The Mountains Are Calling…Canadian Rockies-1

Here, the mountains reign, swathed in tones of grey & sepia, crowned by milky white caps of snow. Bedecked by a plethora of flamboyant conifers in the darkest of emerald, they stand tall & proud, as if softly singing a hearty welcome. They appear similar but that’s just the mind playing obvious tricks for they’re clearly not. Some are massive & humongous, emerging stern & strict although not in a bad way, more like a doting father, brave, defiant & protective. Some wrinkled, appearing ancient, ridden with a million secrets for they’ve silently endured the tests of time. Some may come off as dubious too, their pointed peaks peering suspiciously at onlookers. And then there are some that seem tiny….young & audacious, replete with greens, providing home to the wild & the tame. Perhaps these mountains speak a a different language to each but anyone who lays eyes on these towering beauties is promised of forever remaining besotted.
It’s yet another example too, of me blindly trusting the husband’s travel instincts. A year ago as we packed our hoardings to bid goodbye to Bangalore, I caught him smiling to himself whilst looking at scenic photographs. “This is Banff” , he said. “We have to go there!”.  Allow me to shamelessly confess, that I’m more of a city girl…. The dressing, the shoes, the dinners & wines enthrall me more than I like to admit. Not that I shy away from  staying active but four days of hiking shoes & windcheaters was hardly convincing. Having said that, this isn’t the first time he has implored me to see at the world through his eyes and as always it wound up being rewarding.
The place transpires as a photographer’s dream destination and the exhilaration apparent on the husband’s face was akin to a kid squealing in Disneyland. For the rest of us, the scenes fleet like pages & pages of watercolor paintings, with solely mental clicks to rely on because there’s nothing one doesn’t want to remember.

This series is going to be covered in two parts-  Part 1 – Banff
Part 2 – Icefields Parkway & Jasper

Come, travel with us! I promise you a brilliant journey!

BANFF

Lake Moraine
The first thought that crossed my mind as I laid eyes on the water was my Amma’s(mom) Mysore Silk sari. (for those of you who don’t know, Mysore Silk saris are a rage in Karnataka. Soft, silky light drapes in vibrant colors that confer the utmost comfort. My mom, among many is a proud owner of a couple of them and maintains them meticulously!). Like the sari, the waters seemingly appeared like a silky taffeta of blue-perhaps an amalgamation of turquoise, azure & sapphire, gleaming in the morning sun. Rings of soaring trees and the Valley of the Ten Peaks replaced the shimmering gold borders of the sari.
Most things in life comes with a price & that includes hiking up a little hill (Rock Pile) bestowing a view that mesmerizes.
I make sure I carry a book with me wherever I go. For the next hour or so, I immersed in the book, encapsulated by this burst of natural beauty, accompanied by silence, the only sounds being the wafts of a flawless breeze. On a lighter note, I think that also allowed for the husband to capture these pictures without a constant chant of, “Done?”, “Done?” in the background! 😉
Lake Moraine

Lake Louise
In the inner recesses of the Banff National Park, there lies surreptitiously a hamlet called Lake Louise, a treasure trove of pristine blue nonchalant waters encircled by peaks & their conifers. The glacial fed waters are imaginably freezing. As the meltwaters make their way down they bring with them rockflour from the mountains, making the water silty. Late spring, most of the rock flour settles to the bottom of the lake over the winter ensuring only a few being suspended thereby creating an intense blue.Come summer, milky streams gush down with more rock flour and the lake mellows to a lighter green.
Lake Louise

Banff Town
Imagine a walk in the early hours of the morning….when calm & tranquil prevail, birds softly chirp away, a crisp gentle wind rustles the leaves, roads lay desolate with only a handful of people, their hands tightly wrapped around a warm cup of coffee and a view of the soaring mountains enwrapped in a white mist as they lovingly overlook every nook & corner of this little town. The main street is home to shops & lodges, the buildings displaying rustic architecture in ochre, green& brown. The prized treasure being the jaw dropping vision of the glorious mountains that appear tangible and yet so far.

The 200 Block of Bear Street deserves special mention….It’s a Woonerff! In other words, a shared street where cars, cyclists & pedestrians share the road. Festooned with benches in browns & pots exploding clusters of flowers, the place screams of spring, summer & all things happy. Clearly, pedestrians have the right of way and cars drive at a very minimum speed.The concept is not unheard of and is popular in Europe albeit slowly gaining popularity in North America. Technically spelt Woonerf but it comes as no surprise that in Banff ,they have a thing for two f’s!

Say hello to Deepak everyone!

