Canmore, Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Revelstoke - Sept 9 - 20

It's been a while, and we could blame it on the fact Internet is almost impossible to obtain in the Canadian National Parks, it's mostly because we've been soaking in every moment in this land.

Let's start with some food. We were finally able to do a Bison v. Elk cook-off.  Buying two kinds of steak for 5 was a bit pricey, so we opted for burgers at a local market.  The Elk is dark and a bit more lean. Both were excellent and it was a split vote on which was better. 

JAK tried for Arctic Grayling in Quarry Lake early one AM.

We spent a couple days in Banff.  The first trip included a hike up Tunnel Mountain. We were proud of our little climbers and thought it was a fairly large climb for being six.

The next day, we found their breaking point.  We hiked up Sulfur Mountain which was across the valley from Tunnel and above the Banff and RimRock Hotels.  As we started we noticed the sign said plan 1.5 - 2 hours one way. We spoke to a young couple who had completed the hike up in 90 minutes.  We rallied the team and agreed to shoot for sub 2 hours. 91 minutes later, we hit the peak with only one piggy back required at the end.  Here is the view - that's tiny Tunnel mountain across Banff.

Another fun sign - "Animals, please cross in pecking order"

Next, we were off to Jasper. We had been told by many friends this was one, if not the, most beautiful drives in the world.  It did not disappoint. We stopped for the night at the parking lot for the Columbia ice fields. 

Katie had a loose tooth and she decided she wanted it pulled at the Athabasca Glacier the next morning. Why not? We hiked up to the glacier and yanked it out amongst the ice.  Glacial wind is quite a numbing agent!

As we drove north, more than just the natural scenery changed. Suddenly our multi-colored RV stood out like a sore thumb against the rows of white RV rentals full of European travelers on holiday; and our white haired kiddos suddenly blended in with the prolific blond-haired local children. 

 When we got to Jasper, we found out that there was no room in the Inn - at least not for a large RV that was looking forward to hookups for a few days. We couldn't even get a non-hookup spot for more than one night without having to move. Sadness fell.  It could be snowing any day, what are all these European people doing here!;)

There was an option of going to the "overflow" parking lot where you pay $32 a night to park on a parking lot with electricity, but we couldn't stomach the thought of sitting on a parking lot in Jasper National park.  We opted to move camp every day.  Despite the morning shuffle, we really, really enjoyed our stay at Whistlers campground. 

We headed into town where the kids completed another ranger booklet and were sworn in - this time complete with the Canadian National Anthem ringing out from an iPad.

The next day we hiked Maligne Lake canyon and had a picnic on the shores of the lake (truthfully this is the Maligne river leading into the lake, but it was windy so the lake picture doesn't do it justice)

One of our highlights in Jasper was our visit to Mount Edith Cavell where we saw and heard Angel Glacier calving. Technically this probably wasn't considered calving, but it was very loud (thunder loud) and looked like a mini avalanche. And yes, the picture isn't very good


JAK and Dad continued on to the peak. JAK's hiking legs are getting strong and he ran most of the rocky 4km down the mountain.

Back to Whistlers where the kids enjoyed the playgrounds made entirely of natural timbers

Oh, and we must include this picture. If you get a chance ask JAK about the 8 lbs rock he and Mommy carried 2.4km. (Those are hammer marks on the side btw)

And of course there was wildlife in the campground. One morning we had a cow and calf Elk camped 20 yards from the RV. And this was the Elk highlight of Jasper.  JAK spotted this big guy while on an AM run and we watched him for 10 minutes as he "courted" the females down from the ridge. Sound Required!

After Jasper we headed back south.  We meant to stay at Lake Louise, but missed a turn amongst the road construction and ended up staying at Kicking Horse campground in Yoho national park a short distance away.

This is Emerald lake. JAK says they got it all wrong because it's turquiose. Either way, its awesome

We hiked the trail up to the teahouse at Lake Louise. That is a kayak in the middle.

Moraine Lake

Ok, so that's probably enough lake pictures for a while! 

There are two things that are very difficult if not impossible to find in the Canadian national forest - the first is free wifi, and the second is washing machines!  After nearly two weeks, we finally took the time to use the 1 coin washing machine in Lake Louise located in a motel…but the dryer was out-of-order.  Talk about "Mountain Fresh" scent!

Oh, that brings up a conversation while trying to find the mystery washing machine:

Anna:  "Where are we going?"
Dad:  "We have to go do some laundry today"
Katie:  "Ya, I don't have any clean socks and am wearing my last pair of underwear"

Back in Yoho, we did the "Hike back in time" where we traced the footsteps of the men who built the railroad over Rogers pass and Spiral Tunnel and saw an abandoned train which was one of two that hauled rock out of the amazing tunnel. You'd think he'd have received more credit than this resting spot in the middle of the woods!

Don't miss the massive Takakkaw falls if you visit Yoho - and bring your rain jacket so you can get up close.  Imagine squall type winds with glacial temperature mist/rain!  It's intense. 

Time to head to Revelstoke.  

These kind of signs get the adrenaline going for us (it says "10 Mile Hill brake check"). But don't worry, there is a "runaway" lane in….2km!

Revelstoke has been one of our favorite towns.  It is situated on the Columbia river amongst others.  We've been biking and hiking the area.

Did you know there are rain forests this far north? We thought Shrek was going to be around the next corner.

And after more than a month of trying, we can finally post a picture of our first fish!!  On our last night in Revelstoke we caught a "squaw fish" which a local fisherman ID'ed as a carp type fish and we release. Then JAK landed a beautiful Dolly Vardon (very similar to a Bull Trout) from the banks of the Columbia river. Of the 8 of us fishing those banks, he landed the only one of the night!  

For quotes, there was a good one we missed from back in Cody, WY:
Katie: "I'm not going to shake shake hands with a bull fighter because they have bull on their hands"

Anna on a cold morning hike this week randomly announced to the family "Just so you know, you're not allowed to blow your nose in your hand" hmmmm?

One of our favorite meals of recent was a stuffed pork tenderloin. We are craving chicken, but it's almost the same price as beef steak here, so we went with the 'other white meat'.

- Fillet tenderloin by rolling out
- Beat pork mercifully with a cast iron pan until very flat
- Cook spinach and let cool
- Stuff with feta, spinach, sun-dried tomato, garlic, and season as you like
- Roll and toothpick
- Sear and then grill to 155

And of course, a couple exhausted cat pictures: