Saturday, September 5, 2015

Day 8 - Saturday, September 6 - Glacier Park to Canmore, Alberta

Starting mileage: 2707  Starting time: 8:30 am
Ending mileage: 3103  Ending time: 5:40 pm
Travel mileage: 396 Travel time: 9 hours

It was 41 degrees in the morning, not much colder than the night before but still raining lightly - it would continue to rain all day with a few breaks, still raining when we arrived at our hotel in the evening.

There is an interesting exhibit about the three native American groups that lived in area of the park but signed treaties ceding it to the U.S. government in the late 1800s. They still aren't very happy about this and feel that they were cheated - that was probably the case.

We decided to take the famous "Going to the Sun" highway that crosses the park. This is quite an engineering marvel with the road cut into the mountains and supported by walls against the mountains. It was still raining and cloudy, obscuring the tops of the mountains but it was still spectacular. As we neared the Jackson Pass at the top, it started to snow and a snowplow coming down stopped us to say that the highway would soon be closed behind us and we shouldn't "dawdle". By the time we got to the top, there was near-zero visibility due to the heavy snow. We didn't even stop at the marker for the continental divide and continued down to the west exit.

We travelled up the west side of the park to another small border crossing into British Columbia. The terrain is considerably different as it gets more rain and is heavily wooded on the hillsides. It was apparent that there had been numerous forest fires over the years and one could see various stages of recovery. There had recently been a major fire which had closed the road we traveled on but had been extinguished by the rain we brought.  One could still smell the smoke.

We travelled up to Banff Provincial Park and back over the continental divide into Alberta. The pine bark beetle has been devastating to the Lodgepole Pine - almost all the trees were dead on both sides of the highway for over 20 miles.  It looks like the remains of a forest fire except they aren't charred. Selective burns are being used to eliminate the dead trees and allow a more diverse forest regrowth.

Our timing was not very good as it was very difficult to find a hotel in the Banff area on Labor Day weekend and we ended up paying double the normal rate at the Quality Inn Suites in Canmore, just south of the city of Banff. The desk clerk had the gaul to tell me it could have been worse as he sold our room for over $300 the year before. And the WiFi here is abysmal, too slow to upload photos for the blog. We need to stop at Tim Hortons to do anything useful on the Internet.

Day 8 route

 Recent Forest Fire in Glacier National Park

 Snowing on "Going to the Sun" highway in Glacier National Park

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