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Thursday, 29 October 2009

A view to die for

Thursday 8 Oct.09

The first day in Banff dawned grey and misty, so there seemed to be no point in going on the gondola up Sulphur Mountain as I had planned.   It was a disappointment, but I hoped the next day might be better.  Instead I had lunch in town with Lynda from California, who I had met on the train.  While we were eating flakes of snow began to fall!!   Pretty!  Lynda was staying at the Fairmont hotel on the outskirts of the town, and suggested that I might like to go back there later for the 3.00p.m. tour of the place!  We caught the local service bus back from town, and arrived in plenty of time to join the others who were also booked on the tour.  banff tony Our guide was a lovely Jamaican guy, resplendent, as they say, in a kilt, with tweed jacket. The kilt was because the hotel had been built by a Scot, whose home had originally been been in Banffshire, Scotland.  Thus also the town name of Banff.  The tour was interesting though I don’t remember a lot of the history.  I just enjoyed the sight of the various public rooms we were shown.

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Fairmont Chateau Hotel, Banff  - the new part



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 Snowing heavily now






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That’s Lynda on the left in one of the beautiful foyers/lobbies




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 One of the sitting rooms




During that day we had  more snow, about 4 inches, probably, but next morning was it ever cold!  Minus 19, someone said in the breakfast room.   However, the sun was shining!

I went out wearing a pair of jeans with another pair of trousers on top, a tee-shirt, cardigan, fleecy jacket and shower-proof jacket, two pairs of socks, and my inevitable Crocs!  Oh and I had a woolly hat I just thought I’d better pack!  I’m so glad I did  My ears were just about frozen off.  The sky was vivid blue, and the mountains round about glistened with snow.  It was wonderful – definitely the day for the gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain.  sulphur mountain 021 The bus dropped me off at the foot of the mountain and before long I was sitting in a small gondola being swung up the mountain over the tops of the fir trees, and the several walking paths down below.




 sulphur mountain 032 Once at the top station the views were stunning!  You could see right down to Banff (sort of centre left) and the Fairmont hotel (bottom right) and up all the different valleys that seem to converge on the town.  The forces of nature – i.e. the ice during the ice ages - carved out these valleys.  Awesome, really awesome!  

sulphur mountain 092There's a trail that takes you on up higher to the very top of the mountain!   The trail is mostly on a wooden construction of paths and steps, which serves to protect the alpine plantlife on the mountain, and that day it was under snow,  but by the time I got there it had been pretty well walked on, so I decided I was going to make for the top where there is a Cosmic Ray Station, from days of old!sulphur mountain 088   

It was wonderful and you can imagine my camera was kept busy.  I could have stayed up there for hours just looking at the view over glacial valleys to so many snowy peaks, and down to Banff itself below us.  We must have been at around 7000 feet up there! 


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Here I am at the top with my woolly hat pulled right down!



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I just have to show you more views from up here!




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sulphur mountain 041 I must have stayed there for an hour or more before coming back along the trail to the top station…



sulphur mountain 046  …and the cafe! 




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Another quick walk about and another picture or two …



sulphur mountain 131 and finally, I took the gondola ride back to the base station and returned by bus to Banff, very happy that I have finally achieved an ambition and not only seen the Rockies, but been up there in amongst the peaks!

Banff itself is a very attractive alpine town with a nice buzz about it.  There are lots of little shops and cafes as well as the touristy shops that stay open late at night.  

sulphur mountain 155How’s this for a main street, with a muckle mountain at the end of it?    -Well, not right at the end.  It’s a wee bit further away! -



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or this as a residential one??

I loved it!


Talk again soon.

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