Monday, March 02, 2009

Our Westward Ho

(2. Slept under the stars ... not quite ... part 3)

This is one reason why I don't do well with memes. This is the third post on the second point of one hundred on the list. Can you imagine me attempting the whole meme? All one is supposed to do is to make bold the items on the list that you have completed. But, oh no, I have to do it my way.

I was a geography who didn't get to travel much, but nine years ago, we took our tiny, old Corolla thousands of miles out west. It was to be a long vacation, so one had to mind one's expenses; therefore, we did a lot of camping. We camped on the Canadian Shield and on the Prairies on the way out, and we camped in the Rocky Mountains for about a week while we were out in Alberta.

I kept a journal and later, before the era of blogs, or at least before I knew about them, I turned my journal into my first website, Westward Ho, which, warts and all, is still online here. I didn't know what I was doing at the time, so it's not a great website, but what the heck, ite still works for the most part although better in Internet Explorer than Firefox.

I absolutely loved the trip, camping and all. In fact, camping was a large part of the experience. I'm almost a decade older now and am pretty sure that I wouldn't do it again, especially having a not-so-good experience since then, but it was super back then. It's rather amazing in a way when I contemplate it now, that a couple in their fifties would pack up an old little Corolla like we did and push it to the extreme, but we did it, and it was great.

Here is one entry cut and pasted from the website: nothing special, in fact badly written we a ton of "we dids" and "we wents" etc" — just what we did and saw on one particular day.

August 1: Camping at Lake Louise

I am sitting at the Lake Louise campgrounds on a gorgeous day: sunny with a few scattered clouds and a temperature of about 25°C. There is a breeze that actually makes it a little cool when a cloud passes over. The sun is also starting to dip behind the treetops and will soon force me to move from the picnic table to the very handy camp chair that Thesha gave me for Father’s Day. Before I make the monumental effort to move into the warmth, I must devote myself to finishing the humungous chocolate chip cook that Cuppa bought this morning at the Lake Louise Village.

.... I have now finished my cookie, moved into the sunshine, and it is still cool enough for me to pull on a sweatshirt. Except, as soon as I write that, the breeze dissipates, and I become a trifle warm. Regardless — back to the journal.

Since we had left the car packed for the most part after getting back to Althegal's place, we were able to get an early — for Anvilclouds — start. We were packed and in the car by 9:30. We made our usual Tim stop around Althegal’s corner and again in Canmore. We were in the line-up at Lake Louise campground by 12 noon. We had a bit of trouble pitching the tent because it took a while to pound tent pegs into the rocky ground, but everything was set by about 2:30.

With time on our hands, we decided to visit Yoho again. We found the Natural Bridge on the Kicking Horse River. It is simply a place where the torrent has pounded its way through the rock, but left and overhanging rock bridge (and semi-waterfall), and will, someday, become just a gorge or chasm.

Further up the winding road, we came to Emerald Lake, which is yet another gorgeous, turquoise, glacial-fed lake. We walked around a bit, took pictures and saw some wild lupines. There was a restaurant and tourist shop, but we managed to avoid buying anything. Through a telescope we were able to see the Burgess Shale in the distance. Many years ago a geologist discovered this important site where Cambrian fossils, about 500 million years old, were lifted high into the mountain peaks.

We made another pit stop at a teahouse/tourist store in Field. We had cookies outside by the river and mountains. We bought some postcards and proceeded back toward Lake Louise, determined to finally spot the Kicking Horse Pass lookout at the Continental Divide. We missed it — must be on a side road somewhere. Although we were unable to note the exact spot of the Divide, we did see that the river was flowing west; after a few more minutes driving east, we noticed that the river was also was flowing east.

Rather than return to camp, we ventured onward to Moraine Lake, which is about 20 km from Lake Louise. The road was winding and bumpy but scenic. We were right on the edge of the mountain on a number of occasions.

Moraine Lake turned out to be very blue rather than the familiar turquoise of mountain lakes because it, for the most part, does not originate from glacial meltwater. The blues kept shifting, depending on the directness of the sunlight. What with all of the shifting and all of the damnable tourists, it was difficult to get any decent photos, but we tried.

After shopping for a bit, we drove back to our campsite and made more sandwiches. Of course, we had cookies and fudge too and a tin of mandarin oranges, which tasted pretty fantastic.

I almost forgot a pretty significant event that we only witnessed on tape. While we were touring in the afternoon, Hans, our neighbour in the campsite to the north of ours, recorded some significant footage on his camcorder. We were astounded to peer into his viewfinder to see a huge elk grazing contentedly all around our tent. Hans is from St. Catharines, Ontario, has stayed here many times and has seen the elk several times. He says that he has been here during a snowstorm in August and also when the campground had to be evacuated because two bears were spotted lurking about. I hope I can miss the both the snow and the bear!


Jinksy said...

Hats off to the intrepid explorers - but the scenery must have made the efort worthwhile..

Woman in a Window said...

You brave and wondrous souls. Lucky, too, I'd say.