Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Beyond Hope - 49° 21' 52" N 121° 32' 03"

The little town of Hope, BC is often derided as we whiz by on our way to or from visiting rellies on the West Coast, but we never get tired of making note that we are now both Beyond Hope.

Ho ho ho!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Burgess Shale - 51° 25' 59" N 116° 28' 00" W



The Burgess Shale Fossil Bed is a large deposit of Cambrian sea-creatures. Yes, this mountain top was once-upon-a-time, the seabed.  The area is protected and can only be entered with a permit, or in our case, with a guide!

Under a cloudy sky that was threatening rain, we met our Parks Canada guide, Amy, at 7am (groan) in Field.  She was perky, chipper and managed to get us all in a good mood about trudging up nearly 800 vertical metres of mountain in what could have been a wet, cloudy day.  We started up the trail and the lower slopes of Mount Stephen, working our way through the lush forest; it was quite spongy underfoot.  A lot of moss and tiny lilies.  This side of the Divide gets a lot more rain.

And then...  we started to climb.  And climb...  Along the edge of cliffs and up ridge lines, the trail switch-backing when it could.  In the 3.6km, we gained over 800m; 200 of those in the last 300m! The weather had quietly eased off the threatening clouds as we made our way through the forest.  When we emerged above the treeline, the views back over Field to Mount Burgess and Wapta Mountain were spectacular.  However, what we were there for was underfoot.

At first glance, it looked like nothing but a rocky slope.  But every other piece of shale contained a part of a fossil, a whole fossil or several fossils.  Dozens of ancient sea creatures embedded in the rocks.  Some straight out of a science fiction movie and some remarkably familiar.  To my uneducated eyes, I found a modern day limpet! It was extraordinary.  We discovered trilobites, ostracods, hyolothids and other fascinatingly looking and named creatures. 


With gravity on our side, the hike down was not the cardio workout of the climb but careful footing and a firm pole plant required to prevent a very rapid descent. We slept very soundly.


Click to see details of the Hike Up
Click to see details of the hike up

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Whiskey Jack Hostel and the Iceline Trail - 51° 29' 25" N 116° 28' 54" W

We are putting this hike, along with a stay at the Whiskey Jack Hostel, on our to-do list with visitors.  Spectacular!


Somewhat of a tough climb up to above the treeline then the trail runs along parallel to the valley undulating up and over moraines.  The views  are spectacular across the valley to the Takakkaw Falls, the Daly Glacier and the Waputik Icefield.  The trail runs below the Emerald Glacier with views up and down the Yoho Valley.




The are a few route options.  We chose the out and back to the Iceline Summit.  Beautiful weather, blue skies with a few threatening clouds to keep the temperature down.  The rum and cokes at the picnic table back at the hostel certainly went down well!

And again, in the spirit of hosteling, it was a fire pit, s'mores and a sing-song with all the hostel guests joining in. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Castle Mountain - 51° 11' 07" N 115° 32' 53" W

Thibaud pulls away from us
Under magnificent blue skies, today's adventure was a road ride from Castle Junction to Lake Louise.  The headwind was far preferable to yesterday's drizzle and the rain has brightened the greens.  Wildflowers are out in force.  A great riding day!

Lake Louise on a sunny Summer Saturday is a gong-show!  We walked our bikes up the hill to The Chateau - it as far too dangerous to ride.  People, cars backing trying to park, kids, prams and general chaos.  The traffic was backed up past the old 1A turn-off.  The lake itself was swarming with iconic red canoes and we counted at least three weddings.  Despite the hoards, nothing can distract from the stunning beauty of the mountains and the glacier.  We even heard Thibaud utter a "wow"!


Thibaud led the charge back to Castle, and charge we did, all hitting max speeds over 60km/hr.  The magic of a downhill trend and a glorious tailwind.  In true Canadian style, it was burgers for dinner followed by s'mores and a sing-song around the fire pit.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Calgary - 51° 3' 16" N 114° 4' 46" W

New shirts to wear.  Multiple washing machines for clothes.  Books.  Our bed.  Fresh audiences for our stories.  These are all things that we've missed but now have available to us.  It is good to be back in Calgary.

We have a passenger on the Collins Fun Wagon, in the person of a 14-year-old French lad named Thibaud.  He has come to improve his already-good English ... and to experience our corner of Canada.  We have all returned just in time for the Stampede, that will be a good starting point for the Western Canadian way of life.  Even though we don't normally walk around in cowboy boots and oversized belt buckles all year, we take visitors to the Stampede to touch the rural history of our area.  The agricultural fair; pancake breakfasts; the midway - we're on our way!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Luxembourg - 49° 36' 25" N 06° 08' 10" E

A new country for both of us and only a two hour drive. How could we resist heading to Luxembourg for lunch?  The EU borders are so anti-climatic these days - just a "Welcome To" sign and, if you are lucky, a bump in the pavement. No more exciting than crossing from Alberta to BC and yet, here we were in a different country!

The temperature soared into the high 30s so we parked in the cool of an underground parkade and scurried into the fabulous Musée d'Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg.

In the subterrainian cool of its five levels, we learned about both the city's thousand year history and that of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. For such a tiny country, it has the distinction of having the world's highest GDP per capita and is officially trilingual!

We braved the early evening heat and explored the Grund quarter on the Alzette River.  Lovely old buildings, deep in the gorge looking up at the Old Town.  Beautiful (and cool) parks weave along and down into the river gorges, criss-crossed by paths. Centuries-old fortifications, cobbled streets, quaint houses, ducks on the river and Michelin Star restaurants. The Grund has it all. Imagine living in a place like this!  From the sleekness and glossiness of the cars, we are guessing this is not the cheap end of town!




Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Alsace - 48° 29' 26" N 07° 29' 27" E

Burgers, baked potatoes - fully-loaded, Caesar salad and s'mores. All washed down with a local crémant. Canada Day, Alsatian style!!