A Travellerspoint blog

Eastern Swing- New Hampshire pt3

sunny 28 °C

The Kagcamagus highway bisects the White Mountain National Forest and we aimed to drive the length of it today. We were handed a map and received some excellent advice from the visitor centre in Lincoln and then we were on our way.

First stop: Lincoln Woods Trail. This trail is the trailhead for the deep woods camping trails. We, however, hiked about ½ and hour in and then turned around. The trail followed an old railway path and was beautifully treed yet did not offer any other attractions, like water or obstacles to hike over.
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We drove back into Lincoln for a lunch stop at Enzo's Pizzeria. Bud and I had calzones which were very authentic Italian and excellent, Nick and Carson had pizza, also excellent. I would recommend a stop here if you can.

The next stop on the highway was Otter Rocks which was a picnic area just off the highway. We spent a good 20 minutes just hanging out and walking on the rocks and in the shallow river. A very nice place for a picnic.
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The highway winds up and down the mountain with scenic outlooks every so often. Hardly any traffic and a fun drive.

Sabadday Falls was the next recommended stop on our list. A short walk on a well groomed path took us to the bottom of the falls where some people were swimming. The falls themselves were very impressive with a several dramatic drops to the bottom.
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We were only half way along the highway but it was turning to dinner time so we made one more stop at Rocky Gorge scenic area. The river has worn a path through the bedrock of this gorge and it is easy to see the geology. It was neat to do some walking but the river is too fast and dangerous to go in here.
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Behind the river, the path leads to a quiet pond where we saw some salamanders in varies stages of development. If we stayed longer, I'm sure we would see a lot of wildlife show up. If we came back I'd like to walk the trail that circles the pond but we were hungry for dinner and it was a long ride back.
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We had chicken Cesar salads for dinner and then a nice campfire to end our stay in New Hampshire.

Posted by blgracey 06:13 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Eastern Swing- New Hampshire pt2

semi-overcast 27 °C

We spent some of the morning dipping our feet, or trying not to, into the river behind of campsite. The water was a bit chilly but not too bad. Lots of fun.
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Exploring we will go! This area of the White Mountains are dominated by large boulders and running water. We went to investigate the Lost River Gorge and Boulder caves. Before we got to the caves walk, Bud and the boys took a vertical hike up the mountain to see the gorge from above. It was a 1.5 hour hike which they did in 1 hour and they got to climb the whole time. Here are some pictures from the Dilly Cliff Hike.
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The cave walk took us almost 2 hours. It was pretty expensive at 18$ a person but the meticulous engineering of the boardwalk throughout explained the price. A spectacular experience, it reminded us a bit of the caves in Collingwood, Ontario but with a rushing river going straight through. There were crevices to squeeze through and we got a bit wet and dirty but it was all good. A beautiful spot.
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We had a good burger at the Mountain Burger Company in Lincoln and then set off back to the campground for some down time. I used the laundry facilities here at the campground which was no problem. In the evening we had a campfire and roasted hotdogs and ham/cheese rolls on the fire. Mmmmmmmm. A good day in the mountains of New Hampshire.

Posted by blgracey 06:02 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Eastern Swing- New Hamphire pt1

sunny 27 °C

Well that was on interrupted sleep if I ever had one. At 12:30am we were all -even Nick- awakened by the CO2 detector! After it was reset, we surmised that it is done its life and the sound was a rude reminder of that fact. After packing up in the morning and hitting Timmy's, we set in search of a new CO2 detector which proved to be harder than first thought. Five stores later, we found one, inflated price and all.

Away we went. We crossed the border in to the USA with no problems and started into Vermont on I91. What a beautiful highway. Light traffic and divided with a large median.

We had to stop a few more times for gas and groceries but made it into our campsite at Lost River Valley, New Hampshire. What a beautiful campground! Most site are fairly private, very treed and many are beside the river. Ours is #89 and is perfect. I was a bit worried about mosquitos being right on the river, but we have seen/felt almost none. Nick and Carson went for a long walk down the river on the rocks and then we had a campfire - marshmallows and all.
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Posted by blgracey 05:27 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Eastern Swing- Montreal pt3

semi-overcast 33 °C

Apparently our parking luck ran out today. Parking for the Jazz Festival- the 1st street we tried; parking in Old Montreal yesterday- the 1st street we tried. Parking today? - we drove around for 20 minutes, and around, and around. Finally we found a spot that we had to actually wait 10 minutes before it was able to be used as a spot. Whew!
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After a tasty lunch outside (which turned into lunch inside because of rain) at 3 Brasseurs. the boys had pulled pork sandwiches and I had their homemade special of a Mac and cheese grilled cheese. Sounds weird but was actually pretty good.

