Posted By RichC on August 2, 2005
I had planned on updating our trip to the Canadian Rockies daily, but as with most vacations, the time went by way too fast, besides that, the days were long and tiring. My son and I flew into Calgary, Alberta the last week in July and were picked up by Jeff, a long time friend in Canmore. Thankfully he monitored our flight delay that connected in Chicago and didn’t have too long to wait. The Calgary International Airport is extraordinarily nice and wouldn’t be a bad place to sit and wait … although we didn’t.
The terminal is an internet ‘wifi hotspot‘ and has multiple leather lounging chairs scattered throughout. The customs area is well organized and expidited our entry into Canada and obviously it has undergone an efficient 9/11 security update.
Our drive toward Canmore and the Canadian Rockies was warm and sunny. We had just missed a few days of cooler weather and rain, up to 4 inches. Canmore is an old mining town that is surrounded by provincial parks which has created a building boom and land shortage as development has increased. The property value has increased quickly as interest in a vacation homes or the early retirement mentality has taken hold. Interestingly, Robin Williams was in town the week we were there and a property up the street was sold to another Hollywood celebrity. Our focus was on the hiking and mountain biking and enjoying the beauty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, although my friend Jeff did take us to Murrietaâ€™s Westcoast Grill for a classy meal. We unpacked and settled into a fantastic home, owned by Jeff’s brother Conrad, with wonderful views of the mountains. (the Three Sisters are prominate peaks from a deck on the main floor)
Our first day was a tourist day and we loaded up the Toyota Landcruiser and heading for Lake Louise. The place was inundated by people from all around the world, especially Japan. There were a group of German students staying at the Chateau Lake Louise that we noticed in the airport upon arrival, but thankfully they looked to have been recovering from a long flight.
Thankfully our start was relatively and we headed toward Mirror Lake, the Teahouse, Lake Agnes and the beehive. (this was a trail I hiked in 1976 and 1989 so I enjoyed the memories) It continues to be a popular day hike and offer outstanding views of the lake below and a ‘spot of tea’ for those interested. About half the way up to the teahouse, there is a resting point at Mirror Lake where several trails including horse trails, meet. From this point there is an outstanding view of the beehive of which the backside has switchback trails that can be hiked by those with strong legs and good balance.
Once to Lake Agnes, the teahouse offers an outstanding view of Lake Louise, the glacier and Chateau below. College age students spend their summers working and sleeping in the teahouse and return to the Chateau once or twice a week to shower. (they bunk in the loft) What a great hike. If you only have a short time to spent in the area, this one is a great hike.
Another area that we wanted to see was Kananaskis Country One of the great hikes in this area is from the lakes to the top of Mt. Indefatigable. The first part is entirely woodlands and is ideal bear country ( make some noise) and the second segment is rocky and very steep leading to a summit at over 7000 feet. We had great views of the lakes below and even though there is sun, the winds can get be a bit chilly.
I photographed flora and fauna most of the trip. I stopped at about every different flower along the trail, and there were many. I still have to catalog them, but that’s for another time. We didn’t see any bears although there have been several attacks this summer. There were also several recent articles and postings around the area cautioning hikers and backpackers to be on their guard. Elk, deer and goats were everywhere but we only saw one moose.
The final day in Canada was a mountian bike ride from the higher country in Kananaskis to the town of Baniff, famous for the Banff Springs Hotel (photo below). The trail was called Goat Creek and followed the mountain lake to its meeting with the Bow River. What a terrific ride as at least the elevation change was ‘down.’ (thankfully) There were some challenging grades, but we did finally make it for a late lunch at a great spot in Banff called Brunos. Barbequed buffalo burgers were the fair of choice … I’m not sure if it was the riding or the tasty burger? Nevertheless we had a great ride.
All in all, it was a memerable trip. Tons of photos, funny generational buzzwords and laughter. I had fun improperly using words like “shredding and cheddaring” as we worked our way down the mountains. Of course I also did the annoying “TDI, TDI, TDI” as we crossed a VW diesel; I think I was skating on thin ice with both my son and Jeff. It sure was nice to be able to enjoy the company of your son and best friend … I only hope it continues for many years. (ahh … but the trip is not over. I hope to detail Airventure 2005 as we detoured to Oshkosh on our trip back to Cincinnati … AND it was the best yet!)