Padinago's trip to Canada in 2009

Day 2 - From Calgary to Banff, Alberta

Today we leave around 8am for Banff where we will stay for 3 days at the Buffalo Mountain Lodge. On our way we look for a place to have breakfast which we find in Cochrane. Armed with lots of Nikon stuff (Patrick’s D300, Nathalie’s D90 and Lucien’s D80, some nice objectives and not to forget the Nikon Sportstar Ex Binoculars for Sofie…) and a rental GPS we undertake our first trip from Calgary to Banff National Park.

A bit later we see our first raptor, an osprey. This is our first stop in the middle of this beautiful nature. We provided a drive through the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park but due to a small mistake (afterwards we notice that the GPS very often gets stuck) we were, just passed Kananaskis, on a small dirt road which was closed. There we did see a nest of an osprey with a young one and the osprey flew over us with a fish in her claws. Nice to see and to take pictures. So this trip was no lost time. We cannot immediately find the road to Peter Lougheed PP so we give this up and drive on to Banff National Park, the oldest national park in Canada (and the second park in this continent. Yellowstone was the first). On our way we stop in Canmore to take some nice pictures of the Three Sisters, three mountain peaks next to each other in Spray Valley Provincial Park. We continue and arrive at the East Gate of Banff National Park. There we buy our ‘Pass to National Parks of Canada’. This is expensive (136 CAD) as we are taken as a family/group but it is worth the money!  We reconsider our planning – by missing the exit to Peter Lougheed PP – and decide to see today part of the tour that was planned the following day and return to the park later on. We take the exit and arrive at the Cascade Ponds where we take pictures. We drive to Johnson Lake but again our GPS gets stuck so just to be sure we make a U-turn and drive to Two Jack Lake where again we take nice pictures. When we continue our drive we suddenly notice some Bighorn Mountain Sheeps which are willing to have themselves photographed. One of the pictures is so nice that at home it is displayed on our wall. We drive on to Lake Minnewanka and decide to return to Two Jack Lake in order to enjoy our first picnic in this wide-open nature. As the Bighorn is still there we take some more pictures. Once starting our picnic the Columbia ground squirrels come to us and eat out of our hand. Afterwards we drive on the Minnewanka Loop towards Banff where we first drive to the top of Mount Norquay to take some pictures. On our way there we see some elks and bighorn sheeps, as we have lots of problems with our GPS we decide to look for Alamo’s office in Banff where we arrive around 4pm and explain our problem. There is no other GPS available but tomorrow he will have others and he will keep one aside for us. This sounds fair and fortunately we are here for a few days. We leave the village and drive to Vermilion Lakes. Afterwards we re-enter Banff and as we still have some time left we drive to the Banff Upper Hot Springs and gondola. After enjoying the view for about half an hour we drive back to the village and look for our hotel. Around 7.30 pm we arrive at our hotel in Banff which looks very nice. It is a nice lodge with all separate little houses with some rooms. We get ourselves installed in our lodge and take a shower. The hotel is far from the village and upwards the hill so we always take the car to have dinner. We drive to a parking place in the village and walk through the streets to find a place to have dinner. We arrive at ‘The Grizzly House’ on Banff Ave where we all have a 6oz Strip steak. In order not to forget this place we kept our visa ticket and wrote on it : BAH! I believe this is clear… Back with the car to our lodge and go to sleep.

Daytrip approx. 175 km

@ Ghost Lake Osprey with a fish The Three Sisters Cascade Pond Bighorn sheep near Lake Minnewanka Lake Minnewanka Overviewing Banff from Mount Norquay Vermillion Lakes