Banff National Park

Day 3 & 4: Cory Pass; exploring Banff and Kootenay National Parks.

I know you are probably thinking shut up already about Banff Jodi… 🙂 I promise this is our last post. 😦 But seriously, you have to go there. We only had time off from work to explore for 4 days, but it was iconic.

Sunday, 10/7/18: We woke up from our second night in the hostel and headed down for breakfast. Then, we packed up shop and headed off to the Lake Louise Visitor Center to get information on what to do on our way to the town of Banff. We love getting advice from the park rangers about hikes, trail conditions, bear activity and other recommendations. They are, most of the time, very helpful.

The town of Lake Louise and Banff are about 40 minutes apart, but both are located in Banff National Park. The Trans-Canada Hwy 1 is the fastest way, but we wanted to take the more scenic route on Bow Valley Parkway 1A to take in the views and possibly spot some wildlife.

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One of the many views from the road.

We decided to hike to Cory Pass. The park ranger (who lived in Banff) said it was her favorite loop hike, but she did warn us of avalanche danger from the recent snow. This trail is one of the most varied trails in Banff with many different ecosystems as you hike including forests, subalpine steep ridges, scrambling in parts on rock covered ledges, and an alpine pass currently blanketed in snow. It was supposed to be a perfectly clear day so we wanted to get up high to see for miles. The mountains were calling.

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This hike started in the forest then made a steep climb quickly out of the forest with views immediately of the valley below.

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That is the snow covered Cory pass at 7,709 feet in the background!20181007_13180120181007_13412020181007_13413020181007_13472320181007_135701

Can you spot the trail up to the pass?20181007_14015120181007_14020420181007_14051220181007_14231620181007_14232220181007_14232420181007_142332

Wow! A nice lunch view, huh?20181007_142350

Cory pass covered in snow.20181007_14235420181007_14240220181007_14262620181007_14275820181007_143531

The mountain in the top right of the picture above is Mt Edith.  We had fun watching 2 guys head towards the summit while we were taking a lunch break. 20181007_143536

This is at the top of the pass, looking down at the loop trail. At this point we were in about 3 feet deep of snow and decided to turn around to make it an out and back trail. We heard really good things about the loop trail, but with the avalanche danger and not having snow shoes, we decided to play it safe.

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Heading back down.20181007_162457

This hike was amazing! It ended up being 8 miles roundtrip and about 3,530 feet of elevation gain. It was very steep in the beginning and then you traverse a bit with ups and downs and then some switchbacks at the end up to the pass. It reminded us of Mt Alice in Seward, AK because of the steepness in the beginning in the forest and then opening up to some incredible views (shout out to all our Seward friends out there, we miss y’all!!).20181007_170823

After the hike, we headed into the town of Banff to check into our hotel and then go try to find the elk that congregate near the town during rutting season.20181007_171507

The view from downtown Banff while we were in traffic. Not bad huh?20181007_18513120181007_190413

We found elk!20181007_19053020181007_19060320181007_19081220181007_191033

Just hanging out near the local baseball field. Haha! After this, we went to Banff Avenue Brewing for a well deserved beer (and bison chili with jalapeno cornbread!) and this marked the end of day 3. What a day!

Side note: Hockey is on TV AT ALL TIMES in Canada, just like football is on TV in the South or like surfing is always on TV in Hawaii. 🙂

Monday, 10/8/18: On our last day in Banff, we decided to take it easy and do some sight seeing instead of hiking. We slept in and it was glorious. We ate at the hotel and headed out to the Banff Visitor Center.

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Then we walked just outside the city to Bow Falls about a mile roundtrip. After that, we walked around town and got some souvenirs and ate some Ramen.

Another side note: Every single Canadian we met on this trip was extremely nice. The rumors were true.

We left town and drove the Lake Minnewanka Loop getting out at various viewpoints to take pictures of Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, and Johnson Lake to name a few.

