We’ve made it to Canada! Home of the loonie, the toonie, and the Tim Horton donut. Since we have made it a practice to narrowly avert disaster at every turn, it’s only fitting that Canada offered us an opportunity to show our worth. We were only five minutes into the country when we came upon a great big moose standing on the highway. I slammed on the brakes, the moose ran away, and we haven’t seen another one since. I now suspect the Canadians keep an assortment of these beasts in a paddock somewhere and release one every time an American crosses the border, just for laughs.
We’ve been blissfully out of cell and wifi range, so we’ll be covering a couple of the national parks in this post.
Waterton Lakes National Park
It’s a biosphere preserve, a peace park, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site all wrapped into one!
It’s a beautiful place and the first-come, first-served camping process is one of the most efficient we’ve seen. We rolled up to the registration booth and the woman in charge told us the campground was presently full, but she’d put us on the waiting list. We were number 16 and there were 45 people checking out that day. We just had to come back before 2:00 pm to see if we’d been assigned a site. We were confident we’d get one (and we did) so the day was mostly ours.
One of the first things I noticed walking around town were signs for a community weed pull. We missed it by a few days, sadly, but it piqued my interest. The park’s status as a biosphere preserve means they need to work hard to keep out non-native plants that hitch a ride into the park on people’s shoes and cars and boats. The residents and guests get together as a community and pull weeds together. Awesome! Keep an eye on this site for information about upcoming weed pulls if you might be in the area.
This was also the first place we’ve been where we saw bears almost everyday. R gave me some grief when I purchased bear spray since close encounters are so rare, but I feel better having it with us on the trails.
If you aren’t the camping type and can afford $250 CAD a night, the Prince of Wales Hotel is for you. There are beautiful views inside and out. We recommend skipping the high tea service, though. I just can’t abide paying for high tea and getting a little sachet of tea instead of loose leaf. And no crumpets?! This is not high tea, I say. Tut tut.
Kootenay National Park
This is a wonderful stretch of forest that neighbors Banff. It’s not as popular, which means the campgrounds are largely open. You may be on your way to the bigger parks like Banff or Jasper, but don’t pass this one by if you have the time.
We began to see a big change in the color of the water here. This is what a glacier will do to your rivers and lakes. The glaciers will grind the rock beneath it into a fine powder, and then when the glacier melts it washes all that rock flour into the lake. The resulting silty water filters out all but one bandwidth of light – turquoise.
For a short hike here consider the Paint Pots trail, it’s easy and there’s interesting history involved in the way that people used the mud for dyes.
We also took a longer hike up to Stanley Glacier. This hike is not for the faint of heart, but it is rewarding.
When traveling in a place that has grandeur going for it it’s easy to miss some of the small things. I appreciate R’s eye for small details and features I would not have seen since my eyes were looking at a massive mountain or a green river.
We’re still going strong in our little RV. Thank you for continuing to follow along with our journey. Your comments and likes have been much appreciated!