Day Nineteen

Today the rain was all cleared away with hardly a cloud in the sky! Angie and I started off the day at my dear friend Tim’s house. Poor Megan had her heli tour cancelled because it was a little cloudy starting off, so she met us at Tim’s so we could come up with a game plan.

Megan said that Lake Minnewanka was supposed to be very pretty, so we drove out that way. We saw no wildlife at all on the way there, with the exception of geese, which are not even a little exciting (just threatening). We stopped at Two Jack Lake on the way. It was a really deep green color, and Megan was able to explain what it was that causes it, which brings us to…

Weird Things I Learned from Other Travelers Today:

The distinct blue or greenish color of glacial lakes is the result of “rock flour,” a fine dust created as glaciers scrape up rocks trapped beneath them. As glaciers recede, they push out the rock flour, which gets into run-off and settles into the lakes and rivers. Refraction of light against the flour is what causes the color.

After ogling Two Jack Lake (and enjoying the red chairs there), we continued on our way to Lake Minnewanka. There were a few hikes by the lake, but only one that we could do in time to get Megan back to her hostel: Stewart Canyon. It was an easy hike, not too steep, and ended at a bridge that overlooked the river that fed the lake. On the way we saw some squirrels and chipmunks (Megan now knows the difference between the two). We turned around after the bridge to go back to the car, with a quick stop for snacks and picture in the red chairs.

We dropped Megan off to catch her bus to Jasper, then drove out to Cave and Basin National Historic Site, which is the home of Parks Canada. The eponymous cave and basin were the first set of hot springs in the Banff area that people came to visit. The historic site was built into the old bathing house and swimming pool area. They had cool displays not only about the cave and basin, but also about the history of the whole Parks Canada system. They also had red chairs, of course.

A visit to such a place wouldn’t be complete without another edition to…

Weird Things I Learned from Other Travelers (or Exhibits) Today:

There is a breed of snail that only lives in the hot springs of Cave and Basin: the Banff Hot Springs Snail. One thing that makes this snail so interesting is that their shells serial to the left, rather than the right, which is the usual direction in other breeds of snails.

We were hungry after Cave and Basin, so we went back into town and back to the Rose and Crown because they had fish and chips on special and Angie was craving them. We started out on their rooftop patio, which was nice, only they weren’t serving the specials out there and despite a generous gifting of sunblock from the staff, I was getting a little crispy. We moved inside (I still got a burn from the window) to enjoy our lunch.

After a quick stop back at the hotel, we decided to go check out Johnston Canyon, since we’d heard good things from Megan and from some Explore Rockies employees. The hike there was amazing — almost as amazing as the grizzly bear we saw on Bow Valley Parkway on the way out there! It was just wandering around the side of the road, so Angie pulled over and I jumped out of the car (leaving the door open for a quick escape) to take pictures!

The was very easy, mostly along a catwalk that had been installed in one of the canyon’s sides that hung over Johnston Creek. We hiked to the lower falls and went through a cool little viewing cave before going on to the upper falls and turning around. There was a ton of awesome things to see along the way. If you go to Banff, do this hike!

We took a quick snack break after the hike before trying to head back to Banff. Unfortunately, we missed the window to go back on the parkway, because it closes at 8:00 pm to prevent wildlife disruption. We wound up having to drive all the way to Lake Louise to get on the Trans-Canada back to Banff.

Once we got back we had a little down time. I took a quick soak in the tub and watched The 100 while Angie went to the spa across the street. I was getting ready to turn in for bed when Angie got back and asked if I wanted to get pizza. We walked up to Boston Pizza and spent a little time there before heading back to get ready for bed.

I’m not sure what the plan is for tomorrow, but I think we’ll hike Sulphur Mountain and take the gondola at some point!

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