Lake Minnewanka, the Gondola Tour, the Columbia Icefield and the Glacier Skywalk , Canada

September, 2015

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.DSC01905DSC01899

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.

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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……

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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!!!DSC02024

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 The landscape is something else; very impressive.

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. DSC02084DSC02038

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!!!

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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.

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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!

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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………

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Lake Louise, the Spiral tunnels and Yoho park, Rocky Mountains, Canada

September, 2015

It is a gorgeous warm day when my son, the dog and me hop in the car for our outing to the Takakkaw Falls in Yoho Park, British Columbia. There is so much to explore in this part of the Rocky Mountains, that we make several stops on the way. We take the Hwy 1A, on the Bow Valley Parkway, towards Lake Louise. This road is a pleasure to drive, with picnic areas along rivers and streams and the beautiful view on Castle Mountain Rock.DSC01709DSC01696

At Lake Louise we make a short stop. It is crowded with people and a problem to park your car, but my inventive son finds a way to get his enormous truck parked at the Fairmont hotel and from here it is a quick walk to the stunning lake. One and half-year ago, I have seen the lake covered with ice and surrounded by impressive ice sculptures. This time it is a totally different scenery, with people boating on the calm waters, but still with the sight of the Victoria Glacier at the far end of the lake and the contrast of the white mountain with the intensive blue of the waters is dramatic.

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In February we were with a handful of people admiring the lake, but now in September, the amount of tourists is a bit overwhelming. I think I preferred the winter time, with the stillness of the surroundings.

We try to visit Lake Moraine, situated 15 km from Lake Louise and also known as the Jewel of the Rockies, but due to too many visitors we are not allowed to drive our own car. The road is closed and people have to take the shuttle bus for a visit to the lake. We decide to visit another time, earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon.DSC01726

From Lake Louise we follow the Trans Canada Highway to the Kicking Horse Pass, where we make a stop to have a look at the Spiral Tunnels. This is a historic site, where you can see how the train track is lingering like a snake through the tunnels on different levels of the mountains. In the course of the years, they had to change the track, as the elevation was first too much to keep the train steady on the rails. We are lucky that just at this moment a train is passing by and you can see the front disappearing in one of the tunnels, while the end of the train is still down the mountain track.DSC01730

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Soon we arrive at Yoho Park and follow a small road with an extremely sharp bend (my son has to go back and forwards to get his truck around the corner!) until we reach the Takakkaw Falls. The landscape is amazing, so beautiful! It is a short hike from the parking place to the Falls and the dog is having a great time, standing with its feet in the (ice-cold) river. There are more waterfalls on walking distance, but we have to get back to Banff on time. Ah well, there is always a next time!