Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Week in Review... June 5 to June 8 (today)

We are now in Banff National Park in Canada and on very limited internet access but I wanted to give you a quick update on the past couple of days.

June 5, 2010 – Glacier National Park, MT – Waterton Lakes National Peace Park (Canada)

We decided to visit Glacier’s Sister Park, Waterton Lakes, in Canada for today’s adventure.  It was a nice hour drive up north across the border and into the park.  It’s an unique park as it has the town of Waterton located within it.  After stopping at the visitor center for some ideas on things to do, we set out on one of the scenic drives in the park.  We drove out Akamina Parkway to find that Cameron Lake was still mostly frozen and only some water actually showing.  We then hiked out to Crandall Lake to find a very picturesque lake nestled amount the trees.  As we were hiking, we met a couple of other hikers that told us that there were several bears around the campground on the lake so we were a bit cautious as some Canadian friends had warned us that the bears were a bit “pissy” right now.  I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to run into not only one but a couple of “pissy” bears.  We then settled in for some lunch at one of the town’s restaurants as we were exploring the town of Waterton.  We then drove out Red Rock Parkway to enjoy the views although no wildlife sightings at all.  The Prince of Wales hotel had not opened for the season (it opened on the 6th) so we were not able to go in, but we did enjoy the outside of the hotel and its wonderful view of the lake.  We drove back to Glacier in the evening and Matt enjoyed doing a sunset shot of St. Mary Lake.

June 6, 2010 – Glacier National Park, MT – St. Mary Entrance

The weather was still a bit iffy so we decided to spend the day doing a few things around this entrance that we had not done yet.  We drove all the way up the Going to the Sun road until we hit the closure due to snow.  After that we drove slowly back down and were treated to a Mom Grizzly Bear and her 2 very small spring cubs.  As children will often do, when Mom ran, one of the cubs ran with her while the other chose the closest tree to scamper up.  Once she and the other cub were a safe distance from us on the road, she slowly went over to the tree to coax the little one down.  We also saw mountain goats, elk & deer.  After reporting our bear sighting to the ranger station, we visited the historic 1913 ranger stations and its barn.  Back to the RV for the evening.  We were suddenly awoken about 4am by a nighttime visitor.  Both Matt and I woke up to hear scratching and pawing on the RV as well as feeling the entire RV being jolted from something bumping into it.  Of course, this is the one night that we don’t have our bear spray on the bedside table with us.  Matt went for the bear spray while I went for all the lights to try to scare it off.  As soon as the lights were on, the sounds were gone.  We had just started to drift off again when we heard the ruckus again.  Again, we sprung up (bear spray in hand this time) for the lights and again it went away.  Neither time did we actually see anything, but you tell me what animal other than a bear can make a 12,000 pound RV sway…..

June 7, 2010 – Glacier National Park, MT – West Glacier Entrance

After a night of little rest since our visitor, we were a bit unsure if we wanted to make the drive all the way to the other side of the park.  We decided that since this was our last day, we should make the 2 hour drive over there.  Normally, the two sides of the park are connected by the Going to the Sun road, but since there are still 20+ foot snow drifts on it, it’s a bit impassable.  The west side of the park, is much more heavily treed than the east side.  It was very beautiful, but not quite the expansive views that we have been used to on the east side.  After stopping by the visitor center to hear that the trail we wanted to do is still closed due to an aggressive black bear, we looked for other alternatives.  We drove the 14 miles to where the Going to the Sun road was closed and proceeded to do a very short nature walk on Trail of the Cedars.  It had just started a downpour as we returned to the truck so we went to the McDonald Lake Lodge and enjoyed a coffee in the lounge there.  What a beautiful historic building.  We then headed out to make the 2 hour drive back home with a couple stops along the way.  First of all we stopped at the Goat Lick area and got a chance to see several white shaggy mountain goats perched high up on their rocky ledges.  We then continued on to a very unique waterfall that stair stepped its way down the hillside for several hundred feet.  Our last stop was at the obelisk memorial along the highway.  Sort of a conglomeration of memorials, but neat all the same.

June 8, 2010 – Glacier National Park, MT to Banff, AB (Canada)

We officially crossed the border and started our great Northern trek today.  We had a very quick (and very easy) border crossing into Canada this morning.  We decided to stop along our route at Cardston, Alberta (AB) to visit the Remington Carriage Museum.  It was incredible with over 200 carriages from the 1800’s to the 1900’s.  The museum had great displays and documentation on the carriages as well as great staff.  I even received a prairie diamond ring from one of the carriage repairmen (I guess I should say that it was a square headed nail formed in a ring).  We then made the drive through Calgary and then into our campground (Tunnel Mountain II) in Banff.  The town of Banff actually sits in the National Park so we are surrounded by beautiful peaks and Pinkie is enjoying being dry!!!  We finally got the RV all setup as the campsite is a bit strange with their sites and where they have place the electric hookups.  Dinner, showers and rest made for a relaxing evening.

We will be in Banff for 5 nights and then onto the Columbia Ice Field and Jasper for the next 4 nights.  I’ll try to post again before we leave Banff.  We are really limited with internet and phone access so it will be a bit difficult to get ahold of us until we cross back into Alaska around July 4th.



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