Johnston canyon and Mount Norquay

Banff Travel Blog

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oh elk!

Wednesday morning was a struggle getting up. I think the affects of the hot springs relaxed the inner-andy more than I expected. I rolled off the lilo and eventually managed to scoop myself up and get going. Today: Johnston canyon. The canyon has two waterfalls, and a shortish hike up to and between them.

We hit the road and soon found the highway exit that takes you onto the old banff-Jasper route, which is a slower and more picturesque road than the highway. Also it has sections that are more like a safari park trail than a road, as there is purportedly lots of wildlife to see. We saw an Elk near the roadside and took some pictures before driving on. We then entered one of the special wildlife sections where there are lots of warning signs and the speed limit goes down to 20 kph.

Johnston canyon upper falls
We cruised along slowly, desperately scanning both sides of the road for any signs of life but saw none. So much for the signs, at least the wildlife could have the decency to obey them too!

At Johnston canyon the place was packed, everyone and their mother was out and hiking up the trail to the first set of falls. We dodged, weaved and stumbled our way through the busyness and then follwed a very cool path that clings to the sides of the canyon. In some places the path runs on a cantilevered walkway suspended above the rushing torrents of water. The lower falls were amazing, with a cave-like tunnel leading to a viewpoint that's just inches away from the waterfall's turbulence. Water mist rushes refreshingly into your face as you struggle with wet fingers to take a few pictures.

Mt Norquay: a Mountain ram blocks our path

The upper falls are even more dramatic and have a walkway leading out into the middle of the canyon. Still some ice hanging around, even in the heat of the day.

We grabbed lunch opposite Castle mountain and then drove back towards Banff to hike up Mount Norquay. There is a view point there overlooking banff and the trail guide said it was a short hike so we figured two short hikes was roughly equivalent to one long one, so off we went. The drive up from banff zigzags up the hilside with loads of switchbacks until you emerge at a ski lodge. We parked there and walked into the woods. Those have got to be the densest woods I've ever seen. Round a corner and you almost completely disappear from view.

Johnston canyon walkway
We were quite conscious of bears and cougars so in lieu  of bear bangers we made as much noise as we felt appropriate. Whooping and hollering our way up the hill, the noises were eventually joined by the clanging of a family on the same hike. We swapped stories and headed on, occasionally still hearing eachother through the dense forest. The top is still bellow the tree line, so there a re a few viewpoints that are clear enough to see the town. Still bear encounter free, we made our way back to the campsite for a fire. I introduced M to banana boats (roasted bananas stuffed with skor pieces and chocolate) and she taught me how to make smoores on a stick (we substituted graham crackers for chocolate biscuits and squeezed a marshmallow between to create a sandwich, then toasted that on the end of a stick over the campfire – Yummy!).

Today M headed off for Calgary and I'm going to do downtown Banff, where I'm writing this from and then on to Lake louise and Moraine lake tomorrow!

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oh elk!
oh elk!
Johnston canyon upper falls
Johnston canyon upper falls
Mt Norquay: a Mountain ram blocks …
Mt Norquay: a Mountain ram blocks…
Johnston canyon walkway
Johnston canyon walkway
Johnston canyon cave at lower falls
Johnston canyon cave at lower falls
Johnston canyon lower falls
Johnston canyon lower falls
Johnston canyon lower falls
Johnston canyon lower falls
upsidedown tree
upsidedown tree
View from Mt Norquay
View from Mt Norquay
Banff
photo by: jeffy