On the Road Adventures

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sept 8 - Lake Louise

About the national parks in Canada. First: expensive. This park is $20 a day so the total can run up really fast if you want to linger. Second: the maps and information they hand out about the parks are spartan, to say the least. The map comes in a handout that covers a whole bunch of parks, and basically resembles the strip map you'd draw on the back of an envelope. No mileage info, no trails, no stops of interest. (And they get just a tad snippy when one asks about trails, etc. Obviously, if you don’t already know about those things, you don’t need to.) Thank goodness the MilePost covers the Icefields Parkway through the park or we'd have been spending the whole drive saying, "There's a pullout - I wonder what that's for." But as we had MilePost, we did stop at several scenic spots and got to see Athabascan Falls, which made a nice walk. The falls have chiseled a path through limestone layers in a very dramatic way.
I must mention a really good thing about Canadian parks. They aren't caniphobic like the US park system and actually welcome dogs on the trails and just about everywhere in the park. You can take your dog along on hikes, properly leashed, of course, but they don't have a problem with that at all. Nice for the doggies.

We planned to stay at IceFields Center tonight. It's next to a major glacier that runs out of the ice field in the center of the mountains.

There are bus tours right out onto the ice, or hiking trails that go over the top of the glacier. People who have been there say it’s a “must do.” We got there and it was 40 degrees, the wind was blowing so hard the flags were standing out straight out, ripping their ends into fringe so it felt like, well, kind of like winter. The glacier looked like it was infested with ants with all the buses and people. Are we spoiled or what? We've stood on Byron Glacier all by ourselves, looked down on Salmon Glacier gleaming in the sun, and seen the Harding Ice Fields in Kenai Fjords, and when we did all that we were warm! We bought the Ice Fields pin for our collection, looked at the prices for lunch and went back to Cleo (who was not amused at the temperatures), had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and headed on down the parkway. As I was standing in line waiting to pay for the pin, I heard two French behind me talking. The only thing I understood was "'orrib-lay tourist-ay" or something to that effect. Yes, it was horribly touristy.

Speaking of horribly touristy!
And then to add insult to injury, it snowed on us! Cleo doesn’t like snow; she told me so.

Down the road a bit there was a mountain goat right beside the road, so I got some nice shots of him, including one that seems to express his opinion about the people and their cameras. Then we continued on down the parkway to Lake Louise, where we got a nice campsite. We went on a back road trying to find some more wildlife, but they’ve all caught a flight to Cabo for the winter.

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