Smoke Signals

Monday, August 24, 2015 Road Junkies 0 Comments


CANADA OR BUST, CHAPTER 14:  IN WHICH NEAR VISION TRUMPS DISTANT VISION

Days 16 & 17:  Canmore, AB.  With space to spread out and relax, we spent Sunday holed up at Stoneridge, where we washed three loads of laundry in the condo's tiny washer and dryer, caught up with calls to family, and planned our visit to Banff on Monday.

Forestry trail near Barrier Creek
Before driving north to Banff, however, we started Monday headed south on Highway 1A, the Bow Valley Parkway.  At the visitor center for Bow Valley Provincial Park, a ranger recommended Highway 40 as a scenic drive.  Only later did we realize that it would also take us to the location of a letterbox at the north end of Barrier Lake in Kananaskis Country.  A one-mile hike on a shaded forest trail took us to the hiding spot.  As we continued our drive on Highway 40 and back to the condo, a cloud of smoky haze obscured all but the nearest landforms—a condition that would prevent us from the full view of the Banff National Park scenery.  Forest fires in British Columbia and Washington state are said to be responsible for the haze.

It was convenient, so we had lunch at the condo before heading north into Banff town to search for some additional letterboxes.  As we expected, Banff joined our list of extreme touristy towns..

Cascade Gardens
Following the clues for a letterbox dedicated to earth mother Gaia, we ended up in Cascade Gardens, the beautiful flower display behind the historic park administration building at the south end of Banff Avenue. Terraced into the hillside, the garden is crisscrossed with pathways and rock steps that lead through trees and along flower beds. Gazebos and other shelters add architectural interest and offer refuge from sun and rain.

Cascade Gardens, too
After tiptoeing through the tulips, we drove out Tunnel Mountain Road on the trail of a pair of letterboxes hidden near an overlook for some hoodoos and the Bow River below them.  The air was still thick with smoke and haze, so the view wasn't great.  Nonetheless, we found the boxes and moved on to the last one of the day—at the end of a two-mile hike at Lake Minnewanka.

Stewart Canyon Trail along Lake Minnewanka
By the time we found the box, the clock had ticked past 5 p.m.  With a long drive tomorrow, we called it a day and returned to the condo, where we prepared dinner and ate before packing up for our drive back into the U.S. tomorrow.

SUNDAY, 23 AUGUST AND MONDAY, 24 AUGUST 2015

Daily Stats

  • Miles driven:  139
  • Miles walked:  6.3
  • Weather:  41° to 70°, cloudy and hazy
  • Letterboxes found:  7
  • Tourists in Banff:  21,846
  • Bicycles:  6,291
  • Gift shops:  418

More Photos from Today

Letterboxing still life off Barrier Creek trail
Haze hiding hoodoos
Stamping in at Cascade Gardens
Cascade River flowing into Lake Minnewanka
Cattle guards on local roads are known as Texas gates.