After making it to bed before midnight, sleep was difficult. The heating almost cooked me and I thought for sure that I would look like a prune when I rose. Ross did try to adjust it but without much success. I opened the window at 2am to cool the room down. That meant that I could hear the Bow River flowing by which was fine but when the cars started arriving in the early morning I had to get up and close it. Breakfast was enjoyable but creaky staircases and bathrooms that you can’t swing a cat in are not my idea of being comfortable, nor double beds. Ross reckons Abraham Lincoln probably sat in the chair that was in our room.
After buying the obligatory fridge magnet of Lake Louise, we headed west on the Trans-Canada Highway through Kicking Horse Pass. This meant we had left Banff National Park and also Alberta, entering Yoho National Park and returning to British Columbia. The first highlight was a stop at the Spiral Tunnels viewpoint where you can view the entry and exit portals of a railway engineering marvel. These tunnels were completed in 1909, reducing the original railway grade of 4.5%, the steepest of any in North America, to a much safer 2.2%. While we were there a train came and we could see that when the engine exited the tunnel the rest of the train was entering it … amazing. The exhibits told of runaway trains and avalanches. I bought a book for my dad about the building of the tunnels which also gives some background on Kicking Horse Pass and The Big Hill.
The next stop was to be Takakkaw Falls on Yoho Valley Road. Takakkaw means magnificent in Cree. As we commenced the 17km drive we came across the Meeting Place. This is the confluence of the glacier-fed Yoho River and mountain-fed Kicking Horse River. There is a very distinct colour difference of the waters. It was a very pretty spot.
The road to the falls was excellent. At one point, we had to drive up this 3 levelled swithchback. Believe it not there were buses at the falls so we were trying to work out how they negotiated the zigzag as we had to reverse “the tank” to get around one. I am sure there would have been a great deal of screaming and gasping coming from the bus.
The Takakkaw Falls were magnificent, being 254 metres high. Water from the Daly Glacier, 350 metres from the falls, feeds it. In winter, it freezes to a small trickle but in the thaw, water thunders down. It is amazing to stand at the bottom of the falls.
We made a quick stop at the Field visitors centre and paid another $19 to the rangers for the last night in Yoho NP. We headed towards Emerald Lake and found a place where the force of water over time has created an eroded rock archway over the Kicking Horse River. This spot is called the Natural Bridge. There are so many amazing spots and it is only when seeing them you really appreciate their beauty and wonder.
Our final destination for the day and for a pre-booked overnight stay was Emerald Lake Lodge. We had to leave the car in a parking area and call for a shuttle bus. It is amazing how misleading information is in brochures. When they say complimentary parking you at least expect to have your vehicle with you not several kilometres away. Also, I have not yet found the part of the lodge that was in the picture. Once again, Ross is not a happy camper. The girl at reception said we were early for check in. She said that we could have another room but would lose our view so I said we would wait. While making a dinner reservation, the room became available. She then said that the view was not of the main lake but of the lagoon. Boy, short changed again. The water view looks like something the beavers have created. However the room is very comfortable but no TV again. However we do have a fireplace but were not game to light it and leave it unattended. We will light it tonight. And we found the building that was in the brochure!!
Anyway, after the first nana and poppy nap for a while, we headed out for a 5.2 km walk around the edge of the lake. We started from the left side, which has very flat terrain, with common pine forest. There is an avalanche corridor that falls each year. As you continue to the far end of the lake, it becomes quite swampy. This is where the glacial deposits brought down by the streams are reclaiming the lake. Eventually Emerald Lake will no longer exist although I don’t think this will happen in our lifetime. The plants at this end of the lake are regenerating and it was said that eventually the banks will be as well covered and lush as the other end. We crossed a stream whose water was so clear. This then led to a rainforest, created by the shadow of the mountain and the heavy rainfall. This rainforest is not found in many places in Canada and is very different to the forest on the opposite side of the lake. Our walk took about 1.5 hours as we stopped to smell the roses at many vantage points.
Even though it has been overcast today, the colour of the water is magic. It is a deep turquoise-blue. It is so dark in places and lighter in others. On the whole, Yoho National Park has been well worth the stop.
So as to confirm yesterday’s achievements we found out that the tea house was 385m above Lake Louise which meant that the gradient was slightly more than a 1 in 10m rise the whole way. Also the Canadian rabbit that I could not name correctly was a pika or rock rabbit.