Mark took this photo of me at Lake Louise as I seemed really deep in thought. In reality I was navigating some stones in the lake and was watching my step. That being said I like this photo a lot.
Well with all of my photos from Banff and Yoho National Park posted, I thought I would write what we are thinking of for next year.
The big difference is we are doing a short trip on July 1st long weekend to Yoho National Park to hike Lake O’Hara. Lake O’Hara has very restricted access but is considered one of the best hiking areas in the world. So the plan is to drive out and the camp in the rustic Lake O’Hara campground before hiking the trails for two days.
We will take a longer vacation later in the summer. We will also take Marley along for this one.
Day 1: Drive to Banff, get out and hike up Tunnel Mountain. Die a little on top. Walk back down. Get back into car and drive to Lake Louise campground.
Basically we never did do this during this year’s vacation because my ankle was so swollen that it felt like it was going to snap. I want to do this next year. As for the campground, I loved the Johnston Canyon Campground but Lake Louise Campground is closer to Yoho National Park and there are no reservable spots in Yoho.
Another idea from this year that was derailed because of my ankle. If all goes well, three mountain tops and one cup of tea in two days. I am more excited about the mountain tops than I am the tea to be honest.
Day 3: Yoho: HIke to the the Twin Falls
Day 4: Walk the Past Trail
It’s not a long trail but I have always wanted to hike the Walk the Past Trail in Yoho. It is near the Spiral Tunnels and it is littered with the carnage of runaway trains and exploding boilers that plagued the Big Hill during it’s existence. This history geek in me is looking forward to this. Since it won’t take long, I plan to check out Emerald Lake in Yoho as well.
Day 5: Columbia Ice Fields
I haven’t spent anytime in Jasper National Park so this will be fun but we are planning to take the Columbia Ice Fields tour as we relocate camp from Lake Louise to the Columbia Ice Fields Campground.
Day 6: Hike to Wilcox Pass
One of the best hikes in Canada, this high alpine pass should be fun.
Day 7: Athabasca Falls and Exploring the town of Jasper.
Day 8: Mount Edith Cavell trail
Day 9: Edmonton and then home.
I should have posted these sooner. When you take several thousand photos on a trip, you have to edit several thousand photos. When I mean edit, I mean hit the delete key a lot.
In our last full day in Banff National Park, we planned to hike some of the trails around Moraine Lake. Those plans were changed when almost all of the trails in the Valley of the Ten Peaks were closed because of grizzly bears. That disappointed Wendy, Mark, and Oliver but I had a plan B, even if they didn’t know it yet.
As we drove up to Moraine Lake, the sign said the road was closed and three cars ahead of us did the U-turn and drove back down the road. A Parks Canada employee walked up and waved us past the closed sign so upward we went. It’s an amazing drive and show a forest that we had never seen before.
We finally got to the full parking lot and parked about a 300 metres down the road which was pretty good considering at times, that road has people parked on it for miles.
After turning my back on Oliver for about a second, he thinks he is in the Logdrivers Waltz and is jumping from log to log to go up the rock pile. Luckily the kid has skills and made it back to shore.
Canoes can be rented for about $60/hour or you can take a well maintained path to the stream/waterfall at the far side of the lake. We decided to walk.
This is the end of the path but Wendy and Mark decided to test their luck and balance and keep going.
Marley decided to test her luck as well and wandered out into the water, fell in, got wet, hit her head and swallowed some water before getting out. There was a Russian researcher there who had just gotten his permanent residency papers this week and was celebrating with his wife. They loved Marley’s clumsiness and we had a great chat about the mountains, Trump, Putin, and dogs while waiting for Wendy and Mark to return.
I need to explain these photos. Last year while at Sawback, I told the boys that there is a Cooper tradition of dunking you head into glacier waters the first time you head to a new lake or body of water. There is no tradition, I just wanted to see if I could make them dunk their heads in the water. This time Wendy and I were no so lucky as they made us dunk our heads in the freezing glacier water.
