Our Weekend in the Rockies

Posted on June 30, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

School is out for the summer and rugby is done for the season.  What were we do to with our time now? Head to the Rockies, of course!

We load up the car and head to Banff National Park.  Our destination is The Fox Hotel and Suites in Banff.  Friday evening we hung out in the hot pool at the hotel (that resembled the cave and basin at the hot spring) and took a walk downtown.  The weather was perfect and Banff was as charming as ever.  It was a little hard to get Zachary down, not only was he in a new place – he didn’t have a nap and was overtired. Once he was down the poor thing woke up several times throughout the night.

Saturday started early – really early… Zachary got a 4:30am wake-up call. We tried to get him to go back to sleep but it didn’t work.  I ended up taking him for a walk around the courtyard and lobby.  Once everyone was up and fed, we anxiously waited for our tour bus.  It was a long but thrilling day riding through the mountains and learning the history of the area.  Jeff, our guide and driver, did an amazing job.  We had a very diverse tour group. There were people from Spain, England, China, Japan, Australia, and several states in the US (Washington, Missouri, and Texas). The Big Blue Bus headed to Lake Louise for our first stop.

Lake Louise was gorgeous!  I had only been here once (last October) and it looked very different.  The emerald color of the water is from glacial flour – small rock particles that get dumped in the lake caused by glacial erosion.  We were able to see Victoria Glacier that feeds the lake.  The water was so calm and the reflections of the surrounding mountains were unbelievable.  Unfortunately we couldn’t stay very long – we still had many more stops to go.  Only half our group got back on the bus – the other half was on a tour that gave them five hours to explore the lake and surrounding terrain.

Our little tour group loaded back in the bus and we were off.  Kicking Horse Canyon and the Spiral Tunnels were next on our itinerary.  As we’re riding along we hear more about the history of the area. There was a rush to get the railroad built across Canada and they encountered some issues along the way.  The mountains at Kicking Horse Canyon were too steep for the trains so they tunneled a figure 8 in the mountains.  Jeff said that it was really neat to see a train go through them.  As we pulled to a stop in the look-out area, we noticed the black bear eating dandelions (more on the black bear, along with the rest of the wildlife in the “for biology nerds” edition).  Unfortunately we didn’t get to see a train come through, but the bear made up for it.

We kept moving and passed into British Columbia on our way to Kicking Horse Resort in Golden, B.C. We took the Gondola up to the top and had lunch at Eagle’s Eye Cafe.  This is the highest eatery in Canada at 7,777 ft.  The food was great but the views were fantastic!  After admiring the scenery and feeling completely at peace we took the gondola back down.  The gondola goes over the grizzly bear refuge and on the way down we were able to spot Boo (more about Boo and the refuge in the “for biology nerds” edition).  Our next mode of transportation was the ski lift so we could get to the refuge. I was pretty nervous about taking a squirming 17 month old on an open chair lift.  Visions of him wiggling out of our arms and falling kept going through my mind.  I didn’t have to worry though.  He was very content to sit in his dad’s lap, feel the breeze, and look at all there was around him. Brandon was excited to see the mountain bikers going down the mountain.  He is going to be biking down COP with some friends the day the boys and I leave for Texas.  At the refuge we were able to listen to a talk by one of the refuge workers.  We learned about how Boo came to the refuge and what the future holds (see “for biology nerds” edition for more details).

On the way back to Banff we stopped at Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park.  This is the second highest falls in Canada at 380 meters.  The highest falls is up in the Yukon and much less accessible. Jeff told us that Yoho is a Cree indian word for awesome and takakkaw is an exclamation such as “wow!”.  The name said it all.  The best word to describe the falls was “Wow!”

We got back to our hotel exhausted.  Saturday evening was spent lounging at the hotel and relaxing. Sunday morning we were able to sleep in a little bit (Zachary slept until 7am which was much better than 4:30am).  After checking out of the hotel, we drove through Banff past the Banff Springs Hotel and enjoyed the quaintness of the town.  Brandon wanted to spend our Sunday morning at Lake Moraine. It was the best time of year to see the distinct color of this lake.

A lot of people think that there are dyes or chemicals in the waterways of Canada.  The colors range from emerald green to turquoise blue.  The cause of the gorgeous color is glacial flour.  Glacial flour is the clay sized bits of rock that results from glacial migration, where the glacier grinds the rock beneath it.  The particles are small enough to remain suspended in the river and is carried to the lakes.

Jackson loved Lake Moraine because there were several avalanche paths that he could go explore and rock climb.  The trail split – one direction took you to Lake Moraine and the other to Consolation Lake. As we were coming back from the Lake Moraine viewpoint I thought we could go ahead and see Consolation Lake while we were there before we ate at the cafe.  In my mind I had a 10 minute jaunt over an easy trail to yet another beautiful lake.  I’ve been wrong on occasion, and this was one of those times. The trail was easy going for the most part, but where it crossed an avalanche path it was a lesson in rock climbing.  The 10 minutes was spot on – give or take an hour.  Zachary was in the Zachpack and actually took a nap for part of the way.  Once he woke up he wanted to do some hiking, too.  We finally made it to Consolation Lake.  I didn’t get to look at it because of all the huge boulders that you had to climb over.  Zachary and I stayed where the lake flowed into the river while Brandon and Jackson went exploring.  Zachary enjoyed getting his feet wet in the glacial water.  By the time we hiked back to the cafe Brandon and I were exhausted.  We enjoyed a wonderful late lunch and headed back home.

We got back to Calgary a little stiff, a lot sore, and pretty tired.  We had a fantastic time exploring our new backyard and can’t wait to get back.  I learned so much about the history of the area.  The scenery was amazing and we saw lots of wildlife.  All while getting quality family time – it doesn’t get better than that.


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3 Responses to “Our Weekend in the Rockies”

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Very good…I truly enjoyed it..

Can I please visit you guys in Canada?
It is absolutely breathtaking!!
Definitely on my list of places to visit one day. Enjoy your time there; so great for the kids!

Of course you can visit! We’d be happy to show off our new world.

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