OK, this is my third blog post in a row about our trip to Banff, Canada. But hey -- when my wife and I spend a bunch of money and time venturing out of Oregon to sightsee, I want to share my photo souvenirs as widely as possible.
These are of a hiking excursion at Sunshine Meadows, only twenty minutes or so from Banff. In the winter Sunshine Village Ski Resort worships the white stuff. In summer, flowers rule on the high mountain meadows.
After forking over $52 for two tickets, a bus took us from the lower reaches of the ski resort to a dropoff at the upper lodge that is three miles away and about 1,500 feet higher.
Given the word "meadows" in the excursion name, Laurel and I had pictured strolling right away through mostly horizontal land. Instead, we were met with a beautifully constructed and maintained trail system which, not so beautifully, began with about three-quarters of a mile of distinct upward slopingness.
Near the top of the Rock Isle Trail we encountered The Continental Divide. One part of me was heading toward the Pacific, the other somewhere else.
A little ways further on we were rewarded by reaching Rock Isle Lake, which, not surprisingly, has a rocky island in the middle of it.
Eating an apple on a bench overlooking the lake led to a bunch of furry friends wanting to make my acquaintance. Or rather, to get to know my apple better. Ignoring the cautions against feeding wildlife, I decided that a creature this cute and this tame couldn't be considered "wild." Plus, I gave it a healthy piece of apple.
We've been impressed with the neatness and cleanness of Canada. Things just seem better organized and better maintained than in U.S. parks. For example, the trail signs. They're all neatly lettered on metal. No rotting, fractured wood like you see in Oregon, often with something crucial missing -- like the direction arrow or distance. Canada rules when it comes to public services, from the admittedly little we've experienced.
This was taken from the Standish viewpoint, looking down on Rock Isle Lake and Laryx Lake. My heart and lungs asked, "how #$%!&! high have you made us climb?" I fired up Motion X's GPS iPhone app. Answer: we were at about 7,800 feet, while the spot where the bus left us off is at 7,150 feet. The weather was cool and drizzly, or my heart and lungs would have been complaining even more.
On the way to Grizzly Lake, wildflowers were abundant.
I loved the greens at Grizzly Lake. Also, the fact that there weren't any grizzlies. I did, though, have a $35 canister of bear spray attached to my pack. We decided to follow the better safe than sorry adage when we got to Banff, since we planned to take a hike or two in grizzly country. For the cost of a meal, it made sense to improve our chances of not becoming a meal.
This is the view from Simpson Viewpoint. Eminently viewable.
I love how nature does a better job at designing Japanese gardens than the Japanese do. (This determined tree is on the shore of Laryx Lake.)
The sun came out as we started to return to catch the 4:30 bus down the ski resort road. Cloudiness was fine, but brightness made the scenery look even better.
Wide open spaces on what the Sunshine Meadow folks call the "top of the world." (They'd get some arguments from the Nepalese on that claim.)
Waiting for the bus to arrive, cup of coffee in hand, we saw the largest animal on our excursion. As we walked along Laurel had spent a lot of time looking through binoculars at rocky slopes for bears, mountain goats, or any other creature larger than a ground squirrel.
Naturally, soon after we got in our car and started to drive back to Banff, we saw a large herd of mountain goats browsing by the side of the road. Unscarable, I drove up next to them and took some photos from the car window.
It didn't take long for me to realize that most of the photos I was getting were butt shots. Laurel said she'd heard this is typical of mountain goat photography, since they usually are eating with their heads upslope. Live and learn.
thanks for the great write up on the Sunshine Meadows! We're happy to be the stewards of the trail system and thanks for the nice comments.
White Mountain Adventures
Posted by: Gordon Stermann | August 17, 2010 at 03:51 PM
Correction: those aren't mountain goats, they're bighorn sheep. At least, that's what we now believe after seeing photos of bighorns at the Lake Louise Gondola visitor center.
Posted by: Brian Hines | August 17, 2010 at 04:00 PM