Woonerff

Sulphur Mountain & the Banff Gondola
The Sulphur Mountain gets its name from the strong odor of sulphur emanating from hot springs at the lower base of the mountain. The Gondola (cable cars) begins at the shoulder of the Sulphur Mountain, mostly steady, except when the Wind Gods decide to  pay a visit. Temporary moments of frantic cradling and sounds of heaving whooshes can make one shudder at those heights! But, as one travels along the length of the mountain, to the summit at an elevation of 2,281 m(7486 ft), flanked by  towering conifers that lie so close to each other, almost like a tightly woven blanket, the perils of uncertainly hardly matter in those moments. At the summit, the end of a 2300m boardwalk offers a breathtaking, 360 degree view of ice capped mountains, that jut high from the earth, soaring into the sky, as if to kiss the heaven above. The clouds do a little dance over the peaks, creating a veil of mist.
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Johnston Canyon
Where the mountains lie, you hike, the Johnston Canyon being one such place. Admittedly, we’re not big hikers but spirited nonetheless and this 12km hike sure assuaged all our hiking needs for the trip. Home to the Upper Falls, Lower Falls & the Inkpots, the canyon offers a bout of freshness amid the gushing waters and tall shady trees…a relief much needed to douse the summer heat.
Spring water percolates through the sand and river gravel to form five blue green pools, rightly named the Inkpots ( Top Right Picture). Characterized by swirling circles in the sandy pool bottoms, these puddles are worth the long hike. The pebbled ground offers much respite for aching legs as do the vibrant waters, greens & surrounding mountains. But, our gnawing hunger got the better of us and mirages of warm food sent us back down faster than we expected to.
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That completes Part -1 of the series and I apologize for the lengthy narration. I assure you the next one will be shorter and I do hope you liked our experiences with the glorious Canadian Rockies! Stay tuned for Part-2 and before you sign off, do take a look see at a few travel tips…..

My “additional” two cents
– A four hour flight from Toronto took us to Calgary. Banff National Park is about an hour’s drive from there. DO NOT rent cars at the airport since they can be highly expensive. A cheaper alternative is to taxi up to the nearest Car Rental (Enterprise in our case) and rent a car of your choice for almost one third the price!

-You will need a pass to enter the Banff National Park which can be purchased at a toll booth. The cost is around 15 CAD per day and it’s valid in Jasper too.

– I wasn’t kidding about the hiking shoes & windcheaters. The weather here is unreliable owing to the high altitudes and it’s better to carry a warm jacket at all times. The rough terrain undoubtedly demands a good pair of hiking shoes.

-Lake Moraine:  Climbing up the ROCKPILE offers beautiful views of the lake but if you’re not in the mood to be adventurous, the steps at the back make the hike slightly easier.

-If you’re planning on hiking up to the Inkpots which is about a 6km hike(one way), make sure you have enough water & food stocked in your backpack. The entrance to the canyon has one snack shop but none inside.

-Ours was a 5 day trip. Here’s the itenary,
Day 1: Lake Moraine & Lake Loiuse
Day 2: Johnston Canyon & exploring Banff Town
Day 3: Breakfast & a short trip to Lake Moraine followed by a 3 hour drive to Jasper
Day4: Exploring Jasper
Day 5: Return to Calgary and back to Toronto

-If camping is not on your agenda, Banff Town is home to plenty of hotels & lodges. We sojourned at the Banff Caribou Lodge for two nights,  a rustic lodge with a ranch like ambience before heading off to Jasper.

( Check out more Pictures here: Deepak Mohan Photography)

101 thoughts on “The Mountains Are Calling…Canadian Rockies-1

  1. Oh my goodness… I’ve just gotten SO MUCH more excited about finally visiting next year!!!!!!! Those are also really helpful tips, especially about the hire car – thank you so much! And I’m glad you wrote so much – I love living vicariously through everyone’s adventures until I get the chance to do it all myself! 🙂

