12 Commandments for the Canadian Rockies

Old Jul 24th, 2007, 09:55 PM
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12 Commandments for the Canadian Rockies

1. Thou shalt realize that the point of visiting the Canadian Rockies is not to stay in the mountain resort towns of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. Thou shalt realize that the point of going to the mountains is to see the considerable territory between one town and the next and also to go off onto the side roads whenever possible. Therefore thou shalt rent a car, if at all possible, for a summer or autumn visit. If, for some legitimate reason, thou absolutely cannot drive, thou shall take a guided coach tour or thou shall do guided day tours -- with, for example, Discover Banff Tours out of Banff and SunDog Tours out of Jasper. (This commandment does not hold in winter, when it is perfectly feasible to rely on ski shuttle buses.)

2. If thou wants to stay in Lake Louise and Jasper in July or August, thou shalt reserve accommodation well in advance.

3. Thou shalt be realistic about the amount of ground thou can cover. Thou especially shall not drive from Banff to Jasper and back again in one day.

4. Thou shalt walk a few feet into the forest, so as to lose the zillions of thy fellow tourists who go only to a few popular scenic lookout points.

5. Thou shalt visit Moraine Lake if thou doth visit the mountains in the summer (and thou shalt walk to the top of the rock pile at the north end of the lake, using the steps at the back of the rock pile if thou wants an easy way up). The reason for this commandment is that Moraine Lake is the most beautiful of the mountain lakes that can be accessed easily. Yet, surprisingly, there are visitors who do not know about it.

6. Thou shalt not climb out of thine car and walk up to a bear to take a photo of him/her.

7. Thou shalt not walk onto the Athabasca Glacier without a qualified guide, otherwise thou might fall into a crevasse and die of hypothermia before anyone can rescue thee.

8. Thou shalt not ride the Ice Explorer onto the Athabasca Glacier in a sleeveless dress and a pair of high-heeled sandals. Thou shalt wear socks, sensible walking shoes, long trousers, and a jacket.

9. Thou shalt take a daypack with spare gear when thou doth set out for a hike. In thy daypack thou shalt carry a hooded rain jacket, a sunhat, a pair of sunglasses, a bottle of water (which can be refilled from thy hotel tap but not from a lake, stream or river), and some food. If thou doth hike beyond the heavily traveled trails like Plain of Six Glaciers or Lake Agnes, thou shalt take additional gear, namely, map, compass, matches, first aid kit, army knife or multi-purpose tool, and flashlight.

10. If itís raining, thou shalt visit a canyon, because thou can enjoy the beauty of a canyon even when visibility is poor. Some of the canyons in Banff National Park are Stewart Canyon (accessible from Lake Minnewanka, close to Banff townsite), Johnston Canyon (on the Bow Valley Parkway, about a third of the way from Banff townsite to Lake Louise), and Mistaya Canyon (off the Icefields Parkway, the road that leads from Lake Louise to Jasper). Jasper National Park is home to impressive Maligne Canyon.

11. Thou shalt not whine if the weather is cool and rainy. Thou will have done thy research, and packed layers of clothing that are suitable to take thee from 90 deg F (30 deg C) down to the freezing mark. If thou art uncomfortable, it will not be because the weather is bad but because thy clothing is unsuitable.

12. Thou shall plan and do research for thy trip, but thou shalt remain flexible, because the mountains are an environment in which man proposes and God disposes. Re-read points #9 through #11.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2007, 04:07 AM
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Thanks Judy! Tomorrow I'm leaving for a week in the Rockies , and will be sure to follow these commandments! I particularly appreciate #10, as I never would have realized that canyons are a good choice for a rainy day. Your advice will enhance our trip!
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Old Jul 25th, 2007, 05:29 AM
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Judy.. what a laugh! Packing now, leave Oz in 8 hours and this site and you in particular have been a great help. Thanks again!
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Old Jul 25th, 2007, 05:55 AM
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Great post Judy. However I think on number 6 you should have said "wild animals" and not just bears. I've seen people attacked while trying to take a picture of mountain goats.
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Old Jul 25th, 2007, 08:21 AM
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LOL! Sure to be a Fodor's Classic! Wise advice entertainingly given.

