Sunday, July 11, 2010

Banff 2 and Segment II

We were pleasantly surprised to see sunshine when we woke today. It was a beautiful morning, made even better by the fact that we’d get to shower for a second consecutive day. Our goal for the day was to climb Big Beehive, a mountain located behind Lake Louise. The forecast of rain encouraged our early start. We packed up the campsite and Jared and Greg organized their bags for their flights back home later in the evening. Then we headed over to Lake Louise which was Asian tourist central. It really sounded more like you’d anticipate Hong Kong to be like than Canada. We were the only people speaking English as we walked through the corporatized lakefront along the edge of the Fairmont Hotel. Canada just doe s a bad job managing its national parks. They seem to be managed more like Disney World than a natural attraction and it’s a let down to see such a beautiful place squandered and exploited as Canada has done. Sure there are nicer comforts to the Canadian style but this detracts from the ability to find peace and rejuvenation in nature.
The hike was 5.3 km each way and we generally flew through it. The first part wound up to a “tea house” where hikers could enjoy English tea overlooking a waterfall and Lake Morriane. We then delved deeper into the hike, climbing incredibly steep switchbacks to reach our vista. The glacial water looks even bluer from above. We took pictures and some video of local birds playing and then headed down as the rain clouds were pouring in. As we left we heard a huge thundering boom. We were initially very worried that we’d be climbing back down in a thunderstorm. But then we noticed that the sound came from an avalanche on a glacier above to our left. We watched the snow cascade and then headed down the switchbacks. There, another hiker noticed Jared’s Georgetown hat. It turns out that he is a semi-retired 40 year old who is touring the national parks on his own for about 7 weeks this summer. He is aiming to get back for the Dave Matthews show in DC on the 24th. About that time we started to feel sprinkles. We started run/walking down the mountain and made it down in an hour and 10 minutes. Not bad! It was only about 1pm and their flight was not until 1am. But since the weather was bad we headed east towards Calgary. We did make a stop in the town of Banff which is a combination of Bar Harbor and M Street in Georgetown. It was a fun place with a beautiful backdrop. We bought a few souvenirs and headed to Calgary where we found a Chinese Buffet. Though pricey, it was pretty good food and held us for the rest of the day. I dropped Jared and Greg off at the airport and began part II of my journey.
I made a mad dash for the US border since hotel rooms in Calgary are out of this world expensive. The cheapest one I could find was $185 which was ridiculous. I made it to the border at around 12:00AM and promptly called Kristie because I’d missed her! I felt kind of bad because I think I woke her up from a sound sleep since it was 3am but it was great to talk to her after nearly 3 days in Canada. As I came through the border, I pissed off the customs agent. They had red flashing lights on the side of the approach. I didn’t realize that they meant to stop 50 feet prior to the inspection station and he yelled to me “don’t they have stop signs in Maine!?” After a brief apology, things went much better and I was through there in no time. The first town I came across in Idaho was Bonners Ferry. There are 4 hotels in the town and all were full. The first hotel with an opening was another half hour down the road. While overpriced at $69, it was time to stop so I bit the bullet and enjoyed sleeping in a bed for the first time in a week.

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