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    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post Jess! And yes this place shouldn’t be missed if you’re in Canada! 🙂 Do let me know if you need any more info before you begin your plans!!
      I usually keep it a decent length but this one I just couldn’t stop writing. Thank you so much for patiently reading through:)
      I agree totally with your last sentence!!!! That’s one of the reasons I love blogging:)
      Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The virtual tour of the spectacular mountains ( Now i think i must shift allegiance to his photography from your blog albeit temporarily) with the turquoise and azure blue alluring hues just like how you metaphorized with the resplendent Mysore silks ( I am not a saree person but still a huge fan of those silks – proudly owned a copper sulphate one in my college days which I carefully preserved for eons) is definitely drawing me to be your guest ( invited or uninvited regardless) and see these places to my heart’s and eyes content. The breathtaking pics accompanied by the brilliant narration ( beseech you not to snip it in the sequel) is tempting to say the least.
    I do not belong to the city brood and always wanted to be among cascades and mountains and this post further draws me away from the glitz and glamour to mnature’s idyllic surroundings.
    I better stop ogling at the places and my jabbering and preserve some for part 2 which I am waiting with bated breath!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sunita
      First of all thank you so much for taking the time to read. Your views are greatly appreciated & I wish you could see the wide smile on my face when I read your comment this morning:)
      Copper sulphate blue!!.. Yes! That’s the colour…I don’t know how I missed it:)…I still don’t own one of these saris but hopefully soon!
      Since the mountains & nature make you so happy, you should definitely visit this place and I hope you do soon 🙂 … You are always welcome:)) I’ll be happy to help in any way I can!!
      Again , Thanks a ton for stopping by😊 means a lot!:)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Divya, I am spellbound by the sheer beauty of the place……. I can look at them for ever:)
    Brilliant clicks along with a great write up ……Just loved this post…….I am sure you wouldn’t have regretted seeing the world through your husband’s lens 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Radhika, thank you so much for taking the time to read & for all the appreciation 🙂
      I will be sure to let Deepak know about the pics:)
      To be honest, the only reason I even took a firm interest in travelling is because of him:)….thanks again dear!
      Hugs

      Like

  4. Your husband did an amazing job with the photos and, combined with your descriptions, make this area sound spectacular! I don’t know why I haven’t made the effort to visit this part of Canada yet–need to get there!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve got some great photos here. I especially like the ones of Johnston Canyon. You’re not kidding about the unpredictable weather. I remember going to the golf course in Jasper on an August morning and having to wait until the frost melted off the fairway grass. I also recall snow showers on the Icefields Parkway in late June!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Really appreciate you stopping by:)
      Oh really? Snow showers in June & August! Must have been quite an experience !
      This June wasn’t bad at all then….I feel bad to have complains while we were there!:)
      Eager your explore your blog

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The scenery is incredibly amazing! Canada is sooo beautiful, wish I didn’t have to endure 24-26 hours flight if I was to travel from Malaysia 😦 I have read somewhere that travellers can travel by train to Banff, is that right? I’m not a hiker too but don’t mind a few hours of walking here and there. But I would very much enjoy the breathtaking beautiful scenery and landscape over there. Apologies for being away for sometime – I have changed website hosts recently (that’s why you haven’t seen my posts on WP) and have been busy fixing errors here and there. Will catch up on your blog soon, if not, will be in touch via twitter & instagram 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kat
      Thank you so much for reading! Truly appreciate it:)
      Trust me it’s worth the travel… And I would love to show you around Toronto as well:)
      There’s a train, you’re right. It’s called Rocky Mountaineer… A lavish experience I’ve heard but beautiful nonetheless !
      Please don’t apologize I totally understand… Would love to see your new website:) do send the link:)
      Looks like your trip to Redang went well… Hope you enjoyed a much needed rejuvenation:)
      Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It was great meeting you on the plane! 🙂 I hope all of my pictures and recommendations deepened your Canadian Rockies experience! I’ll be following your blog! The words are more than accurate! If you are still following me on Instagram stay tuned for pictures of Banff’s other side! Also, if you are looking to visiting Vancouver for its brilliance, visit http://www.vhuynh93.wix.com/adventurebynature for advice and what the mountains there have to offer! 🙂 I hope to see you soon again! Great photography!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Vince
      Thank you so much for stopping by! And for reading…
      Your instagram feed helped us a great deal and not just that, thank you for your tips during the flight journey too! I hope you had a safe trip yourself….
      Thanks for sharing the website…I just took a peek into it and it looks amazing! I’m sure a lot of people will benefit from it as well…I would to share it in my coming blogpost with your permission of course….
      Deepak did all the photography…I’ll let him know:)
      It was great meeting you…see you sometime 🙂

      Like

      1. Yes for sure! You can share my Instagram and my website! 🙂 I’m really glad my tips and stuff helped you guys out! We should all go out for coffee in Toronto some time! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Stunning captures and descriptive write-up! A good friend of mine made this trip a couple of months back. Canada is on our list. If and when it happens! 🙂 Love the way you weave your mum’s sarees into the scenery of the rugged mountains and surreal waters. I love silk sarees and I had a similar fixation with my mum’s sarees. We’d play dress as kids and later on wore them to school and college events. Warm memories there! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. For the three minutes that I was indulged in your post, I was in a mesmerizing place, I just had a glimpse of the breathtaking pictures of this wonderful place and OMG! Beautiful!…And this is brunda, commenting from another blog that I just opened!…It’s amazing to read your posts, thank you and hugs:)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Divya what do I say….you literally took me off to a spectacular world ….. Photos that speak so much and your words that picturesquely portray what the photos couldn’t….loved this post will be an understatement … ….enjoyed your husband’s photos and got immersed in your luxuriant style!!

    Liked by 1 person

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