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Trip Report Trip Report--Canadian Rockies

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My husband and I had a wonderful time in the Canadian Rockies. Our flight was smooth and easy, (we got to the airport three hours in advance but two would have been fine), renting the car from Budget was also easy in Calgary, and we were on our way to Moraine Lake Lodge. On the way, we stopped at Johnston Canyon. It was a beautiful day, cool but sunny. We walked to the lower falls and back. It was a very easy walk for two seniors. The water seemed low, but as we traveled on, folks mentioned that it has been a dry year. We got back in our car and meandered up 1A and enjoyed the scenery. We stopped in Lake Louise and purchased some snacks and an inexpensive Styrofoam cooler for lunches and wine. Dinner that evening was at the Outpost Pub, which we enjoyed. We got there around 5:30 and there was no wait for folks like us with no reservation, but by 6:00 it was filling up. The food was good but not great. I had the salmon burger but didn’t eat the bread. My husband had the Caesar salad with prawns. The appeal was that it’s a comfortable place with a nice fireplace for ambience. Our server was very friendly and food came quickly.
That evening we checked into Moraine Lake Lodge. What a beautiful setting! Check in was easy and we were shown to our room, one of the Wenkchemna Wing rooms, which was smallish but adequate. There was a complimentary bottle of wine waiting for us in the room. The bed was comfortable and the room was quiet. The bathroom was nice with a great shower and plenty of storage space.
The next morning we had the buffet breakfast which is quite good for a hotel buffet and walked the entire lakeside trail. We were the only ones on it and it was beautiful. This is a very easy walk and there is no need for a guide. Later that day we drove to Lake Louise, and it’s very pretty but I don’t think as pretty as Moraine Lake, and it was so crowded (and this was a Friday) with folks from bus tours that we had a hard time moving around. We snapped a few pictures and left for Yoho National Park. Stopped at Takakkaw Falls and took the easy walk up to see them. I had been a little put off by descriptions such as “watch out for the switchbacks along the way,” having experienced switchbacks from hell on skinny gravel so-called roads with no guardrails anywhere while driving in the American Rockies, but they were beautifully paved and wide enough for any vehicle. A local told us the falls were almost at a trickle compared to what they are in the spring, but we thought they were magnificent. There were very few people on the trail. We almost felt as though we had it all to ourselves. We also stopped to watch the railroad go into a mountain tunnel. That was quite something, too. Totally unexpected, and again, we watched it with no one around. We decided to go further, towards the little town of Field, and went up to Emerald Lake where we had an afternoon drink. Emerald Lake is also pretty, but we still liked Moraine Lake best. On our way back to the main road we stopped at something called The Natural Bridge. The walk to it was only a few minutes and very easy. It was worth a stop and some pictures, but it was quite crowded and we didn’t stay long. That evening we went back to the Outpost Pub for dinner. We just got in before it became crowded and had a good dinner, better than the previous night. I had the veal bratwurst and my husband had the chicken burger. Both were fine. Had the same friendly server.
The next morning we went on a guided tour from the Lodge to Consolation Lake. It was described as easy/moderate, but there was a field of large boulders to navigate over/ through before the walk really got started. I’ve been a walker for a long, long time but this was tricky for me. It was chilly and a bit rainy, and because of all the roots and rocks along the way, I had to keep my head down and didn’t actually get to see that much. We only stopped a few times, but other than that the pace was brisk. Consolation Lake was not impressive. We spent four hours doing this walk, and our guide was lovely, but I wish we had spent the time doing something else. Our other walks were very similar except for the rocks, so we didn’t feel as though we had seen anything new. We got lunch from the deli, read and relaxed in our room for a couple of hours, then had dinner at the Lodge. I had the free range chicken and my husband had the Alberta tenderloin and both were very, very good. We’ve had good meals around the world, and this was certainly in the top ten. It was snowing outside and we sat by the fireplace. After dinner we went into the library and heard a local naturalist speak. He was very informative and entertaining. Like the guided walks, this talk was included in the room price.
The next morning we checked out of the Lodge, but before leaving we walked up to the top of the “Rockpile.” The views were spectacular. The climb up was not difficult. We took our time and took in the views from every level and angle. The snow on the trees and mountains made it even more beautiful. We took off north towards Jasper on the Icefields Parkway. Stopped at Parker Ridge but it was so misty/foggy we didn’t stay. Weather got better so we stopped at Mistaya Canyon and walked for quite a while. Another absolutely beautiful walk. It got cloudy again and was a bit rainy, so again, not too many people along the way. We took some great photos. We picked up lunch at the deli at Moraine Lake Lodge and stopped at a table at one of the icefields along the way and ate our lunch. We stopped at Athabasca Glacier and walked to the top ourselves (did not take the bus tour) and were a little disappointed. I guess we thought it would be even more massive than it was. It was good exercise, though. We stopped a few times along the way due to the thin air in our old lungs. We got into Jasper and found our B&B, Austrian Haven. A very comfy place with a lovely, spritely hostess, Annelies. She is quite a gardener and flowers were everywhere. After getting settled, we walked into town and decided to have dinner at Evil Dave’s. We were somewhat early so got in without a reservation. The food was just okay. We walked around town for awhile, then back to the B&B.