Cruiser, I think wildlife was implicit in Judy's remark.
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Old Jul 25th, 2007, 10:03 AM
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lol. judy, you are invaluable to this forum. have a great day.
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Old Jul 25th, 2007, 10:21 AM
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And..."Thou shalt not ask "Is it worth it to see xxxx" when referring to anything in the Canadian Rockies."

OF COURSE it's 'worth it'!!! Duh!
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Old Jul 25th, 2007, 02:31 PM
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Absolutely love it! And so true! Well done!
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Old Jul 25th, 2007, 05:43 PM
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With all due respect to Judy's enclopedic knowledge of the Rockies, I could add a few more. But I don't want to give away my secluded locations to just anybody.

No, not being snobish. I just think that there is more to that area than meets the eye and that supplementary commandments are a function of where one wants to go.

Like there are few views like the one from the high point on the Whaleback Trail!
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Old Jul 25th, 2007, 07:36 PM
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Absolutely spot on!
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Old Jul 25th, 2007, 08:13 PM
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Excellent commandments Judy!!!

I could add a few more -

13. Thou shalt not wear flip-flops on hikes in the Rockies and then complain that one's feet are sore - the mountains are not a beach!!

14. Thou shalt not try to make an elk or deer pose for a photograph (yup!! saw it happen!!)

15. Thou shalt not pollute the gorgeous wilderness by throwing cigarette butts, dirty diapers, pop/soda/beer cans and bottles on the road or side of the road - there are very well marked garbage cans for that!!!

16. Thou shalt not pick wild flowers or collect rocks from the mountain parks, and thou shalt not encourage one's children in either of those activities.

17. Thou shalt not go where signs are posted "do not go . . . . . there" - for example Athabasca Falls where people climb the tall fence to scamper over the slippery wet rocks next to the falls just for a better photo, not realizing or caring the several tourists have actually DIED that way!!

18. Thou shalt not feed the wildlife (ground squirrels, Clark's Nutcrackers etc.).

. . . . .

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Old Jul 26th, 2007, 03:02 PM
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I'll elaborate on 18: Thy sign that reads "doth not feed wildlife" doth not mean thou shalt feed wildlife.

(I got a really dirty look from a couple when I made a comment to that effect earlier this week. They were feeding ground squirrels right in front of a sign that said don't feed the wildlife just so they could photograph them. Go figure!)

I suppose another one could be:

19. Thou shalt be quiet and thou shalt not clap thy hands or jump up and down in thy presence of wildlife. Thy will only end up scaring them away!

(Saw people - grown ups - doing this on Sulphur Mountain. And when the animals shied away and disappeared, they had the audacity to be upset with the animals.)
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Old Jul 27th, 2007, 08:59 AM
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And 20. If thou seest a wild animal along the road, thou shalt not drive your car up next to it and stop.

Observe from a distance and you and the other people watching it (mainly me) will have more opportunity to watch and photograph it. If I sound bitter it's because this happened to me while I was photographing a bear in Hyder, AK. Three separate cars saw it and stopped at a distance of about 50 feet and did not distrub the bear at all. I had only gotten two photos when a pickup stopped directly beside it and it disappeared into the brush more quickly than it took you to read this.
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Old Jul 27th, 2007, 09:49 AM
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My family lives in the Rockies and I want to thank Judy (and the other Moses-wanna-be's who added to the Commandments) on their behalf. Herein lies wisdom!
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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One more commandment .... a plea from a local that drives the mountain roads often.

When thou see-est an animal while driving in the Rockies and before stopping to look at it:

Please check thy rear view mirror, signal and pull off onto the shoulder of the road to view the wildlife.

Be aware of the traffic when you get out of the car. There are some drivers going too fast ... as the RCMP thought of me today as I drove through the mountains!
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