Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Our Lifestyle Adventures: Leaving No Stone Unturned in the Canadian Rockies, Part 2

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Our Lifestyle Adventures: Leaving No Stone Unturned in the Canadian Rockies, Part 2

into more of the Rockies
This Part tells about Yoho National Park and its western gateway, Golden, British Columbia the northern terminus of the Columbia Valley.

Golden, British Columbia

Golden is just 105 kilometers north of Radium. The Canadian Pacific Railway and the logging industry are both tied into the town's history. Today, tourism is beginning to flourish. The city grew at the confluence of the Columbia and Kicking Horse rivers, and two other mountain ranges besides the Canadian Rockies surround it.

Golden, British Columbia
Right in the middle of Golden is the striking Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge, the longest freestanding timber frame bridge in Canada. It was a community project of the Timber Framers Guild, volunteers from Golden, joined by carpenters and timber framers from the US and Europe. The structure is 150 feet long and weighs 210,000-pounds in a Burr Arch design. It was completed in September 2001.

Points of Interest
Yoho National Park

The name Yoho comes from the Cree word for awe and wonder.  At 507 square miles, it is the smallest of the four contiguous national parks. Together with Jasper, Kootenay, and Banff National Parks, and three British Columbia provincial parks, Hamber, Mount Assiniboine, and Mount Robson, Yoho forms the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. In 2009, we visited Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park. 

You can find the Park's Visitor Center in the town of Field, British Columbia, within the confines of the Park along the Trans-Canada Highway that cuts through it. Field is an unincorporated community of approximately 169 people located in the Kicking Horse River valley of southeastern British Columbia, Canada. Just before reaching Field the Emerald Lake Road leads to two points of interest in the Park.

the town of Field inside Yoho National Park
The first is the Natural Bridge, an impressive natural rock formation that spans the flow of the Kicking Horse River, where the slower-moving waters from the valley flats in Field begin their descent through a canyon. Erosive forces of rushing water over what had once been a waterfall contributed to the sculpting of the Bridge. The softer rock below its hard limestone band eroded more quickly, widening fissures in the rock until the flow of water diverts below the outcrop.

Natural Bridge
At the end of the road is Emerald Lake, the largest of Yoho's 61 lakes and ponds. Emerald Lake Lodge, perched on the edge of the Lake, provides high-end local accommodation. President Range, Mount Burgess, and Wapta Mountain enclose the Lake. Powdered limestone gives its vivid turquoise color. A 3.2 mile- hiking trail circuits the lake, half of which is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. During summer, canoe rentals are available and, in winter, the lake is famous for cross country skiing. Darn, we should have come in July when the snow melts from the surrounding mountains, wildflowers abound, and it is most spectacular!

Emerald Lake
The road to the Takakkaw Falls was closed but before we left the Park, we had the unbelievable luck of witnessing a train navigate the only Spiral Tunnel in North America (there are about 70 in the world, mostly in Europe). The Big Hill on the Canadian Pacific Railway main line was the most difficult piece of railway track on its route. It was replaced by the Spiral Tunnels in 1909, having been a huge challenge to operations. 

Spiral Tunnel
The problem was that the railway had to ascend more than a thousand feet along a distance of 10 miles from Field at 4,267 feet to the top of the Continental Divide at 5,340 feet. Narrow valleys and high mountains limited the space where the railway could stretch out (and also limited the grade). Extra mileage was thus bored under them. From the road, one can see one end of the train coming out of a tunnel while the other end comes out of another!

Part 3 will be about Banff National Park and Lake Louise.

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