April showers bring…more snowshoeing!

Lots of snowshoeing ( approaching 100 days this season), and we even got in some nice skijoring recently.  The lakes are holding firmly on to their coating of ice and snow, but we are getting antsy for upcoming paddling season. We will soon be off to the coast of Maine, presenting at the New England PaddleSports show once more…this is traditionally our only ocean trip of the year, but this year we will also be going to Nova Scotia. More to follow on those trip plans, but in the meantime, we welcome April with a look back at the second half of our amazing snowshoeing season.  I am sure we will get out again, probably at least 5 or 6 more days…but our minds have definitely shifted towards canoeing and kayaking. We hope to be on the water in 2 or 3 weeks, but Mother Nature will determine our start date!

 

Special Thanks to Tubbs Snowshoes for equipping us with the best snowshoes for getting out into nature!

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Magical March—More Snow, Maine Moose, and Mud!!

February has been left in the dust…well, left behind in a mixture of rain, sleet,and ice. The month provided us with some wonderful days on the trails, highlighted by above average temperatures, sunny skies, and deep soft snow.

 

 

 

 

The warm weather also brought us rain, which then froze many trails rock hard…but which also opened up the previously frozen streams and brooks.

 

 

 

 

And warm temperatures…so welcome!

 

 

 

We explored some new to us sections of the Catamount Trail. On a beautiful sunny day, we headed north, and snowshoed along section 31, the northernmost section of the trail. After parking the car, we headed north, a half-mile, right up to the border with Canada. We carefully stayed on our side of the border cairn! We then turned around and headed south on the trail…well, we were on the trail until we accidentally veered off onto a multi-use trail. But the snowmobile riders were considerate, and it was a great day on the trail. We will definitely be returning again.

 

 

 

We decided to take our mid-winter trip to Rangeley Maine this year. We have not been there for a few years, as we have gone to the Adirondacks for the past few winter trips. We love western Maine, and it affords a plethora of opportunities for snowshoeing and skiing in the winter, and paddling and camping in the summer. In the days before we left, we received a few days of rain, sleet, and hail…but Maine had received snow, so we felt confident we would be able to enjoy lots of snowshoeing, and maybe skijoring.

 

 

 

Muddy and icy lower elevation trails…looking forward  to our Maine trip the next day!

Maine Bound!

Since we were driving to western Maine, our route took us right through one of our favorite area of Vermont, the Northeast Kingdom. We decided to stop and snowshoe a wooded and bog trail that we have hiked before, usually in the very buggy summer! I know that Spruce Grouse hang out in this area, but had never found one. That is,until we hit the jackpot on this day. Our dogs, while leashed, alert to the presence of birds silently…we saw Grouse on the ground, and in the trees over our heads. They even posed nicely for photos!

 

 

The very friendly Grey Jays were apparently expecting some goodies…I did not have any trail mix or nuts, but if I held out my hand, they would fly down to check it out. Sorry guys, maybe next time!

 

 

We hiked out to the bog, and onto a nearby winter use trail. Though it was overcast, it was warm, and a very enjoyable break in our travels.

 

 

The dog friendly motel that we use is located right on the lake…a few “frozen in place” boats provided an opportunity to get some photos of the dogs anticipating spring paddling….

 

 

 

We were finally able to climb Bald Mt. in Oquossoc, a little peak that for one reason or another, we had never managed to previously fit in our schedules. It is not a challenging climb, but on the steep approach, the trail was covered with solid grey and yellow ice, frozen, slick,  and sometimes tricky. We safely managed the ascent ( and even more amazingly, the descent) , and enjoyed the windy and snowy summit. Neither of us are fans of fire towers, but I did manage to get up 2 levels, for a photo or two!

 

 

 

 

The only negative part of our Bald Mt. trip was the post-holes…those annoying and dangerous deep boot holes left behind by rude hikers who do not use snowshoes.  Griff actually fell into a few, but thankfully was not injured.  It is a shame that a popular, well-marked and fun trail can be scarred by such ignorance and lack of respect!

