Day 7
Friday July 22nd

Breakfast here is left to fetch for yourselves, the guest lounge contains a fridge, sink and utensils so its a case of help yourself to juice, cerals, coissants and whatever else you can find, in a B&B I find this too impersonal, the reason for coming to B&Bs instead of hotels is to be immersed in the country and talk to the residents not to be in a self service restaurant.


Cave and Basin is a mile or so away across the bridge and through the woods so being English we walked which gave us the opportunity to browse in the shops and rummage through an indian trading post full of t-shirts, jewellry, china, knives and knick nacks. We spent a good half an hour in there examining everything and sizing Chris up for t-shirts.

My first totem

From here the path dived into the woods and we came across the first serious attack of mosquitoes of the holiday, they were everywhere landing all over any part of the body not thoroughly smeared in spray and even then not caring too much about the spray. Chris and David started a competition Chris seeing how many he could splat and David seeing how many times he was bitten.

Taken from in front of the Banff Trading Post

Cave and Basin

15 minutes later we came back out into the open at the Cave & Basin, a hot sulphur spring, discovered by railway workers.The spring had been captured and routed into a swimming pool long since closed to bathing but you could walk around the outside free or pay an extortionate fee to geta slightly closer look and go up a tunnel to see where the descended into the original spring.

Naturally we declined to pay but took the free walks up the hill which also led to further springs and admired the now partially filled in pool from on high. The sulpher smell was very pungent and up the hill it didn't even keep the mosquitoes away, the warm water seemd to attract them and you daren't stand still for long as you became a target.

Filled in swimming pool

The water in the springs was bubbling up causing minature underwater staligmites to form.

Jude and David braved the boardwalk down to the lake whilst I wandered around taking photos avoiding areas with mosquitoes.

We walked quickly back to town Chris and I well ahead of Jude and David, stopping only in the trading post for Chris to pick up an indian knife and me to buy Jude's Christmas present, a silver and turquise necklace.

We found a Subway sandwich shop in an underground shopping arcade for lunch. By the escalator there was a selection of old skis depicting the progress of design over the years.

We wandered down the main street stopping to pick up a take away vanilla flavoured coffee and large cookies. Jude left me to get the coffee to which I forgot to add sugar, consequently Jude went thirsty.

This really smelt and was plagued by mosquitoes

Note the stalagmites underwater

Tunnel mountain

We piled into the car and drove up to the cable car but the overcast sky and exhorbitant prices persuaded us to let it pass so it was back to town and along the the river to some view points, which the boys thought boring and mosquito filled, then up to Tunnel Mountain. David insisted we climb the path to the top which was a series of hairpin bends up a steep slope, at each hairpin Chris & I stopped and inquired loudly "Are we there yet". It was a good 3/4 hour to the top with various view points along the way sometimes on one side of the mountain above a sheer cliff and sometimes looking back over Banff. Right on the peak we found a US geology 101 field trip; sitting at the back I listened in as the lecturer was discussing the formation of the rocks, folds, volcanoes and how the rangers looked after the national park.

Interestingly the rangers refer to the parts of the park open to the public as sacrificial lands since it keeps them away from the vast majority of the park which is kept as pure wilderness. One interesting point the lecturer made was why the Indians never caused much damage to the environment, questioning the students none came up with the real reason when all it needed was a bit of lateral thinking to realise that there just weren't many of them. Jokingly I asked a student if I could answer , he said I could but not feeling I could butt in I kept quiet. As he told them the answer he looked straight at me as said "You knew that didn't you". Smug feeling :)


Lookng over the back of Tunnel mountain


Banff hotel (it's famous apparently)

You can just see the Cave and Basin in the middle top forest

Geology 101

Mount Rundell

After climbing back down the kids collapsed in front of the television sets in their room (with cookies) whilst Jude and I wandered around town.

We came across a set of drummers advertising a special day at the Luxton museum tomorrow with half price entry and lots of exhibitions outside. After the drummers a travelling comedy group run by the park rangers did several acts about the local history of the park.

We located a suitable burger joint, 1950s style with juke boxes and cars for a quick nosh before heading back to the Cave & Basin to watch another travelling group for which Jude had picked up a leaflet performing "Faces of Fire". This was a story about the greatest forest fire the Rockies had known with the catchline "42 days - no rain".

A group of only three players, two men and a woman ran through the history of the area from cave men discovering fire to the massive forest fire of 2003. It was highly entertaining, Fire was played by the woman tempting the caveman with warmth and they lived together in harmony with the surroundings.

Fast forward to the present day, life became dull as Fire was contained and she longed to run wild again, Fire was then tempted by Wind promising to work together and blacken the landscape. When a stray lightning bolt set fire to the backwoods Wind wipped up the fire to a frenzy, dowsing was ineffective so the helicopter pilot dropped the firemen right into the heart of the fire which they tried to contain and control with little success as fire breaks were skipped over. The rangers were however in two minds, whether to stop the fire or not, we learnt about the animals that would die but also about the trees that needed fire to germinate and the creatures that grazed on newly burnt out areas.

In the end the fire ran out of fuel and burnt itself out.

After the performance the actors treated us to a night guided tour of the facility showing us the sulphur pool where extremely rare snails lived the swimming pool and then into the caverns that were on the paid guided tour. A superb evenings entertainment.


©2005 Rob Hayward