Hiking in Canadian Rockies -Glacier NP

At first, I wanted to divide this post into 3 or 4 separate posts but my previous experience showed that my readers lose interest after second or third post about the same or similar topic. So, I will try to make it as concise as possible and not boring πŸ˜› We spent 7 days in Rockies and 3 more days (mostly driving and camping) in Kootenay region, in eastern BC. Describing everything would take too much time and I am certainly not as good a writer as some other members of OC *waves to Adele* πŸ˜€

What I called 'the high altitude' preparations, started in Vernon – this is, of course, a joke because city of Vernon is only about 350 meters above sea level which is about 4 times more than where we live but not enough for a proper training. To say the truth, we were preparing for this tour since February, hiking every weekend, trying to "add to mileage" and increase endurance. However, we took the opportunity to hike to nearby Silver Star mountain (1915m). Hike was easy and it was more a walk than the serious hike for as long as we were concerned, but we needed to keep our walking muscles in shape for soon we will have some much longer and more strenuous hikes.

Our first stop was in Glacier National Park. Established in 1886, the park "protects 1.349 square kilometers of mountains, glaciers, alpine lakes, and deep valleys". We decided to camp in Illecillewaet Camp, along the Trans Canada Highway and then we've found that certain restrictions are on power in the area. First, one of the trails (Avalanche Crest trail) that we planned to hike was closed due to aggressive grizzly bear with two cubs who charged some hikers few days before we arrived. The situation was so serious that rangers from Parks Canada decided to evacuate some hikers and give the others armed escort back to camp. All other routes were open but they made it a law to hike in tight groups of at least four people. We've found two more couples for a short hike but one couple changed their mind after they've seen another warning for both black bears and grizzlies on a trail; the remaining couple were more experienced (even though they were having a baby and a dog :doh: ) so we hiked for about 3 km until we came to a nice meadow and another warning; grizzlies just adore these meadows πŸ˜€ Anyway, I managed to make some photographs along the way and we returned to safety of our camp.

Illecillewaet glacier
The history of Canadian national parks and provinces as well is tightly connected to the history of Canadian Pacific Railways (CPR). From the moment when CPR placed the first spike in Bonfield, Ontario and started its expansion toward the west, problems – political, economical and engineering – tried to stop this ambitious project. Even though the first proposed route was supposed to go a bit northern, owners of CPR decided to find a route through Selkirk mountains even though they didn't even know if that route exists :left: The cause for this drastic change in plans was the relative closeness of USA border and that, more direct route, would prevent American railways of entering into Canadian market. But later, once the route was discovered, it became a "foundation" for building more modern roads (Trans Canada Highway, for instance) and towns that lined up Canadian east and west. Thanks to them, there are some of the most beautiful places along the route that are easily accessed by car and one of them is, certainly, Rogers Pass.
Rogers Pass, a view toward mountains on the east
Discovered in May 29, 1881 by major Albert Bowman Rogers, a surveyor employed by CPR (he was promised to have pass named after him and a $5000 bonus), the pass was the shortest way across the "Big Bend" of the Columbia River from Revelstoke on the west to Donald, near Golden, on the east. But, once the rails were laid, company closed the route for observing the avalanches. They had a lot of reasons to do that.
From Wikipedia:

Some major avalanches that came without warning caused the railway serious loss of life and property. In 1899, 8 people were killed when an avalanche destroyed the train station at the pass. On March 4, 1910, the CPR suffered its worst loss. A crew and rotary snowplow were working to clear a snow slide when a second slide from the opposite side of the valley came down, killing 62 men.
In response 31 snow sheds were built and later, one of the longest tunnels in North America at the time was completed under Mount Macdonald. Even standing in the base of the valley (now on Trans Canada Highway) in front of the mountains, one can't but feel the respect for effort of people who made it possible for rails to go through. Cannons, once used for controlling avalanches, now are on display near parking and visitor information centre.

