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Radium Hot Springs, BC
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Heavy rain & overcast, hit mid-60s late pm with sun peeking through

Radium Family Restaurant served us an excellent breakfast. We spent the morning doing some trip planning through July 6, our reservation in Denali. It's getting close now and we want to make sure we visit the places of interest and still get to the park on time.

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1000 Faces Art Shop Wall

Driving back to the south a few miles on Rt 93 we spent some time touring Invermere on shores of Lake Windermere. We walked around this very prosperous and charming small resort town, browsing the galleries and other shops and making a few small purchases. Next on the agenda, we drove into the park to the Radium Hot Springs Pools, the largest naturally occurring hot pools in Canada. We had to use those new swimsuits, after all!

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Radium Hot Springs Pool

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Bighorn Sheep Above Radium Hot Springs

Along way to the hot springs we drove through an amazing canyon cut made by the Sinclair River, the same small stream that rushed along a few feet behind our camper. It was sobering to look at the huge canyon and consider that our camper was just a few feet away from it a couple of miles downstream!

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Sinclair River Cuts Canyon a Few Miles Above Our Campsite

Dinner was pasta with veggies and lamb sausage made in and purchased at a small butcher shop in Invermere.

We had very heavy rains, again, during the night.
Radium Hot Springs to Banff, AB
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Rain, rain, rain, heavy, heavy overcast, low 50s

On road by 8:30, we drove through Kootenay NP, BC, on our way to the Icefields Parkway and on to Jasper. We're sure the drive is very beautiful but, for us, it was mostly obscured by heavy, low clouds. The Kootenay and Vermillion Rivers were very swollen and fast flowing. Virtually all the campgrounds and hiking trails were closed, because of unusually high bear presence and/or flooding.

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Continental Divide between Kootenay and Banff

We did take note to how healthy forests in park were until we hit the northern end of the park. Much of the forest in that area was devastated by series of lightning-ignited fires in 2003 that burned about 12% of the park. Also, we didn't see as much wildlife as we'd hoped; a small black bear early on, but that was it.

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Aftermath of 2003 Forest Fires in Kootenay

Finishing the drive through Kootenay, we decided to head east to Banff, highest town in Canada, for a couple of hours and then head back west toward Lake Louise and then on to Jasper. Nice plan but, oops, a landslide closed west-bound lane just before we arrived in Banff. Because of the landslide, west-bound traffic was closed for at least the rest of the day. We then began to hear about severe flooding and road closures at Canmore, to the east. Turns out that the heavy rains we'd experienced were record-breaking. Canmore was heavily flooded, and split in half by what was normally a dry wash. Much of the town had to be evacuated. We also began to hear about floods threatening Calgary.

Downtown Banff was jammed with stranded visitors including lots of campers, like us. We got campsite in the Tunnel Mountain campground of Banff NP, Canada's first NP. We returned to shop in downtown Banff. We didn't buy much but Sandy got a haircut and Bill did some e-mail. Touring the rest of the area, we drove around the huge Banff Springs Hotel and stopped at Bow River Falls overlook. It was kind of scary near the falls with rushing water threatening to flood the parking lot. The local Safeway was extremely crowded, reminiscent of snowstorm buying spree.

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Bow River Falls Nearly Floods Parking Lot

We returned to the rainy campground, made some chili and a salad and settled in to see what tomorrow would bring.