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Life List Update

I was able to cross off a few more items off of my life list on our recent trip. 🙂

  • Stay in a cabin in the woods
  • Visit Banff, Alberta
  • Visit Jasper, Alberta
  • See Lake Louise in Alberta
  • Drive the Icefields Parkway, Alberta
  • Hike to one of the teahouses in the Rockies

That brings the total to 326 completed of 470.

 

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We left Jasper in the morning and drove down the Icefields Parkway (only stopping at the Columbia Icefield to use the washroom) and arrived at Sunshine Village just outside of Banff. They had just opened for the summer the day before which is why we didn’t visit here when we were in the area earlier in the week. It’s a ski resort in the winter and a hiking area in the summer.

We took the gondola up the first part to Sunshine Village. Gondolas make me nervous and Chris thought it was hilarious. Not funny. 🙂 When I saw the chairlift to get up the next part and saw that we had the option to hike up, we decided to hike. It was very scenic but uphill all the way so a bit strenuous.

We got a kick out of walking from Alberta to BC on the trail up there. 🙂 It was pretty cold – near the freezing mark but so beautiful!

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We ended up taking the chairlift down since we wanted to get down as quickly as possible LOL It was actually less scary than the gondola! The gondola ride was about 8 minutes so we took the time to eat a snack. A couple more minutes were added since it stopped for a bit (don’t look down, don’t look down) but things started moving again and we got down safely. 🙂

We headed over to Canmore for lunch and mini beers at the Grizzly Paw Brewing Company. We ordered lunch with the mini beer seasonal sampler and enjoyed the lemon shandy so much that we bought some more from the retail store before heading to the Calgary airport to return the car and check into our hotel for our last night out west. 🙂

It rained all day today so we didn’t venture out very far. We headed over to drive by Lake Edith and Lake Annette just outside of Jasper townsite and was glad we did – we saw more elk! 🙂 We also drove by the Jasper Park Lodge to check it out.

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We ended up doing some souvenir shopping in Jasper, strolled around town, picked up some more sticky cinnamon buns at the bakery and took it easy today.

Shortest blog post ever. 🙂

We headed out to Maligne Canyon to beat the rain which was supposed to start mid-morning. We arrived at 7:30am, 2nd car in the parking lot.

Our plan was to hike to bridges 1 through 4, then drive to bridges 5 and 6 on the way back. We saw bridge 2, 3 and 4, then visited the first bridge last (which has the best views in my opinion and glad we saved it for last). It was really cool to see how the water eroded the rock/mountain to create the canyon.

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On the way to the canyon we saw a couple of deer on the side of the road, just prancing along. 🙂

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On the road between the Canyon and Medecine Lake, we saw another black bear ambling along, cool as can be while a caravan of cars stopped on the opposite side of the road watching him go.

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We stopped at the Medecine Lake lookout to read the history of the lake and got a surprise visit. Luckily Chris saw it and we got back in our car before he got close.

This is the lookout. Over the corner of the top right of the last sign, you can see what surprised us:

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Zoomed in, he’s hidden by the tree in the centre of this pic:

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He had the same stunned reaction upon seeing us as we did seeing him!

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Onward! Our next stop was at Maligne Lake. The rain hadn’t started yet but it was overcast. We walked around the lakeshore, up to the chalet and took a short trail that led to the trailhead but after seeing all the bears, and having no bear spray, we decided not to risk it. Instead, we visited the waffle hut for a cappuccino and the best waffle I’ve ever had! It had cinnamon, whipped cream and blueberry compote. Delicious. On our way back to the car, we noticed that the tour buses had arrived and it started to rain.

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We drove back to Jasper, skipped bridges 5 and 6 for the Canyon, stopped at the Bear Paw’s bakery for goodies then back to our cottage to relax and take a nap while it rained. It cleared up at dinner time so we took a stroll around the property to admire the lake, then hopped in the car and drove further down the road to Pyramid Lake and Pyramid Island which is reached by a footbridge. It’s a 20 minute walk around the island. They have a little wedding area if anyone wanted to book the island for an event – thought that was cute.

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We left our cozy cabin in Lake Louise and headed north up the Icefields Parkway towards our next base – Jasper. We stopped at several places along the way; what could be done in 2-3 hours takes much longer just because of all the amazing sights you can stop at and explore.

Bow Lake – Quick stop off the parkway

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Peyto Lake and Bow Summit – short 10-15 minute walk to the main viewing platform from the parking lot but if you walk up the trail there’s an amazing vantage point that provides spectacular views of the valley and lake below. We were alone up there! and yes, the lake really is that color. Beautiful.

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Mistaya Canyon – short 10-15 minute trek downhill to a small canyon. The trek back up was a bit tiring but well worth it.

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N. Saskatchewan River at Howse Pass – picnic area off the parkway and one of the best surprises on the drive up. There are signs explaining how the pass and river were traveled back in the day and it’s a really beautiful view.  We stopped here for lunch and found a picnic table overlooking the river below.