 

 

If my dog hurts his leg in one of your post holes, I will find you, I will seek you out, there will be no place to hide! Please Leave No Trace! ( take photos but do not leave boot prints)

Our afternoon snowshoe outing was along a bog stream…a beautiful little area. Our journey was cut a bit short, since one of us ( won’t say who) is due for knee replacement.

 

 

We then drove to the Height of Land, a spectacular overlook above the Androscoggin watershed, looking out towards Mooselookmeguntic Lake. The sun came out, the skies were blue…reminding us how special this part of Maine can be.

 

 

 

The lake surface was pretty crunchy and icy, without much snow cover, so skijoring was no longer an option. We opted to head up to Saddleback Mountain, a large ski area that has been closed for a few years. This means there are miles of trails, beautiful views, lots of snow…and no people. We did find a cool bird, a White Winged Cross-bill, a life bird for me! Nice time, up-hilling, traversing, and then coming down in the untracked soft snow.  What a great location, and a shame that the area no longer operates.

 

 

So we headed home in the warming temperatures and sunny skies. It was a great trip for wildlife sightings—we saw eagles flying, foxes running in fields, gazillions of deer, a snowshoe hare, wonderful birds, and on the way out of town, Mrs. Bullwinkle bid us adieu!

 

 

 

March will continue to see us out on the trails, hopefully snowshoeing right up until we put the canoe in the water. A snowstorm is predicted to bring us 8-10 inches this week so we hope to get out and explore more sections of the Catamount Trail. My guided snowshoe hikes and clinics for the recreation department have ended, and we have some new converts to snowshoeing!

We will soon be presenting at the New England Paddlesports Show, once again sharing our love for safe paddling and camping with dogs.  The excitement for upcoming paddling season is building, and I calculate only 5 more weeks until open water and canoeing! Yes!

 

“Where it’s snowing all winter through that’s where I want to be. Snowball throwing that’s what I’ll do, how I’m longing to ski (well, snowshoe)! *

edgar blowing snow sterling 27

And we have had cold! But that has not stopped us from getting out nearly daily, to keep ourselves and the dogs active through our long winter. Here in Vermont, the month of January had dramatic temperature swings, from minus 25 (f) to highs of 52 (f).  Our monthly total of less than 5 inches of snowfall resulted in mere traces of snow on multiple days, leaving “nice” nice coatings of snow dust on top of surfaces frozen grey from the 4-5 days of rain we had. Despite the temperature swings, often gusty winds, and frequently slick trail conditions, in January we managed to get in 19 days snowshoeing,  4 days spike hiking, and 4 days of skijoring/kicksledding. I conducted one snowshoe clinic for the local recreation department, and we also hosted a moonlight snowshoe for the local lake advocacy Board of Directors. I also presented a slideshow on our Banff trip for a Senior Center’s monthly Travelogue program.

We are giving our Tubbs Snowshoes quite the workout, and they continue to do an exceptional job at giving us safe access to trails in all conditions!

February has already turned the corner…we picked up 8-10 inches of snow over the past few days, and over a foot is expected this week.  The dogs will appreciate the fact that the forecast does not include any bitter cold temperatures, so for now, anyway, their doggy boots can remain tucked away in our parka pockets.

Our search for better snow conditions has taken us on a few road trips, providing the opportunity to explore new trails suitable for easy day trips.  We also hiked up Laraway Mt. for our annual mid-winter trek to see the ice columns.  Our local trails have continued to serve us well, and we have been pretty fortunate to find some nice snowshoeing, even when the we were not optimistic about potential conditions . We even discovered that a local trail network, when conditions are just right, makes a great kicksledding area.

Laraway Mountain section of Vermont’s Long Trail:

 

Taconic Mt Ramble, the newest Vermont State Park

 

Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge, in nearby New Hampshire

 

Our full moon snowshoe…on some pretty icy and firm snow, and with the full moon obscured by snow clouds!

 

Kicksledding and skijoring

 

…and finally, snowshoeing on our local trails. We are definitely fortunate to live in such a great area for outdoor recreation!