A glance toward the west revealed a rain storm that was coming and we needed to return to camp and make a dinner before it starts (we almost did it, btw πŸ˜› )
Next morning was very, very cold…
Cheops Mountain 2530m

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58 Responses to Hiking in Canadian Rockies -Glacier NP

  1. qlue says:

    Who is Cheop and why does he get a whole mountain to himself? :whistle::devil::pDo you carry pink pepper spray when hiking? Or does that only work on the Discovery Channel? :p

  2. gdare says:

    Well, he got himself a pyramid first, then I guess he wanted something bigger… :PAs for pepper spray, they all say it is working but then there was a story on Global TV about a two guys who were backpacking on the north of the province and got charged by an aggressive grizzly. First they used pepper spray but it only made grizzly more annoyed :insane: One of them was having a shotgun and he scared the bear away after firing several shots on him. Guy said that no visible wounds could be seen on grizzly, it just turned and ran away. I guess, it must have been a big animal :left:Since we had a close encounter with a black bear about a 2 months ago, I am always having it with me but hope to never use it. It is a last resort; it is always better to go away and leave a bear some space than to provoke a charge for no real reason :up:

  3. Spaggyj says:

    Holy crud, that's a cannon? it's like someone bred a traditional ship cannon with farming equipment! Pretty darn handy for its' purpose then, really. It's pretty cool. As always, beautiful scenery. On another note, how does one even begin to pronounce "Illecillewaet"? :insane:

  4. sanshan says:

    /ΙͺlΙ™ΛˆsΙͺlΙ™wΙ™t/ :p

  5. derWandersmann says:

    LOL … clear as mud, San. Those pieces fire an explosive round, as I recall, and they work pretty well at starting an avalanche. Of course it's wise to fire from a place that isn't where the anticipated avalanche is going to wind up.Dare, what brand is your pepper spray? I've always gone with UDAP.This time of year is guaranteed to put the bears in a temper … they're looking for food rather desperately, because they've got to store up enough fat to last them the winter, when there'll be nothing to eat at all (Hmmm … I wonder if that's what is happening to me … my guiding spirit is the bear, and I've been really hungry lately.), so they'll eat anything and anyone in sight.

  6. sanshan says:

    Ill – e – sill – e – wet

  7. qlue says:

    :lol:Yes, no need to provoke a grizzly without cause. :insane::yes:

  8. sanshan says:

    Just copied and pasted

  9. derWandersmann says:

    BTW, San … where (or how) did you get the phonetic characters? I've looked, betimes, but couldn't find them.

  10. qlue says:

    Originally posted by derWandersmann:

    BTW, San … where (or how) did you get the phonetic characters? I've looked, betimes, but couldn't find them.

    On Linux we use charmap. On Windows you can hold down the Alt key and type in the unicode.

  11. sanshan says:

    Now try, Craigellachie for fun. :p (where the last spike of the railroad was set)

  12. gdare says:

    Kimmie, San explained about pronouncing "Illecillewaet" – and I don't think I could do more to help. In fact, I was confused as well, but it is very easy actually πŸ˜€ As for scenery, wait for Yoho NP, I was stunned ;)dW, hm let me check…. It is "Frontiersman" and as far as I know this is the only brand we have in our shops here. But out there on a trail I've seen some people having different brands.We've seen 6 grizzlies overall and what we've found interesting is the way they are using their paws to bring the branch with berries to the mouth :up:Aadil, they way they move, how fast they actually are… Bear spray is effective up to 6 meters, imagine yourself standing in front of a running grizzly, trying to hit his face with a squirt of pepper spray, knowing that you maybe have only one chance? No, thanks, I would rather walk away if possible, or climb the tree, or vanish in thin air, or… anything :insane:Oh, I can see DΕΎ, Lj, Nj on that table :PSan, πŸ˜†

  13. Suntana says:

    I know of something that works much better than Pepper Spray at neutralizing aggressive Grizzly Bears. Maintaining several hundred miles between you and them. Yep, that should do it. Works for me.

  14. Suntana says:

    I mean, if several Shot Gun shots didn't faze that bear, I have a feeling that a shot of Pepper Spray at a bear would probably have about this much deterrent effect on it …

  15. Suntana says:

    Sooo … what if instead of Pepper Spray, you carried in your backpack an emergency STEAK in a hermetically-sealed bag? So, when a bear would start to charge … what are the odds that if you ripped open the bag with the Steak and threw it in the bear's path and started running … the bear would stop to eat the Steak? :sherlock:

  16. Suntana says:

    Originally posted by Darko:

    We've found two more couples for a short hike but one couple changed their mind after they've seen another warning for both black bears and grizzlies on a trail;

    That reminded me of the Cowardly Lion in the movie the Wizard of Oz when he saw the sign that read, "I'd Turn Back if I Were You." And the Cowardly Lion proceeded to do exactly that before his traveling buddies stopped him. But, heck, I would have done like that couple. If the law says that you all had to now travel in tight groups … I would say that would just make more of an easier Tight, more filling LUNCH for the bears. Did the remaining couple at least look like 2 people whom you and San could outrun in case of a charging bear? πŸ˜†

  17. qlue says:

    Originally posted by gdare:

    No, thanks, I would rather walk away if possible, or climb the tree, or vanish in thin air, or… anything

    The old bear joke says it best! :pOriginally posted by Suntana:

    if you ripped open the bag with the Steak and threw it in the bear's path and started running … the bear would stop to eat the Steak?

