Banff and a glacier

Banff Travel Blog

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Banff Gondola

I was hoping for a view of the mountains gradually getting larger as I headed out of Calgary on the road to Banff, but unfortunately the weather wasn't doing me any favours. So rather than a gradual introduction to the mountains, they crept up on me and then all of a sudden BANFF! I was in the mountains.

I found tunnel mountain campsite and set-up, then drove into Banff town centre to get some bear spray and see the nightlife. Nightlife is great if you are in a group of more than 1, unfortunately my numbers were depleted that evening, but I went to a bar anyway just to see. I found a fantastic pub selling its own micro-brewed beer, and sampled their wares. I also got speaking to a guy about the effectiveness of bear-spray.

the locals compete for food from the tourists
He said he bought a can and never used it, but has used bear-bangers (exploding projectile wildlife deterrent) so I might pick one of those up if I see one.

The next morning I headed over to Banff Gondola, paid the exorbitant fee and rode the gondola up to the pavilion on Sulphur mountain. I wandered around the board walks to the cosmic ray station at Sanson's peak. Sanson was the local meteorologist and museum curator in Banff, he would hike to the top of Sulphur mountain every week or so (2,451m) and take weather measurements. He had a stone shack at the top to house the equipment and stay overnight in. Recently the stone hut has become a historical site and the cosmic ray station has moved away from the peak.

Back to the campsite for lunch, and then onto the tunnel mountain lookout. I had been warned against hiking alone in the mountains, as two cougars had been spotted recently, and one had followed a hiker.

a different view from sulphur mountain
I scanned the campsite for a likely candidate and soon made friends with M, a girl from Halifax travelling from Vancouver to Calgary. M and I hiked up the trail and made plans to visit various other local attractions over the next few days.

Wanna go stand on a glacier?

The next day we jumped in the car and drove a few hours up towards Jasper, stopping briefly at Lake Louise to check directions, and finally on to the Columbia ice field. We stopped at the toes of the glacier and hiked up until we met a barrier with countless signs saying 'turn back – here be dragons' and 'abandon hope all ye who enter here'.

terminal moraine terminal
We couldn't decide if the sign's frightening stories and imagery were designed solely to scare passers by into paying for the bus onto the glacier (alegedly safer than hiking across), or if they really were based in reality. We'd rather not risk it, so an hour later we found ourselves $50 lighter and on a bus heading up a flaky trail onto the ice field. Actually it was two buses, the second was fitted out with massive tractor tires for heavy terrain.

We drank the glacier melt water, and walked around for our allotted 20 minutes. I wouldn't have wanted any longer, because in that time I became totally soaked through from the rain.

We drove back and enjoyed the hot springs in Banff, 39 degrees, $7 ish and worth every penny. It was fantastic. We lazed about in the pool which was open air and has a great view of the mountains, then when we were suitably prune-like we headed back to the campsite for a fire.

michayla25 says:
Don't you just love the mountains? I do :)
Posted on: Jun 29, 2011
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Banff Gondola
Banff Gondola
the locals compete for food from t…
the locals compete for food from …
a different view from sulphur moun…
a different view from sulphur mou…
terminal moraine terminal
terminal moraine terminal
on the glacier!
on the glacier!
a view from sulphur mountain
a view from sulphur mountain
the victor of a small game of Im…
the victor of a small game of 'I'…
mountain goat kid
mountain goat kid
a third and somewhat different vie…
a third and somewhat different vi…
toes of the glacier: Columbia icef…
toes of the glacier: Columbia ice…
photo by: jeffy