Canadian Rockies; Alberta, June 30-July 8, 2017

Many thanks to Melissa and to Phil for making this such a wonderful vacation! I had never been there before. Glad I went.

Athabasca Glacier, July 2, 2017.

Delta Lodge at Kananskis, Alberta, Friday, June 30

Our flight from Phoenix to Las Vegas took us over Tempe Camera, the Bradshaw Mountains, and Lake Mead. From Las Vegas to Calgary we flew over Lake Mead again, and the Bonneville Salt Flats. Then I started seeing mountains with snow on them. Everything got greener and nicer as we continued north. Rode a bus to the hotel, where we had a reception followed by dinner. Got to get more sleep tonight.

Canadian Rockies, here we come!

Wildflowers are abundant:
white yellow
red white

Delta Lodge at Kananskis, Alberta, Saturday, July 1

This morning we really went to the dogs. Sled dogs, that is, at the Mad Dogs and Englishmen Sled Dog Tours. We got to hear a talk by a fellow who cares for them and takes tourists on dog sleds. Then we met the dogs in person. They were friendly, some of them retired sled racing dogs.

In the afternoon we went to the Boundary Ranch and rode in a horse-drawn wagon. They have several bison at the ranch, a mule, lots of horses, and wild deer all over the place. Then we came back to the hotel before the Canada Day celebration ended. Canada is 150 years old today.

Morning on the Kananskis River.
How high is the tree line?
We have some famous dogs here.
Buffalo roam the Boundary Ranch, but not far.
A horse gave me the stare-down.
We keep a lot of extra saddles.

Sawridge Inn, Jasper, Alberta, Sunday, July 2

Getting off to an early start, we went to the Athabasca Glacier. There a special bus took us out on the ice. It had six big fat tires that won’t slip on the ice slope and can take a 28% grade on the dirt road to get there. I went out on the ice to take pictures, while Jacque and a few others stayed on the bus. On such a warm day the ice was wet and slippery, but I didn’t fall down.

We had a late lunch near Sunwapta Falls, then some of us hiked down a trail to the upper and lower falls. We didn’t have much time. So when another hiker told us we were only halfway there, it became apparent that there wasn’t enough time to get all the way down to the lower falls and back. We turned around, but I got a few pictures.

Yes, we’re going to walk on the Athabasca Glacier.
Are you sure this bus won’t slip on the ice?
Looks like fun, wouldn’t you say?
Holes you had better not fall into.

At least we got to see the upper falls.

Sawridge Inn, Jasper, Alberta, Monday, July 3

On the way to Maligne Lake we saw a bear in the woods. On the lake we took a boat ride to Spirit Island, a famous picture spot. The lake is in a valley scooped out by glaciers millions of years ago. So there are mountains on three sides. Both of us took pictures. I walked the short trail overlooking Spirit Island.

Maligne Canyon is over 200 feet deep and so narrow in places that it looks like you could jump across. I won’t try that! Water is rushing furiously at the bottom. The walls are vertical, rough limestone with vegetation growing here and there. Foot bridges were built in several places. After walking the trail over the first two bridges, I joined Jacque for lunch at the Visitor Canter.

The evening’s group activities included a lecture by James Rice of Tufts University about national parks. Next we had dinner at the hotel, and then a planetarium show. I got to look at the moon through a 16" reflector telescope and watch the stars indoors. The Jasper Planetarium is an inflatable building, so they let people in and out in groups of six.

Maligne Lake is in a valley scooped out by glaciers millions of years ago..
Some of the glaciers are still here. [photo by Jacque]
Kayakers arrive beside Spirit Island.
Lichens adorn the boulders.
We have found the best picture spot.
Jacque looks around on the boat dock.

The water is a long way down in Maligne Canyon.
Broad jump?  Methinks I won’t try that here.

Sawridge Inn, Jasper, Alberta, Tuesday, July 4

Jasper is a railroad town, founded in 1911. Canadian National freight trains go rolling through all the time, but they go slow to keep the noise down. We had the morning off from organized activities, so Jacque and I walked downtown.