 

 

And so our winter adventures continue! We have a few upcoming speaking engagements, and we will also be conducting additional snowshoe clinics and guided hikes for the recreation department.  We recognize that paddling season is less than 10 weeks away!!! Our minds occasionally shift to Canoe Mode, as we need to make our plans for next summers paddling expeditions. We already have reservations for Keji National Park in Canada, for backcountry canoeing and camping, but the rest of our plans are still in formation stage.  Stay Tuned!

Enjoy the rest of the winter, keep active and exploring, and it is almost time to Think Spring!

 

*Credit: Lyrics by Irving Berlin

 

“Blow, blow, thou winter wind…”

The transition from 2017 to 2018 has included some pretty nasty weather…The wind has definitely been blowing, accompanied by polar, soul-crushing cold, creating conditions that are “not safe for man or beast”.  The New Year has begun, and we have great hopes for another year of adventures!

tubbs 2018

 

After a dry and snow-less start, December ultimately brought us some wonderful deep snow, and even some sunny bluebird days, perfect for getting out on our Tubbs snowshoes to explore our favorite winter trails. It has been fun to have enough snow to test out some new snowshoes, which I received as part of my role as a Tubbs Snowshoe Ambassador. This winter, I will be running some Introduction to Snowshoeing clinics and treks for our local recreation department, helping others recognize how much enjoyment we can have on snow! It will also be nice when the temperature warms a bit, and trails are groomed, for skijoring and sledding!

            A snowless trip to Lake George, NY, and scouting out a new Vermont State Park

 

                                        The dogs on their annual tree gathering expedition          

 

  Snow arrives! Lots of fun running in fresh snow, and Edgar got out for some kicksledding!

 

More fun on our local trails…more snow please, can never get enough!

After our successful trip to the GMC Hadsel Mares Camp New Year’s Eve, we had made reservations for this year, extending our stay to two nights.  This would ideally give us more time for snowshoeing in the Northeast Kingdom, and the opportunity to explore a few new trails. (refer to “Raising a Raquette on New Year’s Eve”, blog post 01/31/2017, for info on last year’s trip)

The end of December was marked by bitter cold; we knew that we would stay warm in the cabin, as the wood stove is very effective.  We were pleased that there had been a nice accumulation of snow, so snowshoeing would not be an issue. But that cold…with forecast for wind chills of 25 or 30 below ( daytime!!) we knew that we would have to limit the time we, and the dogs, spent outdoors. Well, we are well equipped for winter weather, so we loaded up all our puffy coats, dog jackets, wool layers, balaclavas, goggles, extra hats, gloves, mittens, bag balm…and LOTS of dog booties and Paw Wax! Off we went, into arctic temperatures, ready to celebrate the beginning of a new year, with all the inherent optimism and hopes that entails.

Brrrr, it was cold. The thermometer was in the interior porch of the cabin.

 

Toasting the New Year…while the dogs snuggled to keep warm!

 

Cold, but oh, so beautiful on the trails!

 

2017 was a pretty amazing year, with all our new GO tent trailer, new equipment, and wonderful explorations near and far.  Our social media contacts were so helpful in trip planning, and we hope to utilize this network to assist us in panning our 2018 adventures.   We thank you for following along on our “somewhat indulgent” personal blog, and hope that you have enjoyed our photos and stories! Happy 2018, and Paddle Safe! ( We will be paddling in less than 100 days!)

 

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“December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory…” ― John Geddes

Yes, we have made it to December…and have had a very busy two months, re-acclimating to normal schedules and activities after  our September  journey.  It has been delightful to see how many folks have checked in to the blog, to read our 4-section trip report.  Our blog viewership is reaching record numbers! We are thankful to the SylvanSport group for sharing our posts. It will be fun next spring, as we have four scheduled events at which we will be meeting with people to talk about our trip, and how we successfully managed with the GO trailer.

November has been pretty typical weather for Vermont. We started off the month enduring a massive windstorm, resulting in multi-day power losses. Thankfully our camping gear allowed us to survive without too many issues.

Hunting season is nearly over, and we have been out in the woods for hiking, microspiking, and snowshoeing….each dog was thrilled to once again romp in snow! Canoeing season ended on November 14th; I spent 114 days on the water, and at least 14 of those days were safely possible due to my Mythic Gear dry suit. There were a few additional days I may have been able to get out, but it seemed that if the sun was shining, the wind was howling…or the ice was getting too thick! The fact that I was able to paddle one day, and go snowshoeing the next, made for an easier adjustment period.