    Not sure about bears, but I know that there are two golden rules regarding wild animals in the South African bushveld;1.) Never turn your back to the animal, they take that as a sign of cowardice!2.) Never run!! Prey runs, predator chases prey, prey dies! :p

  18. serola says:

    Great story :up: How about using rubber bullets? :left: I guess I would just shit in my pants if a grizzly would come close enough to use any sort of a weapon on it :insane:

  19. gdare says:

    Carlos, all bears want is to protect their food and cubs. In years of increased activity, they got used to people but not to a level to ignore them when these two are endangered. Using common sense is probably the best way to co-exist with bears in mountains. They have the same rights to be there as us :DIt was rangers that told us to hike in groups because then it is the less possibility of bear attack.Aadil, you are right, bears are territorial animals and it is not recommended to run. And humans can't escape, anyway, bears are too fast :left:Sami, as long as there are enough berries around – and I hope a salmon season will be good, too – we don't have to fear the bears. As I said before, common sense is the best protection. Bear spray is just one more layer of protection but I am not sure how many people will have cool mind to use it in a case of bear attack. Rubber bullets? I don't think so. It would be more the sound that would make them run away. This is why rangers use shotguns with "bangers", shells that just make a loud sound without harming animal.

  20. Furie says:

    Cannons, once used for controlling avalanches, now are on display near parking and visitor information centre.

    They waited until there was no-one around or due, fired the cannon then cleaned the mess up before the next trains came through? If so, that's bloody amazing and quite cool.The tunnelers who set up these massive railroads always fascinated me. There's a tunnel in America up on a mountain road that goes through another mountain. You quite often see it on old movies with trains as it's quite an iconic view. The thought that someone actually dug through that, usually with dynamite and pickaxes, always amazes me. It must have been terrifying work.

  21. SittingFox says:

    *waves back* :DI've been through Glacier NP but never really explored it, so I was very interested to read your report. I can imagine how dangerous those passes must be in winter. I've heard distant avalanches in Jasper and it's not a sound you ever forget…on the other hand, I hope those who fired cannons at them positioned themselves out of the path first! :eyes:I love that mantle of subalpine forest over the mountains. And Cheops Mountain is very atmospheric :up:Originally posted by gdare:

    Using common sense is probably the best way to co-exist with bears in mountains.

    Yes, and I wish everyone who visited the parks was asked to memorise that sentence before being allowed entry :right: The mountains are a difficult habitat for grizzlies and that's another reason to give them a wide berth. Coastal grizzlies that can gorge on salmon tend to be more relaxed (although of course common sense is still required when watching them).

  22. derWandersmann says:

    Yes, indeed. It is not wise to approach closely, especially if you look like you're hungry for salmon. But I do love to watch the bears catch them.

  23. Stardancer says:

    Beautiful places. I'm very grateful that you share your hikes with us.:smile:

  24. gdare says:

    Mik, in my next post I will say something more about an unique way they made tunnels in BC. I've never seen anything like that before ;)Adele, Jasper is another place on our TO DO list and I think we should spend more than a week there. It looks like there is so many beautiful places to hike :cool:dW, it's amazing how they do that :DStar, my pleasure :cheers:

  25. sanshan says:

    I must mention that the last photo was directly taken from our little campsite in Illecillewaet campground. Really, a room with a view. πŸ˜€

  26. serola says:

    Originally posted by gdare:

    This is why rangers use shotguns with "bangers", shells that just make a loud sound without harming animal.

    Happy to hear that :happy:

  27. Spaggyj says:

    Hm, it is very easy to say after all! Thanks πŸ˜€ Originally posted by sanshan:

    Craigellachie

    Uh… Cray-jel-ache-eeee?

  28. gdare says:

    San, and easy access to the trails :DSami, :)Kimmie, I think you've almost got it. In Wikipedia it says /krΙ™ΛˆΙ‘Ι›lΙ™xi/

  29. sanshan says:

    You have to imagine how a Scot would say it though. Roll that 'r' and spit a little!

