Banff National Park
We didn’t travel far today – just 50 or so kilometers up to Banff. On a gorgeous day we were wowed by the stunning beauty of the lakes nestled among the snowcapped mountains. We drove the Lake Minnewanka Loop road and hiked the 3 km trail around Johnson Lake.
We noted a gentleman on the lake using an inflatable paddle board. It seemed to perform well, but he was having a devil of a time getting it folded up and back into its carry sack when he was finished. We know from our experience with our inflatable kayak that it is important (and hard) to get all of the air out before folding and storing.
We then took the Tunnel Mountain Road but elected not to hike to the summit. Lately we find that hiking up is no problem, but the trip down is hard on our old knees.
After wandering around the town a bit and taking lots of pictures, we elected to spend the night at the Tunnel Mountain Village I (no hookups) campground. Once again we found that if we wanted a fire, we had to pay a fee ($8.80) per night and would be supplied with as much wood as we wanted. We were completely surprised when we arrived at the wood pile — it was a dome of wood probably 20 feet high and 30 feet in diameter, certainly more than we needed for one dinner fire. While the wood was dry and split, it wasn’t split as small as we would have liked for a fire; we were glad we had an axe along to split it further. The campground is huge with 618 flat, well-spaced sites in 10 loops. Needless to say, only two or three of the loops are open at this time of the year. It was disappointing that they assigned the spaces and rather than dispersing the two dozen or so campers over the open loops, they assigned spaces consecutively. So there we sat, all eleven campers, one after another, just as if it were a July night with no vacancies. At least we were on the outside of the loop so we looked out into the woods and meadows.
It was a beautiful evening to sit around the fire after a satisfying dinner (grilled pork, baby bok choy, and salad with kohlrabi and broccoli – I said the produce at the Pincher Walmart was great). A herd of elk wandered through and David had a great time photographing them. A ranger warned him that a mother elk (cow) with a baby had been chasing some of the campers who got too close.