Gorges and forests, from Field to Revelstoke

During the next few days of our western Canadian odyssey, we were almost overloaded with views of wild waterfalls, gorgeous gorges and fantastic forests. I will share some of the images here, with an apology: It’s just not the same when you only look at a photograph. You don’t experience the quiet and the smell of a forest, you cannot hear the roaring of white water through a narrow gap or over a waterfall. For me, these photographs bring back the memories of what we did on a specific day (and since they are numbered, it also helps me to reconstruct the itinerary of the trip, back in July 2017!). But you will just have to accept that the experience was magical, and know that it’s something you will also have to do, yourself. If you are ever have the opportunity, just fly to Calgary (or to Vancouver, if you want to do it the other way around), rent a car and explore!

Some Bighorn Sheep by the roadside. Apparently their ancestors crossed the Bering Land Bridge (as it was then) from Siberia. We saw a couple of them balancing on very steep, very high slopes too, but these ones were easier to photograph.
Johnston Canyon, one of the most heavily-trafficked trails in the Banff National Park.
Not too many people in this image, but later on we saw why these walkways are necessary – literally hundreds of tourists were strolling all the way to the Upper Falls.

The walk into the Johnston Canyon was quite impressive, with the rainbow-blessed Upper Falls at the far end. Quite a number of tourists, but sometimes that is interesting too. We chatted briefly with a group of (… let’s be careful with my word selection here…) senior citizens, many of whom had lost their life partners, and who go on such trips together once a year, to still find enjoyment from nature and from companionship. I thought that was a very positive thing.

Chipmunk, watching us watching him (or her). Probably an Eastern Chipmunk, even though these are apparently more common further East in Canada.
Some geological poetry at Natural Bridge in the Yoho National Park, where the Kicking Horse River squeezes underneath and through the rocks.

Natural Bridge in Yoho is also a good place to admire cleavage and bedding. Now I can imagine what you may be thinking…, but this has nothing to do with attractive and/or willing tourists, but rather with the stresses experienced by rocks. Have a look at this website if you are remotely interested: Bedding-cleavage relationships at Natural Bridge.

You cannot pass through this part of the world without walking through some great forests. And these walks tend to be less populated by hordes of people. Perhaps people think that forests are less dramatic and impressive than waterfalls and canyons? I don’t agree.

Or perhaps they are wary of bears… well, there’s a thing. There are bears around, and one is warned to stay away from them and to be alert. They are not at all like Yogi Bear from the comics. Bears eat anything, though apparently they do not really stoop to eating humans. They do however love to eat whatever we may have in our tents and our rucksacks and they are apparently quite prepared to kill for your peanut butter or cheese and ham sandwich or your apples. In various shops it’s possible (and recommended…) to buy ‘bear spray‘, a type of pepper spray that is apparently guaranteed to put bears off their appetite for your food and reduce their aggression towards you yourself. (Though I guess that latter effect must be temporary!) The stuff is however quite expensive and we found it to be not available in many shops (many tourists must have gone before us…). So as an alternative, we were told to stick together with other people (or at least with each other), not to be too quiet while walking, not to carry foodstuffs with us. And, oh yes, to carry a stick. Not to defend yourself against bears, mind you, but to beat against trees and other sticks so that bears can hear you coming. I think the idea is that if a bear hears noisy humans coming along, without any food in their rucksacks, they will just leave out of pure disappointment.

So we carried sticks, talked loudly, and kept our fingers crossed. A few times, walking along on mountainside forest trails, we found ourselves alone, wondering what scenery we would see around the next corner, and whether it would include a bear. There’s always a worry that we would stumble upon a Grizzly Bear (though these are less common than black bears) and so we were always pleased when we met people coming towards us on a path, and that they were not running for their lives. But we walked with our eyes peeled and our ears very open! Anyway, we mostly saw black bears during this trip and then only from within our vehicle. We only saw grizzly bears once or twice, and then at a great distance, which is a very good thing!

Another Black Bear at the roadside. Wikipedia describes them as ‘medium-sized’ but personally, I would call these 140-200kg animals ‘large’.
Brave Marina venturing into the woods, with budget anti-bear device in hand.

We did walk quite a few forested trails, including Hemlock Grove Boardwalk Trail and the Rock Garden Trail in Glacier National Park and the very well-named Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail in Revelstoke National Park.

Tiny waterfall on the forest floor.
We saw these red Adirondack Chairs at a few different locations. Had to test these ones while exercising my camera’s self-timer.

After departing from the tiny village of Field, our next overnight stop was in Revelstoke, where we had arranged AirBnB accommodation. A separate basement apartment in someone’s house, very nice.

Memorable hamburgers and a decent beer in Revelstoke.

The next days would take us through the Village of Lumby to Vernon and eventually to Vancouver, all with very different scenes from the ones above. Stay tuned!

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