Sunday, January 16, 2011

It Was Magic

I'm sure by now you were wondering what had happened to me, as its been the better part of two weeks since I last sat down at my computer and told you what I have been up to. I had good intentions, however those good intentions went array sometime after the beginning of the year for one reason or another. I have since got my ducks back in a row, but with a lot of flat lighting due to the cloudy skies, I was having a problem getting the motivation to get out of the city, and go for a drive. Over the last couple of days, I had decided that no matter what the weather was like, I was going to drive the Bow Valley Park Way in Banff Park. This past week has seen the temperatures hovering around the minus 20 Celsius range, and this morning was no different when I went out to my truck. I had it running on the drive-way, having started it with my remote-car-starter, and I was glad for that, as the temperature was a balmy -23 Celsius at 6:00am when I backed off of the drive-way. Having thought to fill my truck up with gas previously, all I really needed was a cup of coffee to give me a jump start to the day. Lately, I bought the coolest tea-tumbler, that is especially designed to brew loose-leaf tea, as this tea-tumbler has a infusion-basket that can be removed once the tea is steeped. Wouldn't you know it, I realized that it had gone missing, and I remembered that it was sitting over at my dads place!

The temperature continued to drop as I drove west on highway 1 with a steady stream of vehicles that were all heading west towards the Rockies. The majority of these vehicles were carrying skis on the roof, probably headed for the various ski hills in the mountain parks. I hoped that everyone headed west was aware that with the huge dump of snow that the mountain parks had received,
the highway between Field and Golden was closed due to slides from avalanches. It was not going to be a problem for me, as I was only going as far as Lake Louise. Once I had picked up a park-pass, and had entered Banff Park, everything was covered with a pristine covering of fresh snow. The road had just been plowed, and everyone was behaving as far as their driving went, without any vehicles in the ditches. I couldn't help but notice that with all the snow that had come down, the plows were still out on the highway, and I was concerned as to what shape I would find the Bow-Valley Park-Way in.

Upon reaching the Park-Way, My fears were confirmed, as the road had not been cleared since it had snowed. I decided that with shooting light still not on the horizon, a trip in to Banff was in order, and I headed back down highway 1 and in to Banff. I found a cafe that was open, and went in and ordered a coffee and a bagel. The girls working in this cafe told me that they doubted that the Park-Way would be plowed from this end if it was drivable, as most of the traffic would be on the Lake Louise end accessing Baker Creek Chalets, as well as the various cross-country trails in the area of Castle Junction. Armed with that information I headed back over to the Park-Way, and found that a number of vehicles had been down the road ahead of me. With one last look at highway 1, I headed west on what passed for the Park-Way. Within a few kilometers, I got comfortable with the condition of the road, and knew that forward was the only choice, as there was no way that I could have turned around regardless. The advantage was that there was no traffic on the road, and when I stopped for photo-ops, I just stopped in the middle of the road.

The information that I had received as to the road conditions proved to be correct, as the further west that I drove on the Park-Way, the better the shape of the road. By the time I pulled in to the Castle Junction gas station for a coffee, the road changed from poor condition to great condition. Castle Junction was where anyone going to Johnston Canyon or further west entered from the junction with highway 1. I continued west with further stops made for photo-ops. Although I saw lot of wildlife tracks, I did not see a single animal throughout the lenght of the Park-Way. I suspect that a lot of the wildlife was holding up in the timber due to the deep snow. Upon reaching the Ice-Way, I drove in to Lake Louise village, and from there I made the trek up to the lake. Although the sun threatened to come out from behind the clouds, it was not to be. To bad, as with all the fresh snow lying on the landscape, it would have been dazzling to say the least. Once up at the Lake, I had to laugh once I exited my truck, as the temperature was a balmy -3 Celsius, although back in Calgary the temperature was still stuck at -20 Celsius. With skaters on the lake and a light dusting of snow coming down, it was magic. For the next hour while I shot photos, I felt like I had stepped back in to a photogravure of ice-skating and horse-drawn sleigh rides.

See "Latest Photos" on my website for more photos

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