Did you miss me? I snuck away for a little visit with my parents in Jasper, Banff and Canmore. It was a wonderful trip, surrounded by the spectacular scenery of two national parks, but I will restrain myself and show you just a few of the highlights.
The day after I arrived on the train from Vancouver we took the Jasper Tramway up Whistlers Mountain. It's a gondola-style lift that carried us about 3200 feet up Whistlers Mountain (so named for the hoary marmots and their piercing whistles), depositing us in the midst of a moon-like landscape at an altitude of almost 7500 feet.
This photo was taken shortly after we began our elevation. Near the bottom of the photo you can see the greenish-coloured lower station where we boarded.
I took this photo a few days later from the patio of the Jasper Park Lodge. It shows Whistlers Mountain, with the tramway's upper station where we got off.
Here's what it looks like at the top. That's Jim, my dad, to give it some scale. What the photo doesn't show is the powerful wind and freezing temperatures. Maybe this one shows it better...
That's my mom, Yvonne, and I. She's trying to keep me from getting hypothermia, and I'm reflecting on those questions I used to give my Math students that went something like this: "If the temperature at the base of a mountain is 7 degrees, and the temperature drops 2 degrees every 300 metres, and the top of the mountain is 1000 m above the base, what is the temperature at the top of the mountain?" Answer: really, really cold.
We drove from Jasper to Banff along the Icefields Parkway, which National Geographic describes as one of the world's ultimate road trips. It gave us wonderful views of the many now shrunken but still spectacular glaciers.
On the way back to Jasper along the Icefields Parkway at the end of the trip, we stopped at Peyto Lake, which was just about the most beautiful thing I saw during my week away, but also the most frustrating: the small viewing platform was swamped with two busloads of tourists. Being a tourist myself, I probably shouldn't complain. . .
Once we got to Canmore, another highlight was the hike up to Grassi Lakes. A word of caution: "lake" is used somewhat loosely in this neck of the woods, and seems to be used to describe any body of water bigger than a bathtub. But what mountain lakes lack in size they make up for with beauty, and the most unearthly green-blue colour.
Grassi Lakes (there are two of them, the lower one barely visible through the trees) are named after Lawrence Grassi, a coal miner, climber and early resident of Canmore who constructed many of the area trails used by generations of hikers. Here is an example of his rock work.
Parts of the route are a steep climb, but these stairs make it much easier. And once you arrive there's that electric aquamarine colour typical of glacier-fed lakes.
And here's a view of the Bow River Valley, home to Canmore, and the town's reservoir, taken from the Grassi Lakes trail.
And another highlight - dinner in Canmore with favourite aunts and uncles.
Now I'm home again, up to my ears in apples that need processing, up to my ankles in dog hair because Frankie is shedding like mad, and up to my elbows in perennials that are doing their fall decay faster than I can keep up. But with a smile on my face, because however special a holiday (and this one was really, really special), there's no place like home.
(The photo at the top of the blog is of Lac Beauvert in Jasper.)