  30. qlue says:

    The 'x' in the phonetic rendering is the ch in loch. :up: (as in Loch Ness)I've yet to hear an American manage to pronounce it correctly. ;):sst: I don't know whether Canadians have any problems with it though! :left:In Afrikaans, that sound is represented by the letter 'G' and is found in 1/4 of the words! :p

  31. Aqualion says:

    I envy your nature. I really do. Although I do live only a few miles from the highest point on the island of Funen. However, it's only 110 meters, so I guess there won't be any need for an avalanche contingency plan. No bears either.What about that discovery you were announcing somewhere else?

  32. Aqualion says:

    I've been considering to build a catapult of some sort. The landscape is rather flat in Denmark in general, but this island of ours holds no hills to speak of (except the ancestoral burrial mounds, and they are everywhere). So, I was contemplating on building a medieval style catapult. Just to get rid of unwanted stuff. With a fair range I might even be able to catapult the lot into the lake up the road.

  33. derWandersmann says:

    It'd be kinda fun to have one of those avalanche cannons, though, even on a little island.

  34. Suntana says:

    Originally posted by Aqualion:

    I see a tit. But then again, I'm a man, I see tits everywhere. I'd even look at a hole in the ground and see a tit.

    Ahhh, I see when they were passing out decorum back in elementary school, you were in the cafeteria getting more Pizza. Well, granted I did see the aforementioned 'shape,' … but, IF you can harness your inner civility, there is actually another solid shape / form there. Seriously!

  35. Suntana says:

    Alright, Darko, again, as I periodically do, I'll test your visualization skills.Do you see the particular shape / form that that Cheops Mountain resembles?

  36. Aqualion says:

    I see a tit. But then again, I'm a man, I see tits everywhere. I'd even look at a hole in the ground and see a tit.

  37. Suntana says:

    Okay, the OTHER shape that is there in the Cheops Mountain image is …a GIANT Face. The forehead is on the right. A little bit to the left is an eye. THEN to the left of that is a BIG nose. To the left of that is the mouth … and finally the chin.That's right. Cheop's Mountain is the head of a Giant who is lying down.

  38. qlue says:

    Originally posted by Suntana:

    WHAT? You mean the 'ch' in "Loch Ness' isn't pronounced like the 'Ch' in Chuck?

    We've had this discussion before Chuck! :p

  39. Suntana says:

    Originally posted by qlue:

    The 'x' in the phonetic rendering is the ch in loch. (as in Loch Ness)I've yet to hear an American manage to pronounce it correctly. I don't know whether Canadians have any problems with it though! In Afrikaans, that sound is represented by the letter 'G' and is found in 1/4 of the words!

    WHAT? You mean the 'ch' in "Loch Ness' isn't pronounced like the 'Ch' in Chuck? I DARE you to tell :norris: that his first name is pronounced "Guck." Guck Norris? That would get the snot Roundhouse kicked out of yer nose.

  40. Suntana says:

    Originally posted by qlue:

    We've had this discussion before Chuck! :p

    Yeah, but not today. πŸ˜†

  41. Aqualion says:

    Well, holes in the ground of a certain shape might suggest the impression of a tit, right.Decorum? I had to look that up. We didn't have that in school, and I prefer my rum without deco, thank you.

  42. Suntana says:

    And your Art Deco without Deco as well, right?

  43. gdare says:

    MartinOriginally posted by Aqualion:

    What about that discovery you were announcing somewhere else?

    I will make a post at the end about it, it happened in West Kootenay region, the last part of our journey ;)Originally posted by Aqualion:

    I see a tit. But then again, I'm a man, I see tits everywhere. I'd even look at a hole in the ground and see a tit.

    πŸ˜† :lol:Carlos, all I could see is a face of a man with a weird hat looking at the sky :DOriginally posted by Aqualion:

    I see a tit. But then again, I'm a man, I see tits everywhere. I'd even look at a hole in the ground and see a tit.

  44. Spaggyj says:

    Saying things is hard.

  45. gdare says:

    Yes, some of the words when written make no sense πŸ˜€

  46. sanshan says:

    Imagine finding the way through that mountain pass, experiencing the bugs, having a few drams of scotch, then say it. :p

  47. gdare says:

    πŸ˜†

  48. Spaggyj says:

    :faint:

  49. sanshan says:

    Actually, imagine spitting out a mosquito or black fly from back of your throat and swearing at the same time. πŸ˜†

  50. gdare says:

    I don't even want to imagine mosquito or black fly in my throat :left:

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