Banff National Park and Jasper National Park

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A photo diary of breathtaking photos by instagrammer Garry Norris. Story by travel writer Maria Visconti.

canadian rockies

THE CANADIAN ROCKIES ARE AWE-SOME, in the most literal sense of the word (awesome being one of the English language most misused words in daily conversation as illustrated in the following exchange: “See you tomorrow”. Awesome”).

The real meaning of “Awe”, is that feeling of reverential respect mixed with wonder (and even fear at times), exactly what the visitor to the Banff National Park and Jasper National Park will experience.

The Icefield Parkway provides a way to link these stunning spots allowing more time to explore the area on foot or on horseback.

Canadians are really outdoorsy people and the sites are criss-crossed with walking and riding trails that allow the visitor to spend quality time lingering by a dark deep pond or contemplating a vibrant turquoise lake.

This is a landscape to calm the mind and invigorate the spirit.

The Canadian Rockies are vast and truly awesome in every respect, as you’ll see from these awesome photos captured by professional instagrammer Garry Norris.

Canadian Rockies

Nature here takes over in a feast of jagged peaks that knife the skies above.

jasper national park

Torrents of powerful glacial fed rivers cut through the earth like a sharp knife does through butter.

jasper national park

Mighty waterfalls explode in a myriad of mini rainbows while they crash their precipitous course down evergreen canyons.

Banff National Park

Rivers flow so ferociously that they take anything in their path, even when they are partially under ice and snow.

Dead tree-trunks bounce on boulders adding to the roar and clatter, producing a deep rock-rumble that reaches your inner core and warns you not to attempt any crossings just at this point.

jasper national park

Life is on the move here, even glaciers move practically before your eyes, leaving crevasses and fissures, which have claimed the lives of the unwary.

The Athabasca Glacier in the Jasper National Park can be walked on but only under the strict supervision of ice-guides. Approaching it you notice markings on the road, documenting the glacier’s moves of the last century.

Banff National Park

Side to side to these moving, crashing and exploding wonders, peaceful lakes and ponds co-exist nestling amongst guardian circles of mountains.

Their colour -a stunning milky turquoise- is due to the high content of ‘mountain flour’ as the locals call the powdery residue produced by friction of rock upon rock, boulder upon boulder grinding and rolling downstream propelled by mighty bodies of fast-moving water.

It is around these tranquil ponds and surrounding woodlands that walkers are likely to spot deer, elk, mountain goats, bears, caribou and bighorn sheep.

The way in which this juvenile deer looks at the camera reveals the innocence of youth. It does not know whether the camera will fire a lethal shot or just snap a liking of wild life but instinct takes over and in a flash the deer is gone.

jasper national park

Hoarfrost is always an amazing sight. Dew that freezes overnight develops into needle-like ice crystals delicately coating every tree branch, grass blade, twig and even spider webs. The tracery is lace-like and the effect eerie.

Nothing beats the discovery of a delicate organism clinging onto life against all odds. Precarious perches that offer a minimum of comfort sometimes have determined seedlings that have taken hold and grow into strong trees.

In this case, a lonesome daisy in Bow Valley (at the Bow Valley Provincial Park of the Kananaskis Country) has survived while being covered by sheet ice during the night hours and is now eagerly seeking the morning sunrays to warm up.

The name “Bow” refers to the reeds that grew along the banks of the River Bow which were used by the local  First Nation peoples to make bows.

banff national park

Jumping on puddles is something every child has tried at one time or another. The inner child in this dusk explorer cannot resist the idea of bouncing from one soft pond’s edge to another, tempting fate: a fall in the water. Will it be freezing cold? Will I survive?

Reflections on the water. Ponds act like mirrors to the sky and invite inner reflection and contemplation. Only the slightest of insects land on the surface causing delicate rings to appear.

The disturbance only alters slightly the panorama of mountains reflected in the water. It does not break the image; it just distorts it a little and invites the onlooker to stay till things quieten down.

banff national park

Lake Moraine, in Banff National Park, lies in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, 14Km from Lake Louise. This is the most photographed site in Canada and appears in a myriad of publications all over the world. Its attraction is undeniable at all times of the day.

These canoes, used today for recreation purposes at Lake Moraine, Banff National Park, are a reminder of their creators, the First Nation people of Alberta, the Nakoda who are related to the Dakota and Lakota who used to inhabit British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana, USA and are part of the Sioux Nation.

Canoes were made originally with the bark of birch trees (which is essentially waterproof), stretched over a frame of wooden ribs, a design that has remained unchanged for thousands of years. Finished with a coat of hot pine resin these were ideal means of transport on the lakes and rivers of the region. Later on, fur traders adopted them to transport large quantities of local pelts, which eventually would end up in Europe.

Inspired to go? For more things to do in Canada see Best of Canada.

baff and jasper national park

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Maria Visconti
As a travel writer and photographer, I owe my present ‘incarnation’ to two authors who –I have recently realised- influenced me greatly: Emilio Salgari and Lobsang Rampa. They shaped my craving for adventure and far away places while growing up in Buenos Aires.