Monday, July 11, 2022

Split Lip - 51° 15' 25" N 115° 51' 03" W


Driving up Highway 1A to go hiking with friends, we came across two cars stopped in the middle of the road. We stopped behind them scanning the verges and bushes for animals as animal sightings are the usual reason cars stop in the middle of the road. 

And there, lumbering through the flowers and brush was the biggest grizzly I've ever seen.  And not just any grizzly but the infamous Bear #136 - Split Lip.  Instantly recognizable by the large scar, Split Lip is one of the two dominant male grizzlies in The Valley. He is about 18 years-old and enormous. It was such a privilege to see him up close - and from our car rather than from the saddle of a bike!


Split Lip 
Photo Credit: John E. Marriott

He was in his element, completely comfortable and literally at home.  The fact that the road cut through his domain seemed irrelevant to him.  Rather than try to capture the essence of the moment with a camera, we both immersed ourselves in the experience of seeing this majestic, huge animal lumber through the grass and dandelions beside the road.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Royal Tyrrell Museum - 51°28'45"N 112°47'32"W

Sometimes when we challenge people to "try and find us," they are successful!

After returning from France, we had a few weeks to reacquaint ourselves with Canmore, settle into our lives ... and ready the guest rooms!  Florence and Lou had made plans to come to Canada (for Lou's FIRST trip away from Europe) at the end of her school year.  We couldn't wait to show them around the Rocky Mountains.


Jet-lagged and fresh from the airport, they have no idea what they are in for!


The day after picking Florence and Lou up from the Calgary Airport and giving them a night's rest, the Canadian Experience began.  They met the Pettigrew family, bringing together two important parts of our world.   Megan, Ali and Lou got along famously, as did the rest of us.  Having the girls together helped Lou's already-excellent English get even better.  Along with the expected Canmore activities, we also made a trip into Calgary and to the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum in Drumheller.  So much fun!


Dinosaurs!

Dinosaurs AND ice cream!

What sort of Rocky Mountain tour guides would we be if we didn't include some hiking and animal spotting in our Canadian Experience?  We managed to produce elk, deer, marmots, ground squirrels, rocky mountain sheep and even a baby black bear ... asleep in the ditch!


A heard of elk crossing the road at the Banff Springs loop

It wasn't all fun and games, though.  Kate volunteers with Community Cruisers and ensures that the Bike Parking service at the Thursday Farmers' Market is properly staffed.  With two able-and-willing new French recruits, it was an easy task during their stay.  Doing the bike parking really isn't arduous.  In fact, it is very social and the day goes by quickly ... even when the weather is a bit glum!

 

Kate and Lou staying dry at bike parking


One of the adventure-within-an-adventure was a day of canoeing on Vermillion Lakes.  Starting from Banff, we paddled up Ten Mile Creek, portaged across a beaver dam and paddled across the first two lakes.  There were plenty of water fowl amoungst the reeds in the wetlands.  The weather co-operated as well and we had picture-perfect blue skies. 

 

Canoeing over a beaver dam? Can't get much more Canadian than that!

Cycling was a big part of the trip, too.  We find that you can cover so much terrain by bicycle without losing touch with being in the environment.  It's our preferred method of getting around the Bow Valley - summer or winter.  Lou and Florence took to velos as we readily as we do (in fact, we wouldn't be surprised to hear of Lou attempting some bigger rides when she gets back to France).  We used bikes to sightsee, get to picnic sites and from town to town.


Out to Cascade Ponds on a perfect day for a picnic!




One of the disadvantages of our trip to France in April was that we missed the end of the ski season at Sunshine Village ... or so we thought.

The 2021-22 season had been soooo good that even though most of the resort staff had finished working at the end of May, the awesome snowpack had refused to melt.  That meant that for the first time in thirty-five years, Sunshine was able to open for a week of summer skiing across both Florence's birthday (June 29) and Canada Day (July 1st).  To beat the inevitable mobs that would ascend the hill on July 1st, we celebrated Flo's birthday by whooshing down the cornsnow.  Most of the runs were closed, but a sizeable swath from the top of the Strawberry chair to the Village base were open.  We spent the whole day riding the boards.

The best skiing Canada has to offer ... in June!

We did firepits, time at the Calgary Stampede (and parade), a drive north on the Icefield Parkway, and usually finished off with lounging on the deck at Chateau Collins.  At the end of their trip, we returned them to the airport with a wider understanding of what Kate and Sean are up to when they are not in the serene settings of Alsace.  I'm sure they had fun and don't think they have seen the last of the Rocky Mountains!


VERY scenic at Moraine Lake

Flo and Lou take over the kitchen at Chateau Collins


Canada Day Parade on bicycles with Community Cruisers

 
Horses and horses and horses at the Stampede Parade


Lou and Kate entering the Stampede Grounds


Peyto Lake.  À la prochaine, Canada!