Canada Roadtrip (4): Banff Park

When I travel to a new and distant place, it always takes me some time to feel comfortable. I always spend the first hours/days in understanding how things work: how the map I had seen dozens of times and the idea I had about the place correlate with reality, and how the different recommendations really applied. The good thing of North America is that the latter part is easy to predict (movies help), and this time was not an exception. After the first day, I already had a sense of distances, and the logistics that implied.

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Hence, I changed my original plan and started my day in Lake Louise. It was a cold but sunny morning, and the lake view was as breathtaking as the travel guides described. Since I had been there the day before, I did enjoy the calmness of the lack of tourists. We were just a few of us who had made it that early there. No bus had arrived yet, and the canoe place employees were only starting to set up their business.

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My day continued with the Icefields Parkway, which follows the Bow Valley, and whose name is quite representative of the reality: imagine a valley, in between huge mountains, and with glaciers at both sides of the valley, and with several lakes along the way, like the small Herbert Lake with the morning mist, or the beautiful Bow Lake, wonderfully complemented with a glacier and a waterfall.

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After the Bow Lake, I parked the car near Peyto Lake, which is well prepared for hordes of tourists to easily access to that wonder of the park. Nevertheless, I saw in my Maps app that there was a trail up to the summit, so I did follow it.
There I found myself with a much better view of the lake, the surrounding mountains, and the glacier, and had the only company of a squirrel, who was nice enough to pose for my came while she enjoyed the view.

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When I was in the High School, I loved studying Geology. I found it very interesting to see how several factors could shape the world to what we actually see, and that the landscape is constantly changing even if we cannot realize. The whole trip was full of actual examples of what I had learned back in my youth, the glaciers, the valleys shaped by them, and the spectacular canyons shaped by the water, like Mistaya one: another easy-to-access canyon, after a short and easy hike, in spite of the rain alarm.

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After the Geology class, I arrived to the historic Saskatchewan River Crossing: an area intensively used by the first nations and colons to cross the river, as the wide valley allowed their horses to cross the river. In this area, a small resort has been set up, with ridiculously high prices, as it is the only one in some 100 km. From there, I took a perpendicular road to go out from Jasper park, and I went to the Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve. A safe hike took me to the Siffleur Canyon, an amazing V-shaped valley formed by the river, and to the Siffleur Falls.

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Done with hikes and views for the day, I drove to the hostel, realizing that it was in the middle of nowhere: with no current water, but a creek where water could be taken from and boiled to get warm in a wool-fired sauna. Surprisingly enough, this place had Internet (satellite Internet), and electricity thanks to a turbine in the creek. Although it had less services than any accommodation you can be used to, and less entertainment outside of it than a hostel in a town, this kind of hostel provide the opportunity to really exchange experiences and talks with the other guests. Sometimes you get to know something, sometimes you have fun, and some other times you can learn of how many ways of living exist in the world, like the hostel manager, already in his 50’s, who had quitted a career as a car broker to have more time for doing outdoor activities, or the several people who engaged in a surprisingly conversation about astrology.

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