, we join the short bus ride towards the parking spot of the special Icefield bus, which will take us all the way down, via a very steep road. The tires of this bus are enormous! The bus driver gives us as much information about the area as possible, in such a short time span. Once down, we get 10 minutes out in the cold to take pictures, but with the wind it is nearly unbearable to keep yourself standing! Of course, some tourists have to show off!!!
In between this trip and the Glacier Skywalk, we just have enough time to walk the dog again, feed him and ourselves and hop on the next bus for another short ride to the Skywalk. Here, my fear of heights is challenged again! I take a deep breath and let my son guide me over the glass-floored observation platform, 280 meters over glacier-formed valleys and waterfalls! The whole Skywalk is set up in an interpretive storytelling format and very informative.
At a certain point my son leaves me to take some shots of the platform and I finally dare to look down, on my own!!!
There is no time anymore to drive to Jasper; it is way too late now and we also want to explore some more lakes on the way back. You need time in this part of Canada, to enjoy all the beauty this land has to offer. There will be more opportunities to visit my son and visit Jasper as well………
On our way back we visit two lakes. The dog seems to love the snow, as we discover when visiting Lake Peyto. This lake has an intense green-blue colour and is a popular tourist destination.
The other lake is impressive, with its colourful shores and I imagine sitting here in the summer during a picnic, with lots of swimming pleasure!
This week is my last week in the most beautiful part of Canada and I never felt so close to nature as here, in the Rocky Mountains………I do hope many more visits will follow………