June 2, 2013

Day 6: Half Way Home

Day 6: Jasper, AB to Banff, AB

Wildlife Spotting: Elk, black bear

Distance Traveled: 288 km/180 miles

Total Distance Traveled: 3360 km/2101 miles

We are officially over half way home!

We enjoyed the Fairmont right up until we had to check out in the morning.  We woke up refreshed and ready to continue the second half of our journey home.

We saw a bunch of female elk on the side of the road, including this collared one that had a little friend hitching a ride. We also saw a black bear in a tree before leaving Jasper NP.  I would love to say I have pictures of that, but when we pulled over because we saw a bunch of cars stopped on the side of the road and asked a Park Ranger what everyone was looking at, he said, "You're not looking at anything, keep moving."  I'm sure you can imagine the words that came out of my mouth shortly after Steve rolled up the window. Well, we quickly saw what everyone was looking at when we drove off.  It's not like people come to Jasper to see wildlife or anything.

The Icefields Parkways from Jasper to Lake Louise has been called one of the most scenic drives in the world, and is studded with more than 100 glaciers and numerous small lakes, rivers and waterfalls. We stopped at the Columbia Icefield Interpretive Center, to awe over the Athabasca Glacier.  The Columbia Icefield is a surviving remnant of the thick ice mass that once mantled most of Western Canada's mountains and is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies. At one time the Athabasca Glacier reached the road, however, because of a warming climate, it has retreated almost 1.5 kms, over the past 125 years!

We made a stop at Lake Louise.  Of course it was raining. (Is it bad that the first thing we thought of when we reached the lake was that one episode of the most recent Bachelor where the crazy girl almost got hypothermia?!)

The Trans-Canada Highway is completely fenced from Lake Louise to Banff to prevent wildlife from crossing.  There are also two wildlife overpasses and underpasses to allow for wildlife to safely cross the over and under highway. Apparently the fencing, overpasses and underpasses have reduced road kill and collisions by more than 80%. Pretty genius. 

On recommendation from a friend, we took the Bow Valley Parkway from Lake Louise to Banff because we wanted to see more wildlife.  We saw two huge male elk with their enormous antlers on the side of the road.  Couldn't really slow down to take a picture or we'd have an elk in the car with us. 

We finally made it Banff and were welcomed with more rain.  We met up with our friend, checked into the amazing Fox Hotel and Suites and enjoyed some drinks and Irish fare at a local pub.  

So until next time, when we make our way to Calgary for a few nights to catch up with family.


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