We were like kids in a sweet shop and were struggling to decide where to go first. There were so many places of great beauty that we could choose from even with many parts of the park closed due to the winter season.
Our first stop was at Two Jack Lake and the neighbouring Minniewanka Lake (I’m saying nothing!). Even though it was not the right time of year to see the beautiful turquoise coloured lakes that Banff is well known for we were captivated by the beauty of the area in it’s frozen condition.
We took some time to sit and enjoy the views and Chrissie used the opportunity to bring out her paints for the first time
Around mid-morning ‘those’ people started to arrive, you know, the ones who want to throw stones at the ducks and drop cigarette ends everywhere. With our little moment of peace and solitude shattered we moved on.
Only a short drive away was the skiing area of Mount Norquay and we originally only intended to drive up and see what was going on. Standing in the reception building at the base of the slopes we were told that today was the last day the facilities would be open until next winter. Well, we don’t ski but we did discover that they offered tubing.
It turns out that tubing is essentially sitting in a rubber inner tyre and being pushed from the top, by a friendly member of staff, down one of the tubing lanes. You buy a ticket and then you can have as many goes as you like.
It sounded great. I thought it would be the ideal way to have fun and burn off a few calories and turned my eager face to Chrissie. “I don’t want to do it” she said. “Why not” I said “you’ll love it” and I nagged at her until she gave in.
A couple of hours later and I’d had enough but Chrissie was now like a little kid “again, again” she said. I dragged her away kicking and screaming!
The following day, and another early start, we drove a bit further afield to hike up Johnston Canyon to see both the Lower and Upper falls. The trail condition report advised of an icy path and they were right!
It was pretty much uphill all the way and while the Lower Falls were a mixture of water and ice the Upper Falls were mainly ice.
With our first ‘short’ walk under our belts we decided to go for another one at Lake Louise. The lake at Lake Louise must be one of the most photographed locations in Canada and most photos will show a beautiful turquoise green lake nestled in the surrounding mountains with the large Fairmont Chateau hotel standing proudly at one end.
Well, like everything else, it was frozen and it led to us taking our first ever walk on a frozen lake to see another frozen waterfall.
You had to be careful where you chose to walk on the ice but in the worst places it was well signed
We were now on our third day in Banff National Park and had become used to the sight of tour buses pulling up at the most touristy spots, and watching what seemed like hundreds of mainly asians pouring off the bus into the car park, taking a thousand selfies by the bus and the toilets, and then getting back on to go to the next stop.
It was with a little bit of trepidation then that we headed for the most popular tourist spot of them all, the town of Banff. We had decided to take the gondola cable car to the top of Sulphur Mountain but with such great weather we decided first to do a hike from a viewpoint called “Surprise Corner”, which was just outside the town centre, to another viewpoint of some hoodoos, a walk of around five miles.
We believe that when we set off for this walk we (and when we say ‘we’ I mean ‘me’) left our GoPro on the bonnet of the Land Rover. It will come as no surprise to anyone that it wasn’t there when we returned.
A cable car to see the views at the top of Sulphur Mountain was just what we needed to take our mind off the GoPro (we obviously have no videos of this!) but we did have lovely views and took some wonderful photos.
The weather the following morning was again beyond our expectations for this time of the year and we decided another hike was in order. So it was back to our favourite sounding lake, Lake Minnewanka, for a hike to Stewart Canyon.
A hike, some lunch and then a short drive to the Vermillion Lakes and that was another day gone. Time was rushing by too quickly.
On what would be our last full day in the apartment in Canmore we decided to head south away from Banff National Park into Kananaskis County for a scenic drive, and a delightful one it was too.
We saw very little traffic and quite a bit of bird life and small wildlife
We would be disappointed to leave Canmore but knew that there was still a lot left of the Rockies for us to explore. We move north tomorrow.