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A lake with an unfortunate name and two with very good ones

Banff, Canada

After our supper of Buffalo Burger and Salad at 'The Crossing Pub' we popped into the on-site shop to check whether we would be able to buy milk for breakfast. Rick wants me to mention that he cooked the burgers to perfection on an indoor barbecue – a novel way of doing things there, you cook your own food.

Predictably, as we discovered when doing the research for the night's stopover, this is literally the only place to stay on the Parkway en route between Jasper and Lake Louise so the prices for everything reflect this. The accommodation here was the most expensive for our holiday and the most basic. Nevertheless we both slept like logs.

Up at 7.30 am and whilst Rick was showering I popped down to the shop, bought the milk and got the coolbag from the car ready for our alfresco breakfast. I obviously wasn't as rested as I thought as I sat for 15 minutes outside someone else's cabin thinking I had locked myself out, only to discover my error when Rick poked his head round the door two cabins up to see where I had got to – Better not be the one to drive this morning then!!

Our first stop was a Mistaya Canyon, another place where a river, this time the one fed by Peyto Lake, sculpts its way through the rock. At 9.30 am in the morning there was only one other car parked and the sun was trying to burn its way through a veil of mist draped over the surrounding mountains as we made our way down to the valley floor. Four young people were perched on the edge of the canyon as we approached, despite the numerous warning signs to keep to the paths. As we were about to make our way back, a Park Warden suddenly appeared. He had been surveying trees in the area and commented on the stupidity of the young people. They get 3-4 deaths here every year from people slipping in and he says you can go up and warn them but they just ignore the advice. He thinks a time will come when the government close trails like this as, believe it or not, people themselves or their relatives try and sue the Park following an accident, even if it is they who have ignored the warnings! He showed us an example of a tree infected with pine beetle and chatted about the natural cycle of the forest. I asked him if he knew anywhere in the area where we might see Moose. He recommended trying Waterfowl Lakes, where there is a large area of marshland that they graze early in the morning or at sunset. We hoped, it being rather gloomy, that the Moose might be fooled by the actual time of day – no such luck.

The first stop off took us through woodland to a bridge crossing a swift flowing river; the second led to the marshy area – predictably a favourite spot for mossies! Took several photos of wild flowers while we were there.

On to Bow Summit and Peyto Lake. The car park was just under a kilometre to the lake with two access trails – well one was a paved road up to the disabled car park. By accident we took this route. On the way down, via the scenic route, we realised that the paved route up hadn't been a bad option – it was much less steep. The lake was a beautiful blue, fed from the Peyto Glacier.

On past Bow Lake to Lake Louise. As we needed to be at Banff between 4.00 pm and 5.00 pm to check in to our B&B, we decided to check out nearby Morraine Lake in the hope that the haze would would clear for a day around Lake Louise itself tomorrow with a ride on the Gondola there. The Morraine Lake road is 14 kms from Lake Louise with a steady climb all the way there. What a beautiful place and once we left the area immediately beside the car park and made our way along the shore line footpath there were very few other people. Yet more glaciers feeding the lake with glacier flour and turning the water a deep blue.

Time being short to make the 5.00 pm deadline to our B&B we took Highway 1 to Banff, checked in and, upon our hostess's recommendation went to Bumpers Grill. It being Banff most of the menu was rather expensive and rather more in quantity than we wanted so we both went for a middle of the road, 'Canadian Stew'. Only our Canadian family will be able to tell us whether or not it was authentic! Beef in a spicy sauce with carrots, peas and potatoes – very tasty.

Our hostess had also recommended a drive on the Lake Minnewanka loop for a chance of spotting wildlife at dusk. We set off and not too far down the road two cars were parked up. Could it be something? Well yes it was. Our first and only sighting of a Grizzly Bear on the opposite side of the road in the undergrowth about 50 yards from the road!!! Unfortunately a car arrived on the bear's side of the road. The driver jumped out, swiftly followed by two children and obscured Rick's line for a photo. As the children were excited and making a lot of noise the bear understandably took off. Rick was only able to snap his rear end as he disappeared. As the bear clambered over a fallen tree to escape, you got an idea of this size – far bigger than the Black Bear we had seen a few days previously. We were so lucky to see it.

Lake Minnewanka was another impressive sight. We took a quick walk by the shore, motored back to see if Mr Grizzly had returned and then completed the loop, stopping at Two Jacks Lake. As we drove down to park, Rick spotted two Big Horn Sheep and, on the lake a Common Loon dipping for its supper. Last stop Lake Johnson, for obvious reasons and then back to Squirrel's Nest B&B to catch up on blogging.

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on August 17, 2010 from Banff, Canada
from the travel blog: Go west, then go west some more.
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Thanks for the post and your blog. I like, it is very inspiring for me!

permalink written by  Man from Dublin on August 18, 2010

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