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August trip to Banff, Jasper, and Glacier NP - what do you think?

August trip to Banff, Jasper, and Glacier NP - what do you think?

Old Feb 17th, 2013, 04:21 PM
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August trip to Banff, Jasper, and Glacier NP - what do you think?

Finalized our trip in mid-August to Banff, up to the Ice Fields, Glacier NP in Montana, and eventually to a friends place on Placid Lake in Montana.

One question I have is how to deal with phone service on my iPhone when I'm in Canada. My iPhone is unlocked, can I pick up a pay as you go or prepaid SIM card at the Calgary airport? Or should I just eat the roaming fees, it's really only for 4 days.

Anyway, this is how it came out:

Day 1 (August 13): Flying into Calgary from Philadelphia, arriving around 1:30. Renting a SUV at the airport and staying at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for 3 nights. This is our real splurge. Lake view, King.

Day 2 - 3: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Canoeing, day trips up to the IceFields, hiking, etc. Need to flesh this part out better.

Day 4 - 7: Many Glacier Hotel in the Glacier National Park. Pretty reasonable for a King with lake view and terrace. Again looking to do a lot of hiking and day trips (e.g. Going to the Sun Road - probably on the red bus). Plus a day to maybe just rest and read.

Day 8 - 12: Staying with my friend at her family lodge on Placid Lake, near Missoula. (I know, how lucky can I get to have such a great friend!)

Day 13: Driving back to Calgary where we're staying at the Delta Calgary Airport Hotel after dropping off the SUV.

Day 14: Leaving for Philadelphia in a late flight.

My husband are in our mid-60's but are fit for our age. We love hiking but are not interested in anything more strenuous at this point. Our big love is actually canoeing and we've done many week-long trips in upper Minnesota and Canada national parks. I'm hoping we can canoe on both Lake Louise and Glacier Lake.

I know this a broad question but any "must see" or hikes at either Banff or Glacier NP. I'm hoping to pick up a guide book or two (again, recommendation?) to bring.

Any general comments are also very welcome. I also plan to cross-post in the Canada/Alberta forum.
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Old Feb 17th, 2013, 05:00 PM
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We went to Canada last August, it was my most favorite trip! The area is absolutely heaven on earth. We did many hikes in those areas. You can canoe at Lake Louise and even more beautiful was canoeing on Moraine Lake, the color is unbelievable. We did do a around the lake hike at Lake Louise which is not too strenuous, another was around Emerald Lake and one other small lake on the Icefields Pkwy. Have a great time!
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Old Feb 17th, 2013, 05:41 PM
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Two must hikes in Many Glacier are Grinell Glacier and Iceberg Lake
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Old Feb 17th, 2013, 05:50 PM
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I was in Banff two years ago with my wife and in Glacier this past August with my daughter.

Moraine Lake is by far more beautiful then Lake Louise. It's about 15 miles from LL. When you park you car in the lot, instead of going right to the lake veer left and you'll see the "Rock Pile". Walk around the back and there's a trail and stairs to the top.

This is the view on the back of the old Canadian 20 dollar bill (you can google "Moraile Lake 20 dollar bill").

You may also want to go to Peyto Lake. Beautiful.

In Glacier I've heard of many people complaining about Many Glacier Hotel. I was in the lobby but not much else so don't have first hand. We stayed at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn a mile further in.
Two amazing hikes are Grinnel Glacier (the boat leaves from the Many Glacier Hotel) and Iceberg Lake (the trailhead is in Swiftcurrent Motor Inn.

Grinnell Glacier is shorter but more difficult as it's steeper. On the return from Iceberg Lake we were walking beside a grizzly who walk onto our trail and sat down in a small stream right in front of us.

A very short hike where you're almost guaranteed to see wildlife is Fishercap Lake. Go early or late as that's when the wildlife is about.

Go to the end of the Swiftcurrent Parking lot and take the Swiftcurrent Pass trail. In 10-15 minutes you'll see a sign pointing left to Fisgercap Lake. There are always people there. We saw male, fenale moore and deer. A grizzly on the way back from Redrock Falls a mile or two further.

I'm going back this August with a friend. Also going to Calgary both ways. On the way back we'll spend a day in Banff (been) and a day + in Jasper (haven't).
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Old Feb 17th, 2013, 06:04 PM
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No need to rent a SUV unless you want to splurge. The roads in the Canadian National Parks are excellent.
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Old Feb 17th, 2013, 06:05 PM
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. Adding those hikes plus Lake Moraine to the list. More used to black bears, a grizzly would scare the heck out of me! Is it advised to have bear bells or something else to make noise?

Regarding the Many Glacier Hotel, I'm hoping that our room, which is one of the newly renovated ones, will be okay.
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Old Feb 17th, 2013, 06:09 PM
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Here's info on canoeing at Banff NP:

http://www.banfflakelouise.com/Thing...oeing-Kayaking

It would appear you can easily canoe at Lake Louise:
http://www.fairmont.com/lake-louise/...ions/canoeing/

But it does not appear you can also canoe on Banff Lake:
http://banffcanoeing.com/activities/...kayak-rentals/
only 40 Mile Creek, the Bow River, and Vermillion Lakes.
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Old Feb 18th, 2013, 06:26 AM
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ceezee, Funny thing about bear bells. I've heard them referred to as dinner bells.

I bought bear spray in Babb on the way in. I had it hanging on my belt. Don't put it in the backpack. I saw some people carrying it in hand.

We saw several grizzlies. A few up a hill right at the turnoff to Many Glacier Hotel. These were too far up to be an issue.

Saw one on the shore on the return from Grinnell Glacier hike. We were just getting off the boat and it was a bit of a distance away.

