After Drumheller we stopped to visit family in Calgary and then headed to Banff. The town of Banff itself is just a tourist zoo but the surrounding areas are worth exploring. The Canadian Rockies are a stunning place and since I grew up in western Canada I have already spent quite a bit of time there. I will spend quite a bit more time there, but this time we are just passing through quickly. It seems like a shame but there are many adventures ahead of us.
In the afternoon, after arriving in Banff, we ate lunch and went for a stroll around Lake Minnewanka. The Engelmann Spruce along the trail created a pleasant aroma.
There is a saying that if one is depressed, they are living in the past, if one is anxious, they are living in the future, and if one is at peace, they are living in the present. I have read other experienced overlanders stating that it takes about two weeks on the road to drag one into the present and start feeling at peace. At this point we are about two weeks into our journey and it is impossible not to live in the present. I was definitely living in the future anticipating this trip, but now I start to feel the peace of living in the present.
In Banff we transitioned from primarily westward travel to primarily northward. We started with what has to be one of the top drives in the world — the Icefield Parkway between Banff and Jasper, Alberta. It was breathtaking. Apparently the Carretara Austral in Chile competes with this drive and we will drive that one too. Lake Louise was worse than a tourist zoo. You can’t even go see the lake without an advance reservation, so we had to miss it. I went to Lake Louise several times in my childhood and I felt sad it has been degraded by an overwhelming throng of visitors.
Take a close look at the following picture. You can see the Athabasca River drains into the Mackenzie River and we will cross the Mackenzie River in a ferry when we are way up north on the Dempster Highway. I wonder if the water passing by that day will be the same water passing us on the ferry when we cross the Mackenzie.
From Athabasca Falls we continued north stopping for the night just north of Jasper, Alberta at Cache Lake campground.