Day 3 & 4: Cory Pass; exploring Banff and Kootenay National Parks.
I know you are probably thinking shut up already about Banff Jodi… 🙂 I promise this is our last post. 😦 But seriously, you have to go there. We only had time off from work to explore for 4 days, but it was iconic.
Sunday, 10/7/18: We woke up from our second night in the hostel and headed down for breakfast. Then, we packed up shop and headed off to the Lake Louise Visitor Center to get information on what to do on our way to the town of Banff. We love getting advice from the park rangers about hikes, trail conditions, bear activity and other recommendations. They are, most of the time, very helpful.
The town of Lake Louise and Banff are about 40 minutes apart, but both are located in Banff National Park. The Trans-Canada Hwy 1 is the fastest way, but we wanted to take the more scenic route on Bow Valley Parkway 1A to take in the views and possibly spot some wildlife.
One of the many views from the road.
We decided to hike to Cory Pass. The park ranger (who lived in Banff) said it was her favorite loop hike, but she did warn us of avalanche danger from the recent snow. This trail is one of the most varied trails in Banff with many different ecosystems as you hike including forests, subalpine steep ridges, scrambling in parts on rock covered ledges, and an alpine pass currently blanketed in snow. It was supposed to be a perfectly clear day so we wanted to get up high to see for miles. The mountains were calling.
This hike started in the forest then made a steep climb quickly out of the forest with views immediately of the valley below.
That is the snow covered Cory pass at 7,709 feet in the background!
Can you spot the trail up to the pass?
Wow! A nice lunch view, huh?
Cory pass covered in snow.
The mountain in the top right of the picture above is Mt Edith. We had fun watching 2 guys head towards the summit while we were taking a lunch break.
This is at the top of the pass, looking down at the loop trail. At this point we were in about 3 feet deep of snow and decided to turn around to make it an out and back trail. We heard really good things about the loop trail, but with the avalanche danger and not having snow shoes, we decided to play it safe.
Heading back down.
This hike was amazing! It ended up being 8 miles roundtrip and about 3,530 feet of elevation gain. It was very steep in the beginning and then you traverse a bit with ups and downs and then some switchbacks at the end up to the pass. It reminded us of Mt Alice in Seward, AK because of the steepness in the beginning in the forest and then opening up to some incredible views (shout out to all our Seward friends out there, we miss y’all!!).
After the hike, we headed into the town of Banff to check into our hotel and then go try to find the elk that congregate near the town during rutting season.
The view from downtown Banff while we were in traffic. Not bad huh?
We found elk!
Just hanging out near the local baseball field. Haha! After this, we went to Banff Avenue Brewing for a well deserved beer (and bison chili with jalapeno cornbread!) and this marked the end of day 3. What a day!
Side note: Hockey is on TV AT ALL TIMES in Canada, just like football is on TV in the South or like surfing is always on TV in Hawaii. 🙂
Monday, 10/8/18: On our last day in Banff, we decided to take it easy and do some sight seeing instead of hiking. We slept in and it was glorious. We ate at the hotel and headed out to the Banff Visitor Center.
Then we walked just outside the city to Bow Falls about a mile roundtrip. After that, we walked around town and got some souvenirs and ate some Ramen.
Another side note: Every single Canadian we met on this trip was extremely nice. The rumors were true.
We left town and drove the Lake Minnewanka Loop getting out at various viewpoints to take pictures of Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, and Johnson Lake to name a few.
This is Lake Minnewanka, the largest lake in Banff National Park.
After the loop, we decided to drive about 40 minutes to Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park.
We passed the continental divide!!!
Below are pictures from Marble Canyon. This canyon was very unique and crazy beautiful with turquoise glacier melt slicing through the canyon. It had a lot of signs explaining the history behind this canyon, how it was carved out, and the different rock compositions. This hike was about a mile round trip and can be done in any kind of weather.
We loved the icy blue water.
We headed back into town and drove around to see if we could spot any more elk. We found some on a golf course! 🙂
We spent one more night in Banff and then headed out the next morning for our 10.5 hour trip back to Seattle.
One of my favorite parts of the drive was seeing all that Canada does to protect their wildlife. Their highways are lined with fencing (above) that lead to land bridges (below) for the animals to use to cross the highways.
We passed this gorgeous river on the way back.
One last picture of the wonderful larches on a hillside in Canada. 🙂
This day marked 621 miles of hiking together since marriage on 3.17.17!
We are thankful for every step.