Canadian Rockies 2009

Our journey to the Canadian Rockies began as a ferry ride to Prince Rupert BC from there we drove east on Highway 16 to our first destination Mount Robson Provincial Park, one of three provincial and five national parks that forms the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.

Mount Robson Provincial Park

Brenda and I have spent many years hiking in the mountains together and are always looking for new trails to hike and at 12,972 feet Mount Robson was an impressive site, even from the visitor’s center, so what better way to begin our adventure than a five day trek in Mount Robson Provincial Park?

At the end of our first day on the trail where we made camp in the valley of a thousand falls.

Brenda was very glad that she did not have to wade through this icy river!

Emperor Falls on the trail to our second camp at the base of the mountain

It had rained when we entered the upper valley but in the evening the clouds parted and gave us this lovely view of Robson’s hanging glaciers from our camp at Burg Lake.

Mount Robson was first climbed by Conrad Kain in 1913 when he cut over 700 steps up the ice ridge on the left side to the summit however the massive rock and ice Emperor Face on the right hand side did not succumb until 1978 when it was finally conquered by Jim Logan and Mugs Stump. Summit climbs on Mount Robson have a high failure rate even today with only about 10% of attempts being successful.

The following day we left our camp in place and hiked for the day to the toe of the Robson Glacier.

Back at camp that evening we made dinner in the cooking shelter with many other hikers and climbers from around the world who also came to view, and some to challenge, the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.

Jasper National Park

Of the two trails that head toward Amethyst Lakes and the Tanquin Valley the trail over Maccarib pass was said to be the most scenic but also the most arduous. The extra effort was well worth it for the trek went through high mountain terrain with soaring vistas at every turn.

Just below the pass we came upon, the areas more celebrated and rare residence, this small herd of woodland caribou.

Fresh snow on The Ramparts and cooler evening temperatures let us know fall had arrived to the high country of Jasper National Park

Icefields Parkway

The drive between Jasper and Banff on Alberta Highway 93 also known as the Icefields Parkway is beyond a doubt one of the most beautiful drives in the world.

The Icefields Parkway passes through the center of the Canadian Rockies with vast mountain ranges on both side and wildlife visible from your car window like these elk grazing by the side of the road.

Around the highways half way point at Sunwapta Pass is the Parks Canada Icefield Center located under the Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Glacier. From the visitors center you can take a ride on the massive Brewster Ice Explorers, busses specially designed for glacial travel.

Banff National Park

The town of Banff is a small village nestled in the Bow River Valley surrounded by the mighty peaks of Banff National Park. A mecca for hikers, climbers and in the winter skiers Banff has a hoist of restaurants, shops and lodgings to suit most tastes, needs and budgets.

As it was my fiftieth birthday we decided to splurge a little and get a room at the Banff Springs Fairmont. Styled after a Scottish Baronial Castle this historic hotel was built in 1911 by the Canadian Pacific Railway to attract wealthy aristocrats from the east coast to take their trains to the emerging territories of the west. Today it is still one of the premier hotels in North America however top hat and formal dress is no longer required (thankfully).

Taking a break from hiking Brenda listens to elk bugling in the forest just outside town on the Bow River.

With over eighty hikes in Banff Park to choose from it was hard to decide but the trail to Sentinel Pass came highly recommended

On the way back down we passed through Larch Valley with the colors of fall starting to show. Just like summer our time in the parks was too soon coming to an end and we would shortly begin the long drive back to Prince Rupert and the ferry home.

 “We were not pioneers ourselves, but we journeyed over old trails that were new to us, and with hearts open. Who shall distinguish? –J. Monroe Thorington