We did a bit more poking our heads I shops which turned out to be fairly touristy and the same old keychains etc. We returned to the Notre Dame Basilica and joined in the tour that was already in progress. Such a beautiful sight to see. European architecture right in the middle of Quebec. Gold leaf everywhere, wood carvings, a 7000 piped organ and, of course, the glass. The stained glass windows told the story of Montreal and the Church and were breathtaking.
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The smaller chapel behind the main section was bronze and gold. Magnificent. The pictures do not do it justice.

With the afternoon getting on, we walked back to our truck and, saying our goodbyes to Old Montreal, we headed back to Brossard to catch the scrimmage for the possible rookies for the Canadiens next year. This was a good way to finish off our stay in Montreal. Camping at Alouette campground was scenic, quiet and clean. Here is a pic of our campsite.
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Posted by blgracey 18:11 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Eastern Swing- Montreal pt2

sunny 30 °C

Brossard and the Montreal Canandiens are calling us today. Yesterday was the opening of the training camps for the younger players who are hoping to make the NHL next year. This morning we caught a testing for the players which mostly included skating evaluations. It was at the Bell Sports Complex, the Canadiens training facility in Brossard, Que. very interesting to see the younger players with so much on the line doing their very best to impress.
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After the morning skate, we went for a quick drive through a Brossard residential area, if you could call it that. The homes there were absolute mansions, castle-like for some and so original. Below are some of the homes we drooled over. I wonder if some of the Canadien players lived there.
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It was around 2:00 pm by now and we drove into the city to check out Old Montreal. After a bit of a circuitous route, we parked only 1 block from Notre Dame Cathedral. Deciding that we would go into the Cathedral tomorrow, we went down to the waterfront and took in a tour of Old Montreal from Amphi Tours. This tour took us with a guided through Old Montreal and then right into the harbour! Yes! Amphi is short for Amphibian so we were on a bus/boat and saw Old Montreal from the streets as well as the water. We had a very good guide and learned the lay of the land.
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Dinner was at Grande Terrance on Jacques-Cartier blvd and was excellent. We didn't have enough time to take in all of the shops but we'll be back tomorrow.

The mosquitos are out night so it's movie night for a bit of a down time.

Posted by blgracey 18:55 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Eastern Swing- Montreal pt1

sunny 28 °C

We are on our way to Montreal from Ottawa today. We took the 417 all the way from Ottawa to Quebec where it turned into the 40 and then the 30 hwy. A very nice highway to travel, light traffic, nice scenery. You end up going a bit out of your way north but the speed and ease of the drive is worth it.
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A quick set up at our campsite (Camping Alouette) and we were ready to go into the city. The Montreal Jazz Festival's last night was tonight and we arrived at 3:00 downtown. We considered the campground's recommendation to take the Metro into the city and then at the last moment decided to take the adventure drive in. We used our Google Maps app as our GPS and it worked like a charm. No problems! We actually got a street side parking spot right beside the main stage.

There's nothing like a festival. The excited sounds of people milling, the wafting smells of street side cafe's, the ethnic dress of so many cultures all in the same place.
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And, of course, the music. We watched a big band called Sortie 210, who were fabulous and as their finale played Caravan from the movie Whiplash. We took a seat on the stairs, sipped our drinks and enjoyed.
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We took a walk down the festival venues and were drawn into the Heineken Lounge by the sweet sounds of a New Orleans Dixieland band. And what a band they were! The Heavyweights Brass Band were delivering a energetic (an understatement), audience driven, high tempo performance that was screamin' hot. The band was made up of a tenor sax, 2 trumpets, a trombone, a sousaphone player and a snare drummer. They played everything from traditional New Orleans jazz to Michael Jackson's Beat It. After the performance, the band played as they marched out into the street and we spoke to the sax player for a bit. His picture is below. If you like jazz you should look them up.
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We had a great, if expensive, dinner at Baton Rouge and then headed to the main stage to catch the festival's finale, a Memorial to B.B. King. We weren't interested in standing nose to back with everyone on the floor front, so we went to the side of the stage for a not bad view, even if it was on an angle. Several musicians did tribute songs to the blues and. B.B. King including harmonic wizard Guy Belanger and a singer we particularly liked, Conor Gains. The place was a rockin!
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After the festival we hopped into our truck and beat most of the traffic out of town. Easy- peasy.

