August 1, 2008

I thought I wanted to walk on a glacier but when we arrived, all I wanted was food. The hike up to Parker’s Ridge made me so hungry. We hadn’t eaten lunch. We stopped at the Icefields to get something to eat. The welcome center was very nice and offered accomodations and two restaurants. We ate in the cafeteria which was open for lunch. I got a hamburger, fries, and a slice of chocolate cream pie and a coke ($15) and Sean had a chicken sandwich, a slice of blueberry pie and a Sprite ($12). We also picked up some cookies and candy bars. I wouldn’t recommend eating here but it is convenient.

I was still hesitant about the whole glacier experience and Sean was exhausted so we headed, one again, toward Jasper.



August 1, 2008

The rain finally took a break and gave some sun. We stopped at Mistaya Canyon which was a good break. There was a little walk down to the canyon with some nice photo ops. Then back in the car and a stop at Parker’s Ridge.

Parker’s Ridge was a short although somewhat steep hike to a spectacular view of the Saskatchewan Glacier. The hike is about 1.5 miles but takes about an hour to climb depending on speed, breaks, and photos. The sign at the parking lot estimates about 2 1/2 hours.

Sean had issues with his lungs and I had some muscle strain with my legs. Coming from Illinois, we don’t have steep, mountain hikes but I think we did ok. The hike up was warm and I had to unzip my layers.

The top of the ridge was quite cold but it felt good after the hike up. We took lots of photos of the glacier and there were some beautiful flowers up there too. 

We began our descent and it began to sleet. Shortly after the sleet came the rain. Shortly after the rain came a baby crying. A family who had been hiking up, decided to go back down. Lots of travellers headed up in the sleet, good for them, glad it’s wasn’t me. Too cold at the top to be wet also.

We got back to the car and continue our drive to Jasper. Next stop is the Columbia Icefield.


August 1, 2008

It was hard to say ‘good-bye’ to Lake Louise because I didn’t get to everything I wanted to. Friday morning the weather was awful. It was pouring. We stopped at the Samsone Mall and picked up two rain jackets ($5) just in case we needed them for hiking. We filled up the tank and headed north. It continued to rain. I was so disappointed. I wanted to stop at so many attractions along the way. I had a great tour map of sites to see along the way. As we drove, the rain seemed to lighten then stop. We took a short break at “The Crossing” and mid-point between Lake Louise and Jasper.


July 31, 2008

After our adventurous afternoon, we went back to our room and read on the balcony. It was chilly so I wrapped the big wool blanket around me for warmth. Perfect. Dinner was at Walliser Stube, a Swiss-German restaurant at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. We did a little fondue, a little German. We did a Dinner for Two ($79). Tasty breads and yummy salads to start. Then a seafood fondue with shrimp, salmon, and scallops with dipping sauces. The entree was weiner schnitzel and veal stew. Then a chocolate fondue ender including banana bread, marshmallows, and fruit. It was fun and good but I think I’ve had my fill of fondue.

The Grizzly House in Banff is also fun for fondue, a little more reasonable and very casual.


July 31, 2008

So after our trip to Emerald Lake, I thought I would look up some of the accomodations I saw along the way. Roadside was the West Louis Lodge. About $140/night for the budget conscious traveller. Owned by the Moraine Lake Lodge group, Cathedral Mountain was set near a river going up to Takkaka Falls. Emerald Lake Lodge was different than I expected but the cabins seemed nice.


July 31, 2008

As we drove to Takkaka Falls we stopped to see a “confluence of two rivers”. It was actually more interesting than the waterfall. We had to climb down to get the best view but it wasn’t an issue.

While driving, we saw quite a few cars parked on the side of the road. We parked and did a short, easy hike to Takkaka Falls. This waterfall, on the north side of the highway, drops 253 metres (830 ft)–which is higher than Niagara Falls–and is named for the Cree word for “it is wonderful”.

An older gent from Texas felt like chatting so we had a great conversation about politics, and the Canadian Rocky Mountains. He had owned a vacation home in Edmonton. Well, enough time there. Time to head back to the hotel.


July 31, 2008
Our next stop was the Spiral Tunnels. Sean drove past this yet again but I asked him to go back so I could take a look.
Spiral Tunnels
Spiral Tunnels

I thought it was a little difficult to see the tunnels. If a train had been going through, I think it would have been easier to see the way the tunnels worked.

A few miles past the Continental Divide are two vantage points where you can watch the long trains (they’re typically a mile long) make their way up or down the Kicking Horse Pass. Trains enter one tunnel above the highway and emerge below the highway and viewpoint, only to dissappear into another tunnel. In a few minutes, the front of the train emerges from a tunnel below the track that is still carrying the back end of the same train. Canadian freight trains are typically 100 cars and about a mile long. The double spiral tunnels help trains safely climb the narrow valley, since the large trains can only manage slopes of 2% or 100 feet per mile.