Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lake Louise Day 1

Location, Lake Louise, AB

Clyda is suffering from the cottonwood bloom but hopefully we will be out of it as we gain in elevation.

The white speckles are cottonwood bloom.

As usual, the campground filled up last night. That seems to be the way it is each day. People arrive later in the afternoon and by evening the campgrounds are full.

We pulled out at 8:00 AM this morning for a 144 mile run to Lake Louise. A lot of the drive is uphill but oh so spectacular. Actually, we cross Rogers Pass at about 4300 feet which is mild for us Californians. Most hills in California are at least that high.

We are supposed to have a parks pass to stop in any Canadian Park but all the places which sell them are closed. We did pull into a roadside pull off which sold passes but a sign on the door said “Be back in 5 Minutes”. No one was around so we started to pull out when a young lady came out of the pit toilet at the back of the lot. I told her “Her 5 minutes were up” and she laughed and said she had only “been in there 2 minutes”. She told us we could buy our pass at Lake Louise and that is what we did.

Have I mentioned the trains! Oh boy! Do we have trains! Ever since we left Hope, BC we have had train tracks paralleling the road. Last night in Revelstoke, I thought we might not get any sleep as the tracks crossed the river near the campground and made a terrible racket crossing the metal bridge. However, the must stop running at night as I never heard them. Here at Lake Louise we really hear the trains when they blow the whistle as we are in a narrow valley and the whistle really echo’s.

Today as we traveled higher, both the trains and highway traffic ran through avalanche sheds. Some of these are quit long.

We stopped in Golden for coffee and a potty break. I think every trucker stops there also. After leaving Golden we climbed Kicking Horse Pass. What a road!!!! It is steep, windy and narrow. The cement barrier on the outside edge prevents you from seeing how far down it is to the river. Now I know why the trucks all stop in Golden, they need to check their drawers.

We were stopped a few times for construction but no wait was very long. In one section they are moving a big mountain and building this really high bridge to remove some bad sections of the highway. Very impressive bridge towers.

We arrived in Lake Louise about 11:30 AM our time (12:30 mountain time) and checked in to the trailer campground. I had tried to reserve a space on-line but it said none were available. They did have sites so we reserved for 2 nights and paid for a 3 day park pass. The total was $112. Yikes!!! More on prices later.

The trailer camp is only for hard sided campers, no tents or tent trailers allowed because of grizzly bears. The sites are all in the pine trees and are deep and wide and each accommodate 2 RV’s. Electricity only is provided. There were many empty sites when we arrived but a walk after dinner showed very few empties. Most RV’s are Class C rentals from Cruise America or Cruise Canada and most campers are European, especially French. We have seen very few 5th wheel trailers and very few as big as ours is. After driving the roads I see why. Smaller rigs just fit in smaller places better. As we checked in to a camp ground a few days ago the lady told us that they get few Americans, mostly Europeans and Orientals. She blamed it on 911 and the shrinking American dollar.

There is a tent only campground which is completely surrounded by a 7000 volt, low current, electric fence. The road crossings into the campground are through cattle crossings, (called Texas gates here) which also have electric wires between the crossing rails. Each crossing has a pedestrian gate beside it. The purpose is to keep grizzly bears out and reduce the number of bears killed each year to 1. I guess the number killed has been quit high.

We drove to the ski area and even the gondola ride is shut down because of grizzly habitat further up the mountain.

We did drive up to Lake Louise this afternoon but there was no where to park so we will go back early tomorrow morning.

More on prices. The US dollar may be equivalent to the Canadian dollar but prices here in Canada are much higher than in the states. We noticed this in the grocery store, when buying tourist items like t-shirts, even ice cream cones are higher. We are having a hard time getting used to that. We don’t buy unless we really need the item. It is so bad, we even passed up an ice cream cone today!