Monday, November 11, 2013

Autumn in the Mountains

Trip Dates: October 2013

There was a beautiful Indian Summer here in southern Alberta and we took full advantage of the great weather.  For three weekends in a row in October we enjoyed family and friends visiting us from Regina.  All of them wanted to get out to the mountains while they were in town, so obviously we obliged!

The first group of people in town were our friends, Sharon and Janson.  You can read about our day-hike with them in my previous post titled, Return to Larch Valley.  Up next was Christine's family, who were all in town over the Thanksgiving long weekend.  Christine's brother was just staying for the weekend, while her parents were passing through as part of a longer trip to Canmore, Banff, and eventually Lake Louise.

We started the day by doing the hike up to The Vault east of Canmore near Lac des Arcs.  This was the second time Christine and I had done this hike, but nobody else had been up to it before.  If you would like more detailed information about the history of the vault and why it's there, please see my previous post titled, The Vault.  

Getting ready in the Heart Creek parking area
You can see the top of Heart Mountain in the distance
Beautiful fall colours
The first part of the hike follows the Trans-Canada Trail
A large canine track.  Could this be from a member of the elusive Bow Valley wolf pack?
The vault is located on Mt. McGillivray
Entrance to the vault
Jerry inside the vault
This was something I didn't notice the first time I was here; large clusters of Daddy Longleg Spiders
There were literally thousands of spiders grouped together throughout the vault.  A quick Internet search revealed this grouping behaviour is to help with climactic changes and/or to ward off predators.  
The main tunnel that leads back outside
Rosemary and Jerry during the hike back to the cars
Crossing some debris from the spring floods
Recently I did a story for Calgary Is Awesome called Mystery on Mount McGillivray featuring this mysterious vault.

After the hike we headed across the Trans-Canada Highway to the Lac des Arcs day-use area.  Here we had a bonfire, a picnic lunch, and thoroughly enjoyed the weather before driving into Canmore.

Lac des Arcs day-use area
Roasting smokies over the fire and Jerry was able to try out his new Coleman stove!
Canmore's mountain scenery
Policeman's Creek flowing through town
The very next weekend my parents were in town for a visit.  They wanted to spend the day in Banff seeing some of the sites.  We started by driving up to Lake Minnewanka.  The windless day made for some great photos!

Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka has countless years of history associated with it.  For more than 100 centuries people have hunted and camped along the shores.  The Stoney people called the lake "Minn-waki", which roughly translates to "Lake of the Spirits".  The Stoney respected and feared the lake for its resident spirits.  Early Europeans referred to it as Devil's Lake.

The first building to be built on the shoreline was the "Beach House"; a log hotel erected in 1886.  By 1912 a summer village, called Minnewanka Landing, had been established.  SCUBA divers are the only ones who can visit Minnewanka Landing today as the entire town is under water.  Lake Minnewanka was dammed at least three times.  The first time was in 1895, then again 1912, and finally in 1940.  Collectively the dams raised the water level 25 metres and increased its area by fifty percent, making it the largest lake in Banff National Park.

Mount Inglismaldie standing above the lake
The lake is 28km long and 142m deep
The current dam at the end of the lake with Cascade Mountain looming above
Our next stop was at the ghost town of Bankhead.  Bankhead flourished as a coal-mining town between 1903 and 1922, but all that remains are a few crumbling foundations.  Unfortunately when we arrived at the parking lot we discovered that the whole area was closed for electrofishing.  Since I had no idea what electrofishing was, I had to look it up.  As it turns out, electrofishing is a common scientific survey method where scientists will use electricity to stun fish before they are caught.  When performed correctly electrofishing results in no permanent harm to the fish being studied.  You can read more about the history of Bankhead, as well as view numerous photos, at my previous post titled, Bankhead.

The only site we were able to visit was Bankhead's Holy Trinity Church.  All that remains of the church today are the stone steps.  
After enjoying lunch in Banff we stopped at Bow Falls.  This was our last stop of the day before heading back to Calgary for the evening.  Needless to say we all enjoyed a great day in Banff.

Bow Falls on the Bow River
The view downstream from the falls with Mount Rundle on the right
Bow Falls is 9m tall and 30m wide

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