 

After my rather wordy blog posts about the Banff trip, this month I have opted for a more visual post. I hope you enjoy this short slideshow of our November adventures, and that you will check us out once we post more reports of snowshoeing, skijoring, kicksledding, and winter cabin camping.

Please click on this link for a second short video!


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/245377195″>Changing of Seasons 2017</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user16655250″>Sheila Bergin Goss</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

Our Facebook page is Vermont Paddle Pups, twitter is @VTPaddlePups.  We also post in http://www.tubbssnowshoes.com in the ambassador blog, and on http://www.trailspace.com for gear reviews.  We are very appreciative of all the support we have received from these two companies.

Enjoy…and Think Snow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 5799.6 mile loop is complete! Part 4, our Journey Home from Banff

Part 4 of 4

Our final morning in Banff National Park was cold (29 degrees)and frosty, but beautiful.  We walked down to Two Jack Lake for a farewell view…sad to be leaving such an amazing location, but a bit excited about new adventures on the trip home.

We drove east through the Kananaskis area, just to get a different perspective on this section of the Canadian Rockies. We thought about taking a short hike, but when we got to the trailhead, it was quite crowded, since it was a beautiful sunny Saturday. So eastward we went, towards Medicine Hat. We had no reservations for camping on the trip home, as our schedule was a bit less pre-determined.  Our plans included a few paddling stops, so we had earmarked possible camping spots along the way.  We enjoyed the sunny driving weather, and were a bit dismayed that we had not had such glorious weather during our previous week!  We spotted many antelope, and coyotes along the way, and arrived earlier than planned in Medicine Hat. So we decided to head further along our route into southeastern Alberta, toward Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. We arrived at the nearly empty campground late afternoon, and had plenty of time to set up the GO, and explore the lakeshore and hiking trails.

The night in Cypress was windy, and cool ( down to 36 degrees) , but we awoke to a beautiful sunrise. Our next border crossing awaited us, in Wild Horse , where we would cross back into the states into Montana.  Our timing was good, since that crossing is not a 24 our serviced border crossing; we arrived at the rather desolate station a short while after they had opened for the day.

Into Montana we went! I was excited to make note of more birds and animals, some of which I had never before seen. A Golden Eagle was had been perched in the dense fog that morning, and we also saw Western Grebes, Western Meadowlarks, Mule deer, white-tailed deer, and Partridge.  What we did not see was very many other vehicles! We stopped in a few small Montana towns for food and gas ( had to get the dogs a creemee at DQ!), and encountered another boat inspection station near the humongous Fort Peck Dam.

The drive south from Fort Peck, towards Makashika State Park was about as desolate as any stretch on our trip! The moon-like landscape, huge expanses of rock formations, hills, and hoodoos admittedly made me a bit nervous….we were fortunate to have no mechanical issues, but having such in this area would have been frightful. No cell coverage, of course, and we rarely saw another vehicle . That 90 minute drive was almost as nerve-wracking as driving through heavy city traffic.

Makashika State Park was beautiful, and certainly unlike any campground we had previously visited. We arrived late in the afternoon, and self-selected a nice easily accessible site. The terrain was fascinating, but we really did not have much time to explore.  The dogs did make note of the hundreds of rabbits in the area!

We headed into town for a great Pizza, to recognize our achievement for surviving a very long travel day. The night was peaceful and calm, with a full starry sky above us.

It was “load and go” in the morning, as we were off to transverse North Dakota that day, targeting a campsite in Minnesota for the evening. We were not sure of our exact destination, but we wanted to be near the Tamarac National Wildlife refuge in Rochert, MN. If the weather was good, we hoped to paddle in one of the refuge ‘s  ponds.

Buffalo. We encountered so many different camping areas with this name. Buffalo Pound , Buffalo Lake, and Buffalo River were some of our options. In Minnesota, we selected Buffalo River State Park, and we arrived to find it seemingly deserted. Well, this self-registration policy required us to call the Minnesota Department of Parks, and choose a site and pay by phone. There were actually a few other campers in this lovely park, and we were situated in a nice flat wooded spot, adjacent to their trail network. It was nice to get the dogs out for some hiking.