Just before I did this, I think I said, “Mark hold my camera but no need to photograph this.” He listens like his mother.
Solid hat don’t you think?
Did I mention I didn’t wear a hat in the Banff heat (and no shade) the day before. I was burnt.
Me taking a photo of a person taking a photo.
Don’t worry, it wasn’t a real bear.
While in the Gift Shop, I picked Wendy up a Moraine Lake t-shirt while Mark got her two bear figurines that made her day. She was still on a high from seeing the black hear the day before. It wasn’t quite as large as this one.
It’s me so you knew I would post about some architectural photos from downtown Banff. Most of these will appear over on Bridge City but you’ll get to see them here first.
We headed out to Lake Louise for the day while in Banff National Park. We got up early from the Johnston Canyon Campground and headed down the Bow Valley Parkway. The plan was to hike up to Lake Agnes Tea House but my ankle was still swollen, I was still running a fever from being taken off the medication for my ankle. We got there in good time and got a good parking spot (Parks Canada staff running the parking lots makes it run very smooth). As we walked up the path to the Tea House, I realized that a combination of rain, a fever, and a messed up ankle, I needed to understand my limits. We’ll head back up there next year.
Before anyone feels sorry for us, did I mention we were still on the shore of Lake Louise? It’s pretty spectacular view and we were about to find out that our fellow tourists were pretty great.
From there we headed down the mountain and stopped at Laggan’s Mountain Bakery and Delicatessen.
Everyone I know that has been to Laggan’s raves about how great it is. You have to see and smell it to believe it. Wendy picked out some Jamaican Patties and got use some of the best pizza I have ever tasted. The bakery is worth the stop if you are even close to Lake Louise.
After hiking up to Silverton Falls, we drove further down the Bow Valley Parkway until we got to the base of Castle Mountain and stopped at the site of the Castle Mountain Internment Camp used in World War I. It’s not a proud part of Canada’s past.
Life at the camp was brutal. Rations were poor, abuse was widespread and some froze to death during the winters. They were essentially used as slave labor to build the Banff National Park infrastructure.
From there we checked out the Castle Mountain lookout which had a Canadian Pacific rail line go by it.
I am not sure what happened here but both Mark and Oliver just stared for ages at Castle Mountain. For Mark it was almost a spiritual experience. Finally he goes, “So this is why you love the mountains.”
Then as we were talking, you could hear the familiar sound of a eastbound Canadian Pacific train coming in the distance.
Well we are back from vacation in Banff National Park and later Yoho National Park. It was a great week but once that almost didn’t happen. A few weeks ago they took me off my antibiotics because they thought they had killed the infection (again) and of course we know what happened. In three days I was overwhelmed with fevers and extremely sick just before the holidays. So I was back on my medication but it takes weeks for it to catch up to the infection.
The day before we were to leave, I was really sick. It had gotten worse and I was really suffering. I went to be knowing that all I wanted was to sleep for the next week.
I got up early last Sunday and felt even worse. I talked to Wendy and said that her and the boys should go without me.
They loaded the car and went to leave. I had gotten some sleep and felt a little better. I didn’t feel strong enough to go but I had some food and talked it over with Wendy and decided to go. I did warn her that I may do nothing more than sleep all week. She was okay with that.
We had intended to leave Saskatoon, contact some friends and grab some coffee as we passed through town. Now we left Saskatoon really late and it was going to be a rush to get to the campground before nightfall.
Sadly we were very early onto a horrible motorcycle crash. Guy on a road bike, wet highway, looks like he lost control. When we got there, he was lying on the highway and being held down. It was a horrible sight but ambulance was on route and First Responders were already there.
This was Wendy’s and mine tent. I know it’s massive. It is an eight person tent that I picked up at Walmart a few years ago. I am not a big fan of Walmart tents but I bought some Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof and applied it. The SolarProof protects the tent from UV radiation at higher altitudes while making it waterproof. We did get some heavy rain a few days and nights and we never had a leak all week. Several times I found myself laying in it and going, “this should be leaking” but it wasn’t.