After lunch, James Rice gave a talk about Indians. They are called Native Americans in the United States, but First Nation in Canada.

Jacque stayed at the hotel while I went on a raft trip down the Athabasca River. We sat around the edges of a 24' inflatable raft. Most of the river was smooth, but there were a few rapids along the way and everyone got splashed by the waves. My clothes and billfold are wet, but my watch and my camera seem to be O.K.

It was after 5:00 PM when I got back to our hotel room. Jacque and I walked down the street to go to dinner.

Jasper is a railroad town.
We’re staying at the Sawridge.

The next rapids aren’t so splashy, I assure you.
The Athabasca River just keeps rolling along.

Moose Hotel & Suites, Banff, Alberta, Wednesday, July 5

Today’s journey was a road trip from Jasper to Banff, with a lunch stop and several scenic stops in between. We got here at 5:00 in the afternoon.

Tough climb, but a great view from the top.
Athabasca Falls.
Athabasca Falls.
Mountain goats are shedding this time of year.
Summer, but there’s still plenty of ice.
Our last look at the Athabasca Glacier.
Yes, this is the color of Bow Lake.
Peyto Lake. [photo by Jacque]

Moose Hotel & Suites, Banff, Alberta, Thursday, July 6

Lake Minnewanka is a popular spot, especially in the summer. We went there after touring some more of Banff and the Bow Falls, a raging cascade on the river.

After lunch at the Maple Leaf we heard a talk by a retired Mountie. They don’t ride horses any more except in parades. But they always get their man. All of Canada is their jurisdiction.

The guide on our Cave and Basin Tour is an accomplished actress, playing several roles of pioneers, prospectors, and railroaders. We got to see the hot spring that they discovered, which led to this whole area becoming a national park.

Bow Falls is a raging cascade.
The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.
Lake Minnewanka is a popular spot.

Wildflower medley on the Cave and Basin Tour.
This is where they discovered the hot spring.

Moose Hotel & Suites, Banff, Alberta, Friday, July 7

Moraine Lake is justly popular with photographers. A glacial boulder pile at the north end is the ideal photo spot, so the first thing I did was climb up there on the trail. Jacque took the water level trail and got some different pictures.

Lake Louise was crowded. We stayed together on the trail at the water’s edge. They have a big fancy hotel and don’t want crowds in the lobby, but there are gift shops. I bought a map of the Banff area.

On the ski lift I rode an open-air gondola both ways. It’s very quiet and peaceful as you ride the cable up the mountain. At the top of the ski lift (not the top of the mountain) there’s a good picture spot nearby. A middle-aged couple rode up with me and a young couple rode down. Just three of us in a four-passenger open-air gondola.

On the way up we saw a mother bear with her two cubs. I was glad to be riding high above instead of walking down below.

Our farewell dinner was tasty. Then we had to say good-bye to new friends.

Reaching for the sky at Moraine Lake.
The lake has a lot of reflections.
You can see where the glaciers came from.

Quiet reflections on Lake Louise. [photo by Jacque]
Ice-covered mountains in the background. [photo by Jacque]

It’s so quiet and peaceful on the ski lift.
Mother bear with her two cubs, on my way up.
Mother bear without her two cubs, on my way down.
Lake Louise, from the ski lift.
My heart soars.

Mesa, Arizona, Saturday, July 8

Being a natural early bird, it’s easy for me to get up and be ready to leave the hotel at 6:00 AM. Not so easy for Jacque, but she made it. The hotel handed us bag breakfasts of cold food, and then we were on our way to the Calgary International Airport.

They always give me the full rigmarole at airport security, because my artificial left knee contains metal. Now they do the same with Jacque. She also had total knee replacement surgery, last year. But today we had plenty of time. Our nonstop flight to Phoenix on WestJet was pleasant.  116°F when we landed.

Thanks to our daughter Clara for meeting us at the Phoenix airport.

Arizona Hike Pictures updated July 9, 2017