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This is Lake Minnewanka, the largest lake in Banff National Park.20181008_140447

After the loop, we decided to drive about 40 minutes to Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park. 20181008_150710

We passed the continental divide!!!20181008_151306

Below are pictures from Marble Canyon. This canyon was very unique and crazy beautiful with turquoise glacier melt slicing through the canyon.  It had a lot of signs explaining the history behind this canyon, how it was carved out, and the different rock compositions. This hike was about a mile round trip and can be done in any kind of weather.20181008_15250020181008_152513

We loved the icy blue water. 20181008_15252220181008_15275520181008_15344020181008_15352220181008_15363420181008_15365720181008_15381520181008_15381920181008_154204

We headed back into town and drove around to see if we could spot any more elk. We found some on a golf course! 🙂20181008_17100020181008_171641

We spent one more night in Banff and then headed out the next morning for our 10.5 hour trip back to Seattle.

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One of my favorite parts of the drive was seeing all that Canada does to protect their wildlife.  Their highways are lined with fencing (above) that lead to land bridges (below) for the animals to use to cross the highways. 20181009_10525720181009_120140

We passed this gorgeous river on the way back.20181009_132559

One last picture of the wonderful larches on a hillside in Canada. 🙂

This day marked 621 miles of hiking together since marriage on 3.17.17!

We are thankful for every step.

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Moraine Lake & Peyto Lake

10/6/18 Day 2: Moraine Lake, Hector Lake, Crowfoot Glacier, Bow Lake, Bow Glacier, Peyto Lake.

On our second morning, we woke up at our hostel and headed downstairs for a quick bite at Bill Peyto’s Cafe in the HI Lake Louise Alpine Lake Centre. Then we headed to the Lake Louise Visitor Center to chat about trail conditions and avalanche danger.

We already knew the road to Moraine Lake was closed to vehicles, but we were allowed to hike the road at our own risk. We felt a lot better after we spoke to the park ranger. We found out there was only about a 100 meter stretch of avalanche danger on the whole 8 mile road up to Moraine Lake. She told us where to be extra cautious and after that we were ready to go! It was going to be a long day since we decided to walk/run the 16 mile stretch out and back to Moraine Lake.

We parked across the street from the start of the road to Moraine Lake at a picnic area parking lot and set out on our hike!

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We stayed on the road the whole time since the snow was pretty deep on the trail.20181006_11172020181006_113824

Phil on the road!20181006_114020

The scenery wasn’t so bad for a nice jog, huh?20181006_11411320181006_11433220181006_11445120181006_121333

We made it the 8 miles up to Moraine Lake!20181006_12194320181006_12195820181006_124303

 

What a view!

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Moraine Lake.20181006_130533_001

We made it! The best part about the road being closed, was the fact that we had Moraine Lake to ourselves! It was totally worth the hike up for this once in a lifetime experience. This place was unreal!20181006_130820

 

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It took us about 2 hours to get to the top, an hour exploring around and then about 2 hours to get back down. What a perfectly clear day!20181006_16465620181006_164908

At this point, we made it back to the car and went back to the visitor center. She told us the weather had changed and we should see as much as we could today since we might be clouded in tomorrow. So we set out to drive up the famous Icefield Parkway. These are pictures out of our car window!20181006_16512420181006_16512620181006_16512720181006_16513020181006_165435

Bow Lake. 20181006_16543820181006_16561420181006_17063120181006_17063520181006_170652

Bow Glacier.20181006_17152620181006_17163020181006_17175620181006_174110

Short hike up to Peyto lake. 20181006_174255

Peyto Lake!

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Now we were headed back to the town of Lake Louise for our second night staying at the hostel in Banff National Park.20181006_18065920181006_18071420181006_18074520181006_18083320181006_18132320181006_182050

This 20 mile day marked 610 miles since marriage.

What a perfect day! 🙂

The Famous Lake Louise

Banff National Park Day 1: Lake Louise, Lake Agnes, and Big Beehive.

In early October, Phil and I made the 10.5 hour drive from Seattle up to Banff, Alberta. We left after work on Thursday night and drove 4 hours to a small town called Merritt. We stayed in a last minute Motel and then woke up to drive the next 6.5 hours.

From Seattle, we went straight north into Canada and then drove east. We chose the northern route since it was more scenic and a little faster, but more of a risk this time of year depending on the weather. Some parts you might need chains on your tires so beware, but luckily we did not.

