The agenda today was to head south to Banff National Park. We got up at a reasonable hour, packing up camp and admiring the gray ash from the fire of the previous night. We got on the road, but paused fairly quickly as we found a scenic spot we wanted to investigate further. After parking and making a brief (but steep) hike we found a gorgeous view of Peyto Lake.
Peyto is fed by a combination of snow melt and glacier melt. Snow melt tends to be very clear blue water (as in Lake Tahoe or Crater Lake), while glacier melt carries a lot of very fine rock silt, which makes the water look milky white. The resulting mixture in Peyto Lake is a striking, opaque, electric blue; opaque like the Mississippi, but with a very different palette. I love the way this picture shows how the land once tilted here as well.
After enjoying the lake views and the hike through the Alpine meadows, we got back on the road. As we continued south, the skies got more gray, though we couldn’t tell if this was more smoke from nearby forest fires or impending rain. Regardless, it meant the stunning views reverted to the gray silhouettes we saw our first afternoon in Jasper. We finally pulled into the little town of Banff, which was extraordinarily similar to Jackson WY. Which is to say the bustling little “town centre” was dense with touristy stores you typically see in catalogs: LL Bean, Coldwater Creek, Gap, etc. So not really worth spending much time in the town there. After four days of camping, we opted for a night of decadent cleanliness, and so we continued down the highway to Calgary, where we got a room, got thoroughly clean, and had a nice dinner out.