Friday, June 5, 2009

Trek Through the Banff Wilderness

My weekend was spent camping out in Banff National Park. My buddy, Dylan, chose our camping ground which was at a place called Two Jack Lake. I stipulated that showers and toilets were a must, even though I could have gone without them I decided I didn't want to. 

Our campground was amazing. We had the lake right beside us and it was just full of lush, green trees. I talk a lot but I have to say, seeing this lake I was absolutely breathless. The photos are gorgeous but still don't do it the justice it deserves. 

We set up our tent, well, actually Dylan tried setting up the tent and I wandered off to find a washroom and came back 10 minutes later to find him still struggling with the tent... so, I check it out and have the tent set up in about 30 seconds flat.


Dylan was a little peeved that I managed to figure out the tent so fast and he kept asking if I was really sure the tent was supposed to be set up the way I had set it up - mind you, his way of setting up the tent kind of involved stretching the tent into odd shapes which were really obviously wrong and my way was pretty simple. I was pleased with myself ;) 

We ended up doing that trail, Johnston Canyon, which I was excited about doing last time I went to Banff but Kylie whinged about breaking her ankle over.... It was really pretty. We walked along and saw these gushing waterfalls and we could go into this tiny cave which led directly in front of the waterfall and we could feel the spray of the water. It was nice but so cold! 

We were then going to drive up to Lake Louise to take a photo cos the ice had since melted on the lake but decided to go to Banff and get our supplies - which pretty much consisted sausages, ingredients for s'mores and booze. 

It was a good thing we continued to drive because we saw more elk (we'd already seen them earlier in the day and I may or may not have turned into a rambling mess of excitement that couldn't sit still). At one stage, we saw our second herd of elk when driving past in our vehicle. They were on the opposite side of the road, so pulled over (probably not in the safest way, I was too excited).. jumped out of the car and slowly ran over to take a photo... I promptly got scared after I asked Dylan if it was safe and he advised me not to get too close to the elk... so, I ran back to the car, jumped in, reversed, changed direction and took photos of the elk out of the car window - we had to keep accelerating because the elk kept walking and munching on leaves so we had follow them so I could get the perfect shot! 

We also saw big horned sheep

and a chipmunk (on our walk of Johnston Canyon) so I was feeling pretty excited about all the wilderness at this stage! 

As we kept driving we ended up upon this trail. I like to drive, randomly, and I find that these are the times you find really cool things... which we did. We jumped out of the car and saw this trail - Upper Bankhead it was called. It was getting late but we still had a fair bit of time before it got dark so Dylan and I started this trail. It was 4.2kms each way so we knew we weren't going to do the entire thing but figured we'd check it out and if it was nice we'd go back the following day. It was more like a real trail, meaning it wasn't paved like Johnston Canyon, which was more what we were after. So, we walked up a bit and Dylan freaked me out by telling me that we were probably within 500m of a bear.. so, of course, after that I kept "hearing" bears. As we kept walking on the trail, it got narrower and the trees began to close in a little more and we heard a coyote... which promptly freaked me out even more and we decided (okay, I decided) it was time to go back... well, it was starting to get darker and Dylan also told me that this was the time when bears were feeding - awesome! I wanted to see a bear, not get eaten by one! 

We were just about out of the trail and could pretty much see the parking lot from where we were standing... and all of a sudden we heard the trees rustle (Dylan later told me he thought it was a bear) and out pops this white tailed deer... it runs right in front of us and leaps over a fallen tree branch which must have been over 2 meters high and bounds off into the forest. It was amazing. Again, I was speechless. I looked over at Dylan and asked him in absolute awe "did you see that?" and he was also a little speechless and said "yep"... It was the most amazing thing on our trip. The photo below shows me standing in front of the spot where the deer bounded over... 

Because it happened so fast there was no way we could have gotten a photo. So, we headed back to our campsite, we walked around the lake and discovered that the lake water was literally crystal clear and we brought plastic cups along our walk and we drank the lake water... it was some of the best water I've had. So clear and fresh. We even saw fish jumping out of the lake and could hear their plop as they landed back in the water.

Headed back to the campfire, stuck our sausages on a metal skewer we bought from Safeway and then after cooking and splitting one open, we realised the Canadian fire pits are pretty awesome and have a little side thing for actually BBQing things so we quickly put the other sausages on to BBQ instead of holding them on these dodgy little skewers, burning our fingers. We cooked up some s'mores (Dylan was impressed, he'd never had them before) and drank our vodka with sourpuss and apple juice (my creation, which he was also impressed with). 

(Dylan set the timer on the camera and the flash went off as I had a big 
gob of sausage in my mouth! Attractive!)

On Sunday morning, I woke up with massive cramps and was in so much pain I cried... so we had to cut our trip short and ended up getting home at 9am which I was so sad about because there was so much else to do out there but we agreed to go camping this weekend and we were going to go back to the same place but then Dylan suggested we go to Fernie, B.C which to me, sounds amazing. There are SO many camping spots out there that it makes me not want to go back home because they are all just so amazing. Next time I am hoping to see a bear and a moose (hopefully from the safe confines of our car rather than on a trail) but I am pretty pumped. Dylan actually said I am lucky with spotting wildlife, he said he'd never seen as many animals as he had out with me - even in Calgary, we spotted baby squirrels yesterday and baby Canadian Geese so a bear we shall definitely see! Love camping and had a blast on our trip even if it was short lived.

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