 

We did answer quite a few questions about the GO, and provide a tour to one family. Most of the 5 camping groups were quiet and respectful. There was one camper who let his dog run loose, despite posted rules prohibiting it. I did nicely ask him if he had seen the signs, and he indicate yes, but he just chose to ignore them. One of only a small number of rude people we met in the entire 3 weeks. And he was a New Englander, too (from Maine)!

A gorgeous sleeping night, 50 degrees and windy!  We were up early, to head over to the Wildlife Refuge, but as we drove easterly, the rain and wind began. A few missed turns, and we arrived at the Refuge; the wind was still blowing pretty gustily, and we noted whitecaps on many of the lakes alongside the road. At last the rain had stopped, so we were able to have a nice drive through the refuge. What a beautiful spot, and what great birdwatching! We saw Bald Eagles, Trumpeter Swans, Pie-billed grebes, and an assortment of ducks and cormorants.  We opted not to paddle, since the wind was pretty strong, and the access area was very mucky..and of course, rain was in the forecast!

So our trip was now to take us back towards Wisconsin and Michigan, for one of the few “repeat” sections from our trip west. We wanted to get back into Ontario, to head down to Algonquin Provincial Park. We had not paddled there in nearly 25 years, and how can you do a cross-Canada canoe trip without at least putting your boats into the Algonquin waters?

So easterly we drove, along the Lake Superior shoreline once more. Our calculations allowed us to plan ahead, and we made a reservation for one night in Algonquin, at one of the campgrounds with late vacancies.  Our stop in Ashland ,Wisconsin was brief, but permitted us a nice relaxing stop at a small city campground. For the first time ever, our GO was set up on pavement! There as quite the T-storm during the night, so Griff and I went to the car for a few hours, since he tends to get nervous, and want to pace during storms.  But we survived. One nice benefit of camping in a city? It allowed us to re-stock our cooler and food boxes for the long days ahead.

 

Our goal for the next day was to travel as far east as our backsides, and the dogs’ patience, would allow. The closer to Algonquin we could go, the more time we would have to paddle there!

Back to EDT time, and we settled on Serpent River Campground in Spragge, Ontario. Mostly an RV campground, we were permitted to camp in the back fields, alongside the river…no other campers in sight. It was a bit buggy, and we had another T-storm,  but it was a relaxing stop, with a great sunset and sunrise. And they had a laundry! We were able to finally get all our wet towels dry!

ptb homeward 1

Next stop,  Algonquin Provincial Park.  Since we had a campsite reservation, we could take a relaxing drive, enjoying the fall foliage, and making a few stops along the way.  We entered the park area from the west, and stopped first at Algonquin Outfitters. Everything you could ever want for paddling or camping is here! We hoped to speak with the person who maintains their social media sites…our postings often get positive feedback and comments from them,  and we certainly appreciate that. The fellow, Randy, was not in that particular store, so we left him a nice note on a Vermont Paddle Pups sticker. The Swift Canoe folks are located adjacent to Algonquin Outfitters; Scott Way of Swift has been very helpful over the past few years, but he was not in that day. We did have a nice chat with Jeff, who suggested some canoe routes for our quick stopover. A sticker and note were also left for Scott, who subsequently sent us a photo of it applied to a Swift canoe!

We did not have time to complete the suggested Smoke/Tea/Canoe Lake loop, but we did get out onto Smoke Lake.  There was some pretty foliage appearing, and we were glad that we were there on a weekday, avoiding the massive weekend crowds. Our paddling was a bit different from in Banff…air temperature was in the high 80’s,and water temp was 72!

 

After a stop at Canoe Lake to get ice cream, for all of us, we checked in at the Canisbay Lake campground. Though we did not have a waterfront site, the canoe access was a short, easy drive from our site. After setting up the GO, it was time for Griff and I to get out for some early evening paddling on Cansibay Lake. Peaceful, calm, and beautiful!

