Calgary – 7

A good nights sleep for both of us and a beautiful morning to wake up to. Breakfasted and showered we set off for Bow Lake to attempt the glacier.

We stopped once on route to take a photo of a valley and lake nestled below the highway, it was covered in a cauldron of cloud, a few other travellers had stopped too with the same thought in mind. Our destination was only around 35km away so it wasn’t long before we were pulling into the public car park by the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge. This is very picturesque wooden hotel on the banks of the lake. It appears to be a popular site for tour buses to pull in and spend 20 minutes taking photos of the lake and mountains.

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Kitted up we set off along the trail that would take us towards the glacier. The waters on the lake were as still as glass, just begging for the camera click, but I resisted as I had taken enough the day before. The trail took us along the shore of the lake occasionally meandering into the tree line to avoid marshy areas. It was a gorgeously hot day and it wasn’t soon before my fleece disappeared into my backpack. We were passed by one rather fit Canadian woman and in turn we passed an elderly asian couple on the lake section of the trail.

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We reached the end of the lake by way of a moraine field,which had a small river twisting and turning through its rocky bed. Here was the beginning of the upward slope, through the trees and among large boulders. Strenuous going but luckily mostly in shade from the tower of a mountain to our left. Up and up we went, sometimes holding onto roots to gain purchase until we eventually met the river again at the top of a narrow but very deep gorge. Fast, thundering water gushed along its bottom.  It was refreshing to be back into the sunshine but we still had short way to go up before the terrain flattened out and we emerged through the tree line above a vast corrie (haven’t a clue what the Canadians call this feature).

We could see a waterfall tumbling over a huge cliff across the other side and the river it fed, winding down into the bowl only to split into several small streams which meandered here and there before joining again into one body at the mouth of the chasm which we were standing.

We followed the trail to the base of the waterfall, meeting again the Canadian girl and a young asian couple on their return journey. We exchanged pleasantries as we passed.

On reaching the waterfall we were disappointed to see that there was no way up from the corrie to the glacier which was now hidden from view above the cliff. We climbed up the waterfall to get a better view and to take photos. Jamie managed to reach the very first cascade, and built his own way marker of a little pile of stones. I doubt there will be many reaching that.

When we met again at the bottom of the falls we decided to traverse the scree slope to our left to see if there was a route that would top the cliff and take us on to the glacier. Scree climbing is a difficult and dangerous activity and this proved true! Progress up the first shallow angled part went easily but as expected grip became harder to attain as the angle increased and size of rocks decreased. Any slip usually ends with a rapid slide into an uncontrolled tumble. At this height, that will be a long way (3000m).

Jamie managed to reach the low crest of the slope up against a buttress that looked from below as it might afford a route up to the ice. Just short of the crest I couldn’t get any more grip, and several times had a mini-slip. I carefully made my way back down the slope. Jamie followed a few minutes later.

On our descent Jamie slipped and his knee buckled. In pain he made his way down the rest of the slope sliding on his bottom. Then miraculously as the ground levelled out he managed to stand and his knee clicked back in.

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We made our way across the corrie to the chasm where the water once again threw itself into the air for the second time. Looking up we saw that our scree climbing was pointless as there was no route up from it, the scree ended in another cliff. As we descended alongside the ravine Jamie’s knee again went, this slowed our progress considerably, but eventually we made it to the lakeside. Again his knee clicked back in. However, part way around the lake on a section of pebbles, his knee gave up and this time refused to right itself.

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Eventually we made it back to the RV. After drinks, I and a hobbling son visited the restaurant in the Lodge and had soup and corn bread. We decided to head back to Banff as any more hiking was now out of the question.

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On returning to Banff we parked the RV (legally) and did a spot of shopping for that nights meal and then checked out what films were on in the cinema. We camped back at the Tunnel Mountain campsite, had showers and listened to the radio. While I wrote this blog, Jamie’s knee must have been feeling better as he chose to go for a walk around the site.

Later in the evening we went into town and watched the Ice Hockey World Cup final in a bar. Canada were taking on Europe, it is the best of three games. We watched a bit of the first game in a bar in Lake Louise last night, Canada won. The game tonight had Europe winning 1:0 until the last 5 minutes when Canada equalised and then in a power play for Europe, the Canadians broke away and scored the winner. The bar erupted and no doubt the celebrations would be going on well into the night. I wonder how many in the UK knew this world cup was going on?

Leaving the Canadians to their celebration we walked to the cinema and watched the film ‘Sully’ about the American Airways crash into the Hudson river. Worth watching.

We arrived back at the campsite just before midnight.

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