Posted by blgracey 18:54 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Eastern Swing-Ottawa

sunny 24 °C

Our first trip out this summer has us checking into the Ottawa Municipal Campground. After a day of driving, it was a welcome stop. It is a busy campground this weekend but so far it is fairly quiet. You can hear the road noise because we are only a KM off of the 417 but our neighbours are courteous. We roasted a pork tenderloin on the fire for dinner which was awesome. And now we are sharing some fireside chatting as a family.

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Tomorrow is our Bova family reunion. It will be nice to see everyone.

Posted by blgracey 17:51 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Nature walks near London, Ontario

Exploring London's nature trails this season took us to Komoka Provincial Park and Warbler Woods. While Komoka PP is an expansive park which has KMs of trails it is also very busy. We went early in the spring and found the trails were very open and clear of under brush.
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The park was very clean and the trails were well kept. Some early flora were just beginning to emerge.
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Warbler Woods is a small parcel of land but because of the many deep hills and valleys, the noise from the road disappears very quickly leaving you thinking you are far away from the city. We went in time to see the trilliums coming to peek out of the greenery. It is evident that this area is also used quite a bit by regulars but is probably unknown to many Londoners.
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Posted by blgracey 17:42 Comments (0)

Hiking trails in SW Ontario

Sharon Creek and Sifton Bog

sunny 22 °C

In our quest to find some hiking trails to explore near our home, Bud and I set out this weekend to a few near London, Ontario.

Sharon Creek Conservation area is just outside of Delaware and showed (on their maps) some trails that followed the Sharon Creek reservoir. While the natural area was diverse and beautiful, we were sad to see how much garbage there was near the trails. There was also no signage that would help us navigate the trails so we used our common sense and stayed parallel to the water. The trail was very well groomed, meandering through prairie grasses and wooded dirt trails , some of which dead ended at the water causing us to back track. We happened upon a natural pond where we heard many frogs jumping and little fish swimming. There were many tree houses situated in the grasses for birds and we heard many different types. The trails only took us ½ hour to walk so it's not a long journey. F8001BCF2219AC6817A3BD2C66212427.jpgF7FEC4852219AC6817F5DD5C147ABDD3.jpgF7FDBEE92219AC6817B6055B881C8E54.jpgF7FC9F532219AC68178059D25458A6AD.jpgF7FBB8972219AC6817D876335460724A.jpg

After a nice lunch, we decided to check out the Sifton Bog, which is right in London's west end. The parking lot is connected to the bog by way of boardwalks which are well-maintained. It was really amazing to understand how the bog worked and to see evidence of a vast ecosystem of animals and nature working together. Animal paths made by fox, rabbits and raccoons curved their way throughout the area. The boardwalk ended at a dock which looked over a pond and was teeming with life. The more we looked the more we saw. Huge tadpoles, green frogs, butterflies, lilys, fish jumping. It would have been nice for there to be some explanation about the bog out at the dock. There was a sign at the parking lot but generally people like to read when they are on the trail, in the moment.

We went back to the parking lot and headed the other way into the trail system. The trails were really nice to walk through. Rustic, dirt trails that weaver through old forests. Apparently, the Bog is home to many deer but we didn't see any that day. We did not explore all of the trail (it was very long and was not a loop trail). If you can ignore the road noise that can be heard, you would think you were deep in the country. We did see a fair number of people (5-6 couples) and some of them a bit shady so I wouldn't be going on my own without a walking partner. We will definitely go back to have another look may be at dusk when the animals won't be as shy. image

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Posted by blgracey 13:04 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

