A four day road trip from Kaslo to Calgary

October, 2021

It is time to say goodbye to my son and his amazing cute and clever dog! I am already looking forward to my/our next visit in this isolated part of the Rocky Mountains.

We decide to take a different road, back towards Banff and Calgary and just see where we will end up on our first day. From Kaslo we drive to Balfour, where we take the (free) ferry towards Kootenay Bay. It takes around 30 minutes from one side to the other and we fully enjoy the views on this sunny day.

Our first stop is Cranbrook, where we grab a coffee in the lively shopping street. According to the signs we are pretty close to the US border! In Creston it is harvest time; on every corner of the street pumpkins are sold! Creston valley is one of BC’s prime agricultural regions. Grapes, peaches and cherries are growing here in abundance!

We decide to stay in Kimberley for the night (in a simple, smelly, but spacious apartment) and drive to Banff the next day. There, we will spend two nights in the cozy Hotel Fox & Suites. From Kimberley we follow the road to Invermere, where we take some time to explore the town. It is so much colder here in comparison to the Creston area. We are surprised to see the deer just wandering the fields beside to main road!

It is fun driving in this part of Canada. The roads are perfect, barely any traffic and the light over the mountains changes every minute.

At Radio Hot Springs we follow the narrow canyon highway 93 towards Banff. Suddenly snow is fallen and some goats are crossing!!!

We make twice a stop on Kootenay Highway 93. First at Numa Falls; there is a small parking place off the road from where you can walk towards a bridge. There is also a hiking trail starting from the other side of the bridge.

Our second stop is at Marble Canyon and Tokumm Creek; a small walking trail will bring you via a few bridges higher up and here the river splashes deep down in the gorge.

Just before we enter Banff, we have a last stop to enjoy the view over the lake.

At the end of the afternoon we arrive at our hotel and enjoy a nice meal in town. The next day brings us to Johnston Canyon (this time we bought our Banff National Park ticket online!). The canyon is very popular by visitors from all over the world. We walk the trail from the Lower Falls to the Upper Falls and beyond, but we leave the last trail to the Inkpots for next time!

From the Falls we drive to Lake Minnewanka, where I went for a boattrip a couple of years before. This time we just hike along the shores of this serene glacial lake. Most tourists are gone and we appreciate the stillness of the surroundings.

Our last day we will spend in and around my favorite place Canmore, where I was house sitting in 2015. A lovely town, situated along the Bowriver, with plenty of wildlife and hiking trails! I want to show my partner fascinating Grassi Lakes, just outside Canmore. It is a nice moderate climb up the mountain, together with many other visitors, but still worth it! We wait for the sun to rise above the mountain; once the sunlight starts shining in the crystal clear waters, sparkles start dancing!

In the afternoon we hike along the Bow River, explore the town and have a late lunch outside on the main street. We both fully agree that Canmore is more relaxed and less touristy than Banff and next time we will stay in Canmore for a night or two!

After lunch we go for one more hike along the other side of the river, as we noticed some Elks by the river side. Suddenly, we see a herd of Elk (Wapiti) on the local sports field! They even roam in between the houses. There must be around 60 all together…..The rutting season (from September until mid-October) has started and male Elks can behave very aggressively, as they herd females for breeding. We better stay on a safe distance!

It is getting late and time to say goodbye to Canmore. We still have to drive to our airport hotel in Calgary, as our flight leaves tomorrow afternoon. These last two weeks have been an amazing adventure and we do hope to return soon to the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Canada!

 

 

 

Kaslo, a jewel on the shores of Kootenay Lake

October, 2021.

Another day trip brings us to the “secret hot springs”, only known by the locals and surrounded by forests and a wild and very cold river. There is a small campground and the steep stairs will lead you to different tiny waterbassins along the river. A very relaxing area to spend the day. The dog also loves the hot springs! Next time we will bring a tent!

A highlight is our visit to Kaslo, a quaint little village with an impressive history. The Kootenay area was first discovered by indigenous nomads. There were two nations; Ktunaxa (Kutenai) and the Sinixt (Lakes). They lived from fishing and the abundance of wild fruits. Later, after settlers built the first log cabins, Kaslo became a sawmill site. After, the mining started and the Kaslo railway became important for transporting silver ore. Once mining was stopped, fruit farming and logging became the sources of income for the inhabitants of Kaslo. Nowadays, Kaslo is also a popular summer and winter tourist destination. Although it was struck by two huge disasters in 1894, a big fire and devastating floods, the people of Kaslo rebuilt their home town again and again. Since knowing its history, I even more appreciate the beauty of this historical village.

 

 

There are many great stores in Kaslo, where you can buy all kinds of meat, cheeses, wines and bread. The small fish and chips kiosk is famous and we grab some lunch to take to the park.

From the shores of Kootenay Lake we hike along the river up to the village, where we follow for a while the Kaslo River Trail. It brings us to the bright red Unity Bridge, which connects the north and south sides of the River Trail. Next time we hope to complete the 10 km loop, but it soon will be dark, so time to return home.

 

 

Monica Meadows; nature at its best!

September, 2021

My son drives us to the west side of the Purcell Mountain Range, for a hike to Monica Meadows. Until now he never had time to explore the trail, so none of us will know what to expect. We bring food, drinks and the special outfit for the dog. We all “hop” in the car (for me it takes a bit longer…) and start our adventure.

The access road towards the trailhead is not easy! It is 90 minutes driving over a bumpy gravel road! The wonderful views are a good distraction.

