Karen got the exciting bit to talk about - leaving me with the walks and everything else here in Banff Park except the YWCA which she has bagged for her next blog. All I will say is that I fail the YWCA test on all levels: I am not young; am not a woman; whilst moral I am not Christian and I don't know anyone that would publicly associate with me.
From my point of view the bear incident was exhilarating but not frightening. After all I was armed. Bear spray was quickly ready and I was in a fairly populated area. The bear looked passive and I followed the instructions in the useful "bears and people" guide handed out by the Jasper Park information centre. I just enjoyed the moment - barking orders to Karen to get behind me and then talking gently to the bear. Marvellous.
Karen wishes to point out that the bear spray was not used and that no bears were harmed in the creation of this blog entry.
You'll never walk alone Banff - Friday 26 August
"Walk on, walk on"
A little bit of an anti-climax this but after we had refreshed ourselves following the encounter with the bear, we carried on with our original plan for the day, to combine a few walks around Banff itself.
We followed the northern edge of Banff for a short while before crossing the Avenues forming the North-East/South-West axis of the Town. We ascended steps up to a road that leads to camp grounds and resorts on the edge of Tunnel Mountain. After lunch at the side of the road on Tunnel Mountain Drive (at a quiet spot that afforded a good view of the town below) we wended our way up a steep but well maintained track that led to the top of the small mountain (1670 metres high).
At this point I need to digress back to one of my earlier themes - Canadian naming conventions. Tunnel Mountain's Native Canadian name is "Sleeping Buffalo" and you can see the resemblance in Karen's picture. What do numpty European settlers call it? Tunnel Mountain. They didn't even build the tunnel it is named after so if anything it should be called No Tunnel Mountain.
Anyway the top of the Mountain provides great views of the Town, Bow River, nearby peaks and the Golf course stretching out from the iconic Banff Fairmont Hotel. I actually made it to the top of this one (see pictures for proof) even though I knew that one side of the peak was formed of sheer cliffs. Whilst it was a small achievement for me it was not that impressive as it was clear that many townsfolk walk the route during their lunch hour and some even run the distance.
After descending we made our way back over the Bow River and walked down the riverside walk that passed just below our lodgings. This route took us to Bow River Falls, a beautiful spot and packed with tourists. After taking a few pictures we made our way back to the hostel.
Walk this way
On second thoughts don't.
No matter how hard I try, I just don't look good in my walking gear. With my short brimmed floppy hat I look like one of Bill and Ben and if I combine that with my three-quarter length trousers I look like a hobbit.
I have normal size walking boots on my normal size feet but it often feels like I am walking in clown shoes. I seem to trip over every root, loose rock or raised mound of earth on the paths we walk. The only time I seem to walk without incident (so far at least) is on my way up steep inclines as I leap ahead like a demented mountain goat in my desperate search for the next piece of solid, flat ground.
Karen has a pedometer app on her iPhone that does not seem to work that well. We can be half dead after walking several hundred metres up in a few km but the thing says we have walked "50 centimetres and have burned off 2 calories - congratulations you can eat a carrot and one mushroom for dinner tonight".
Stop! Lake Minnewanke and Spray River loop- Sat 27 August
With trepidation we drove to Lake Minnewanke. The walk we wanted to undertake was barred to groups of less than four due the area being popular with adult female Grizzlies and their offspring. Those of you following my literal naming comments in an earlier blog will be pleased to note that there was no evidence of inappropriate Oompah Lumpah activity in the region.
Slightly disappointed (the walk looked great) we returned back to Banff where we had our lunch and decided to walk the 11km Spray River loop that started just below Bow River falls where the Spray joins the much larger Bow River. The walk was dull, passing along mountain bike trails through tree lines that were well above the water's edge. We treated it merely as exercise.
In the evening we ate out at Tommy's Neighbourhood bar. Karen enjoyed a generous plate of nachos and I tucked into a chicken Santa Fe burger. The place was good value and quickly filled up with all ages and nationalities. Tired and full we made our way back over the bridge to the hostel and bed.
Duelling banjo's Johnson Lake and The Hoodoos - Sunday 28 August 2011
Karen had a great idea for the next day. Let's have a picnic by Lake Johnson. This is a popular spot with locals and is just a few minutes from the Town centre.
There is a large car park and lots of picnic tables arranged round one end of the lake. That part of the lake has shallow beaches were small children play and others launch canoes and inflatables to cruise the lake.
It was late morning when we arrived so we decided to walk the small but pretty lake, following a clockwise direction. Halfway round we caught up with two Canadian couples. One of the men asked me if I could "oblige them with a couple of photos". I said "yes, where would you like us to stand". He laughed politely and thrust a huge camera into my hand. The group organised themselves in the darkest possible shade they could find at a point where I had to stand on the edge of a small incline. I then had to have a lesson in how to use the camera before producing remarkably bad photos that they seemed to be grateful for. They took our photo and we all moved on.
The lake was full of small fish and this was quickly explained by signs informing us of part of the lake being closed due to the spawning of Rainbow Trout. Fishing is very popular but highly regulated in the Rockies.
On completion of the route round the lake we stopped for lunch. We had raided the local deli in Nesters supermarket for a salad lunch before we left Banff and laid out the food on one of the benches. Nearby, a couple accompanied each other on banjo and guitar under the shade of a tree. He looked like Dave Hill (my friend Andy's dad not the Slade Guitarist) and she looked like the woman who throws cats at people in the Simpsons. The sound was pleasant enough although the odd bum note played by Dave Hill sounded like his partner had thrown one of her cats.
By the time we left half of Banff seemed to have turned up to enjoy the sunshine by the lake including more old people with stringed instruments who proceeded to talk about their favourite chords and debate how far a cat could be thrown but still land on its paws.
After dropping the car off at the hostel we took a walk under the other side of Tunnel Mountain on the Hoodoos walk. We finished off the day with al fresco supper in the park by the Bow River bridge on the corner of Banff Avenue and Buffalo Street. A nice end to a warm and pleasant Sunday in Alberta.
On my radio
A new song has been introduced to the Pulse playlist. Basically the guy is having a breakdown (or is he really?) and is using that to try to persuade his girl to give him another go. The lyrics go something like: "I'm not crazy I'm just unwell, I'm not crazy just a little impaired but if you stay around I'll get better and you will remember what I used to be like."
Now there have been classic songs dealing with madness - Paranoid by Black Sabbath, Madness by Prince Buster and Insania by Peter Andre but none of them were used for pulling.
I am sorry but if he is genuinely suffering that is not a legitimate subject for a song and if he is nothing more than a little upset I would suggest that his approach is a really weird way to build a relationship.
In addition to the privately owned recreational vehicles clogging the roads and car parks (some as big as buses) every other non-pick up on the roads is a hired RV. There seems to be a difference in driving approach depending on which RV firm is chosen.
Canadream's motto is Experience Canada at your own pace and that motto is taken literally by many whose pace seems to be funereally slow. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Cruise America where the motto seems to be View the terrified occupants of the vehicles in front at your own pace as they drive as fast as they can right up to your bumper.
Until next time, keep 'em peeled.