Rocky Mountain High, Canadian Style


Have you checked out the Canada homepage?

So Canada may not have that many Olympic medals (none in the first week, but apparently since then they’ve picked it up), but they have the Canadian Rockies, so that more than makes up for it. rockies-5This place is ridiculous…just stupidly beautiful. After leaving Prince George we made it as far as a town in British Columbia called Mcbride where we had to hunker down for the night due to a raging lightning storm. Sleeping in the parking lot of the Sandman Inn with a bunch of other RVers, we tried to catch a few winks as the as the sky was ablaze with the most intense streaks of lightning bringing anger and violence to an otherwise peaceful landscape. rockies-1The storm cleared though, and the next morning brought the most fabulous weather with clear skies and warm temperatures in the 90s. We passed through the valley between the Cariboo and Rocky mountains, and shot through Mt. Robson National Park, home to Mt. Robson, the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 12,900 ft, and I was just glad that it was a clear day and we were able to see the summit in all it’s glory.

That brought us into the Canadian Rockies. It is a surreal feeling to be in a place that you have seen so many famous pictures and photographs of, and then to be driving right there through it and it actually looks just like it always has. rockies-2We got hosed on some road fee and had to pay some mystery $20 tax to drive on the park road (apparently it’s $20/day to simply exist in this park…money lives in these towns), but that was the only bitter taste left in our mouths by this majestic sliver of the world. Jasper and Banff ar just such charming, quaint little towns juxtaposed against mountains that are anything but. The Jasper rodeo was in town, and while the town was alive with a Western feel, we had to skip out on the event and continue on down the road, vowing to take part in the festivals of this area sometime when we have the time to enjoy it properly. The towns of the Canadian Rockies have the feel of a European chalet resort, somewhere in Switzerland perhaps, and the clientèle definitely reflects that observation–there is so much money running around this place it is disgusting. It unfortunately, at least for me, detracts from some of the natural beauty of the area in that it is being enjoyed by people who perhaps do not even really enjoy it for what it is. Some examples: At the Lake Louise main campground, the entire campground is surrounded by a “bearguard” electric fence. This is the first time I have ever seen this at a campground, and it is an obvious attempt at pleasing the higher end clientele who want to be “camping in the Rockies” without having to “camp in the Rockies” if you feel me. The “campgrounds” have full on kitchens, wireless, immaculate showers, bearguards, roving security agents, etc…roughing it, but not. Second example: I climbed up Sulphure mountain in Banff (7600 ft) to come to the top where the terminus of the tram lets out, and there are at least 600 people who rode the tram up enjoying the breathtaking view at the top of the entire valley…which is fine.rockeies31 What was not fine, however, is that after they purchase their ice cream and sodas and chinese buffet (mini mall on a mountaintop), with absolutely zero regard for the nature they are surrounded by, they whimsically would toss the garbage onto the mountain slope below the observation deck and then go lazily ride the tram back to their overpriced resort. Now normally I would make some horrid remark about selfish Americans here, but the really sad part was that it wasn’t Americans defiling the landscape. It was Americans, Indians, Canadians, Germans, Swiss, French, Chinese, Korean…it was seemingly everyone. And judging by the fact that the only thing trumping the number of cigarette butts on the ground was the number of brand names on people’s chest, the disregard for the landscape isn’t so much a regional or a nationality issue, but rather a socio-economic one it seems. Needless to say it wasn’t the welcoming site that you are wanting to be greeted by once you spend hours reaching the top of a mountain by foot.rockeies-41 I climbed over the fence and picked up as much litter as I could, but it was futile as more was just being tossed as I picked it up…and while hundreds of people watched as I picked up their garbage, not one person seemed to notice or care…

But aside from these downers the entire experience was utterly fabulous. Hot weather, beautiful trails, more peaks and rivers and lakes than John Muir himself could ever ask for. I even made $8 in Banff playing ukulele. We currently are shacked up for the night outside of Calgary riding out another lightning storm in a motel and plan on dipping back into the US of A later today via Montana. That being said, it’s time to hit the dusty trail…

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