Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Tetons Times Ten

Sandy, Jon and I traveled to Cardston, Alberta, Canada last week to meet the Quinton family and to participate in several events with family and friends.

With a week between Canadian events and Rexburg activities, we decided to explore southern Alberta. We visited Banff and Waterton Park in the Canadian Rockies. The best way to describe the Canadian Rockies is like the Tetons on steroids. The sites were so grand and majestic that for a moment I almost considered a citizenship change!

I have included a number of pictures of both parks for your viewing enjoyment. I must remind you that these pictures cannot do justice to the panaramic vistas that are only enjoyed in person.
Jon and Stephanie enjoying a moment beside Lake Louise. Lake Louise is Canada's diamond in the wilderness and one of the hiking capitals of Canada. It was named after the 4th daughter of Quenn Victoria, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. In fact, the entire province of Alberta was named after the princess.
I couldn't determine the cause of the ice melting on the lake but one theory is the love and warmth generated by the happy couple.
This is a glacial lake and the water does not really start to thaw until well into May. Once thawed and on a sunny day, the water has an emerald hue. The glacier can be seen at the top of the photo.

We took a little nature hike while in Banff and stopped to take this picture. We had one eye on the scenery and another watching for bear. Several bear had already been spotted the week we were there. They were hungry and grouchy from hibernation and probably were not in a charitable frame of mind.

The town of Banff is situated at the highest eleveation of any town in Canada at 4,800 ft. above sea level. It is a major international tourist destination due to the mountain surroundings and hot springs. Several of the well known mountains include: Mount Rundle, Cascade Mountain, Mount Norquay and Sulphur Mountain.

Sandy, Jon and Stephanie standing on one of the balconies of the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Behind them is a golf course, a river and of course more Canadian Rocky Mountain splendor.
As you might imagine, many visitors come and then say why not just live here. The insuing residential growth has generated environmental concerns which in turn have created restrictions on building. New comers must demonstrate a need to reside in Banff to take up permanent residence. The cost of housing in and around Banff is therefore astronomical.

We crossed the river just below Bow Falls and took this picture of the Fairmont Hotel. It truly is a massive hotel. This hotel was made possible by the the completion of the Trans-Canada Railroad through the Bow Valley. The Canadian government wanted to attract well to do Canandian and European citizens and other internation travelors to this new wilderness area. The Fairmont Hotel was one way to provide luxury accomodations far from home. I can assure you that this hotel is as well appointed on the inside as it appears on the outside.

I took this picture from inside the gondola as we ascended Sulpur Mountain. The high speed gondola took us to the a visitors center and observation deck atop the 8, 000 ft. mountain in 8 minutes.
I had fun discussing the various disaster scenarios I could think of as we silently passed over trees and rocks 60-80 ft. below.

Sulphur Mountain gets it name from the hot springs located on its lower slopes. The springs have been turned into swimming and hot pools.
The observation deck provided a 360 degree panarama of the Bow Valley and the spectacular snow covered peaks. Quite frankly, I have never seen a more stunning assembly of mountains anywhere in North America.
The picture to the right is a continuation of the Sulphur Mountain range.

From the main observation deck, visitors can walk a boardwalk to the Sanson Peak Meteorlogic and Cosmic Ray Station. This stone observation station was build by Norman Sanson in 1903. For 30 years he hiked/climbed each week to record his weather observations, regardless of the weather! Later, this peak was also fitted to measure cosmic radiation during the 50's and 60's.

From the observation deck this picture shows the Massive Range featuring Mount Brett the second peak from the right and Mount Bourgeau to the far left.

This range was well named. These mountains are massive. This picture does not provide the real sense of presence of this range.
The Bow Valley is in the forefront with the Bow River flowing through from west to east.

To the left is a spectacular view of what I believe is the Sundance Mountain range.

The picture below is the town of Banff as seen from the observation deck on Sulphur Mountain. The large mountain behind the town is Norquay. Norquay is the home to one of Banff's ski resorts. Vertical drop is around 1700 ft. The longest run is 3800 ft. 45% of the mountain is advanced or expert with some slopes at grades over 30%.
The area of Banff was settled in the 1880s when the transcontinental railroad was built through the Bow Valley. The town was named by Lord Steven, a former Canadian Railroad director, after his birthplace, Banffshire, in Scotland.
Three railroad workers stumbled upon a series of hot springs on the slopes of what is now Sulphur Mountain. The Canadian government promoted the area as a resort destination. This area also was established as the first Canadian national park. This action prompted the start of the Canadian national park system.

The wedding was almost off after Stephanie met this cute little man sunning himself on a bench at the weather station on Sanson Peak.

Jon was incensed when he discovered the pair getting chummy. What did she see in this cold, calculating and faceless character?
One thing was sure. The little man was melting in her presence. Stephanie could see that this relationship would not last forever.

She comes to her senses and realizes that Jon is the only man for her.
(Just having a little fun!)