The nature exhibit up the mountain was great. We hiked on the Pika Trail with a Canadian guy named Ryan from Calgary and his Swedish friend named Anna, from Malmo. My wife wore out after a mile or three, but we had a great time. Ryan and Anna described how they met, while working together in an island in Thailand. Four folks in a hiking group apparently is a bulwark against bears.
Everywhere on this trip folks are concerned about bears, as the buffaloberry harvest is very rich this year. I joked that Canada Parks should just advertise "It's Berry Season!" instead of "Bear Warning" or "Bear Closures", but today I noticed that they had.
My wife and I drove down to Lake Louise. We parked in the overflow parking and took a hip school bus in, as the village parking was full. This was the way to go, as the bus was easy and convenient and free. The lake was lovely, though, to be honest, I liked seeing the turquoise from a ski lift miles away more than seeing it in a mini-mass of humanity close-up. I am kind of a back-row guy.
We headed into Banff next. Banff was a zoo. This is the Heritage Day three-day weekend. We could not find parking, so we headed to Canmore's downtown instead.
We found parking near downtown Canmore in Millenium Park. We walked by Centennial Park, where the huge Canmore Folk Festival was in session. We listened to a fine harmonic folk song by a band called Fortunate Ones. We asked if we might go in to buy food from the vendors, but understandably the sold-out festival required reasonably-priced-for-a-festival-but-exo
We found a pub called the Rose and Crown, where I had a grand steak sandwich. Then we walked on the Policeman's Creek boardwalk. My wife shopped in some stores, and we visited some galleries together. I liked the regional stuff from the area--lots of whimsical and properly localvore things. I was charmed when, in my favorite gallery, I went to buy a small piece done up as a small bit of stationery. The gallery owner smiled, handed it to me, and said "gift of the gallery".
In the early evening, we did one of those commercial Wildlife Safari van drives.
It was fun, though it had its drawbacks. My wife advises that I accidentally brushed the English fellow in the opposite row with my backpack, which fills me with guilt. Perhaps that explained why he was not outgoing. The passengers in rows behind us had a way of fitting tourist stereotypes in other ways. But the guide was pretty darn good. We saw 14 elk (wapiti in the local First Nations parlance) and 1 mule deer. It was informative, and allowed us to see many local lakes and mountains we had heard of as good things to see. We dined at our room on sandwiches and cereal after the too-late end of our evening ride.
This morning we hit the road west again. This time we headed into Yoho National Park in nearby British Columbia. We pulled over at Lake O'Hara, which I had read of in a guidebook. In the parking lot, we got a good view of a Least Chipmunk. We lack chipmunks in my part of Texas, so it was fun to watch.
A kind ranger met us, told us Lake O'Hara was a long walk unless one had an elusive bus pass. But he was there to give us a map and tell us where to go instead. He directed us to nearby Sherbrooke Lake. This proved to be a delightful wooded hike in the trees to a turquoise lake of great beauty.
We saw lots of flowers, of which a delightful Yellow Columbine sticks out in my memory. We got a really good luck at a glorious Golden-Crowned Kinglet. The kinglets winter where we live, but Summer in Canada. Its golden crown, hidden in the Winter, was lovely today. We saw no larger wildlife, though we did see a troupe of chickadees. We talked to two lovely women from Victoria, and couple from Queensland. The Australians were headed to try fishing for trout at the lake.
This six kilometer trail totally hit the spot. Shady, lovely, not too easy, not too hard--we enjoyed it. We sampled Buffaloberries, and report that their sour aftertaste makes them for the bears.
We lunched in the Village of Field, where a casual place made me a noodle bowl and my wife a curried chicken sandwich. Mine was grand, and my wife enjoyed hers.
Field is a cute little town of guest houses set in the lovely national park setting. I could imagine staying there next time. As we headed back east, I was tempted to go to the third local national park, Kootenay, but it will have to await another possible visit,someday.
We drove back to Banff, where my wife dropped me off at Vermilion Lakes while she tried to go shop. The traffic defeated her,though. While I had a great walk on the little paved Legacy Trail, she soon was turning around to come pick me up.
After showers, we headed to the Silvertip golf resort to try their restaurant, after the holiday traffic made another choice too difficult and my choice, a Vietnamese place, was closed on Mondays. I had a great steak and potatoes, and enjoyed the setting among mountains and greens. I have a soft spot for non-elite golf places and country clubs, which lack the stuffiness of elite membership places but work to give some of the same experience. The sound of the 80s DJ for the wedding next door amused me.
I loved Yoho National Park and hope to go back there someday. I am so grateful to that ranger for putting us in the sorting hat and drawing out Sherbrooke Lake. But on the other hand, we asked the question--"where can we go that won't be crowded but is a fairly easy hike?" and got this great answer.