The tent doesn’t come with a ground sheet. So I decided to pick up some tarps. I measured the tent spent $3 on tarps from Dollarama and used Gorilla Tape to fasten them together created one. The ground sheet saves the bottom of the tent and acts as a bit of a vapor barrier between the tent and the ground.
We had some tents already but my brother Lee gave this tent to the boys when he upgraded. The 8 person tent served as home for Wendy and I while Mark and Oliver lived in the smaller five person tent. It’s a three season tent with a big vestibule. They loved having their own space. The fact that it came from their uncle and aunt made it even cooler for them.
The only complaint was we never had a night where I felt 100% confident that we would not get rain. Oliver really wanted to “sleep under the stars”. Either that or he really wanted to see what else was going on while he slept in the tent.
An eight person tent is too big for two people but one can stand up in it and there was room for our queen sized air mattress. Since I had a dog sleeping in my arms every single night, all of the space we could get was needed.
I had purchased Wendy a hammock for Mother’s Day. I gave strict orders to the boys that this was Wendy’s hammock.
I had my hammock as well.
According to this, I was late giving the edict that this was MY hammock. By the time I went to lay in it, it had already been infested.
You have no idea how hard it was to get them out of this tent. There was one of them in it the entire time we were there. Mark called it a Bear Taco.
This is Wendy getting everything set up.
Something is wrong with this photo. There are only three lawn chairs. Obviously they were packed when I wasn’t planning to come out.
Wendy had some help from Marley in setting things up.
This is the view from the back of the campsite. Just through the trees is the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway which thrilled all of us when it rolled through between five and ten times a day/night. Some might have found it bothersome but we loved it. The railway were such a big part of the story of Banff National Park, it was cool to hear them roll through, even if it didn’t make for the best alarm clock.
I had originally wanted to stay in the Castle Mountain Campground because of it’s location but you can’t reserve there. In hindsight staying in a place with a hot shower was the right decision.
There were only four showers for 100+ campsites but it was enough. There was a bit of a lineup in the evenings but most people took really quick showers (although Wendy waited as a women took a 40 minute shower one morning). The one oddity of the campground was there was two plugins in each washroom which were always being used as people charged everything from laptops computer to cameras and phones.
Parks Canada staff kept the washrooms immaculate although one of them said, “It’s not that hard, people are really good here.” I’ll take her word for it but the fact remains those washrooms were the cleanest of any campground we had ever seen.
The campground wasn’t that large and was extremely quiet. We were surrounded by Americans and Europeans for most of it. It was hectic in the morning as everyone got up and got going, then it was silent for for most of the day as everyone was gone. It got slightly busier at night but mostly people flaked out after a long day of hiking. There were two cycling clubs there who were working out together in the mountains all day long. Most of the noise was people slowly cycling by. If you are looking for a nice campground, this is it.
As they say it, How the West was Once
Some shots of Horseshoe Canyon outside of Drumheller, Alberta.
While in Banff National Park, Wendy and I took the boys up to Johnston Canyon which was insanely busy. The parking lot was packed and by the time we left, people were parking over a kilometre in both ways down the Bow Valley Parkway. We had plans to take the boys to the upper waterfalls.
So as the sign says, it is a 1 km hike to the first falls. Yet when I started the Map My Hike app on my iPhone, it said that it was 4k with a return hike.
I think I have met these three people before.
They enjoyed the walk. They weren’t tired but the progress was at a standstill because there was a group taking selfie’s up ahead.
This is my favorite shot from the hike.
A Parks Canada employee has what looks to be a long and wet day ahead of him.
This is the legendary lower falls of Johnston Canyon. We had planned to go to the upper falls but as the photos show, the crowds were brutal and the antibiotics I had to deal with the infection in my ankle hadn’t beaten the infection back very far. Combined it meant that it would be a long hike and since we are coming back next summer to hike to the inkpots, it wasn’t a big deal to call it a day and dodge the selfie sticks back to the car.
I think we can all agree that I nailed this picture of a chipmunk.
