Thursday, May 19, 2011
Yoho National Park
Boy, did the weatherman get the forecast wrong for today. Either that or we misread the forecast posted at the Visitor Center. I was all set for another day of sunshine. What we woke up to was a cold rain and it has been dreary all day.
This was our day to investigate Yoho National Park so we went there right after a quick stop in Lake Louise Village to buy bread, make a couple phone calls, and check the weather forecast.
Yoho National Park is celebrating its 125th birthday this year. Yoho is a Cree word meaning “awe”. It’s awesome features are high mountains (28 peaks over 9,000 feet) and spectacular water falls--or so they say. The cloud cover was so low today we couldn’t see the high peaks and the roads and/or trails to the waterfalls are still closed for the season.
All is well though, because we saw one very interesting railroad track and one beautiful lake and short but mighty waterfall.
Our first stop after entering Yoho was at the spiral tunnels. When the railroad was built, a very steep grade was required to get over this particular section of the mountain. (4.3 percent grade--the steepest of any in North America). That was really unsatisfactory so a plan was devised to reduce that grade. What they came up with were the spiral tunnels.
They are really just a series of four switchbacks, but since a trail can’t maneuver as easily as a walker or evan a car, a loop was developed so the train could make the turn. That loop is cut deep into the side of the mountain as a tunnel. While we were stopped at the view point reading the interpretative panels a train came. We watched as the train ascended the mountain to the first tunnel and then in a few seconds came out the other end of the tunnel going in what appeared to be the opposite direction. Amazing! Or should I say, “awesome”.
Our second stop was at the Information Center in the tiny village of Field, BC. This Information Center is brand new, in fact, they were still working on it today. We’ve noticed a lot of new stuff in all the parks this week. We are assuming this face lift is in preparation for the birthday celebrations this summer. Not only is Yoho 125 years old, but the Canadian Park Service is celebrating its 100th birthday. What ever the reason, things are looking real good in the Canadian mountain parks.
Our next stop was at Emerald Lake. The lake is still frozen, but the ice is breaking up so we could see the brilliant emerald color. There was an avalanche this winter which took out all the trees in its path on the side of the mountain and dumped them right into the lake. It looks like the trees were just mowed down. Incredible what force the snow can have.
Along the road which leads to Emerald Lake is another powerful force at work--water. Over time the Kicking Horse River has eroded away the rock to create an archway over the river. Come back in a few thousand years and you won’t recognize the place.
That was our visit to Yoho. Tomorrow we’re heading up the Icefield Parkway, probably in the rain. Jasper National Park is located at the norther end of Banff, and we’ll actually drive through the southern end of Jasper, but we’ll wait to do our sightseeing there on our way home from Alaska.
CRITTER COUNT: 9 elk
That’s it for this rainy day. Thanks for tagging along.