Sunday, November 20, 2011

October 7, 2011 "Don't Be Stupid Wear Your Helmet" - Mom

I started today at Vermillion Lakes. Today is different than any other day on this trip. No it isn't because the sun is shining. Once again, as you can see in this picture, the clouds are obscuring the mountains in the background. Today, I am on my own. Chrissy is attending a bear conference for the rest of this trip. Now I will explain the title of today's blog. Last year I got hurt riding my mountain bike. I ruptured an artery in my leg that required surgery. I wasn't wearing a helmet and even if I had a helmet on, I would still have ruptured that artery. But as I reported on my blog earlier this year, (but did not tell my mother, Chrissy did) I did fall down a ravine while mountain biking and knocked myself out. I did not have a helmet on that day either. So now the big joke is that I'm not allowed to do anything on my own without wearing a helmet. When I left the hotel this morning Chrissy said she was calling my mom because I didn't have my helmet. Then she said make it look like an accident because she collects double from my insurance policy if I die in an accident.
There are supposed to be moose at Vermillion Lakes but all I found was low clouds and a heavy rain. Decided to drive the Bow Vally Parkway looking for some sunshine.
 The concierge, Allan Kucey at the Delta Calgary Airport Hotel had given us a list of waterfalls to check out on our trip. I decided to hike to the Silverton Falls on his list.
 The Silverton Falls are just past the more popular Johnston's Canyon and it was still raining so I had the trail to myself.
 I hiked along the creek at first because I was not sure which way the trail went. There were several unmarked forks in the trail.
 There were downed trees in the creek and along the trail.
 Eventually I figured out that I had to climb uphill to find the waterfall that I could hear but not see while below the canyon.
 My attempt at an artistic shot. I stood on the rocks and held the camera on my boots.
 The climb up the mountain was definitely worth it.
Silverton Falls. The view from the rock outcrop above the falls was incredible.
I stopped at the Castle Mountain Internment Camp Memorial where I learned that during WWI Canada interned mostly Ukranians living in Canada as POW's. These 'prisoners' were forced to build the road between Laggan (Lake Louise) and Banff, now known as the Bow Valley Parkway. I paid my respects and continued on to Lake Louise. It was still raining so I grabbed a pastry at Laggan's Bakery and headed back to Banff.
 From the Trans Canada Highway, it looked like the clouds were clearing so I stopped at Castle Mountain.

 The clouds still obscured Castle Mountain but the sun popped through for a few minutes.
Hey I repair gas pumps for a living. I had to stop to get a picture of this old pump. I was disappionted to see it had been updated with electronic displays. If I remember correctly, this was an old Bennett pump.
I drove down to Canmore. I stopped at the Nordic Centre and at Grassi Lake. But the rain was relentless. I ate lunch at an Italian place, Luna Blue. Then I drove to the Grotto Canyon trailhead.
Somewhere in Canmore I took this picture. Not sure what it means, but I liked it.
The colors along Highway 1A were brilliant, especially the yellows.
 It was still raining at the Grotto Canyon parking lot. I took this picture from the car. I started hiking toward Grotto Canyon but it was raining too hard to take pictures. Dejected, I decided to call it a day and head back to Banff. Today was the first day on this trip that felt like I wasted it...
...for some reason I stopped to take a picture of this sign.
 Just past that sign, I saw this huge herd of Rocky Mountain Sheep.
 At first I took pictures from the side of the road...
 ...then I let others pull off to take pictures and I drove down to Gap Lake and drove to a parking lot across from the sheep.
 I sat and watched them for over an hour...
 ...a few at first, then big groups of sheep ran down the mountain and across a valley to another rocky mountain side.
 A few of the stragglers grazed just above where I had parked.

 This youngster stayed low until his mother came back down and forced him to climb uphill.
In the span of 15 minutes my wasted day turned into something special. As I watched the dynamics of this herd of sheep grazing, it felt like I was seeing something special. Every so often a group would just take off running...actually darting left and right as they ran uphill in big leaps and bounds. I never saw what spooked them. I thought it just might be a way to train the youngsters how to protect themselves. If you ever get a chance to watch wild animals in their natural environment, cancel your plans and just observe. It really is amazing.
 The view across from the sheep at Gap Lake.
I ate dinner in Banff at Coyotes. A delicious shrimp and feta enchilada with a glacier beer spelled Kokanee that I mispronounced as cocaine. After laughing the waitress said it is pronounced Ko-Ka-Nee. After walking around downtown Banff aimlessly, I stopped at the bear conference and took a picture of Chrissy answering questions about her Acres for the Atmosphere / Trees For You and Me program.

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