Saturday, July 23, 2016

Radium Hot Springs area + a Four-Hour Search for a Gas Station

Creek water just is NOT that colour!

Roger here....  OK.  Creek water is supposed to be brown.  It can be clear, or maybe a little greenish (if it is full of algae), or black (if it is full of tannins, but mostly brown and certainly not turquoise).  Tokumm Creek in the Marble Canyon area of Kootenay National Park is turquoise, not turquois-ish, but turquoise!  Dianne and I felt as if we had landed on another planet. 


This day was dedicated to hiking in Kootenay National Park.  We drove through the park for about an hour before arriving at our first stop, Marble Canyon.

A good portion of the drive was adjacent to the Kootenay River, which was turquoise-ish in colour (Canadian spelling).  When in Canada spell as the Canadians spell :-).

This spectacularly scenic hike began with views of the bright turquoise Tokumm Creek, as seen in the opening photo.  The trail then followed the creek in an upstream direction as canyon walls rose along both sides.

Wooden bridges criss-crossed the canyon throughout the uphill walk.  Getting tired during the walk was not an issue since we lingered to gaze down the chasm seemingly every ten feet.

The following pictures show the views we had, as we looked straight down from the bridges.

As we neared the top of the trail, this massive layered boulder caught our attention --- probably layers of shale?

As always, Dianne stopped to photograph wildflowers along the way.  

At the top of the hike we were rewarded by this amazing view of Tokumm Creek as it exploded into the Marble Canyon Gorge.

Dianne again:   Here is a quick 18-second video I took of the crashing waterfall, if you'd like to experience it:


From the Marble Canyon Trailhead we hopped in the car and drove two kilometers to the Paint Pots Trailhead.  This walk was a mostly flat trek through the woods... 

... then over a aesthetically nice bridge.  The trail then followed a creek.  OK.  STOP RIGHT HERE.  Creeks are brown.  They are not turquoise.  They certainly are not bright yellow-orange!

Proceeding past the creek, we attempted to avoid sloshing through the ochre-coloured mud --- that became the trail.  Ochre coloured!  That's it.  The creek was not the color yellow-orange.  It was OCHRE.  

As it turns out the ochre mud from this area was used by Native Americans for body  decoration.  It was later scraped from the mud beds using a contraption like the one in the photo.  The ochre was sent away to become pigment in paints.  BTW.  It does not come off clothing without a fight.

The paint pots for which the trail was named were found at the top of a small rise.  You can see one of the mud fields in the back of this  photo.

The water is deeper than it looks -- it is crystal clear
When we returned to the bridge, we walked the dogs through a shallow part of the clear river in an attempt to get the ochre off their paws.  It kind-of worked.  It also kind-of worked on the soles of our shoes.


The following morning was the beginning of a reconnaissance day.  When we leave Radium Hot Springs in a few days, we will need to find a fuel station within 110 miles (or so) that is large enough to accommodate our motor home.  I have been noticing that gas stations do not seem to be plentiful between towns.

After some scrutiny, it was apparent that the three stations in Radium Hot Springs would not fit the bill --- too small.  

I was also unsure as to which route to take on the next leg of our journey.  Some roads are better than others for motor homes.  So, we decided to take a loop through three national parks to determine the best route, and to find a large enough gas station.  

As we turned north out of our campground onto highway 95 (which is a great road) on the way to the town of Golden, this fella was creating a minor traffic jam.  Across the driveway, three of his buddies were trimming the flowers of the decorative shrubs at the RV park entrance.

Who needs a gardener when you have free help like this?

When we arrived at Golden, we found a series of gas stations that would work for us along the TransCanada Highway, Highway One.  The Husky station looked to be the best (except for the per-liter price). With the gasoline dilemma solved, we began looking for a place to eat lunch.  

There were several (ho-hum) chain restaurants, but that was not what we were seeking.   

Legendz Diner (painted bright pink) was a gem.

Great atmosphere.  Great service. A place where locals eat, Breakfast served all day.....

Eggs mixed with diced ham, diced onions, peppers, tomatoes
covered with cheese on Sourdough toast, good coffee,
and a Cup of Split Pea Soup
... Great food.  

With our stomachs full (for the rest of the day) we turned east on Highway One, traveling through Yoho National Park (another great road).  

Fencing directs the animals to the animal bridges
One of the nice features that we have been noticing in the Canadian national parks is the fencing along both sides of the highways to keep the wildlife off the roads.  It is not so great for people who foolishly want to get out of their cars to pet bears, but it is great for the safety of the animals --- as long as the wild animals can find a way to get across the roads.  They can.

One of many animal bridges and/or animal underpasses
(The lack of roadkill made me very, very happy -- D.)

After entering Alberta, Highway One veered south through Banff National Park.  We did not take the exit toward crowded Lake Louise (we'll be there later), but followed the highway to the exit to the west on Highway 93.  Highway 93 took us back through Kootenay National Park and back to Radium Hot Springs. There seemed to be more deep snow on the mountaintops during the Banff/Kootenay leg of the trip.  BTW, other than in Golden, there were no other big rig gas stations during the entire loop.  

Routewise... the road through Yoho National Park seemed a little bit better (more passing lanes for slow moving vehicles, like us) than the road through Kootenay National Park (though it was also a good mountain road except for one 11% grade).  In addition, the gas station is in Golden, which would confirm the route through Yoho.


A new day...  Compared to our adventures of the last two days, today was on the mild side.  (Other than losing and retrieving our camera --- no other information will be available from me! :-)

(Let's just say it was my bad, and we had to retrace one entire trail hike (uphill, of course) to find it lying in the brush with a dent near the lens. -- D.)

We did do a short hike this morning to an area that was burned in a forest fire. The burned area is being restored to a meadow habitat that will accommodate the displaced mountain sheep of the area that currently roam the town.  It was an easy, quiet hike, but we did not see any of the mountain sheep that we seem to be seeing everywhere else...

... until we exited the trail head parking area in the car.  

We have been reading, writing a blog, and relaxing most of this afternoon in absolutely perfect weather.  

This morning we moved to a new site in the same RV Park and spent the afternoon doing laundry. 

I enjoyed this clever sign we passed while walking the dogs around the campground:

Our new site backs up to the rushing mountain stream.   Roger snapped this shot of our view from our recliners:

It was great last night to sleep with the window open so that we could listen to the rushing water and enjoy the cool Canadian air.

We also have a better view of the tall hill adjacent to the park, and finally got to see the bighorn sheep grazing on the hill out our big front windshield:   

Both dogs enjoyed watching the sheep from the motorhome.   Bandido was a brave boy watching from the safety of the passenger seat, and quietly growled under his breath!  (Tequila just wanted to play with them.)
This morning we also saw two huge black-tailed deer grazing far up the hill.   

Today we will be planning and getting provisions for another leg of our trip --- this time through Jasper National Park.  Heading north again.


The different reactions of our dogs (in the car) when we saw the bighorn sheep today at the trailhead was funny, at least to us.  Mr. "Macho Man" Bandido remained quiet as if they were not right outside the car.  (If they are bigger than you, don't move or make a sound).  Tequila, on the other hand, cried.  She wanted to play.  

Hey!  Where are you guys goin'?  Come back!

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