Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Canadian Rockies Day 2

Last week, I posted photos and stories from day one of our Canadian Rocky Mountain adventure. On the second day, we woke up early and drove out to Yoho National Park, located on the edge of Banff National Park.

Our first stop was the Lower Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint, located in an area along the Trans-Canada Highway known as Kicking Horse Pass. Dr. James Hector, the surgeon who accompanied the expedition credited with discovering the pass, was kicked by a horse while the party was exploring the area, thus the name.

So what are the Spiral Tunnels? Well in 1884, the Canadian Pacific Railway built the segment of track known as the Big Hill. They were in a hurry to complete their route and crowd out competition from northwest U.S. railways, so they created a section with a 4.5% grade, which was very dangerous and resulted in frequent crashes. And during the construction of the track, an average of one crew member died each week. Imagine how secluded it would have felt working in the Rockies 130 years ago!

In 1909, engineers replaced the treacherous section with a new track that included two spiral tunnels to help trains keep their speed in check. 


This is a terrible picture, but the orange circles show each opening of the lower spiral tunnel. When a train comes through, you can see the front of the train come out the exit while the back of the train is still going through the entrance.


After our stop at the tunnel, we drove up the winding Yoho Valley Road (closed October through June for use as a cross-country ski route) to Takakkaw Falls.


We walked up a short path to the base of the falls, taking pictures along the way. I attempted to be artistic and snap a photo of Mr. Handsome taking a photo.


The waterfall is 300 meters (nearly 1,000 feet) at its highest point.


As we approached the falls, the air became noticeably colder, and we began to feel the spray.


We ate a fancy picnic lunch (peanut butter and jelly, anyone?) in the parking lot and then decided to be wild and crazy and embark on a long hike along the iconic Iceline Trail. We grabbed water bottles, snacks, raincoats, and sweatshirts and headed out.

Mr. Handsome carried bear spray from our bed and breakfast hosts on his belt. The park rangers have had a lot of trouble with bears this year, and a man was attached--but thankfully escaped--by a grizzly while were were there.

The bear spray was nearly expired, so we tested it before starting the hike. Boy was it a powerful spray! I sprayed it into the woods and walked away, but my nose still burned a bit. Mr. Handsome, on the other hand, didn't smell a thing.

The first hour of the trek was steep switchbacks up the side of the mountain. When we finally reached the treeline, we were relieved. Time for a photo with our $7 Amazon Selfie Stick!


Every direction provided breathtaking views. There were even some wildflowers growing along the trail.


The next hour was switchbacks along a rocky path. We had to hop over some mountain streams that crossed the trail. The temperature, which had started out at 80F, began to drop to the high 60s, and we started seeing patches of snow.


By that time, we had climbed higher than the Takakkaw waterfall, located across the valley. You can see it in this picture.


We were glad to have our raincoats when it started drizzling!


By the third hour, we were trudging through waist-deep snow. If we walked carefully, we could stay on top of it, but every once in a while, our feet sunk into deep holes, often with rocky streams below. The rain picked up a bit, and the temperature was around 55F, but we were still sweating, as we continued walking up a steep incline.


This picture is taken from the trail summit. By that point, we had gained 710 meters (2,330 feet). It sure felt good to look out over that huge expanse of snow and know that we had made it across. It may look like a small area, but to put it into perspective, the two little dots in the orange circle are people.


Mr. Handsome was brave enough to walk out to the peak. He successfully coaxed me out there, but I was too scared to pull out my phone and take a picture.


The scenery was just incredible, unlike anything that either of us had ever seen. We could have stayed up there for hours.

The trip back was even more treacherous, as we had to walk down the steep, snowy mountain. By that time, our shoes were soaked. The wind picked up, and it started pouring. We pressed on. As we reached the top of the treeline, we noticed that the ground was covered in hail. A hailstorm had gone through while we were at the summit! We were grateful to have missed it.

The 8-mile hike took us 5.5 hours. We wanted to go further (the entire loop is 21.1km/13.1miles) but the snow was too deep.


Here are couple videos that we filmed on day two:


27 comments:

  1. Anonymous7/19/2017

    My husband carries a small air horn and a loud whistle when he hikes, as bear deterrents. Some parks don't allow bear spray (it's considered a weapon).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We read that not all parks allow bear spray while looking up how to use it. Lol. Thankfully it was allowed (and encouraged) where we were. Based on my brief research, it sounds like the parks where it is prohibited don't have grizzlies.

      Ellie

      Delete
  2. Anonymous7/19/2017

    Ellie, you and Mr. Handsome looks like you had a fun and adventure trip. My hubby and I have visit lots of different places, but never been to Canadian Rockies. We took 2 big trips Out West, that was our favorite. I so enjoy your stories and pictures.....Jane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jane! What states/provinces did you visit out West?