 

The campground was nearly full, but it was very tolerable for our one night quickie trip. There were LOTS of dogs, some more quiet than others, but all in all, a very nice spot. There were a few bugs, not a surprise given the temperature, but it was a lovely evening to sit by the fire. Our plan? Up for a sunrise paddle, before we hit the road for the final stretch home.

A spectacular morning, with some fun bird sightings, too!

We had a lovely, if brief stay at the iconic Algonquin Park. We know there are other fantastic paddling destinations among the Ontario Provincial Parks, and maybe some day, we will get to check them out!

 

After paddling, we stopped at the Visitor Center, and checked out the exhibit of painted canoe paddles. These paddles were painted to raise funds for a charity online auction, and wow, there were some amazing works of art! A quite nice visitor center, but we were glad to head out just as the throngs of buses began to arrive.

We were approximately 420 miles from home. We knew we could stop along the way for an overnight, to break up the trip, but we opted to play it by ear, and see how the travel went. Road conditions and weather were favorable, so we just kept on plugging along. At our final ( 6th of 6) border crossing, I had a bit of trouble sorting out my answer to the border agent’s  question  “ so how long have you been in Canada?”.  He seemed very understanding, and waved us through quickly!

At 5:25 pm we were back in Vermont, and in 90 minutes, home in our own driveway. The dogs were sooo excited to get out and run into their yard. Edgar quickly raided his toy box for all his familiar favorites, and Griff immediately went to the dog food bin. They then settled in as if they had never been away. Home, home safe and sound….what a trip it had been! Unpacking? That waited until the next day. Thank you all for following along on our journey. Who knows what 2018 has in store?

griff on couch 2

 

BANFF part 3: “If I wished to see a mountain or other scenery under the most favorable auspices, I would go to it in foul weather so as to be there when it cleared up.” Henry D. Thoreau

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Part 3 of 4

Well, apparently Thoreau would have enjoyed our time in Banff, since we saw some amazing peaks ,often obscured or veiled by clouds, but also were privileged to see them as the skies cleared, and the sunlight shone brightly on their sharp rocky surfaces.

ptb banff 93

The mid-point of our three week trip! After our morning of tourist shopping, wandering, and getting laundry finished, we headed off to the Two Jack Lakeside campground.  Social media contacts who frequent the Banff NP area had suggested this as probably the best campground in the area…IF you can get a site. My efforts of last January to get to the front of the computer line for campground reservations definitely paid off. This is an amazing location, and even though it was reported to be “full”, the weather apparently had discouraged folks from showing up, so we enjoyed a very non-crowded few days.

Our site was located adjacent to a short path leading right down to the lake, and an easy canoe access point.  The turquoise water was visible from our spot, though we initially did not appreciate that, since it was raining as we set up the GO.   The weather precluded our paddling that afternoon, but when the precipitation lightened, we were able to hike around the lake area. Our tent trailer was close to the water, but here are some incredible tent sites practically on the shoreline. We certainly received some great advice from Karen Ung (http://www.playoutsideguide.com/) and Tyler Dixon (http://getmeoutdoors.blogspot.ca/)  !


 

The next day arrived with some improved weather conditions (some clouds, mist, cool temperatures, but no rain), so we hauled the boats down to the access area. What a spot!

Given the water temperatures, and  the variable conditions, I decided that wearing the dry suit would be wise…we made an incorrect assumptions about how cold the water would be, so we also put the dogs in their neoprene vests under their life jackets. The water actually was warmer than Lake Louise (50-52 degrees), but given the low air temperature,  it was probably wise to err on the side of caution.

We had a beautiful paddle that morning, and I can say that I really enjoyed this lake. We rarely saw anyone else on the water, and the shoreline is mostly undeveloped ( you can see some campsites, and a tourist parking area).  We saw osprey, and lots of ducks!

 

My husband took a photo of me, in which it can clearly be seen that I am wearing a dry suit.  Since it was taken with his iPhone, we could post it to social media that day. I had tagged Mythic Gear (the great dry suit folks) in the photo. We soon received an email from Bob Holtzman of Mythic, asking if he could use the photo for a meme…sure, we said!  After all, we are dedicated to sharing practices for safe canoeing with dogs, and what a great example!

