We left Banff and travelled to Lake Louise. We quickly left Highway 1 and took the much more scenic Bow Valley Parkway. This is a delight and we saw a herd of elk by the roadside. The journey should take about 1.5 hours but we stopped at Johnston Canyon to explore.
As the name implies Johnston Creek cuts very deeply into the Bow Valley sides to create the canyon. It shouldn't really be accessible but a walkway has been installed to help you to cling to the valley sides, as in the picture.
The deep canyon and fast-flowing creek are lovely but the gems are the two largest waterfalls. There are lots more waterfalls at least one of which would be a national treasure in Britain; here they are overlooked.
The lower waterfall (in height and on the river) offers a really close hand view if we go through a low tunnel to the vantage point. I was just emerging from this when I saw someone lose her grip on her camera and it fell into the creek. Just like in the pictures; it all seemed to happen in slow motion.
The upper falls are spectacular with a drop of about 100 ft. The valley sides are covered with tufa, an indication of the limestone heart to the Rockies.
It was noticeable how much the volume of tourist traffic dropped between the two falls. It was virtually non-existent as we walked on up the hillside There was still a good trail and no difficulty in navigating even though we were on the verge of back country, the real wilderness. We went over a col and dropped down to the creek side again to find our final objective, the Inkpots. These are about 4 miles from the car park. They are a series of springs, each of which is a slightly different shade of blue dues to the different levels of suspended materials in the pool. The day was sligtly overcast so they were quite the stunning blue that they can be.
For some superb pictures of Johnston Canyon and the Inkpots, click here
We had lunch interrupted at the Inkpots, much interrupted by a ground squirrel after a meal. I think every occupied seat had its resident squirrel. I had a wander further up the valley on my own. Over the river and up the trail for about twenty minutes until I came back into woods. The prospect of encountering a bear alone proved to much for me (I'd also promised Beryl that I would turn round at a set time) so I headed back. It was enough to get a sense of the call of the wild. I caught up with Beryl and Amy just before the upper falls and we walked back together.
There was of course no snow whilst we were there
On to Lake Louise (passing the stunning Castle Mountain) and drive the 5 kms to the actual lake. This is the most stunning blue. It really is like it appears in photographs. You think that it can't be the true colour but it is. What makes it look unreal is the massive Art Deco hotel (the Chateau). It is a very handsome building but in totally the wrong place; it is far too sophisticated for such an unspoilt area.
Beryl and I walked up to a lakeside view point which involved a steady climb (Amy had gone off to the car claiming blisters). From there we could see the glaciers at the head of the lake. I could make out the walking trails but knew that they'd be too much for Amy. We descended by a path marked on the lakeside diagrams but it was clearly less walked than the ascent as it dropped steeply and interestingly to the shore.
Back to the Lake Louise Inn where we were staying. Amy immediately disappeared to the swimming pool and we ate in the pizzeria at the Inn. Amy is a very fussy eater but is always up for pizza.