Banff National Park
The sun sparkled brightly through the scattered clouds on Tuesday morning, the day of our third wedding anniversary. We wanted to get an early start on the hiking trails to enjoy as much scenery of Banff as possible. I was glad I remembered to pack my hiking boots until I tried them on. I hadn’t worn them recently and they felt smaller than I remembered. Unfortunately, the shops didn’t open until 10:00 so a replacement purchase wasn’t possible. I opted to wear my trusty running shoes. How bad could it be?
Our first planned hike started at Lake Louise and wandered through the mountains, past a tea house and ended at an amazing lookout 1,600 feet above the lake on a hill called Big Behive. We had done this hike back in 1999 during our last visit to Lake Louise and we were looking forward to retracing our steps. During our short drive from the hotel to the starting point, the clouds thickened and a light rain began. We arrived at Lake Louise and instantly recognized the stunning turquoise water. While admiring the lake in the continuing drizzle, we looked up and realized that the clouds were low enough to cover part of our planned route. Standing there also brought the cool temperatures to our attention — a great reminder to purchase our souvenir sweatshirts.
We decided to take a shorter hike on the south side of the lake to Fairview Lookout hoping the clouds would burn off after lunch. The trail was steep and slick thanks to the rain and gnarly tree roots (a bit challenging in running shoes). The lookout provided a spectacular view of the historic Chateau Lake Louise with the lake in the foreground. We took a few pictures and watched as a fleet of red tourist canoes drifted onto the lake. Portions of the return route were literally on edge of the lake which made navigation interesting.
We enjoyed lunch inside the Chateau restaurant and admired the assortment of rain coats and umbrellas as they paraded by the windows. The rain was steady now with no plans of stopping. We chose to spend the afternoon in town and try hiking again tomorrow when everything dried out.
Wednesday was also wet, so we decided to drive to Calgary early in hopes of finding some indoor entertainment that the rain could not dampen. (We had already planned to stay in Calgary tonight to avoid the 1.5 hour drive in the same day as our long flight to Denver.) We had to keep the top up on the convertible as we drove easy to Calgary through heavy rain showers. As we got within 30 minutes of Calgary, the rain stopped and the skies lightened up.
Calgary was cloudy, but mostly dry. We read an on-line review about the city zoo and decided to check it out. The first exhibit inside the gate contained three large Siberian tigers. Phil snapped a few photos and we continued towards the dinosaur exhibit at the far end of the park. The skies were starting to darken as the heavy rainshowers we drove through earlier were making their way towards Calgary. As the first drops of drizzle hit, we knew to expect a serious downpour soon. At this point we were at the far end of the zoo, so we started to work our way towards the exit. Water was everywhere and we were drenched. OK … nature wins, we’ll stay indoors. We spent the afternoon planning the Denver flight and playing chess.