October 15, 2014

Sharon & Sharyn's Great Canadian Adventure - Final Stop, Calgary

Well this is the last leg of Sharon & Sharyn's Great Canadian Adventure!

(Written by Sharon & Sharyn)

Banff is an Alpine-style town that exudes prosperity.
Between Moraine Lake and Banff is the Larch Valley which is surrounded by 10 snow-covered peaks.  A panorama camera would be best to capture all ten in one shot, but here is my best effort..

Sharyn taking a little hike near Banff

After a quick Banff city tour, a bit of retail therapy and a tasty hot stone fondue lunch, we aimed our trusty car towards Calgary for the famous Calgary Stampede.

Banff Main Street

Hot Stone Fondue

Chateau Banff

Just below are some pictures of the awesome City and the Calgary Stampede

Sharyn & Sharon in Calgary

Sharon with a Peruvian Horse

The Stampede was carried out despite a devastating flood just two weeks prior.  Due to Herculean efforts by the people railways were rebuilt, new energy lines laid, flood waters removed, buildings rebuilt and the Stampede went on! 

Level of the flood waters just 2 weeks earlier

Sharyn and Sharon were truly amazed and impressed by the city and the show.

The chuck wagon races, the spectacular entertainment and the fireworks were an appropriate finale to our Western Canada discovery tour!

October 3, 2014

Sharon & Sharyn's Great Canadian Adventure - Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

(written by Sharon & Sharyn)

At Lake Louise our stay was at the Mountaineer Lodge, the sister lodge to our previous inn in Jasper (a discount also is available if one stays at both lodges for a minimum period).  The Mountaineer Lodge exuded western Canadian comfort and charm, as well as an indoor pool and steam room.  And naturally the staff could not have been more pleasant.

The famous Lake Louise is only a 4 kilometer/ 2.5 mile drive away and although we had seen many impressive views during the preceding two days, the view across this pale emerald lake to the Victoria Glacier was the most postcard picture perfect scene in the Rockies we had glimpsed.
Lake Louise

There are various walks to choose from the arrival vantage point at Lake Louise including an easy 2 km/ 1.25 mi (each way) flat walk along the side of the lake. Apart from walking, there are opportunities for canoeing, horseback riding, rock climbing and no doubt more challenging mountain climbing.

Two people climbing the glacier (3/4 way to top in center – one is on the black ice patch and another above it – mere specks).  They moved very little in two hours’ time.

If Lake Louise (in our opinion) is the most picturesque lake setting we had seen in the Rockies, Moraine Lake has to take First Prize for the most beautiful color - officially cobalt blue fading to chrome green around the edges.  Sharyn unequivocally proclaimed she had found her new favorite color. 

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake

We heeded the sign – stay in tight groups of 4 or more!

As always, there are a variety of walking trails for the energetic at Moraine Lake.  For the less active a short walk up the stepped path to many overlooks at the end of the lake near the parking area provides stunning views.

One visitor took to the water with her two dogs happily following. 

Moraine Lake is an easy drive of 14 km/8.5 mi from the turn-off on the road to Lake Louise.  And if you worked up an appetite climbing trails, a cafe and dining room facilities are available overlooking this magnificently colored lake.  Those who had more time on their hands hopped into rental canoes and paddled away a lazy afternoon under the sun, sky and snow-capped peak.

Tearing ourselves away from the incredible beauty of Moraine Lake was not easy but beautiful Banff was calling!

October 2, 2014

Sharon & Sharyn's Great Canadian Adventure - Jasper to Lake Louise

Well my bad!  Let me apologize for not posting the next leg of Sharon & Sharyn's Canadian Adventure in a timely manner!  It's been over a year now since they have taken this amazing trip and I have only shared the first leg of their journey with you.  There have been some technical difficulties and just so you understand who's fault this really is.......yep, it's mine!  When you have as much fun as I do, time just slips by way to fast!

So get comfy and I hope you enjoy this post as written and shared by Sharon & Sharyn!

(written by Sharon & Sharyn)

It's day 3 and it was time to board our VIA Rail train and head to the Canadian Rockies. From the domed seating area above the sleeping cabins the scenery was spectacular en route to Jasper.

In Jasper, Alberta our home was the Mount Robson Inn  which came highly recommended by AAA -- and now by us as well!  It is a delightful motel-style inn perfectly located close to rail and all the special charms which Jasper holds.  The inn abounds with courteous, helpful staff that went out of their way to assist each guest.  Our room was spacious and well-appointed (and yes, with free WiFi) – perfect for both summer visitors and winter skiers.  

The next morning we picked up our rental car and also a GyPSy Guide
 , which provided terrific commentary and history about our surroundings while suggesting possible new adventures. We followed the talking guide and explored Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake.  After this trip it would be hard to imagine going to this part of the world and not see these stunning places. 

Water thundered from melting glaciers down through majestic forests, seemingly splitting open the earth in crags and crevices before becoming part of a still, silent deep blue lake.  We’ve seen a lot of mountains and rushing rivers, but nothing quite like this.  Here is a short view of Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake.   

After a delicious dinner in one of Jasper’s many fine restaurants and a comfy rest in the Mount Robson Inn, the following day we headed off along the famous Icefields Parkway. 

Our trusty GyPSy Guide suggested a detour via route 93A, part of the old highway. We took the advice and headed for Mount Edith Cavell (named in honor of the WWII British nurse who saved the lives of many Allied military personnel at her hospital in Belgium at the cost of her own life). 

Here is where Sharyn (hailing from Sydney, Australia) was especially happy for a healthy Aussie-type bush walk and there were many tempting choices of footpaths.  The first half of our hike was to a lookout over both the glacier and lake.  Sharyn observed the path’s upward first half will provoke a bit of a rise in one's heart rate, but is quite manageable for all but the seriously unfit. The second half, down to the lake, is a case of picking one's way among small rocks, so good walking shoes are needed.
Our next stop was the Athabasca Falls just before we rejoined the main Parkway. As the region had experienced unusually high temperatures (30 C / 90+ F degrees) for several days causing high volume snow melting and a heavy thunder storm the night before, the river was bursting its banks and the Falls were powerfully impressive.



The slightly smaller Sunwapta Falls (another 15 minute drive along the Parkway) were also roaring with melted glaciers and rain water. Here we found a lovely lodge at the entrance which was the ideal place for us to buy a light lunch.
Sunwapta Falls
The Columbia Icefield is the most well-known stop on the Parkway.  An interpretive center and available trips on a huge bus designed to maneuver on the ice of the Athabasca Glacier are easily accessible. The glacier is unquestionably an awesome and impressive sight, but happily we discovered there are countless other stunning mountain views along the Parkway as well.
The GyPSy Guide we were using not only gave directions of where to turn etc., but also commentary on what to look out for, where good hiking trails began, when good photo stops were coming up and interesting history on the exploration of the area.

Several beautiful lakes caught our eye between the Icefield and Lake Louise, our destination that evening, and Bow Lake provided a particularly "wow" moment with its pale emerald water overlooked by snow-capped peaks.
Lake Louise

Bow Lake
This was an amazing drive while heading to our next destination, Lake Louise!
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