Day 11: Yoho and a Little Kootenay

Both of us were a little road weary this morning and not particularly motivated in getting going at the crack of dawn.  As such, when we awoke to low hanging clouds and a light dusting of snow it provided the perfect conditions in which to do a slow roll out the door at a leisurely pace.

At the crack of 11:30am we set out on the Trans-Canada #1 (TC1) west for the 1h15m drive to the town of Field, British Columbia, the gateway to Yoho National Park.  Yoho is fun to say and we said it as often as possible.  Aside from the obvious mountains, forests, and water features along the way, the most impressive part of the drive is the fact both sides of this major highway are lined with tall fences designed to keep animals out of the roadway.  There are also overpass bridges every so often that the animals can use to safely cross (and maybe throw rocks at cars).  I wish roadways everywhere around the world would employ this strategy and would like to give Alberta a standing ovation for such a marvel.  The fencing, however, seemed to disappear once we entered British Columbia.

Water used to come over these rocks. Now it just goes through.

Water used to come over these rocks. Now it just goes through.

The Yoho (Yoho!) Visitor’s Center is located right on TC1, and we stopped in for some maps and to inquire where we might see some large animals.  The super nice Visitor Center lady said, why, I live in Field and had a herd of 20 elk around my house this morning.  I was too shy to ask for her address, so hoped we’d come across some on our own (we didn’t, sadly).

At any rate, these are the stops we made:

Natural Bridge:  this is another one of those super cool water features where it once was a waterfall but eventually the water sliced holes in the rock it flowed over, leaving some thick rock bits behind as it re-routed itself.  In the future, the water will completely sever the bridge, too, but there is no chance we’ll see it in our lifetime.  Unless, of course, one of the knuckleheads who walked out beyond all the barricade fences and warning signs onto the slippery rocks over rushing waters knocks something loose.

It's a loon! Oh, and that's Emerald Lake water

It’s a loon! Oh, and that’s Emerald Lake water

Emerald Lake:  as advertised, the crystal clear water is emerald green and ravishing.  We opted to take the 5.2km path around the lake.  The first half was a nice lakeside mosey, the second half took us through a muddy forest full of tree roots and wooden planks to travel over.  It wouldn’t have been bad except I kept wanting to look for small furry mammals but with these conditions you had to keep both eyes on the road.  I think most of the small furry mammals have put themselves away for the winter, anyhow.

The red engine is on the right, and below that you can see white boxcars. There was a third point the train crossed on itself, but the photo didn't turn out...

The red engine is on the top right, and below that you can see white boxcars. There was a third point the train crossed on itself, but the photo didn’t turn out…

Spiral Tunnels:  this is tough to explain without seeing it, so I won’t bore you with trying (stop cheering).  Ok, maybe just a little.  You see, someone with a vivid imagination (or a lot of alcohol) devised a train route that does a figure 8 through the mountain and if you stay to watch a train go through (like we did, twice, from each lookout point), you can see the train serpentine back onto itself.

It's hard to tell, but there are a handful of people in this photo - mostly about 1/3 way up the falls

It’s hard to tell, but there are a handful of people in this photo – mostly about 1/3 way up the falls on the left

Takakkaw Falls:  these falls are a doozy, and at a 380m (1,265 ft) drop, one of Canada’s highest.  It was mesmerizing watching the water come crashing down, and what a thrill it would be to be a little fly in a barrel going over them.

See Jim standing on the footbridge on top?

See Jim standing on the footbridge on top?

Marble Canyon (in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia):  it was about 5:30pm when we left Yoho (Yoho!) and had over an hour drive to get back to home base.  But we decided to detour 17km each way along Hwy 93 to Kootenay National Park and check out Marble Canyon.  It was a short in-n-out 1km total jaunt, and the canyon is spectacular.  Again, it’s a slot canyon where water is slicing straight through great big rocks (40m/130ft so far), reminding everyone that water does what water wants, as anyone who has ever had a leak knows.  It’s the bison of the element world.

It was about 8pm by the time we got back to the condo in Canmore, so we made dinner and turned ourselves in to get ready for another big day of mountaineering tomorrow.

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