The Rockys

Trip Start Apr 10, 2013
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10
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Trip End Jun 26, 2013


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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Saturday, May 11, 2013

Have been flat out between Canada and France, hence the time between blogs.

Our time in Canada was spent between Banff and Fernie, two very iconic towns in the Rockies. It was like being constantly in the scenic photos you see in magazines and arty exhibits. 

We saw two Black Bears in one day, which apparently is unheard of – people can go years without seeing one. The ones we saw were right next to the highway, eating grass after their hibernation. The first looked fairly nonchalant about us being there and was content just eating the grass 15 metres away. The second was behind a bit of a berm that we noticed while driving. When we pulled over and reversed back he'd moved up the road. We only saw him again when we started to drive off and this head peeked over the edge with a weirded out look on his face as if to say, "what are you guys doing down there?"

The bears make life interesting in Canada the bins are bear-proof, which become Aussie proof too. They call the cyclists touring the highways 'fast food’, and the runners all run with a bear-bell – legend has it so the authorities can identify from the droppings whether a person has been eaten.

We hiked up a legitimate ‘peak’ – actually we ‘scrambled’ (technical speak), as there were some handholds involved but with no ropes  – called Hai Ling Peak (formerly Chinaman’s Peak). We were lucky on that day, as there was only ’40-precip’ (40% chance of precipitation – more mountain jargon – we’re alpiners now, we did a ‘Peak’…)

There are strangely a lot of Hot Springs in the Rockies, which were awesome because of the cold weather. A number of resorts have sprung up taking advantage of these  (I think Banff was established because of one), as well as many resorts that have been established around the lakes. We checked out one called the Fairmont for lunch, and then walked around the defrosting lake. 

The scenery was unbelievable – apparently the mountains that you now can see used to be the sea floor. You can see the silt/ mud layers exposed in the cliff sides, rising up from the ground all the way to the tip. They reckon millions of years ago two tectonic plates slowly crushed together, forcing the sea floor to buckle and rise. Initially, they stood as high as the Himalayas (about 4000m) and were smooth and rounded, but the ice age brought massive country-sized glaciers that cut and eroded the valleys away, leaving the jagged terrain that you see today. So, when you look at the mountains now, you can see the sea floor from millions of years ago, that are literally half the mountain they once were, at about 3000m. They even find seashells and fossils at the top on occasion. Really cool.

Fernie was a cool mining/ skiing town, near the US border. It’s completely surrounded by mountains, so when we were walking around the small town centre it was like looking into a postcard in every direction – ridiculous. When the snow melts, the ski lodges turn into mountain bike downhill tracks, and the rest of the area opens up to awesome cross-country mountain bike tracks. We hired some bikes and went for a jaunt – had the bear bell clanking like a disco – those things (bears) are seriously game-changers…

We found there was a huge Australian ex-pat presence throughout the Rockies – all over there, working on the ski fields during the winter and picking up any work they can get in the summer. Hence why we were greeted with a ‘g’day’ and lots of ‘mate’s at immigration. And, why there were awesome sausage rolls and meat pies in the bakery!!!! Almost as good as home. Overdosed on Rocky Mountain chocolate, too.

The best bit was we went fly fishing. I thought I had it down pat until I received a lesson from a passer-by who must have been cringing. I thought the 10m I was flicking was awesome, until this world champion fly fisher extraordinaire flung this thing about 50m without flinching. Demoralising. But, I was one of a few to catch a massive (photos to prove it) trout/ monster. When the park ranger came round we (I) suddenly realised we (I) didn’t bother looking at the regulations (who would have thought I would have jagged a fish!? – miraculous) and went into a cold sweat before being put out of my misery – there’s no size limit, only a number limit – not that this would have been an issue, though. Safe...


 
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Comments

Nell van Hattem on

I am enjoying you,r journey.Lots of love Oma

Rusty on

Wow! looks like so much fun. Min, did you actually kiss that fish?

oma on

A great album John and Min lovely pics.great memories

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