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Day 9 - The Icefields Parkway back to Banff

Blizzard? A bit of snow and low cloud

I must admit to being slightly less than enthusiastic at writing up todays diary - the weather on our journey back down to Banff has been cold and wet. When you put the two together, we have driven through rain, then sleet, then snow. I know we're in the Rockies - but I was not expecting this at the end of May. This makes the Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Lake Louise a long and dreary road, instead of the tourist attraction it is supposed to be. And many of the walks off it are closed, as they are still blocked with snow. So there isn't much to do en route either.

One thing we did want to do was the bus ride in the Columbia Ice-fields. We arrived at the Ice-fields Centre in a raging snowstorm! It was a total white-out. Buses of tourists (who had obviously pre-booked and couldn't back out) were going up - but I very much doubt if they could have seen the ice-sheet they were driving on, never mind any kind of a view! Reluctantly we decided that a tour would be a waste of money, so hit the cafe for an expensive and dodgy hamburger before wending on our way.

We did manage to spot some wildlife along the way. Our first sitting was a black bear (Yes!) - but it had disappeared before we could photograph it. Then, up ahead (and bearing in mind there are very few vehicles on the road at present), we saw what looked like a five-car pile-up ahead. We slowed right down. Everyone had cameras out, pointing to the side of the road. It was another bear, but this one was bigger and browner. We need to get our 'Guide book to Canadian Wildlife' out - but could this be a grizzly? Art was just going to take a picture when another RV pulled up right in front of our lens. He was not amused - and of course by the time the van had moved, so had the bear! So you'll just have to take our word for it that we saw bears! Then we had a very obliging and picturesque squirrel. A long-horned sheep, a couple of friendly birds, and a deer that we still need to identify made up the nature watch.

This squirrel was folding strips of bark into his mouth

I know the wildlife photos are a bit tame, but they aren't mountains or lakes, we have plenty of them to re-see next week

The Great Divide

The great divide, in the middle is Mount Victoria, with the two plates either side

The other task for the day was to find the Great Divide. For the uninitiated, this is where the two landmasses that used to be separated by an ocean crashed together, creating the continent of North America. It was this crashing together that caused the Rockies in the first place, as the rocks were folded upwards by the force. The rocks on each side of the Great Divide are therefore of different compositions and ages, and you would expect the boundary to be quite noticeable. We'd been told that we'd be able to see it just to the south of the Saskatchewan Crossing, and we found a mention of it on an information board - but it gave no indication of exactly where it is. And the snow wasn't helping. The next place where we were told it was obvious was at Lake Louise itself. There is a signpost to 'The Great Divide' as you approach the lake and chateau (now a Fairmont Hotel - we'll be there next week), but it takes you to the start of a (closed) cross-country ski path/walk called 'The Great Divide'. So we drove on to the car park, had a cup of tea (one of the few advantages of taking your accommodation wherevery you go), then braved the bitter cold (it is very cold at Lake Louise) and walked to the lake. And - sure enough - you can't miss it. The mountains on one side of the lake are very definitely different to those on the other side of the lake. And there's a big 'V' with a glacier in it at the end.

A slow drive looking for wildlife along the Bow River Parkway (we only found a couple of deer and squirrels) finished the day before we found our way to the Tunnel Mountain Trailer Park just outside of Banff.

Let's hope the weather gets a bit better tomorrow….

Mountain Goat
Another deer

We are in a RV park that has wi fi, thats the first and the last, we drop it off tomorrow, Terri has to write up todays wiki, not a lot happened though, a few more mountains and lakes and a church!!!

I have not a clue what type of bird this is

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terris_travelogue/canada/i_icefields_banff.txt · Last modified: 2011/05/21 13:20 by tel
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