The next morning we drove up to Miette Hot Springs and saw caribou along the road on the way. Another nice morning walk, very, very easy, and the weather was perfect. Saw a herd of big-horned sheep on our way back. The afternoon was spent driving Maligne Lake Road and walking to Bridges 1, 2, and 3. Spectacular again. Dinner was at Jasper Brewing Company, another welcoming place. Food was pretty good.
Our next day was spent in the Mt. Robson area in British Columbia. We took the Berg Lake trail and walked the entire morning. It was very, very pretty walking along the Robson River, but there was light rain practically the whole time. We had soup at the tiny Mt. Robson Café and it was surprisingly good. This little touristy spot is clean and the folks who run it are very friendly. We just happened in right before a tour bus and were happy we didn’t have to wait in a long line. The rain stopped, so on our way back to Jasper we stopped at Overlander Falls where we came upon five kayakers who went over the falls one at a time. They must have been true experts, because it clearly wasn’t easy. What a treat it was for us to be able to watch them do it successfully as they enjoyed the thrill. Later that evening we had dinner at Syrahs of Jasper. It was a very good meal with very good service. I had wild sockeye salmon and my husband had Pacific halibut. We walked around town again and went back to our B&B.
Next morning we went to Mt. Edith Cavell and walked to Angel Glacier. While walking, we stopped for a little break (altitude again) and I just happened to turn around to see a rainbow behind us. This is a stunning area. The glacier, while seeming to be smaller than Athabasca, was more spectacular to see. The Path of the Glacier Loop at Mt Edith Cavell. We then took the path of the glacier loop as Meyer suggested and were glad we did. There was no one else around. The afternoon was spent taking the Maligne Lake cruise to Spirit Island, which isn’t much of an island, in fact not an island at all, but we enjoyed the tour guide’s description and of course the absolute beauty of the place. After the boat ride, we walked around Moose Lake and saw a moose in the lake cavorting around and having a good old time. Walking back we encountered a moose in the woods but he ignored us. He was huge! Driving back to Jasper, we stopped at another bridge, perhaps No. 6, but I can’t remember. Dinner was at the Jasper Brewing Co. again.
It was time to leave Jasper for Banff the next morning. On our way back down the beautiful Icefields Parkway we stopped at Athabasca Falls and Peyto Lake. Both, again, were truly spectacular. I’m sounding like a broken record now. Our last hotel on this trip was the Banff Springs, and it was perfect in every way. We had a casual dinner that evening at the Rundel Lounge outdoors on the patio.
Our first morning in Banff was spent at the Cave and Basin which is where the warm springs are and where the town originated. It was an interesting experience and our Parks pass got us in at no extra charge. We had lunch at the little café there and it was quite good. Took the walk to see birds and fish and really only saw fish (tiny ones) but a very peaceful walk it was. Now it was getting quite warm and the locals were pleased and surprised at this weather in mid-September. We took the Banff Gondola in the afternoon and enjoyed it. Neither one of us is afraid of heights, but we found ourselves holding on and not talking very much on the way up. Our little cab was hot, too. On the way down they opened the window for us. The views were lovely but the air is very thin. One of the workmen told us an older woman had a heart attack up there the week before. You can walk to the very top, but we didn’t think we could do it, so we enjoyed the views from the area near the gondola. It was pricey, but I’m glad we did it. We had dinner that night at the Grapes Wine Bar at the hotel and it was very good. It’s another comfortable place with a lovely view out the window. Our waitress was super.
Our last day was spent walking around the grounds of the hotel and then into town. It’s about a 15-minute easy walk from the hotel. The town is pretty touristy with plenty of T-shirt shops, but we enjoyed it. Had some ice cream at Cows and it was wonderful. There was a long line from the street but it moved quickly. Worth the wait. Back at the hotel, the shops are beautiful and some are quite expensive, but most are not unreasonable for the quality they offer. We strolled through them and went back to the Grapes Wine Bar for a leisurely dinner. Had to get up early the next day for the ride back to the airport which was easier than we expected. Going through customs was easy, too.
I’ve been to the American Rockies, but the Canadian Rockies were on my bucket list. They were breathtakingly beautiful and different from the American Rockies in color and because of all the glacier-fed lakes and waterfalls. All the Canadian people we met were very friendly and welcoming and we would go back in a heartbeat. We felt fortunate to have missed all the smoke from the U.S. fires. Thanks to all on this board who gave me such great information, including kgsneds, meyer, and panecott.

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