A day of wonder, splendor and awe awaited us and I hope at the end of the post you too will be shouting “Yoho” at the beauty of it all. The day began with these truly mesmerizing views of the rising sun setting alight the mountain tops – above and below from our hotel at the base of Lake Louise in Alberta:
Today we left the province of Alberta to experience “ Yoho”, as we spent the day in the environs of Yoho National Park in next door province, British Columbia. Yoho, one of the four national parks that is run by Parks Canada, was the second national park to be established in 1886 and only encompassed 10.8 square miles at the time – now it occupies 507 square miles of the western and central slopes of the Rocky Mountains. The First Nations Cree were so gobsmacked by the wilderness’s dramatic waterfalls, sheer rock walls and 30 mountain peaks which reach almost 9843 feet in height, they named the place “Yoho” – which means “wonder” and “awe.” Now you get it!
First, a stop at Takakkaw (Cree for “magnificent”) Falls, a special treat since the Yoho Valley Road leading to Takakkaw Falls is only accessible from the end of June till mid-October depending on snowfall, since the road passes an avalanche zone. The falls have a total height of 1,224 ft making them the second tallest waterfall in Canada. The meltwater powering the falls is from Daly Glacier, part of the Watputik Icefields (more on glaciers in another post).
We had a perfectly clear day once the morning mist dissolved to take a leisurely walk along side the waters of the falls up to the base- it looked like this (all videos courtesy of my friend and videographer, Lenore):
We didn’t have this beautiful view all to ourselves – a lone person was taking a decidedly different route to the falls:
Water was the primary theme of the morning, but before we ventured to some unique cascading waters, we literally had to sprint to see the next wonder of Yoho. First, a little background.
When British Columbia joined the Canadian Confederation in 1871, it was on the condition that the Prime Minister would build a railway to link the province to the rest of the country. Building a railway was a major undertaking since one of the most serious obstacles was the Rocky Mountains. Despite its rugged terrain, Kicking Horse Pass was chosen because of its proximity to the US border and its shorter distance to the Pacific Coast. However Kicking Horse Pass has a very steep grade and despite trying a slight grade of 4.5% the first train to attempt the pass derailed, killing three workers. Undaunted, in 1909 the Spiral Tunnels in the pass were opened, where two tunnels driven in three quarter circles ran through the valley walls, effectively lowering the gradient to 2.2% although it is still one of the steepest railway lines in North America.. It is truly a feat of engineering and we were lucky to witness a VERY LONG freight train run through it. Our sprint was due to the fact that the train scheduled presence were far between . The reward was seeing rows and rows of the same train traverse this scenic railway (videos courtesy of Lenore):
Last water stop for this post is Kicking Horse Bridge, which is a natural rock formation created by the eroding force of rushing water over what had been a waterfall. Through an easily accessible trail, we were able to get different viewpoints of the flowing waters:
Next week – Yoho, Yoho as we discover an emerald lake, fossils in the shale and a “fun guy” (actually two).