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Columbia Icefield / Athabasca Glacier – some might call this the main event along the parkway. It has all the bells and whistles including a restaurant, cafe, outdoor terrace, huge washrooms, a ticket booth for all kinds of tours, you name it. It also has an amazing view of the glacier and surrounding mountains. We grabbed a coffee and sat outside enjoying the view. If you zoom in and look at the bottom of the “toe” of the glacier, those little specks are people. This thing is big, folks.

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Sunwapta Falls – short stop off the parkway to see the waterfalls

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Quick pics of the nice view from the road – everywhere you look, it’s gorgeous.

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The N. Saskatchewan River – quick stop off the parkway

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Athabasca Falls – Lots to see here and lots of little areas to explore.

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We saw our first black bear on the side of the road coming into Jasper and I was really excited. We stayed in the car but took some pics (I have a good zoom on my camera – we did NOT get that close):

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We arrived in Jasper at around 3:30pm and did our groceries before heading to our cottage for the rest of our stay, at Patricia Lake Bungalows. I can’t believe I didn’t take any pics!  It was super cute, had everything we needed and was about a 5-6 minute drive from Jasper townsite along a winding road where we saw some elk on our first drive in.

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Another early start today – we headed over to Yoho National Park and our first stop was at the Natural Bridge. What a pretty place! After so many years of the water of the Kicking Horse River eroding the rock, it formed a bridge. Gorgeous in the morning sun.

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Our next stop was Emerald Lake – got there at 7:30am and only a few folks were in the lot. We were alone on the trail for the most part but started seeing others about midway through. Serenity personified. We started the Emerald Lake loop (trail around the lake) on the left/north side which is paved, then halfway through it becomes a dirt trail (slightly muddy when we went). The different types of flowers were really interesting and we got to see lots of birds.

We stopped at the cafe on the lake for a snack and coffee after the trail. There’s a lodge as well where you can stay. Amazingly quiet and peaceful.

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Next we stopped at a couple of viewpoints to see the spiral tunnels (tunnels carved into the mountain for trains to pass through) and the spot where the Kicking Horse and Yoho Rivers converge. Impressive!

Our next stop was at Takakkaw Falls. The road to get there is very twisty with a fairly tight section but we managed it fine. The views were incredible. You can get very close to the falls, enough to feel the mist/spray. 🙂 It’s a short walk from the parking lot and the views to and from the falls are very nice as well.

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We returned to Lake Louise for lunch and ate at the old converted Train Station for bison burgers. The food was good and the ambiance of sitting in a train station turned restaurant was really cool. We even got to see a couple of freight trains pass by on the still-functional tracks outside!

Back to the cabin for a g;lass of wine and a nap, then off to dinner at the Juniper Bistro in Banff. It was sensational – we both had the wild boar loin with buttered fingerling potatoes with bourbon apple sauce, lemon and thyme charred broccolini, a BC Merlot and the black forest mousse cake with torched marshmallow, praline and berries for dessert. The whole meal was delicious and the view was fantastic. Highly recommended for a special dinner out.

Juniper bistro

We got an early start again today to beat the crowds to the parking lots at Lake Moraine and Lake Louise. Our cabin was on the same road as Lake Louise (and 4 mins away!) which came in handy. We got to Moraine at 6:30am and the lot was already half full.

We saw the lake from the shore and climbed the rockpile for amazing views. Turquoise blue like all the photos and postcards – it’s really that color! Just gorgeous. I still can’t believe my eyes have seen the gorgeous things we saw on this trip! From the water to the mountains to the trees…absolutely beautiful.

Lake Moraine:

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Our next stop was Lake Louise – there’s more parking available there and we got a spot in the lot. Lake Louise is a classic ice blue lake as well but I personally preferred Moraine more. We took a few photos, then located our goal for the day: The trailhead up to the Lake Agnes Teahouse. It was a 3.8km hike uphill. All the way. Brutal. 1,300 ft elevation gain. We had to stop several times but once we got a good rhythm going, it became less painful LOL The trail was a set of switchbacks up the mountain to Mirror Lake, then 1km further to Lake Agnes and the famed Teahouse where you could enjoy a snack and hot beverage with amazing views to boot. There is no running water and the staff hikes up supplies every morning. Kudos – they must have quads of steel!

We stopped at Mirror Lake first, then at Lake Agnes and the views were spectacular. We had lunch at a picnic table but it got quite chilly. The hike down was FANTASTIC! Downhill, easy peasy. At the bottom, we rested on a bench facing Lake Louise and rested our legs. We drove to the Lake Louise village to pick up some goodies at Laggan’s Bakery then back to our cabin, all before 1pm!

Lake Louise:

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Mirror Lake:

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Views from the trail:

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Lake Agnes and Teahouse:

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Teahouse – we had lunch on the picnic table at the back, to the left of the teahouse midway down the ramp in the photo:

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Back down again. Chris is sitting on the bench. I hobbled over to the lake for a pic. 🙂

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Took a shower, took a nap, played gin rummy, drank our ciders and relaxed for the rest of the day.