Banff Vacation Day 3: when the cold breaks

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Banff Vacation Day 3: when the cold breaks

Sleeping early with vodka dreams woke me up earlier than normal. I snuck out to catch the sunrise on the lake with fresh batteries.

Greatness is always over the next mountain.

I wasn’t the only amateur with a DSLR out there on the ice trying to catch the fleeting vermillion hue the lake is named for.

When the sun came up proper and my fingers could no longer feel the shutter button I ran back to the Chevy and picked up Sam to find breakfast in town.

In the late morning, we walked on frozen Lake Louise.

This is not an abandoned cabin in the Yukon, it’s a kayak storage room at the edge of Lake Louise and just a few hundred feet from the packed parking lots.
Out on the lake, the coast was clear for practicing high kicks.

With the wind washing down through the water-filled valley the temperature seemed even colder than the mountain top a day earlier. We hustled off the lake to the ice bar but were rebuffed from purchasing any hot drinks: hotel guests only. Outsiders can find service inside.

Inside? You mean where it’s not twenty below zero? If you insist…

However, when we saw $19+ per shot we promptly excused ourselves and stopped in at the gas station convenience store instead.

We munched on junk food, specifically, one style of candied popcorn called “Tentations,” which I thought at first was a misprint. Then I remembered the prevalence of French in the region. It turns out this delicious popcorn is sold (by Target, among others) in the states as “Indulgences” with completely different packaging.

Full of popcorn we started up the nearby 1.5-mile hike to upper Johnston Canyon Falls. In the winter the falls and most of the canyon creek is frozen over, but the same steel walkways hanging over the water in the summer provide footing in the winter too (although a bit slippery in spots).

The upper falls (visible via the rails from top and bottom) had an ice climbing crew making an ascent.

While taking photos at the bottom my battery died. I thought it was a close call, as I had some great angles of the climbing. Real National Geographic quality stuff. (I can say that because there’s no way to prove it wasn’t…as you’ll find out later)

By the time we finished the hike, the sun was nearly gone so we went back to town for dinner at Banff’s version of afloat sushi. But make no mistake: this was not Afloat Sushi. Just as many eateries in Banff are not really up to world-class standards. But when you’re the only sushi restaurant open in town you’re also the best. (Technically there is a second sushi restaurant in Banff, but we didn’t get around to trying it) This is why I didn’t provide more detail on our breakfasts or dinners earlier, unlike past vacation blogs.

Back at the Juniper while looking at my shots of Johnston Canyon I noticed 200+ showed an error message (“unable to display”). Taking the new card (purchased for this trip) out I noticed a tiny piece of plastic fall out. Turns out a sticker on the card had come loose and wedged itself between the card and the camera contacts. At least that was my working theory why the whole afternoon would now only exist in completely unreliable human memory.

Luckily we’d stopped at a liquor store after dinner so I could cry my tears into a (surprisingly good!) Grizzly Paw Powder Hound Blonde Ale. From there I moved on to the Canadian version of a White Russian (so a White Canadian, I guess?): (mom, you would love this so much) 75% Cabot Trail Maple Cream liqueur , 25% Banff Ice vodka, and a healthy handful of hotel ice.

And I was not alone. This previously dry couple is starting to partake of stronger libations when no one (we know) is looking.

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