Lakes, lakes and Waterfalls

This weekend we took my one of my best mates and former flatmate and his boyfriend, both over from London to some of my favourite places in Banff and Yoho National Parks. 

This post doesn’t contain ellobarate descriptions of the places we went, no detailed accounts of the colours of the lakes or the shadows over the valley from the mountains etc, the pictures speak for themselves in my opinion. 

First we did the 10 minute, short hike to the lookout point overlooking stunning Peyto Lake and the surrounding Waputik Range, Caldron Peak, Peyto Peak and Mount Jimmy Simpson. Photobombed by 2 ladies! Love this photo.Stunning Peyto Lake, amazing colour.One of the best views in the Rockies!

We then headed to the most famous lake in Banff National Park, Lake Louise. Lake Louise is beautiful but it just gets far too busy and I much prefer it in Winter when you can walk across the lake to the Glacier, and it’s far quieter.Lake Louise shorelineLouise Creek

After being turned away from the Moraine Lake turnoff and the overflow parking lot due to it being full we detoured up the Trans Canada to Yoho National Park to visit Takakkaw Falls. It was my first visit to the falls and after a very windey and steep but magnificent drive we arrived at the carpark. It’s a short 10 minute hike to the falls but we decided to scramble up to get a closer look and were awarded with a great view of the 260 metre falls, the creek below and the surrounding peaks.Takakkaw FallsAdam & Gilles Stunning views

Later in the day we finally make it to my favourite lake, Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Unfortunately we were too Lake to go Kayaking and have a bite to eat at the cafe but climbed the rock pile to get some lovely views of the lake and valleys around it. Not many places compare to this.Adam & IAdam & GillesLooking down the valley towards the highway

Overall it was of my favourite days out sightseeing. I just love taking friends to see these amazing local spots and seeing new places for myself. There is still so much to see here in the Rockies. I cannot wait!

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Johnston Canyon – Summer

The other weekend Fergus, 2 of our flatmates, Tate and Kurt and I went to Johnston Canyon for a look. Fergus and I had been to the Canyon in Winter and it was stunning so thought we’d check in outin the  Summer when the water was flowing, the trees were green and the sun was shining. It was really busy so we had to park out on the road but that was ok, it’s not a long way to the start of the trail. 

Walked over the bridge past the lodge and onto the trail proper. There were a lot of people about and most were older and going at snails pace so it took a while to get to lower falls. On the steel walkways we had to stay behind them but managed to pass once we were on the dirt trail again.When we arrived it was very busy at the lower falls and we didn’t feel like waiting to squeeze into the small cave so we carried on up the trail. 

About 200m from Upper falls we diverted off the trail and climbed down a rocky ledge and found ourselves at the waters edge in a big bend in the river. A magnificent waterfall was to our left Anna gentle stream meandered around the huge piece of rock to the right. It is a magical place, like somewhere out of Lord of the Rings. Stayed a while and explored. Carried on to the upper Falls and once there I was a little disappointed, I thought the waterfall was much larger, it definately looks bigger in the Winter when it’s frozen.This time we also went to the viewpoint above the falls, we hadn’t done this as we’d been told it wasn’t very interesting, that is a lie. You really should go to the end. I think it’s worth it.Stopped at the lower falls on our way beck and Kurt and I went in the cave for a look while the others chilled on a bench. A lovely day out. 

Day 8 – sleeping Giant to Sault Ste. Marie

Packed up yet another campsite and headed off on our journey. It was wet and rainy most of the morning but still warm and a tad muggy. The mozzies were out in force as usual and we already have plenty of bites between us despite using a tonne of mozzie repellent. Along the motorway we got great views of the vast bays, islands and lodges scattered around Lake Supierior. Stopped at a wee beach for a rest and to throw some skimming stones and were just amazed at the sheer size of the lake. You cannot see the other side, which is shared by both Winconson and Mishigan to the East and it just looks like the ocean.  Stopped briefly at Aguabason Falls near Terrance Bay for a look and were surprised this waterfall was not in my Lonely Planet Guide at it was quite impressive. We have found the LP Guide is a bit out of date and fails to mention things, prices are incorrect and the descriptions of others isn’t right either. I spose it is a year old….Also stopped in Terrance Bay to go to the bank it put our returned deposit money onto my Credit Card. Nice old lighthouse in town too. A replica of one on the bay I was told by the bank teller lady.

Stopped at White River where a trapper sold a young Black Bear cub to a Captain who named her Winnie. He took the cub  back to London and when he went to France it was cared for by London Zoo where A.A Milne’s son Christopher Robin used to visit. The rest is history. We then went to Wawa to try and find some accomodation. A cheap motel or something along those lines. Arrived in the rain and cold mist and fog to a mostly closed, boarded up old town with no available motels. The ones that had rooms were very overpriced. The place was a dump so we carried on to the larger town of Sault Ste. Marie. En route we saw some pretty amazing scenery and another great sunset. We decided to pull up at a beach to look at the sunset. I took a photo for some ladies who suggested parkingbup at the next beach and staying the night. Seemed a great idea as it was already dark by then and it’s dangerous driving at night due to Moose on the road. 

