Sunday, July 01, 2007

Rocky Mountain Road Trip: Part IV - Finally Finishing

We spent a rainy Sunday morning in Banff browsing through shops and doing laundry. Banff is currently "Refreshing." This means massive amounts of construction, mess, noise, and inconvenience. They've marketed the whole project in a very cute way, with signs like "Please don't mind our mess; we're Refreshing!" and some squirrel mascots with paint brushes, tape measures, and the like. After lunch the weather appeared to be clearing a bit, and we headed up to Lake Louise. We rented a canoe and explored the lake that way with an amazing view of the glacier and the Fairmont Chateau. We then decided to take a little hike and accidentally found the trail to a tea house. I remembered reading that this was something one could do, and it was terrific. I never realized how refreshing tea could taste, but it's the perfect beverage at the end of a very steep climb that includes tramping through snow and ends at a semi-frozen lake.

Monday, we left the Canadian Rockies and hit the prairies. We drove around (but not through) Calgary. They also had a lot of constrution ("keeping Calgary moving"), but as it made us move very very slowly through a lot of traffic, I was not at all charmed as I was by the Refreshing. After our last boarder crossing into the US where it took us an hour to crawl through, we were a bit surprised by the almost deserted cross into Montana. We then camped at Rising Sun on the east side of Glacier National Park. We finished our dinner just in time for a Ranger program on wolves. As he was walking through camp telling everyone that he'd be giving a program, I was dubious that anyone would go, but it looked like just about everyone in the camp was there (except the girls out partying who would loudly return later; they really missed out as the park ranger was pretty cute). Despite being told that bears frequent that particular campsite, we didn't see or hear any that night and I survived my first camping experience of the trip.

The next morning we drove around the south end of the park as the road through was still closed and entered the west enterence to the park where we managed to get a campsite at Sprague Creek, a small campground right on the lake. We then went on an amazing hike, about 8 1/2 miles round trip with a 2200 foot elevation gain. We saw at least a dozen deer, some from as close as 20 feet away. We made it to the Continental Divide, although we didn't have the time or the energy to tramp through more snow along the divide. On the hike we spoke to a few fellow hikers who had recently completed a 50 mile trail run. Nothing like a little hike as a cool down to a race like that. After our hike, we were pretty grimy and managed to find showers at a KOA campground then stumbled upon an amazing restaurant where we had a delicious gourmet meal (pork chops and white fish), not the iceberg-with-ranch and overcooked chicken and baked potato we thought we'd be getting.

Wednesday, we headed home. A long drive made longer as we crawled the last 10 miles home through traffic. The end.


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