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Tue, 02 Sep 2014
day 17 in mountie-land, (0 comments)
there is no better way to start the day than to go to a lake. at least in canada. so after having booked our next accommodation, we headed to horseshoe lake[001-019], a rather small lake that seems to be popular in summer for swimming and cliff jumping. but today we were all alone. also there was no wind, so the reflections were wonderful on the water. the colour, purity, and cleanness of the water was stunning too; we could even see little trouts[014].
but then it started to drizzle, and we went back to our car to drive to the athabasca falls[020-038]. they are not famous for its height - which is only 22 metres - but for the huge amount of water running down the waterfall. according to an information sign there the colour of the water is greyish because it is full of "rock flour" - small and tiny rock particles - grinding and smoothing the stone, and making potholes[021,025-029] over thousands of years. it also provided information about how the water fall has moved over time, abandoning the riverbed and finding new ways around hard rocks, and how the edge of the waterfall has moved up the river because the riverbed got flushed and hollowed out.
it started to heavily rain, so we got back to the car and drove to a restaurant to have a little bite and a coffee. we had buried ourselves in our guide books to decide what to do next, so we did not notice that a guy had come to our table to warn us about a little thief scouting around from table to table to pocket crumbs and other loose stuff to eat. and just as the guy was talking to us, the cute little ground squirrel was already on nina's shoulder inspecting what our table offered. swiftly he got on the table, grabbed a small piece of my muffin, and then got out at the exit. this all happened so fast, we didn't even have time to get our cameras out. aaaaaaw, so cute. the guy then told us, that a few days ago he managed to steal cookies and other sweets. brave little rascal. although highly enraptured by the little creature, we had to go on and drove to the next falls, namely the sunwapta falls[044-055]. "sunwapta" means turbulent water, and nomen est omen. the thundering of the falls here was not as loud as the athabasca falls, but still very powerful and impressive.
while we were driving on, the clouds grew darker again, and the weather was changeable - rain, drizzle, sunlight. so far we managed to flee from the dark clouds that were following us all the way since morning. near our next destination we stopped at a viewpoint[060-072] to enjoy the magnificent landscape, with mountain peaks hidden in rain clouds.
and then there was this lovely raven[067-072] at the parking lot too, trying to find food dropped by tourists. this bird seemed less shy than all the other ravens i have spotted so far, so i gave him small pieces of our cookies, decreasing the distance between the car and the cookie crumbs steadily. and soon the raven was as close as two metres. but getting any more closer than that he did not dare. and yes, i know i should not have fed any wildlife. shame on me, but i just love to see them up close. i just really love those intelligent big birds.
driving further up the mountains we finally reached the icefield centre[092-144]. from here loads of tourist attractions start, thus the place is really crowded with hordes of tourists. we decided to do the "icefield glacier adventure tour"[094-140], which will bring us right onto the columbia icefield. although there would have also been a guided hiking tour going up from the end of the glacier to the same spot were the huge truck brought us, this way was the faster one, although we actually would have preferred the former one. and so we drove there in the ice explorer vehicle, with wheels almost as tall as me. this vehicle can also go up and down really steep terrain[134,136], but doing so it is very slow. good for us, as we got a good look around from inside the bus.
the truck let us get off right on the glacier on a straightened out area, so it somehow was walking on the glacier, but not as authentic as it was on the helicopter glacier tour we did in new zealand three years ago (oh man, that was so awesome) where we really set foot on the untreated ice. also we were a group of about eight people, where here we were around 45 people. per bus. and at one time, there were a total of three buses there. so, it gets pretty crowded up there. in summer, we were told, there's even more people. puh... but, we are tourists too after all, so no complaining about touristy things, right? so we made the best out of it, wandered around, doing a little snowball fight, and drank the pure melt water, which really tasted very pure and good. it is also said, that women (only) will look about ten years younger, once they drank the water. i wonder what nina will look like tomorrow...
one and a half hour later the tour was done and we were back to the icefield center, had another hot beverage there for warming up again after being exposed to ice and cold wind. we got on the car and drove on, when we realized we almost ran out of fuel. actually our smart car told us in the morning we would have no problems driving the distance to our next accommodation, but i guess all the time driving up the mountains cost more gasoline than the average calculation had predicted. so there was this big blinking icon warning us that we should get some fuel soon. and most likely - with the proverbial last drop - we made it to a small gas station[172], which turned out to be the most expensive gas station we have come by so far; even more expensive than any filling station in british columbia with their higher taxes. grrrrr... so we only filled up as much to get to the next city to buy cheaper gasoline.
which we than did, but before that we stopped at some more beautiful lakes, like, for example, the waterfowl lake[185-201], and bow lake[203-209] a little later. both again had a striking turquoise and greenish colour.
last lake for today was herbert lake[212-221], another lake we had to ourselves only sharing with a ground squirrel[212-216]. almost no wind meant good conditions for reflections on the water, but unfortunately it was already late, so the light was already diminishing. also, the rain has caught up with us again.
so we kept on driving and had no further stops on our way to banff, where we will stay the next nights in the "tunnel mount resort". it was already dark when we came to banff, so we have not seen much of it, but we noticed they have the street named after animals. so there is a beaver street, otter street, and a cougar and lynx street. we liked that - unfortunately our hotel is a little outside of banff, so the street did not get an animal name - too sad. dinner (or rather almost a midnight snack) was sushi from a delivery service, since all the restaurants near by had already closed, and we were lazy and hungry, so we did not drive back to town to search for a restaurant that was still opened. after eating, we got to bed as we were sooooooo tired. another exciting and wonderful day in canada. track for day 17.

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