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 😛 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* 😀
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 😀 Anyway, I managed to make some photographs along the way and we returned to safety of our camp.
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.
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 😛 )
Next morning was very, very cold…
Cheops Mountain 2530m