Thursday, August 4, 2016

British Columbia

­British Columbia July 25 to Aug. 2

We have spent most of the past 10 days in the national parks in the Canadian Rockies (with a few day trips into Alberta). First stop was Kootenay National Park. We saw bighorn sheep on the road into the campground on two consecutive days. We challenged ourselves with a 5.5 mile hike on the Stanley Glacier trail. We didn't go all the way to the glacier, but stopped at a point where we could see it and a wonderful waterfall across the valley. By the time we got back to the campground, we treated ourselves to a soak in the Radium Hot Springs pool. Niiice!!

 Kootenay National Park, British Columbia

Stanley Glacier Trail, Kootenay National Park

Next stop was Yoho National Park (our favorite park when we last traveled through the Canadian Rockies in1980). Because it was getting close to a national holiday (August 1), we settled in for 5 days and made it our base of operations. We were camped near the CPR tracks and enjoyed watching the trains pass through the Spiral Tunnels, an engineering marvel built to conquer the steep grade through Kicking Horse Pass in the 1890s. You can see the front of the train emerge from the second tunnel while the end of the train is still entering the first tunnel. The Yoho River is very white and milky from the “rock flour” silt it carries from the glacier. Rain did not deter us from visiting Takakkaw Falls (the word means “magnificent” in the Cree language). At 1223 feet, it is 3 times taller than Niagara Falls. Of course, we had our picture taken in a set of Parks Canada red chairs. You may have seen us in similar chairs in our postings from last summer. They are a feature that Canadian National Parks have added to most, if not all, of their parks at picture-worthy locations.

 train entering and exiting the tunnels

              Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park

     Kris standing on Natural Bridge, Yoho NP

Early morning at Emerald Lake, Yoho NP

 Abandoned locomotive

Yoho and Banff National Parks are very busy at this time of year and parking lots fill up fast. As we learned at Grand Teton NP and Rocky Mountain NP, arriving early in the morning results in a prime parking spot and we can sometimes finish our hike before the canoe rental places open and before the tour buses arrive. We made an obligatory visit to Lake Louise just over the Continental Divide in Alberta. The same strategy worked for our hike around Emerald Lake in Yoho NP. We hiked the Walk-in-the-Past Trail to an abandoned narrow gauge locomotive used in the construction of the Spiral Tunnels. We made another foray into Banff NP to drive north a bit on the Icefields Parkway to Peyto Lake and Crowfoot Glacier – two sites I remember from our 1980 trip. We will travel more of the parkway when we get up to Jasper NP next week.

 Lake Louise before the crowds, Banff National Park
    Peyto Lake, Banff NP

Glacier National Park (Parks Canada) and Mt. Revelstoke NP

We settled into a nice campsite right next to Illecillewaet River in Glacier NP. The Trans Canada Highway through this national park is very prone to avalanches. Solution: snow sheds and artillery shells in the winter to mitigate the risks. More railroad history – old stone trestles that are no longer in use but made for an interesting hike. The trestles were part of a 'spiral' or figure 8 solution to the steep grade of the land here, but they didn't need to tunnel like they did in Yoho. Not far down the highway is Mt. Revelstoke NP. We drove to the summit by way of the “Meadows in the Sky Parkway” and enjoyed the profusion of wildflowers. We saw a mother spruce grouse and her three chicks come right up to us on the trail. It is disturbing when wildlife does this because we know they have been fed by other tourists. We see very fat chipmunks and ground squirrels and know they will likely not survive the winter because of the people food.

                                                                     Mt. Revelstoke NP

In the town of Revelstoke, we spent a rainy afternoon washing clothes and sleeping bags. We walked on the pedestrian section of the highway where it crosses the Columbia River – the same Columbia that flows between Washington and Oregon. A quirky site on the way was Woodenhead – a carving that now has its own protective roofed shelter.

Other points of interest:

    Head of Moraine Lake, Banff NP

            World's Largest Paddle in British Columbia

 Mt. Revelstoke NP is home to endangered species of salamander.

 Revelstoke, BC





















No comments:

Post a Comment