Those of you who know me will know I am rarely stuck for words. Well, I am now. And the reason? There are simply not words enough to describe how beautiful and emotional I found the Canadian Rockies. In fact, I was reduced to a mere: “Wow” and an open mouth every few hundred yards.
We started off in Banff, which is a pretty if formulaic tourist town filled with shops selling dream
catchers and expensive art. You kinda expect George Bailey to come running along the main street. However, it is a living, working town and most of its residents – who have to prove a need to live there – are there full-time as opposed to second-homers, which goes some way towards dulling the chocolate-box feel. (It was also a bank holiday weekend so the place was teeming with tourists. Like us.)
But to be honest, if you’re visiting Banff, you’re not really bothered about houses and homes and dream catchers (or if you are, you need to get a life). All around you stands the beauty of the mountains, sharp and jagged and magnificent with the biggest blue sky behind them and lakes of turquoise below.
I almost forgot – there were two places of note on our way to Banff: first of all, this signpost, which needs no explanation as to why it should be on every Brits list of places to visit, and then at Lac des Arcs, where even a concrete plant (they mine the area) couldn’t detract from the beauty (below).
But it doesn’t matter where you stop in the Rockies. We pulled into a small car park to sit by the water for lunch and it was wonderful. The stillness and the feeling that you are so far away from everything…
And now I am going to shut up and let the photos do the talking (the nicer ones are courtesy of my cousin, Colin, who has missed his calling).
From there, it was time for dinner. Sadly, not us. We went on a trail along Johnston’s Canyon where we discovered that organic mosquito lotion is crap for keeping the buggers away. With the constant slapping of our bodies, it looked like we were auditioning for Germany’s Got Talent with our performance of the Schuhplattler. “They’re attracted to dark colours,” Colin warned us. Too late in the day, mind you…
I cannot, hand on heart, hide the fact that we were in agony the next day from the bites. But the trail was magnificent and I would recommend it to anyone wearing Persil-white clothes and with enough kill-the-planet strength mossie spray on them to destroy the little gits forever.
The canyon has been formed by thousands and thousands of years of water erosion to form spectacular walls, tunnels and waterfalls. The waters are crystal clear and that amazing blue (which is something to do with the sediment. I was never that good at geography so although it was explained to me…)
It was late in the afternoon when we went so thankfully, there were very few people around and we could see the canyon’s two waterfalls – the lower and the upper – without any obstructions. We’ve still to go to Niagara and this made me even more eager – the spray and noise from the lower falls was incredible. And then there was the stillness of the water merely yards away. Yeah, I said: “Wow” again. Many times. The trail to the upper falls takes you past cascading water and amazing rock formations.
Too late to continue on to the Ink Pots (pools of mineral waters), I vowed that someday I would come back. I mean, you’ve got to go through Moose Meadows to get there. I HAVE to do that.
From then it was back to Banff for bison burgers and a beer before heading home, via a trip to the countryside to try and see shooting stars (we didn’t). An amazing day.
- Banff National Park (joelschat.com)
- Vermilion Lakes renewal allows visitors to experience nature close to town (calgaryherald.com)
- Picture Perfect In Banff, Canada (rbcconnects.com)
- Travel: Banff (moments-by-lauren.com)
- 3 days in the Rocky Mountains (soleseeking.wordpress.com)
- Joan Larsen’s Travel: Jewels of Western Canada (formingthethread.wordpress.com)