Did I mention that the trail was packed. This is the main reason why we didn’t go to the second falls. So many people (and my ankle was really hurting me). Also, most of the people we passed on the trail were looking at their phones. Apparently world class scenery and nature doesn’t compete well with Angry Birds.
If you want to see more photos from Johnston Canyon, check out the full set on Flickr.
Sawback is a small picnic area on the Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and Johnston Canyon. It used to be small and has gotten smaller since Parks Canada has moved the tables near to the roadside turn off and allowed the vegetation to take over old picnic areas.
Growing up, it was my favorite place in the world. We used to take a yearly trip from Calgary (and later Saskatoon) to Johnston Canyon and then picnic at Sawback. I was looking forward to taking the boys there and was quite disappointed when all there was left was some picnic tables near the parking lot.
It wasn’t the picnic areas that make it so great, it was the babbling brook of glacier runoff that make it so much fun to explore as a kid. I knew that didn’t go anywhere so I followed an overgrown trail into the bush and 50 feet into it I found the brook.
Mark and Oliver did exactly what I did year ago and this jump across it and get all wet.
This shot was right after I had scolded the boys about making faces every time I tried to take their photo.
So while the picnic tables placement kind of sucks, we will return in 2016 with a proper picnic blanket and food.
I told Mark that there is a sacred Cooper tradition of dunking one’s head into the glacier water that ran out of the Sawback mountain range. He put his hands in, screamed from the cold…
And dunked his head into it.
After he got out and was struggling with hypothermia did I tell him that he was the first of the Cooper’s to do such a thing. Yes, I am a horrible father.
All of the snapshots I took at Sawback can be found in their album on Flickr.
After two days of being up at 4:45 a.m., I feel like I am slacking and sleeping in today. It’s almost 7 a.m.
Today we are heading to Heritage Park. I haven’t been there since I was in Grade 4. Much as stayed the same but a lot has changed. That was so long ago that the school I attended for Grade 4 has closed.
Before we go to Heritage Park, I need to take Mark to Chinook Centre so we can hit up the Apple Store and he can get a new iPod Nano. His died and then I leant him my old iPod Touch which he then dropped. So here we go again. I wonder if he can get an Otter Box for it.
Oliver doesn’t know there is a Lego store in that mall but I can’t see us walking by it and not going in.
After that it is to the park where we will wander around aimlessly and eat homemade food, ride a steam engine, take a cruise on a paddle wheeler, and see how Calgary was once.
I am waiting for the crew to get ready before we head downstairs to grab breakfast and then hit the road to Banff National Park today. We are taking the old highway through Cochrane along a winding road to Canmore. From there we will make a quick detour into Banff for some fresh bread and food before heading to Johnston Canyon where will hike the trail to the second large waterfall. It isn’t so much of a hike then a stroll. It’s also a great place to people watch as there are tourists from all over the globe there and they are fascinated by a lot of things (like squirrels) that we find mundane.
From there we are heading to a picnic area called Sawback where we will have a quick picnic lunch, then proceed up the Bow Valley Parkway until we get to Lake Louise. Along the way we are checking out a campground that we plan to stay at next year. It looks good online but it’s always nice to see it first hand.
After we explore the Chateau Lake Louise, we are heading back to Banff where the Banff Gondola and Cave and Basin National Historic site wait for us. After dinner the plan is to see the Bow Falls chill out (or warm up) in the Upper Banff Hot Springs before heading back to Calgary.
The Cave and Basin National Historic Site is one of my favourite spots on earth. I loved going there as a kid and I can’t wait until I can show Wendy, Mark, and Oliver the site. As for the Chateau Lake Louise, it was there that I proposed to Wendy so it will be fun heading back there.
After watching the carnage from the PC Party crashing and burning last night, everyone in Saskatchewan seemed to have opinions on what the Alberta election meant for Saskatchewan.