Finally, we arrive at the quiet parking lot. During the weekends it can be packed with other visitors, but on this Wednesday morning there are just a handful of hikers. The weather is superb; no wind and clear skies. The dog gets prepared and we have our trekking poles and bear spray ready. This is Grizzly bear territory!

We are now going for a steep walk up, with an elevation of 650 meters and seven switchbacks. My partner and I are going slow, now and then we are totally out of breath! The dog is running between the three of us, to see if nobody is staying behind.

Once up the mountain, the trail levels out and we arrive on an alpine plateau at 2360 meters. This is called Monica Meadows and it is just breathtaking!!! I have travelled all over the world and I have been very fortunate to witness the most beautiful places, but Monica Meadows is jaw-dropping! The bright colours of the larch trees are contrasting with the white of the fresh snow, the pristine alpine lakes with crystal clear water, the glacier peaks and mountain ranges on the horizon; it all makes it a complete magical wonderland. No other people, just silence.

My son continues the trail to the top of the mountain and finds another lake.

We would love to explore the mountain a bit further, but we still have to hike all the way back and drive the bumpy Glacier Creek Forest Service Road again. Definitely, a place to visit again! Maybe in summer, when all the wildflowers are blooming?

A house on the rocks at the end of the world…

September, 2021

It is pouring with rain when we leave Revelstoke. We just get a glimpse of the Columbia River, which we have to cross to move towards the very quiet British Columbia Highway 23. It takes us around 40 minutes to reach Shelter Bay, where we will hop on the Upper Arrow Lake Ferry towards Galena Bay Terminal.

Once on the other side of the lake, we drive to Nakusp and from there to the idyllic village of Kaslo, right on Kootenay Lake. By now the rain has disappeared and we fully enjoy the eighty minutes scenic drive.

I am constantly on the lookout for a crossing bear and probably will be during the next coming days. My son often sends me pictures of bears walking with their cubs beside the road!

While entering Kaslo the bright autumn colours welcome us! Later in the week, we will explore this village more thoroughly!

After Kaslo, the road swirls along the banks of Kootenay Lake and brings us finally to the remote area, where my son lives; “a house on the rocks at the end of the world”…

I fully understand why he choose this spot to settle down. It is where the beauty of nature lies on your doorstep; impressive mountains, wild rivers, serene lakes and fertile meadows!

My son lives in a 100-year old log cabin and we will sleep for the coming 8 days in the cozy guesthouse. Only the main house has a bathroom, so our bathroom will be a bucket!!!

Travelling in times of Covid-19

25th and 26th of September, 2021

Both my children live on the other side of the world; my daughter in Australia and my son in Canada. Due to the pandemic, I have not been able to see them for a very long time. I check from time to time the Canadian travel website and the moment I see that Canada is opening up their borders, my partner and I book a flexible flight from Amsterdam to Calgary. Although nothing is official yet, we apply for our visa. This is my chance to see at least one of my children and I have to act NOW! More towards the date of leaving, we get all our paperwork printed, download the ArriveCAN app, fill in health declarations and get tested just before we hop on the plane. It all sounds easy, but it isn’t; the preparations are pretty stressful!

Upon arrival in Calgary it takes us nearly two hours to pass all the checkpoints at the airport, due to the covid control. Once we get our car from the rental agency and join the other vehicles on the highway, we feel relieved. The Rocky Mountains are right in front of us and will surround us for the next two weeks!

It will be a long drive to the remote area, where my son settled down two years ago. He lives deep down in the Rocky Mountains from British Columbia. To be able to enjoy the countryside, we booked two overnight stays; one in famous Banff and one in mountain destination Revelstoke.

As of all the delays, we arrive early evening at the Alpine Resort in Banff. We booked a cabin for ourselves, very rustic and quiet. We had plans to go for a hike into town, but by now we are totally exhausted. Although the Alpine Resort is more a hostal for backpackers, there is a bar and a small dining room. The menu is simple, but the burgers are good and in the morning they serve free pancakes.

At 9.00 we are ready to continue our trip, but first we go for some sightseeing. We drive down to the Bow River, a river with a length of around 600 km. The name of the river derives from the reeds that grew along the banks. They were used by the First Nations to create bows.

From here we have a great view on the impressive Fairmont Hotel, on the other side of the river.

Banff is still very quiet on this sunny Sunday morning. We grab a coffee, buy some sandwiches and continue our trip over the Bow River Parkway. Immediately, we are checked for the National Park Pass which we did buy on Saturday, when entering Banff National Park. At least it is 24 hours valid!

We stop at Baker Creek Mountain Resort, just to take some pictures. A lovely place to spend the night, but not cheap!!!

The pictoresque Parkway is bringing us to famous Lake Louise. It is my third visit to this Unesco World Heritage Site, only today it is packed with visitors. There is just one parking spot left and we pay the eleven CAD for the Day Pass.

Our next stop are The Spiral Tunnels at the Kicking Horse Pass. We are just in time to see a train circle into the mountains, in order to lessen the grade of the hill.

We follow the road towards Field, a small town in Yoho National Park, on the banks of the Kicking Horse River. It is time for a last coffee, as we still have another two hours to drive, before reaching Revelstoke.

Due to a lot of construction on the Trans-Canadian Hwy we barely make it to our hotel “River In” before dark. The hotel is situated close to the railway track, but at least the train does not keep blowing its whistle during the night, like in Banff!

 

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

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………

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!

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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………

 

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!