Our mountain parks are alive with beauty and the beasts

This week's Hammertime takes into consideration the vibrant mountain parks.

It has been a long 31 years since my wife and I bravely embarked on a family camping trip between Banff and Jasper in our old Chevy and tiny tent trailer accompanied by four kids, loads of supplies, and grandpa leading the way. A couple of weeks ago, we made that same trip by ourselves, it was magnificent, and will always be one of our favourite adventures in the heart of where beauty and nature rules.

What more could we have asked as the weather was perfect and we were mingling in the company of thousands of mostly friendly tourists from all over the world who were taking advantage of the amazing scenery to take lots of pictures, as well as enjoying the benefits of our generous Canadian dollar. The first big surprise of our trip came after waiting in line for a half an hour at the National Park gates, where the nice lady at the window informed us that we could purchase a family pass for $136.00, which would allow us and our car load of siblings entry into any National Park in Canada for the next two years, one of the perks in celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary in 2017. We also found out the hard way that those who are heading into those extremely busy mountain parks need to book their camp spots, accommodations, and events well in advance, especially in July and August.

Brewster, who began promoting travel and attractions in the Canadian Rockies in 1882, have come up with an ‘Ultimate Explorer’ package for their extended tourist family, which includes exciting excursions on the Banff Gondola, Mineewanka and Maligne Lake cruises, and a thrilling glacier adventure on the new skywalk and up on the Columbia Ice fields. It was a fabulous experience at a great discount cost and is offered for the rest of the 2016 season. During our easy to moderate walks and casual drives through the montane forests, we exchanged greetings with many hardy backpackers who were heading out on the long haul, and were quite surprised to see so many gung-ho teens to seniors casually peddling their 10-speeds up and down the miles of highways.

Extreme caution stressed in all areas

For those who have been or will be heading into the mountains and foothills areas this summer, one will quickly realize that there is an ongoing danger of wildlife roaming into all population areas to enjoy a bountiful crop of ‘Buffalo berries’ as well as an easy meal of tasty food scraps that have been left out or tossed away by careless humans. There are warning signs out everywhere to be aware of the sudden presence of bears, cougars, wolves, elk, deer and goats, with bear spray and bells and common sense safety all being mandatory wherever you go. So far this summer, several black bears and elk have had to be unfortunately put down because of confrontations with humans. On the other side of the issue, park wardens have handed out fines of up to $25,000.00 because of the unsatisfactory storage or disposal of food in campsites or other areas, as well as for the careless and totally stupid interaction of humans with wildlife such as feeding them or getting to close in order to snap the perfect photo, which could very well be their last..

We got a quick glimpse of a grizzly, some elk, and a deer, but we took photos from a distance, and then watched one guy with his fancy camera in Jasper get close and personal with a herd of 20 female Elk and nearly get launched into orbit by the massive boss bull. We have every right to enjoy our great Alberta mountain scenery, but please try to respect, protect, and conserve those magnificent creatures and our precious environment, both of which were surviving freely there long before the invasion of the tourists.. The school bells will soon be ringing, so watch out for the excited kids, and have a great week, all of you.


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