      Ellie

      Delete
    2. Anonymous7/27/2017

      The states out West that my hubby and I visit were Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and California. We visit 3 Canada provinces, they were New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario. Hope you and Mr. Handsome are able to visit many states. Been married 42 yrs and have visit 40 states.....Jane

      Delete
  3. Anonymous7/19/2017

    I am loving hearing about your Canadian Rockies Mountain trip!! So cool!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad to hear that! I'll keep the posts coming. :)

      Ellie

      Delete
  4. Anonymous7/19/2017

    Born and raised Calgarian and have skied and hiked all of my 22 years in Banff, Louise and Kananaskis, but I still get taken aback by the beauty every time I drive out to the mountains! Grateful that we have these in our backyard! Hope you guys get to check out the beauty of the Okanagan valley and Vancouver Island in BC one day :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous7/21/2017

      Agreed! Canada hosts such beauty, but I have always loved the okanagan area in British Columbia. I might postpone that trip for a few years though...wildfires are bad this year.

      Delete
    2. How wonderful. I visited the Okanagan several times as a kid, but I would love to take Mr. Handsome there. Have been to Vancouver but not Vancouver Island. I hear it's beautiful.

      Ellie

      Delete
  5. Anonymous7/20/2017

    This trip was documented very well by you Ellie. It is a pleasure and fascinating to read and view this blog post. Thank-you especially for your effort and also Mr H. for sharing this exciting adventure trip. My world is much larger for having you in it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, I'm so glad to hear that! I'm grateful to have you as a reader. Have a blessed day.

      Ellie

      Delete
  6. Anonymous7/20/2017

    Ellie you both are very brave. I know I wouldn't be brave enough to hike anyplace where I could run into a bear or wolf or anything like that , no thank you!! PS.. Mr handsome has a nice haircut!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well thank you. I'll admit I was a little nervous though!

      Ellie

      PS I like it too. :)

      Delete
  7. Anonymous7/20/2017

    Gorgeous!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous7/20/2017

    Lovely photos. Thanks for sharing.
    Joan,Marion and Marilyn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! My pleasure.

      Ellie

      Delete
  9. What a beautiful place! I think you captured the grandeur so well and it is fun to see you both enjoying and in action! Do share some travel tips please such as where you flew, drove, planes, trains, automobiles, etc. So exciting! Thank you for sharing your adventure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will do! Glad you're enjoying the posts. :)

      Ellie

      Delete
  10. Peters fam7/21/2017

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this Ellie! It's always been a dream of mine to go where you just went! A family road trip to this destination is in the works either for next year or the next. Depending how much money we save up! Lol. That's why I have so been enjoying your story and pics. Such a awesome idea to go day by day and keep us in anticipation when you'll do the next day...I keep checking every day lol!! Thanks again for your diligent work with this blog! I do hope you get a little compensation for all your hard work with each of your blogs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Peters fam,

      I'm glad to hear you're enjoying the posts! Hope you're able to visit the Rockies soon.

      Thanks for being a loyal reader. :)
      Ellie

      Delete
  11. Anonymous7/22/2017

    Where are you off to next to top that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We don't have any trips planned right now, lol.

      Ellie

      Delete
  12. Anonymous7/22/2017

    These blogs are awesome- they're like the best vacation scrapbook. I know your children will love reading thru this blog all their lives. I have one question- could you see the northern lights while you were there? That's always been my dream trip- to see the northern lights.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous7/23/2017

      About 1/2 to 2/3 of the U.S. can see the northern lights in their lifetime, if they're lucky and they keep abreast of what's happening in the sky. Spaceweather.com will tell you when there's been a large solar ejection that might bring the lights. ("Current Auroral Oval" on the left side of the page.) Last week, Boston Mass. and that latitude could have seen lights. Spaceweather also has aurora alerts you can sign up for, if you live where that would be worth being alerted about. There are also webcams that show the northern lights.

      I've seen them once in my back yard - a rosy-orange and green area that very slowly changed while I watched. They were not vividly "dancing" lights like you might see in the sped-up videos from the higher latitudes.

      Delete
    2. Unfortunately we weren't able to see the Northern Lights. I hear they aren't as strong in summer.

      Ellie

      Delete
    3. Anonymous7/28/2017

      The "strength" is not season-dependent. Your best viewing nights might be, though. There are more hours of darkness in winter months. Long summer days and a brighter sky for more evening hours can wash out your ability to view the lights. There's also more likelihood that the sky won't be cloudy in the winter in the northern latitudes.

      But the sun doesn't care what season it is when it comes to sending charged particles this way. How "strong" you see the lights is a function of sky darkness and weather in your location. (Well, for starters... There's also a factor of where the particles interact in our atmosphere, which level, and what gas particles are involved. That drives color. And sunspot cycle can play a part, maximum or minimum, although the sun doesn't always follow that schedule when it comes to large ejections that can cause strong light displays.)

      Fun fact: There are also Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) around the South Pole, but not much populated land mass from which to see them. The southern tip of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand can sometimes see them, as well as the southern tips of Chile and Argentina. The Northern Lights get all the press because there's more populated land there.

      Delete