Westward Trip- Saginaw, Minnesota; Indian Lake, Michigan

sunny 24 °C

The last 2 days have been driving, driving, driving. Good roads on US Hwy 2 make us shake our heads at the poor road conditions in the Canadian Prairie provinces. Wednesday night we stopped at the Saginaw Campground in Minnesota where we were greeted by Leroy, our gracious campground host. There were many all-season campers, including a woman in the back who had a chicken coop! Bud set up shop to do some paperwork before we head home.
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This campground is at a Hwy crossroads and right next to the railroad tracks. So when you include the Harley Davidson riders next door to us, transportation noise was at the max tonight. But the campground was convenient and well kept so it served us fine.
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We continued home on US Hwy 2 today through many small towns and through the Ottawa National Forest and the Hiawatha National Forest. We drove from 8:30am to 6:00pm without many stops. We have set-up for our final evening on our trip in the Indian Lake Travel Resort near Manistique, MI. It is a very nice campground with full hook-ups. free Wifi, and a view of the Lake. A nice place to go with a boat for fishing.
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Tomorrow is our last day of driving and we will be home for dinner. I’m looking forward to seeing our boys and the routines of regular life but I will miss the daily adventures of traveling.

Posted by blgracey 18:09 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Westward Trip- Turtle Mountain Provincial Park, Manitoba

sunny 27 °C

We’re on our way back home. The first of 4 days of mostly driving. We headed out at 8:30am and drove Hwy 13 until 5:00pm. Sometimes the road was good, other times it was so bumpy we had to drive two-handed. The drive was serene, with fields of blue flax and yellow canola, and green wheat.
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We turned south at Hwy 10 south of Brandon, Manitoba and stopped just before the border at Turtle Mountain Provincial Park. We didn’t get there until 7:30pm and the office was not open. The staff had left a list of available campsites with the direction to pick a spot and to pay when the office opened again. We picked #5 in Breadon Bay. They were all great sites, level, shaded, private.
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After dinner, we took a walk to the viewing tower which was only a 15 minutes walk. It had a fantastic view of Adam Lake where there was a beaver hard at work and several song birds, including many loons.
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We left in the morning before the office opened so no paying for this stay. This was a beautiful, full service park and we would definitely go back. On to the USA today (Wed) for another day of driving home.

Posted by blgracey 17:51 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

westward Trip- Cadillac, Alberta

sunny 28 °C

I suppose all big trips need a day when everything seems to go wrong. Today was our day. It began with us visiting Home Depot in Medicine Hat to find a repair for the water valve that broke. We actually did OK with that problem and Bud could repair the tap. We then headed back to my cousin Christine’s near Bow Island to refill our water (that had leak out everywhere) and to pick a few rocks from their rock pile for our pond at home. We had a lovely lunch with Christine, Frank, Ginger and Griffin and then headed on our way.

Trying to avoid the TransCanada highway, we dipped down to Highway (and I use that term loosely) 13. We stopped for gas in Maple Creek and that’s when our second side track happened. I, somehow, locked the keys in the truck. Luckily the gas station owner knew of someone in town who unlocked cars and so it was only a few minutes (and $35 poorer) before we were back on the road.

Some of the road was OK but most of it was patched so much that we bumped our way along. At least it wasn’t rutted and the trailer pulled straight. While not what I would call a relaxing. smooth ride, it was at least not as tiresome on our concentration and seemed safer than Hwy 1.

We passed through beautiful countryside like Frenchman’s Valley pictured here. Saskatchewan should fix the roads up a bit and let people venture off the big highways more often!
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It was our intention to drive much of the evening but when we looked ahead at Google Maps there really weren’t any gas or campgrounds for hours (and hours, and hours) ahead so we looked for something around 7:00pm. We came to Cadillac, Saskatchewan and found the town campground, which was free. It was totally empty and had stunning surroundings. Here are some pictures.
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We’ll drive to the border tomorrow in Manitoba and then on to the USA for our last 2 nights away.

Posted by blgracey 20:46 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Westward Trip- Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta

