2017-07-23 Banff to Jasper, West side of Canadian Rockies BC

We had dinner in Banff, which is kind of a crowded hoity toity town with a lot of designer outdoor gear and clothing stores and expensive trendy bars and restaurants. It might be a fun place to explore, but not at this particular time of year – just too crowded for our liking. Jennifer was told by several friends that Lake Louise was a place not to be missed, but the locals advised against it, saying it would be overcrowded, and that we should try Morraine Lake instead. Sure enough, the little town of Lake Louise was a madhouse, there was no parking available at the lake, and we had to take a “shuttle” (school bus) up from town just to view the Lake. Though it was beautiful and remarkable, the mass of tourists (6 deep in places) standing along the shoreline in front of the regal hotel kind of destroyed the moment.

I guess my tolerance and patience for huge amounts of tourists diminishes the further I am in the “wilderness”.  The volunteers traffic patrol wouldn’t even let cars drive the road to Moraine Lake, so that was out.

The road through the “icefields” between Banff and Jasper is a different story though. Some of the most awesome scenery seen on the trip! It seemed to us there was lake after lake as spectacular as Lake Louise – but without the close and convenient proximity to Banff.

The icefields themselves were a bit of a sad disappointment to me.  What used to be “icefields” are now vast stretches of gravely bottomlands that can’t seem to decide whether they are a field, a creek, a river, a glacier, or a gravel wash.

We walked up a long trail to actually get to a glacier that was in sight of the road.. on the way up there were concrete pylons every few hundred feet marking where the glacier USED to reach in 1918, 1935, 1950, 1983, etc all the way up to today (the trail was more than a mile long). The glaciers have receded, disappeared and shrunk, to something like 5 or 10% of what they were a hundred years ago. One can’t help to wonder where the water resources will come from when this constant steady supply finally stops altogether.

The lakes (and there are many) below the Glaciers and snow covered peaks were fabulous.

Jasper would be the furthest North we would voyage on this trip. A cool little tourist town, and we managed to pick up our share of tourist tokens; t-shirts, and stickers for the Van.

Had a great dinner on the rooftop of Earls Kitchen and Bar.

On the way back down South, we stopped and walked a couple of the trails that looked interesting from the day before. I think it’s pretty safe to say, ANY trail in this area would be worth the hike. We stayed at “Honeymoon Campground” South of Jasper. While there, we met a man from Germany who just finished a 4 day back country hike in the Canadian Rockies with his new wife.. There trip ended there at “Honeymoon Campground”.

Not wanting to follow the same road all the way back South to the states, we veered out of the Park West a bit, and came down through the Kootenay National Forest. It was every bit as beautiful, and is a place we would both like to explore further someday.

Aly went for a dip (about a 2 second long one) in the glacial waters, and decided this is where Gatorade came up with the name “Glacial Freeze”..

We made our way back into the United States and got to Whitefish Montana, where we took a laundry break at a place that had a laundromat, a bowling alley, a casino, and a bar and restaurant all under one roof… Ingenious!
That most excellent technique and form produced a strike…

We had loved the Hungry Horse area so much, we overnighted there again, hoping to do some horse back riding in the morning at Glacier. No such luck; all booked.

But we did get to cut through the park and experience the place in the morning.

Thought we’d take a “scenic route” through Eastern Montana.. That was not such a good idea…

Lots of this through Montana to South Dakota… But we made it close to South Dakota by the end of the day, and found a great little State Park on a lake getting closer to the Black Hills.