On Sunday August 5, we left Calgary and made a short drive to McLean Creek in the Kananaskis region. There was not a ton to do around the campground, but we managed to pull off the first Grilled Cheese Sunday since we started our road trip. Behold – Campfire Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheese.
On Monday we officially entered Banff. As Easterners, we were in awe of the mountains throughout the park, arguably taking too many pictures.
We briefly considered the $58 gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain, but decided to hike up the mountain instead.
On Tuesday we explored more of the park, driving up to Peyto Lake, Bow Lake, and then (due to a full parking lot) taking the shuttle to Lake Louise. It quickly became apparent just how popular Banff is for Canadian and international tourists.
On Wednesday morning we woke up at 5am and quickly packed up camp, attempting to make it to Moraine Lake before the parking lot filled up. We were denied entry at 6:45am, so made a second stop at Lake Louise as a consolation. The afternoon and morning light does provide a very different view.
We drove along the Icefields Parkway into Jasper, stopping to snap some pictures at the points of interest described in our guidebooks.
The Athabasca Glacier was a particular favourite. This one shrinks at a rate of about 5m per year, leaving marks of its retreat on the bedrock.
On Thursday we continued exploring Jasper, driving down the Maligne Lake Road, walking around Lake Annette, dropping in for a drink at the Fairmont Jasper Lodge, and then succumbing to the heat and going for a swim back in Lake Annette.
In the matter of a few hours on Thursday, the smoke from the BC wildfires got worse, coating the mountains in a thick haze. Pyramid Mountain behind Lake Annette can be seen below in the early and late afternoon.
Today we left Jasper (and saw our first bear… thankfully black and from the comfort of our van), driving to Grande Prairie, AB. The smoke got even worse today. Visibility was down to a few hundred meters. Hoping the fires can be controlled soon and that the smoke clears as we make our way north.