For those on the right, they predicted a wave of people from Alberta moving from the business hating Alberta to the business friendly Saskatchewan. They seem to expect that when Notley does the unthinkable and raise oil royalties, Alberta companies will flee for Saskatchewan (despite the fact that Peter Lougheed did the exact same thing decades ago. They ignore the fact that the oil is in Alberta and therefore so are the jobs. Also as Ontario proved during the Rae years, business will just stay put and vote in a new government before they move to another province. Roots are important to people, they just don’t get up and leave. So let’s cool down and ignore those idiots who have actually prediction an influx of a million people to Saskatchewan over the next couple of years and relax. No one chooses a province based on partisan politics. It is based on jobs and work.
Those on the left see this as another evidence of an orange wave. I don’t think it was a move to the NDP as much as it was a total rejection of the PC Party of Alberta. There will be some vote analysis done but I would suspect Alberta was a really frustrated electorate. If Notley governs well, then great but if she doesn’t, then she will be done. Also keep in mind that Alberta is a very progressive big government province. It is just paid for by oil royalties. It has lead the way in some of the most innovative housing, homeless, poverty reduction and education strategies in North America and do you know what, no one has cared. In fact the Wildrose Party has pushed for more of those kind of programs, especially with seniors care.
I was musing online the other night that if I was in Alberta, I may vote for the Wildrose Party because even I don’t think Alberta’s big government social contract works in the long run. They may be social conservatives in Alberta but they love to spend money.
For all of the talk of the Klein cuts, let’s put that in context, the neo-Conservative NDP under Roy Romanow made even deeper cuts to fight our deficit. Alberta may be the biggest spending government not lead by Bob Rae in history.
The big lesson from last night is that elections matter and polls this early out don’t. That doesn’t mean that Brad Wall will lose and Cam Broten (or whoever the Liberal leader is will win) but it does mean that we have no idea what will happen a year out. What looked like a political masterstroke to the chattering class five months ago didn’t survive last night. Now it is the PC Party of Alberta who could be the weaker party in a merger with the Wildrose Party and the Liberal Party may not exist by next election in Alberta.
I heard a bunch of ridiculous talk that Brad Wall is still unbeatable but at different points so was Jim Prentice or Paul Martin. I remember vote predictions saying that Martin would win over 200 seats and could challenge Brian Mulroney for the largest majority ever. How did that turn out? Back in 1994, the Liberals lead by Linda Haverstock were well ahead in the polls in Saskatchewan.
In Alberta, Notley was at 10% not that long ago. There was a feeling that the NDP would be reduced in seat count and only hold their base in Edmonton.
Last weekend I was out with some politicos. We made some arguments that Brad Wall could win some more seats from the NDP or just as likely the NDP could gain a couple of seats in Saskatoon, Regina, and Prince Albert and end up with like 17 – 19 seats. That is a fearless prediction folks, Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party will either win some more seats or lose some more seats in the next election. Take that prediction to the bank! (of course now that I have said that, things will remain the exact same)
In the end, the average voter doesn’t read this blog, doesn’t follow you and I on Twitter, doesn’t read Murray Mandryk or Andrew Coyne and is focused on getting by in their life and job. They have things like hockey games to get their kids to and they worry about the noise their car is making far more than whatever stunt has just been played in the legislature. Politicos may live and die on what is happening (and for that we have Andrew Coyne, Kady O’Malley, and Murray Mandryk) but the rest of the world doesn’t.
Before you scoff at me, in the last city election there were candidates out every night door knocking from now until the election. All of them, winner or loser told me at one point in that cycle that it didn’t really make any difference this far out from the election, people weren’t engaged.
They pay attention when the writ is dropped and the lawn signs come up. Right now the vast majority of people are going, “What happened in Alberta and how did the NDP win there? I thought that Prentice guy seemed all right.” That is the end of it. I actually read one detailed vote analysis in the United States that showed a surprising amount of people (enough to turn electoral votes) voted on how much rain they got that year and the year before. If you are a politician and you just read that last part, you need a hug right now.
So the lessons to take from the Alberta vote. Elections matter. You never know what can happen and probably never say, “look in the mirror” to someone that you need their vote in a couple of weeks. Other than that, there isn’t a lot to take away from it.