Day 1/21

Let The Party Begin

The flight to Calgary, Canada goes smooth. I am getting the idea that the chairs have been packed even tighter on each other than they used to be. For charter flights it is already normal that you feel like being packed in a cattle-truck, but for intercontinental flights this is rather new. The only alternative, except for having luck to have your seat next to an emergency exit is to pay 120 Euro extra for a seat with extra leg space. Only 3 months ago on the previous trip (USA Winter 2010) you had to pay 70 Euro’s.

Somewhere half way I drop my glass of apple-juice by accident. As I am strapped in, I am not able to react and my trousers are completely soaked as a result (-; Luckily these light trekking trousers dry up very quickly. Soon, a large stain is the only reminder of the event.

Customs handling is comparible with the United States. They ask you some questions about what you are going to do, how long it will take and if you know someone overhere. It takes a while to get the rental car. Apparently their stock is empty, something I have never encountered before. After an hour or so, I finally get my car. It takes a long time to get out of the city as there seems to be a red traffic light every 100 meters or less.

Banff National Park

Just north of Calgary, on the Trans Canada Highway, the landscape increases in beauty dramatically. Everywhere around, there is a wide space with soft sloping green hills. Somewhere halfway it starts to rain and this does not look good, at all. I have plans to start photographing this evening in Banff National Park. I had already made a reservation for a hotel in Banff and find it easily.

Beautiful Vermillion Lakes

As it is currently very cloudy and pooring rain I think about getting some sleep, but suddenly the rain stops. This opens up some opportunities for photography. Clouds are not a problem, but rain is. The Vermillion Lakes are only 10 minutes driving from Banff. So it would not be a disaster if nothing happens overthere. A the beginning of the Lake Drive is a big fence with a note on it. A Grizzly female has been seen here, actively hunting on young Elk. These big deer are called Wapiti outside of North America. There is a good view on both lakes, only the cloud base is very low currently. After a while, it seems that the sky is clearing up a bit. Maybe just enough to let some light through.

There is already another photographer active on a good spot, which he seems to defend ferociously. I join the man as he indeed has selected a good spot. We get to talk and he tells me he earns a living from his photography. Very slowly the heavy cloud layer seems to dissolve a bit.

A little later Mt Rundle is basking in warm sunlight, while being ravaged by heavy winds.

HDR impression of Mt Rundle in heavy winds, close to sunset in spring.

Zooming out a bit reveals the lush green surroundings of Mt Rundle.

HDR impression of Mt Rundle in heavy winds, close to sunset in spring.

We wait for the sun to set… and wait a bit more until suddenly there are some spells of faint orange light shining on the mountains on the other side of the lakes.

HDR impression of the mountains around Vermillion Lakes, close to sunset in spring.

A short while later, the orange color on the mountain intensifies…

HDR impression of the mountains around Vermillion Lakes, close to sunset in spring.

…and jumps to Mt Rundle.

HDR impression of Mt Rundle just after sunset in spring.

When darkness starts to fall in, we see a herd of around 20 Elk crossing the water. They are coming kind of towards us and are heading to the bushy area close to the road, most probably for feeding. I take the car and drive to this area, but the bushes are a lot wider (mayby 50 meters) than I expected. Getting into these I would put myself potentially between herd and bear, definitely not a good idea.

It is time to get some sleep.

Maps, Charts & Downloads

GPS Map with color coded altitude information

Color coded distance/altitude chart

Color coded distance/altitude chart, Canada Spring 2010, Day 1

Download the original gpx file here.