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Kayaking with Elks; Brrr; Crumpets, Anyone? “Chubmunk”; “Hey Babe, nice platforms!”

One of our last outings in Banff was kayaking from First Vermillion Lake into a small stream connecting with the Bow River. After launching our sleek boats and pushing our way through some thick seaweed, we got into the nicer part of the lake with massive Mt. Rundle in the background. It was a warm, sunny day, and we enjoyed every minute on the water. Here is Kayak Queen showing off her perfect paddling technique.
The lake was pleasant, but when we headed into this narrow, winding stream, the forest closed in on us like a green curtain. We saw signs of wildlife – tracks of elk and beaver were obvious on the soft mud and sand banks. And then we came to a turn and met some of the locals…
That isn’t a big branch that Suzanne is pointing out to Your Faithful Correspondent – it is a big rack (12 points) of antlers on a bull elk. He is relaxing in the sunshine at the edge of the forest, which is close enough for him to make a quick getaway if some yokel blogger tries to come ashore and conduct an interview or get an autograph. (Hey, just because I had my correspondent’s notepad out doesn’t mean I’d be that dumb!)
Just as we thought that this was the coolest wildlife encounter we’ve had in ages, we looked about 100 feet upstream, and there was an even bigger bull elk in the shadows. Whereas the first (smaller) elk looked at us casually, this big guy seemed frozen, like he was napping with his eyes open. (Hmmm, I have been accused of that behavior as well.) As a card-carrying member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE), I felt a fraternal affinity to my big cousins. 
 This is August, right? While many of our friends around the country are suffering from summer heat and humidity, we are downright COLD up here in the Canadian Rockies. It was about 36F last night (that’s like 2C), and even midday when we were out hiking, we were in fleece, jackets, hats and gloves. Here is My Lovely Bride along the shore of Lake Louise shortly after our arrival Tuesday afternoon, and she’s not wearing a swim suit! You know it’s chilly when you don’t see a single red canoe on the lake. On a sunny day, there will be 20 or 30 of the rental boats out on the water. It has rained every day we’ve been here, but the rain only lasts an hour or so and then the sun will peek out of the clouds for an hour, then go hide for a few hours, and the cycle is repeated. Even the locals are complaining about the Fall-like weather. 
On Wednesday we took another hike, this one up to Lake Agnes, where there is a tea house where you can get a warm drink or some crumpets. (No, Bob, not that other kind of “crumpets”… Shame on you!) The trail up was moderate, with an 11% grade that made it a bit of work. 
There are many religions on our planet, some more friendly than others. It is said that sitting in the silence and looking inward is one of the best methods of self-discovery and worship. We came upon this chipmunk, perhaps in the middle of his Zen meditation and introspection… he was definitely non-hostile.

Lake Agnes is a tarn, which are small lakes that fill the bowls left by glaciers.
On the way down from Lake Agnes, we had a spectacular view of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, the huge 5 star hotel at the far end of the lake. The blue color of Lake Louise is due to glacial till carried in suspension from meltwater from the glaciers themselves. The little dots that look like ants are actually red rental canoes. 
This close-up of a stream’s discharge into Lake Louise gives ample proof of the origin of the lake’s color.
The views of the glaciers that hang on Mt. Victoria (11,761 ft) are stunning. The largest is named Victoria Glacier.    
Near the end of the lake distant from the hotel, Suzanne sat and meditated, recalling one of the events from her new book, Wolf’s Message, when she placed a crystal in the lake to help connect the energetic grid around the planet.  
Two humorous events occurred at the end of our hike, and will close today’s blog post. The first was the sighting of this very well-fed chipmunk, evidently provided excessive handouts by visiting tourists. We named him “Chubmunk”, and Suzanne saucily inquired whether his ample girth is meant to be representative of my own if I don’t increase my running mileage… she can be such a smarty-pants.  
This fashionably-dressed woman was observed violating Hiking Rule #1 – before you leave home, make sure your footwear and socks are appropriate for the trail you’re planning to hike. She was only one mile along a 3 mile trail, and I wondered how her feet would hurt tomorrow, if she kept on going. Well, at least they weren’t stilettos… 
Finally thanks to My Lovely Bride for taking many of these photos and others on the blog… I may have to take her out to dinner one of these nights…

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