Banff, the First F Is Silent, October 11 to 12, Days 40 to 41

We are in Banff, the ffamous ski destination in the fforests and mountains of western Canada. The people are so ffriendly, they offffer a ffree breakffast!

Every sign here seems to repeat the mountain geometry. Look how friendly: free breakfast!

Every sign here seems to mirror the shape of the Rocky Mountain peaks. Look how friendly: free breakfast!

So the key to pronunciation of Banff is to ignore the spelling; it is pronounced Bam(p)f. Unless, of course, you’re talking about Ze Burgler of Banff-ff-ff.

Banff is a city inside Banff National Park. You actually have to pay a national park fee to visit the town. It’s worth it, a cute little mountain town filled with interesting shops, good food, and many visitors on this unseasonably warm holiday weekend. Yes, it will be Thanksgiving on Monday. Happy Turkey Day, Canada.

How would you like this in your backyard?

Banff. How would you like this in your backyard?

The town of Banff was formed in the late 1800s when Canada’s transcontinental railway was being built. With the natural beauty year-round and some lovely hot springs nearby for cold weather, the setting was and is perfect for luxury vacations. In 1888, a night at the Banff Springs Hotel was $3.50. It’s considerably more now. We looked at the impressive lobby inside and the heated pool outside…but didn’t stay!

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Marilyn Monroe slept here.

Just north of Banff, the town, is Lake Louise, the blue lake, tiny hamlet, and very big ski hill.

Maybe more bears than people in Lake Louise?

Maybe more bears than people in Lake Louise?

Peaceful Lake Louise

Peaceful Lake Louise

The ski hill is pretty green now, but the snowmakers (people, not machines) are being trained this week. Snowmaking starts next week. Skiing begins on November 7. World cup men’s events will be held here at the end of November and women’s at the beginning of December. Watch and see if you recognize the runs.


Purchase your season ticket by Wednesday for only $949, slightly over half of Jackson Hole. Kids under 5 are $20 all season. And it’s Canadian dollars!

Interestingly, for the last week or so we’ve been seeing LOTS of Chinese tourists. We thought we were in Harbin instead of the North American Rockies. In China, October 1 to 7  is this year’s Golden Week, a big time for vacations, so that may explain the high numbers.

People the world over make crazy poses.

People the world over make crazy poses.

The next lake was known to every Canadian citizen in the 1970s, since it appeared on the $20 bill.

Canadian $20 bill

Canadian $20 bill, 1969

A sign tells you to climb the “Rock Pile” to see the famous view of Lake Moraine.

Lake Moraine, form the "Rock Pile"

Lake Moraine today. The $20 bill has been retired, but the lake lives on.

Lake Moraine is a beautiful iridescent teal blue, thanks to the rock flour suspended in the water. This fine powder is created as the glacier grinds against the rock walls. Then meltwater brings the particulate down into the lake where it delightfully reflects blue light.

Rock flour = blue-green lake

Rock flour = blue-green lake

A great spot for a stroll along the shore.


Arabesque? Sort of.


About to fall off a log? For sure!

We couldn’t hike far afield from the lake since every trailhead posted this sign, not just warning about bears but mandating that groups of two just won’t do. Not enough nourishment for the bears, apparently.

By law, hike in foursomes.

By law, hike in foursomes.

Actually, Parks Canada has been working valiantly to restore grizzlies to Banff after they were nearly wiped out when the railroad and farmers ruled the area.

Next is Lake Bow, in front of Bow Glacier. Many of the glaciers we’ve seen in the northwest have been melting so that they appear to be snowdrifts or more accurately, piles of dirty snow. The crystal blue ice of Bow Glacier is mesmerizing.

This is what we expected for glaciers!

This is what we expected for glaciers!

We took the scenic Trans-Canada Highway through all this beauty and enjoyed the mountain views. Then we found “the scenic route” of the Bow Valley Parkway.

The scenic route

The scenic route

Turn a corner and this was our majestic view…

Aptly named Castle Mountain

Aptly named Castle Mountain

Just as in the American national parks, Parks Canada practices conservation, including controlled fires to allow the forests to regenerate.

This was a controlled fire.

This was a controlled fire, still smoldering.

Between fire and the passing of time, the aspens leaves are finally falling to the ground.

Aspen leaves on the scorched earth.

Aspen leaves on the scorched earth.

As we were driving along, we couldn’t help but sing “O Canada, da da da da da da…” The country deserves our knowing the lyrics. Sing along next time you go to a hockey game.

O Canada!

O Canada!

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

We’re heading west tomorrow, toward Kamloops, a place we hadn’t heard of before today, but we’re sure to love.

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2 Responses to Banff, the First F Is Silent, October 11 to 12, Days 40 to 41

  1. Joán McGinnis says:

    Wonderful commentary and photos. Ze Burglar of Banff-ff-ff was a riot! We got to stay in the Banff Springs Hotel once and it was lovely. Ahhh ! Memories! Joán


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