For some reason the one on the return from Iceberg Lake didn't scae us (maybe stupidly). It was out in the open with a fair number of people around in the middle of the day. It never bluffed towards us. It was hot and I think it just wanted to cool down. A ranger came up from further back. At first he tried to shushed the bear away. Then he decided to leave the bear alone as it was enjoying itself in the stream.

We saw another on the return from Redrock Falls. About half way back to Fishercap Lake my daughter saw a grizzly thru the tree standing there looking at us. It was 7PM, we were alone and it was starting to get din. My daughter took one quick photo before we slithered away. I was quite concerned and started to pull out the bear spray but didn't have to use it.

You're always supposed to make noise when hiking. Especially in Many Glacier. Once you see a bear and it can see you talking too loud probably doesn't do much. Don't run or move too quickly. Don't look it in the eye. Just slowly back away and have the bear spray ready in case it come closer.

While we saw several grizzlies, I'm told many or most people never see one there. I don't know which is correct.

You can see photos of the trip at:
www.travelwalks.com

= = = = =
In Lake Louise we saw a canoe dock on the side of the lake and a fair number of people on the lake.
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Old Feb 18th, 2013, 09:03 AM
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> Is it advised to have bear bells or something else to make noise?

http://www.centerforwildlifeinformat...d_camping.html

"Talk, sing or clap your hands to let a bear know of your presence. Don't rely on bells, usually they are too quiet."

The advise given on this page is the consensus after analyzing many decades of bear-human encounters. Note the statement, "Conflicts with wildlife are primarily caused by inappropriate human behavior."

http://www.centerforwildlifeinformat...ncounters.html
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Old Feb 18th, 2013, 10:10 AM
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Bears are wild animals.

We are not known to be a meal for a bear.

A mother will protect her cubs.
A bear will protect its food supply. Mostly berries.

We should always make noise when hiking in their territory to make sure they're aware of us. They want to avoid us. They don't want to be surprised.
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Old Feb 18th, 2013, 03:34 PM
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Thanks again to all.

Myers, the photos are stunning, thanks for sharing.and to PaulRabe for the canoeing links.

I'm used to lots of wildlife on our previous canoeing trips, mainly moose, beavers, otters, eagles, and or course, brown bears. It will be nice not to have to hang our food pack! Just really wondered if grizzlies were somehow requiring a different approach and it doesn't seem so, I'll definitely pick up some bear spray in case.
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Old Feb 19th, 2013, 09:34 AM
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In the back country of GNP, you MUST hang your food pack!!!
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Old Feb 19th, 2013, 10:26 AM
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...57623117942088
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Old Feb 19th, 2013, 01:08 PM
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We did the hike up to the Plain of Six Glaciers tea house above Lake Louise. I really enjoyed it - the tea house has no electricity, but serves full meals. I'm in decent shape but don't hike often; the hike was a fun challenge but doable for me. Here's my set of pictures from that day.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenthom...7624649026183/

Moraine Lake is absolutely gorgeous and I wish we'd had more time to spend there! We went by after that hike and just didn't have time before dark/dinnertime.

Regarding the phone, who's your carrier? I have Verizon and was able to use my phone just as I would in the States. They had to add some sort of international plan to it, but it wasn't expensive at all for Canada as compared to Europe or other places. This was in 2010 before I got a smartphone, though.
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Old Feb 19th, 2013, 04:34 PM
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In the two days we stayed in the Lake Louise area I must have gone to Moraine Lake 3 or 4 times. Early morning and later in PM.

Spectacular!!!!

With Verizon it pays to get a plan for Canada that runs either 15 or 20 for a month. You can get it for the number of days you need and then cancel and pay pro-rated.
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Old Feb 19th, 2013, 06:18 PM
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Another vote for the Plain of Six Glaciers hike. If you are up to it, make it a full day and do the loop that also encompasses the Big Beehive and the Lake Agness Tea House as well. Or do the hikes separately. But regardless, that entire trail system is a wonderful hike

We also like the trail at Johnston Canyon. If you continue past the crowds, the trail will head up to the ink pots. It is easy and the paint pots are interesting.
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Old Feb 20th, 2013, 04:50 AM
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More great things to add to my must-do list. The hikes mentioned looked perfect. Especially hiking to a tea house.

Due to the type of plan I have with Verizon I can't add an Internatinal Plan. So I was just hoping to switch out the SIM card at the airport. I was hoping that maybe there was a kiosk or something there to do that like in Europe.
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Old Feb 20th, 2013, 04:53 AM
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If you use the phone carefully you won't break the bank paying roaming fees.

Johnston Canyon was beautiful once you get past the crowds.

I believe I have some photos of the falls on my web site. Also, Peyto Lake.
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Old Feb 20th, 2013, 05:50 AM
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If you do the ranger led hike to Grinnell Glacier hike in GNP, you'll have to purchase a boat ticket to get across Swiftcurrent Lake. Since that hike always fills up, you'll want to purchase your tickets at least a day or two in advance of your hike.

http://www.hikinginglacier.com/grinnell-glacier.htm

Another hike you'll want to consider is Hidden Lake Overlook which starts at Logan Pass visitor's Center. You're almost always guaranteed to see mountain goats there. THe parking lot at Logan Pass fills up early in the mornings, so plan to get there by 10AM

http://www.hikinginglacier.com/hidden-lake-overlook.htm
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Old Feb 20th, 2013, 05:56 AM
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wave725 makes a good point about the boat ride. I bought tickets months ahead for our hike.

Interesting about Hidden Lake and mountain goats. We saw them on the other side of the road near the start of the Highline hike.

I found Hidden Lake to be one of the tougher hikes as there are a lot of steps early in the hike and they're hard on the ageing legs.

Actually, the hardest hike on our trip was Bear's Hump in Waterton Lakes on the Canadian side. Those highe rock and railroad tie stairs were tough on my klegs.
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