That afternoon, we returned to the town of Banff, for some “tourist time”. The rain had stopped, so we were able to take the dogs for a nice walk around the town and along the river.  They were so well behaved, walking among all the other people, in an environment that is very strange for them. We checked out a few interesting museums, and of course, picked up a few souvenirs.

 

I don’t think those are TUBBS snowshoes!

We returned to the campground, and went out for another beautiful  paddle.  We had hoped to paddle in Johnson Lake (near the campground), but the entire lake was closed for treatment of an invasive aquatic species. During our trip planning, Parcs Canada had advised us that the lake was planned to be open by September, but apparently the need to eradicate the organism that causes  “whirling disease”  required extended time.

 

We made delicious quesadillas for dinner ( warm meals on a rainy,cold night), and wished we could have made a campfire. The Campfire Ban was critical, though, due to fire risk, so we accepted it as just another glitch in our plans.  We did actually see some sun late in the day, so our level of optimism increased for the next day’s plans. The overnight was very cold, and very wet, but we kept cozy in the GO. A neighboring camper was not so fortunate. The poor fellow and his girlfriend had ended up sleeping in their compact car, after they became too cold and wet in their small pup tent.  We consoled him by giving him a small bottle of Vermont Maple Syrup, telling him he will feel better if he puts it on his pancakes!

And then suddenly, we were in our last full day in Banff NP…despite the sometimes sketchy weather, we had manage to accomplish quite a bit of what we had planned. This day we were heading out to Vermillion Lakes, though we were not sure which of the three lakes we would end up paddling.

We drove along Vermillion Lake Drive, and of course, it started to rain! So we made a scouting trip out of it…determined that First Lake was very shallow ( 6 inches of water or less)for at least 100 years from shore. Second Lake was not much better, though the hundreds of shore birds ( Wilson’ snipe? )    thought that the conditions were ideal. Ah, Third Lake, smallest of the three looked promising! We decided to wait out the showers in town, at Timmy’s, and within an hour or so, the rain had stopped.

The Vermillion Lakes were wonderful. We saw elk along the shoreline, and eagles flying overhead, and herons and ducks in the marshy areas. No one else was on the water ,so we enjoyed a bit of solitude. There was a bit of wind blowing about, but on this small lake it was not a deterrent.  Mt. Rundle was partly obscured, but we had great views of what we believe is the Sundance Range.

 

We saw, and heard, many trains on this trip…including while we paddled on Vermilion Third Lake.

 

After lunch, we decided that the dog really needed to get out and hike for a bit. The weather had cleared up nicely, so conditions were favorable for a change. We knew of many local hikes, but also knew that many of them are magnets for large groups of tourists.  During our stay in Banff, we had been admiring the impressive falls down Cascade Mountain; a little research and we learned that there is a short ( I mile or so) trail up to the base of the cascade. This turned out to be a great little uphill hike, which afforded some nice views and it was not until we were leaving that we saw other hikers heading up.  We practiced our Bear Smart practices, just in case…the dogs were alert and focused, and we had no issues.

 

Taking advantage of the sunny skies, we drove west on the Bow Valley Parkway. No wildlife sightings, but it was great to actually see some of the mountain tops. We also decided that if we have to wait for an electric sign to tell us if there are parking spaces at a trailhead, that is probably not our kind of hiking trail!

 

The sun remained shining until we returned to the campsite…and continued to brighten the afternoon. So, once more into Two Jack Lake!

 

And news! On our final night in Banff NP, the Campfire Ban was lifted!  The firewood pile was located very near our site, and it was “help yourself”, so we did!  A warm, relaxing fire…the perfect way to end our stay.

 

We awoke on “move-out day” to 29 degree temperatures, and frost…the elevating poles on the GO, which had become wet from all the rain, were frozen. However, with a little warmth from hands and breath, we were able to solve that mini-crisis easily.  We departed the campground to see the sun rising over peaks freshly frosted with new snow. The sun was shining as we headed east, through the Kananaskis area, and homeward bound. That part of the trip became quite the adventure, too..more to come!