Tourists

I really enjoy the part of camping and hiking where I can get off the path of most resistance (aka throngs of tourists in the way) and hike to an area where you MAY see another living being, but more likely you will see a bear.

Anyway, I was reminded that, when I am a tourist, I cannot complain about them. I must embrace them and be one with them. Check out Peyto Lake on the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper:

The shot – taken in 0.0001 seconds, not framed, or tripod-ed and standing on the wooden railing while my boyfriend hung on to my legs for support

The chaos behind the shot

Wait until I show you some of the views from my hikes. There is no chaos behind the scenes. It’s just another gorgeous and peaceful shot waiting to be taken.

Sigh.

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The Unsung Alberta Park

When people think of Alberta parks, they often list Banff and Jasper, in that order. Maybe Waterton, but it is sort of unsung in its own right.

Source

It’s not often that people recommend an area called Kananaskis, which is not at all far from Banff – a half an hour SE of Canmore. But after two summers of visiting Alberta parks, I must say that my favorite (so hard to choose) is Kananaskis.

For starters, K-Country, as it is known, is not the tourist trap that you encounter when you arrive in Banff and it has a unique, almost spooky feel to it when you drive over Highwood Pass, through the looming mountains.

In the winter, this place is great for skiing and people invade one of this large land-use area’s provincial parks – staying at the Delta Ski Resort (which once housed both 1988 Calgary Olympic events and a G8 summit) and head out on Mount Nakiska. I have only been in the summer, of course, for bear watching!

Kananaskis is fantastic for biking. There is an extensive cycle trail set up that covers much of the front-country wilderness, showcasing its numerous, beautiful campsites in the process. Watch out for chipmunks!

That all said, what makes Kananaskis truly special for me is the mountain range that just seems so eerie and peaceful at night. When I was staying at the Interlakes camp site, between Upper and Lower Lakes (absolutely gorgeous!), my favorite time of day was dusk. So quiet, so few people: just the smooth, calm lake and the sound of the loon….oh so very Canadian 🙂

Happy 125th Anniversary…

…National Parks of Canada!

Close your eyes…no wait! Just pretend to and read on. You know that music you hear on commercials that represent peaceful sounds of nature, the birds tweeting, the flutes gently playing a soothing note, then you see a rabbit under a tree, a deer nudging it’s newborn to walk, and butterflies fluttering around the flowers? Got the sound in your head?

Isn’t that the song you hear every time you enter a national park, right past the welcome sign? I mean, if you have ever visited Banff and passed the “rustic” booths to pay for your entrance to the park, past all the lines of SUV’s and signs featuring major restaurant chains available within the park, that’s the music that pops into your head right?

Ok, not knocking the national parks, I actually find them amazingly beautiful once you get past all those commercialized and congested towns associated with the park. Last summer, as I mentioned, I had a great opportunity to visit three Canadian national parks with one amazing tour guide (and also visited one American park at that time, which I will skip talking about for now as I celebrate the Canadian anniversary).

Waterton Lakes National Park

The first stop was Waterton Lakes National Park. As soon as I crossed the line into the park I saw gorgeous hills turn into mountains, wildflowers just coming into bloom and deer grazing on the grasses. That song started running in my head. Then all of a sudden my guide spotted a bear! My first live bear (minus the zoo…does that really count?). I was getting so excited! Then a bit further down the road, ANOTHER black bear, with two cubs…and a whole whack of tourists scaring them off. Hmmm…time to move on there. The drive through the quaint little town of Waterton was quite enjoyable.

My trip started off amazingly. I took some great pictures with my SLR that I was trying to get the hang of. After a few wonderful days there, it was time to move on to Glacier National Park in Montana, then right over to Banff National Park.

Banff was pretty entertaining. I only stayed for a night because it was too crowded for the type of trip my guide and myself wanted to partake in. Ate at Earl’s, walked around town, took a few pictures and moved on.

Banff

After a quick stop in Banff, I was quite excited to see Jasper. A little more remote, quiet, AND the best prime rib

Athabasca Falls

I would have in my life, guaranteed by my guide! Good thing I was attempting to become a vegetarian at the time, huh? Oh boy Prime Rib Village is a MUST eat! I had to go back for the second night too. Good thing my guide was actually my boyfriend, who did not judge me, just encouraged me!

A day trip to Icefields Parkway and Columbia Icefields, to Pyramid Lake Road, Medicine Lake, and Athabasca Falls was just breathtaking and my camera quickly became exhausted.

Visiting all these parks made me feel fresh, alive, closer to lovely mother earth.

As my planning continues for Summa Time 2011, I really hope a stop in a park similar to these gorgeous places is included. I can never get enough nature in my life. Happy anniversary!