Monday, 28 November 2005

The Rocky Mountains, Canada

BANFF, LAKE LOUISE & JASPER

But first...
Camping, Canadian style...

Arriving late into beautiful Banff, we stopped for a couple of beers at one of the local pubs before crawling into the Beast for another night on the road. It did feel a little colder than usual, nothing too crazy - but when we woke up... BOOM. This was it!
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Snow had fallen silently throughout the night and coated our poor Beast (with human cargo inside) in a thick layer of fresh snow. The campsite looked amazing as we packed up our things and crossed our fingers for the frozen engine to start...

Thankfully, the Beast roared to life and we began scraping off the snow for another day on the road. Dane smiles from inside our frozen bedroom...
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The next leg of the roadtrip...

Banff
Lake Louise
Jasper National Park


We left Banff headed for Lake Louise - the tiniest of towns with not much more than the Lake Louise Ski Resort, a gas station and a great kebab shop! The infamous lake didn't disappoint though - it is absolutely iridescent blue.

LAKE LOUISE

Lake Louise and the crazy water colour.
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The most tranquil of places - we were there on a rainy day, and the whole place was still stunning - low fog over the crystal aqua blue water.
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THE LAKE AGNES TEAHOUSE HIKE

We started walking around the edge of Lake Louise on a trail that seemed to climb uphill constantly. We saw a few small timber signs and a little plaque saying 'Lake Agnes Teahouse' with an arrow ahead. We followed the trail on and on (and up and up), until all the ground and the rocks were covered in a slippery combo of ice and snow. Then it started snowing.
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We were seriously undergunned (once again!) in our street shoes, jeans and jumpers, while other hikers pushed past us in climbing gear with fully stocked backpacks.... We figured we had come too far already to turn back, so we pressed on, up and up on the icy trail - often assuming a crab-like crawl to get up the slippery slope. Turns out the hike is just under 10km (a detail which was not signposted!), but visions of hot coffees and a warm fire at the teahouse at the top kept us going.

Views of Lake Louise during the hike.
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Up and up, the snow kept falling, and we kept climbing. We finally arrived at the top - exhausted - to find a sign on the door of mountain-top lake-side teahouse, cheerfully announcing: "CLOSED for the Season - See you next June". JUNE! Right. Perhaps a small sign at the BOTTTOM of the trail could have informed us of this development. However, the views were amazing - a frozen lake gathered snow while the craggy tops of the Rockies jagged skywards...

The semi-frozen Lake Agnes reflecting nicely
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Us at the (closed!) Teahouse - notice the attire - fit for climbing in the Rockies... We again attracted many "what are you THINKING" stares from the locals who came PREPARED.
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PEYTO LAKE

After our hike down, and a kebab, we drove the short drive from Lake Louise to Peyto Lake. Peyto Lake is almost more impressive than Lake Louise, but lesser known. The colour of the water looks so bright, it doesn't look real - as though someone has added dye to the water. Apparently, the water gets its colour from the mineral-rich glaciers, which have compressed the ice to such an extent it looks blue.
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JASPER NATIONAL PARK

This one is taken from the van on the long road to Jasper, north of Banff and Lake Louise. It has been dumping snow here already - a great sign for the coming winter. Yew!
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ATHABASCA FALLS

Inside Japser National Park, we stopped to check out Athabasca Falls. Another hike ensued...
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Athabasca Falls - the water was FREEZING.
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