Speaking of wildlife, we haven’t seen a whole lot really, I have been keeping an eye out for Moose but I guess they come out more at night? We have seen one Black Bear on the roadside. That’s always a treat.

Pulled up in a spot near the beach which looked lovely but as soon as we opened the doors swarms of mozzies flew into the car. Tried to move all the stuff back into the boot to leave  it ended up forgetting the cooker and ran over it! Had to leave it as it was buggered and may have been dangerous. I was pretty upset but we got it free anyway. It had serves us very well though. 

Continued to Sault Ste. Marie where we stayed at Pine Grove Motel. The cheapest place we could find. It was cheap and cheerful but had everything wee needed and no mozzies!

Icefields Parkway – simply stunning!

We had lived in Banff nearly 9 months before we made it up to Jasper. We had free Glacier Adventure tickets on our Banff Ambassador passes so we had to wait for the long Winter to end before we could make use of them as the Glacier is closed during the Winter. We set off in rain and low cloud and after getting on the Icefields Parkway just after Lake Louise the rain turned to heavy snow and we were only able to get small glimpses of the surrounding mountains through the clouds. Very disappointing.Had a pit stop for petrol and shared a Poutine at Saskatchewan River Crossing which is a complex consisting of a restaurant, diner, gas station, large souvenir shop and motel near the mighty Saskatchewan  River. Tip: Don’t buy gas from here as it is very expensive. We carried on up the road and stopped at Sunwapta Pass to admire the sprawling valley below as the clouds started to clear.Arrived at the Icefields Centre at around 2pm and the Glacier Adventure complex was awash with tourists. We presented our Banff Ambassador passes at the ticket desk and were told the next available tour was at 4:30pm so we had a look around and then went to have a snooze in the back or the car on our new self inflating mattress. At 4:30 we were ushered onto a Brewster bus and driven by a driver with very bad jokes, 5 minutes up to the Ice Explorer bus depot. There, we got off the Brewster bus and onto a huge, specifically designed Ice Explorer bus with wheels taller than me! As it slowly meandered up the road to the Glacier, we passed through a ‘wheel washer’ which was just a big puddle that washes any mud off the wheels before going down a VERY steep hill onto the Glacier. The bus only goes about 30km an hour at top speed.Once on the Glacier there was a small area that your could walk around on that was clearly marked out with signs but a lot of the tourists (mostly Asians) were going over the barriers and climbing up onto the ice to take photos. The poor drivers had to keep telling them to get back to the safe area. I think we were quite lucky really, had we gone up onto the Glacier earlier we would have been rained on and not seen much but as it happened the rain cleared and the sun came out when we were there in the late afternoon. The Athabasca Glacier is one of the six principal ‘toes’ of the Columbia Icefield, located in the Canadian Rockies. The glacier currently recedes at a rate of about 5 metres per year. 

We jumped back on the bus and headed back along the Parkway for a couple of kilometres to the Glacier Skywalk. This is a large U shaped lookout platform towering over the side of a glacial valley. The great thing about it it that it has glass floors so you can look down to the valley floor below. I found it a tad eerie as I don’t particularly like heights. It’s made of thick glass and a type of iron that changes colour over time to blend into the landscape. Along the path to the platform is information about the landscape and wildlife in the area.

After our Glacier Adventure we headed back up the Parkway where we stopped briefly at a roadside waterfall before heading to the town of Jasper. In Jasper we stopped for dinner and a look around the small and very quiet tourist town then made our way to the Hi Jasper where we had a bunk for the night. 

On the drive up, about 20 metres before the hostel we came across 2 black bears, just having a sniff and look at the car in front of us. It was pretty cool but I’m glad I was in the safely of the car. 

The following morning we left Jasper after having breakfast at a roadside diner and fortunately the weather had cleared so we were able to get amazing views of the Rockies all the way back to Banff.

Stopped briefly and had a stroll around the rocks at Horseshoe lake then again for a wander around Athabasca Falls which was nice but there were far too many people there. Also stopped at Sunwapta falls where we saw some rock climbers setting up some sort of Canyon crossing device. Had a few more brief photo and toilet stops along the way and we were just amazed at the sheer scale of the different mountains that stood along the roadside. I’m not surprised this stretch of road is on all the ‘worlds best drives’ lists, it’s just stunning. Massive peaks, glaciers, plaited rivers, semi frozen lakes, thick forest and glacial valleys make for interesting driving.We came across a ‘bear jam’ just before leaving Jasper National Park and had to avoid cars passing 2 coaches parked on the side of the road watching a large Grizzly Bear feeding on roadside flowers. We didn’t stop but I managed to get a shot of him.Out last stop of the weekend was a place I had wanted to visit for ages. It’s in all the tour brochures and posters and is one of the big tourist attractions in the area.

Peyto Lake Is a glacial fed Lake that lies just off the Parkway. After a 10-15 minute walk though Alpine vegetation you reach a viewing platform overlooking the lake and valley. It’s an amazing view and the colour of the lake rivals any in the Rockies. Plus it’s shaped like a wolf which is cool. It was definitely a highlight of the weekend for me.

The Icefields Parkway is an amazing drive, if you ever go to the Rockies, hire a car instead of going on a bus. There are so many places we missed but you would miss so much more being stuck on a bus. Definitely a weekend to remember in my world travels.