Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Banff trip and thoughts

My long weekend trip to Banff National Park, Alberta, brought out many thoughts -- mostly about sustainability and a country's security. I am busy with the new school semester at the moment, so I will share some of my thoughts later. Meanwhile, here are some photos.

Highway on high grounds

Highway bridge on high grounds

Some of us felt our ears "popping" as we drove along the highway up in the mountains, heading east to Alberta. This gives me a new meaning/association to the phrase “山路” [mountain road]. IMHO, the fabulous scenery en-route is worth a road trip on its own. Do drive carefully for safety though. There are stretches where only one car can pass on each direction with the mountain wall on one side, a steep drop off the edge on the other side (the barrier/railing is missing or under construction/repair).

Johnston Canyon, Banff

We went to Lake Moraine and Johnston Canyon on the 1st day. Beautiful scenery again. Johnston Canyon has 2 trails. The lower one is suitable even for those on wheelchair. We completed the lower trail and did part of the upper one. We saw an osprey (bird) and a few other wildlife on the way up.

On the 2nd day, we did the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail at Lake Louise. Various wildlife viewing on the way up-and-down. We had to keep our eyes and ears open, paused on our hike every now-and-then to spot them. I even saw an avalanche on an opposite mountain and heard a total of 3 avalanches ("bang" like the thunder). There were a couple of stretches on the windy face of the mountain where "grab chains" are provided for safety, because there is no barrier on the narrow path between the hiker and a long, steep, drop-down. At the top, the winds blew on-and-off furiously (imagine driving at around 80km/hr with an open car window), especially towards the end -- at the non-maintained stretch of the trail. I did not dare to cross the path of loose avalanche rocks to the glacier plain. My friend EM did and she touched the glacier. This is a moderately difficult trail, mainly because of the long distance to hike (walk) up. That said, on our way down, we met a couple of elderly ladies, who looked like they were in their 80's, walking casually up the trail -- at an elevation where even EM (a fraction of their age) and I  were panting on our way up. It goes to show, physical fitness depends not on age! I joked with the group (especially EM) that we managed to create a 3rd miracle that day -- having me up and down the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail safely! [Click here for the other 2 hikes that my friends brought me on.]

View from top of the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail, Banff

Windy path to the glaciers

Windy avalanche path of loose rocks at the top

Warning sign near the end of the trail

Rock climber on mountain wall
(spot for the light blue T-shirt)

The best place on earth! 

Driving west, back to "The best place on earth!" -- as the British Columbia signboard states.

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