Two weeks ago we went out to Banff after church on Sunday for a half day fresh-air break. As is becoming the routine, Noah had his nap en route to Banff and we stopped at Tim Hortons for lunch. How exciting to find out that Timmies has added lasagne to their menu. Noah's favorite food in a coffee shop setting made me practically dance. After lunch we took an enjoyable walk along the Fenland Trail right in the town of Banff. It's a beautiful trail through a quiet forest that follows along 40 Mile Creek and crosses a couple bridges. It's short and makes for the perfect toddler hike. We even got our Halloween photos of Noah finally because his costume was really warm and we figured it made for a nice snow suit.
|Daddy, Noah and Grandma on the Fenland Trail|
|Cookie Monster looking up at a squirrel - the highlight of the day|
|Mommy and Noah taking a rest along the creek|
|Still walking with a bit of coaxing|
|40 Mile Creek|
|Snowy Visit to Cascade Ponds|
After the Cascade Ponds visit we continued around the loop towards Lake Minnewanka. What a surprise to see this heavily visited tourist area extremely peaceful and almost deserted. Noah had a great time throwing rocks in the lake with Daddy. I've heard that you can skate on this lake in winter but it certainly wasn't frozen yet when we were there.
|Throwing rocks with Daddy|
|Mommy and Noah|
|Noah and I on top of Tunnel Mountain|
|Hiking down with Daddy|
After the ascent of Mighty Tunnel Mountain and lunch we headed out to meet friends on Johnston Lake. To quote the Parks Canada website: "It doesn’t take much to find solitude in Banff National Park. Just a ten minute drive from the townsite, you can find natural gems like Quiet Pond. And if you time it just right, you can bring your skates and explore this magical November scene for yourself. “Skating Season”, as the locals refer to it, happens when cold temperatures arrive before the snowfall. It doesn’t happen every year, but when it does, be sure to get out to one of the lakes and ponds in the Bow Valley. It’s an activity steeped in canadiana, a surreal experience you will never forget. "
Johnson Lake was absolutely perfect for our November skate and apparently the whole Bow Valley knew it was "skating season." Johnston Lake is on the Minnewanka Loop Road just outside Banff and is very easy to find. We've hiked around the lake in summer before but never skated on it. To hike around the lake takes a good hour and a half.
To skate across it takes maybe 15 minutes. It was such an amazing experience to be able to skate clear across a mountain lake and share in a local's paradise. I had never heard about November skating before until a couple friends who live in the Bow Valley started talking about it. Yay for inside information! To skate on Johnston Lake felt like I was gliding across an old Coca-cola bottle. It was perfectly smooth and green. Very very green! You could look down in some spots and see logs or air bubbles below you. It was a little freaky to be able to see clear to the bottom of the lake in spots but I always figure there's safety in numbers. Given the number of people on the lake, I felt pretty confident it was well frozen.
|Skating on Johnston Lake|
|Pushing a very sleepy Pook|
|Our skating party|
Hopefully this has inspired you to get out to the mountains and enjoy shoulder season wherever you live too. Ski season is upon us already so we are hoping that our next outing will be at Lake Louise trying out the new ski pulk with Noah. I become very addicted to cross country skiing each year so you can expect many ski stories over the next several months.
Question for my readers: What is your favorite way to spend the shoulder season months between summer and winter?