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Our drive was absolutely breathtaking. A lot of these pictures are through a car window so bare with me, but you get the idea.20181005_135920

We passed many Canadian towns on the way to Banff. One is Revelstoke which is supposed to have some of the best skiing in the world.20181005_140031

Speed limit signs like this one were very common and made us do a double take when we saw 100!20181005_135802

We either passed or drove through three National Parks on the way there. First was Mt. Revelstoke National Park, then Glacier National Park of Canada, and then Yoho National Park.20181005_12352820181005_12283820181005_122614

We were very lucky to still get some fall colors in early October. 20181005_123648(0)20181005_12374920181005_15160320181005_123926

We drove through many of these snow tunnels on our drive, strategically placed in avalanche prone areas. 20181005_152713

If you guys didn’t know already, Phil is a good planner and had this trip planned out to a T. At some point on our drive, we decided to call the visitor center to ask about bear activity and hiking conditions. Well we called, and they said in the last 24 hours they had a massive snow storm and most of the high country was closed due to avalanche danger including the road to Moraine Lake. We were absolutely devastated. I was reading our lists of hikes to the park ranger and she basically said that all were closed, but enter at your own risk. Luckily, Lake Agnes was one on our list that was still open and we decided to go see Lake Louise and hike up to Lake Agnes since we wanted to do this one anyway. 20181005_152824

The entrance to Banff National Park! This is also where you cross from British Columbia into Alberta. 20181005_153439

After 6.5 hours we finally made it to the small town of Lake Louise in Banff National Park. We planned on staying here two nights and then the town of Banff for our other two nights.20181005_153558

We thought about camping, but decided to stay in this hostel. We loved it! It had a very convenient and affordable restaurant downstairs in the hostel. Prior to coming to Banff, we kept checking the weather to decide if we wanted to camp or not. With night temperatures in the teens and occasional single digits, we decided to splurge and stay indoors. 🙂

We arrived in town at about 4 pm, quickly checked into the hostel, changed and headed out to explore before dark. 20181005_162023

We started our hike at Lake Louise and then on to Lake Agnes and further up to the Big Beehive for a view of Lake Louise from up above. 20181005_16250220181005_16245620181005_162704

The famous Lake Louise! We started walking around it to the right and split off on the path up to Lake Agnes. This trail was supposed to be about 6 miles round trip to Lake Agnes. We added the short hike up to Big Beehive at the top, making it about 7 miles total. 20181005_16294320181005_16350320181005_17055320181005_17102420181005_17120620181005_171210

The microspikes were a must in October with the recent snowstorm! 20181005_171703(1)20181005_17205020181005_172054

The staircase up to Lake Agnes and the Teahouse!

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Lake Agnes!

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Look at that reflection. IMG_8486IMG_8487IMG_8489

This is the Tea House at Lake Agnes. It was closed since it was after 4 pm, but I love the idea! The tea house is at 7,005 feet, if you’re ready for a hot cup of tea after you hike up to Lake Agnes! Very neat. 20181005_17242120181005_172605(1)20181005_17301220181005_173409

After Lake Agnes, we started hiking around and up to Big Beehive Lookout. 20181005_173845

The Larches!!!20181005_174053(1)20181005_174321

On the other side of Lake Agnes, that is the Tea House you can see across the lake.20181005_17451820181005_17474520181005_17475620181005_174758

We just loved the Larches!20181005_17553820181005_175729(1)From the top of Big Beehive looking down over Lake Louise.

20181005_180313Big Beehive Lookout!

20181005_17585320181005_18052920181005_18051620181005_18061820181005_18063320181005_180643The famous Fairmount Hotel on Lake Louise.

20181005_18065020181005_180755IMG_8492The water was crazy blue from all the Glacier melt.

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Headed back down…IMG_850720181005_18192320181005_18252920181005_18261820181005_18294420181005_19220720181005_192245 220181005_192334

Back to Lake Louise for dusk and this beautiful reflection after the sunset.

The end of this day marked 590 miles since marriage.

What a great first day!

Below is a video of Phil skipping rocks on frozen Lake Agnes.

We had no idea it would make this really cool sound!

Can you hear it? Also, it made this sound when the wind blew over the ice. How cool! 🙂