sunny 28 °C

We started off this morning with a trip to the suspension bridge on the site of an old coal mine in Drumheller. It is a tribute to the coal mining that has gone on in the area for a century. The bridge goes over the Red Deer River.
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Since we were in hoodoo country, we stopped in at the hoodoo display on Hwy 10. Various people in our family have had their picture taken on these hoodoos over the last 35 years. They are really neat natural forms that change with the rain and wind over the decades.
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The stop for tonight is in Dinosaur Provincial Park. Many people think that the park is near Drumheller but it is far closer to Brooks, Alberta. It is an interactive park where you can climb in the badlands and where dinosaurs have been excavated for many years. The sunset was particularly beautiful this evening. Our site was S-25 which backed right onto the Badlands area. A quiet park with basic facilities like electric at each site but pit toilets and no showers. The visitors centre is interactive and very interesting teaching about the natural wonders of the area, the glaciers, the dinosaurs and the research that still takes place here. Very cool! A definite must see!
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We noticed a robin at the front of our truck and he was hopping around up and down but not leaving. What was he doing? If you've ever travelled through the prairies you'll know there are a lot of "meaty" bugs that land on your windshield etc. The robin was having lunch! I think the truck might need a scrub down when we get home. What do you think?
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One thing I will say about the park however, is that you should really follow their signs about how to get there and come from Brooks. We went a back way, which I might add looked like a paved road on the map, but was a gravel road under construction.
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This was the state of the inside of the trailer when we parked.

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And now we need to find a new fresh water tap for the holding tank of the trailer since it was broken off and we can't hold any fresh water. Off to Home Depot tomorrow!

Posted by blgracey 09:25 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Westward Trip- Drumheller, Alberta

sunny 23 °C

We were so sad to see the mountains disappear from our rear view mirror this morning but we need to be on our way.
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We took Hwy 1A from Canmore northeast to Cochrane and it was such a nice drive. No traffic, foothills turning into rolling hills, we even saw a deer and horses on the side of the road roaming (on the Native reserve, I think). We travelled north to Red Deer to meet my cousins Sara, her daughter Olivia, and Martin for lunch. It was so good to see them again and catch up. We haven't talked face-to-face since 2008, although Facebook has helped us stay in touch. We must have been having so much to talk about that we forgot to take any pictures!

After lunch, and trying to find a propane refill station in Red Deer, we headed down Hwy 42 and then 21 into the badlands of Alberta. This is a majestic part of the country that seems to rise up out of nowhere.
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We are staying near Drumheller tonight under a perfectly clear sky. The campground is the Hoodoo RV resort which is a family oriented RV park with a nice store and laundry services. It has some views of the Badlands but we will see more tomorrow.
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I have some amazing memories about this area of the country; visiting the Tyrell Museum and the Hoodoos with my parents when was younger and with my children when they were younger. It is a very special and not recognized part of our great country.

P.S. As I was about to publish this blog and sitting by the campfire, the wind must have shifted because all of a sudden the smoke was in my face. I went to stand up with the computer to move out of the way and forgot that my camera was attached to the computer still! Well, didn't the camera end up in the fire. My hero, Bud, managed to fish it out before the battery exploded. I was convinced it was toast but, lo and behold, it appears only the plastic of the case has been melted and the camera seems to functions just fine! More pictures to come tomorrow!

Posted by blgracey 21:34 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Westward Trip- Banff National Park, Alberta 4

overcast 11 °C

Yesterday it rained much of the day and so we spent the time shopping in Banff.
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We saw a lot of souvenir-type keychains and the like but also were treated to some stunning jewellery and beautiful photography of the area. Looking ahead to the forecast, we booked a horse back trail ride for the next day.

Today we woke up to near freezing temperatures (OK it was 9C but it felt freezing!) and so we bundled up with everything we could find and headed out for our trail ride. The trail head was next to the beautiful Banff Springs Hotel, at $439.00 it had better be stunning!
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The trail sent us along the Spray River - and even crossed it - and with all our gear on we were comfortable for the cold weather. My horse was Delta and Bud’s was Concho. We went for 1 hour and it was a great ride.
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We headed back to banff for a late lunch and then out again for our last hike of our stay. We drove up to Lake Minnewanka and then took the Stewart Canyon trail hike. Not many people were braving the cold today so the trail was quiet. We couldn’t go up the secondary trail, which was over 10kms, because there was an aggressive bear warning. We have found the trail markers and warnings to be very helpful and easy to follow. It was amazing to us to listen to the quiet of the forest. No bird sounds, no scurrying mammals up at that altitude, very peaceful.
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All in all we traveled 4kms today on foot and 11kms on horseback.

This picture is of Lake Minnewanka. The sun just started to peak through the clouds as we were coming back
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Tomorrow we leave Banff National Park. I expect we’ll be back again someday but we will miss it in the meantime.

Posted by blgracey 20:22 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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