Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Marble canyon hike and Walcott 2009 reception
Just a quick post as we will add more photos and commentary from our hike later.
We arrived in Banff Sunday night and after checking in and fussing had a very beautiful dinner in the Centre dining hall. This was a high end special in the Three Ravens Restaurant, on the same floor as Vistas hall and open to the views of the mountains. It's 360 glass, and lovely even when there's atmosphere surrounding in the form of clouds. It was very hot and we ran the fan all night.
Unlike other conference goers, we didn't arrange to go on any conference hikes. We had already done the Mt. Stephen one, and just are not up to doing the one to the Walcott quarry, though it is the trip of a lifetime. Instead, we had arranged with Joel Hagen who runs Great Divide Interpretation [http://www.greatdivide.ca/] to take a short hike with little elevation so Alice could get used to the heights in the Rockies. That thankfully didn't end up being the problem: there was too much sun because we hiked in a part of the Kootenay (koo' tun ee) Forest that had burned in 2003. We had heard about this fire because it was actually several fires which joined and burned hot over an extremely large area. Driving from Cranbrook to Banff, we viewed the devastation from the road and were shocked by the immensity of the burn. However, our hike helped us understand the fire ecology and we were impressed that it was more than 5 years ago that the fire had occurred.
We had taken a hike with Joel in 2002 when we were here before with Robin. Alice had already sprained her ankle and had indifferent physical therapy; so limited hiking was our goal. And a few years before, in 1999, we had taken the Mt. Stephen hike to the trilobite site, Ogygopsis bed; so doing contemporary natural history was also welcome. Joel was a great guide and we were spoiled at having him all to ourselves. This time we learned about the succession of plants following the fire and the geology of the limestone (not really marble) canyon.
The sun was really too much for Alice despite covering, hat and tons of sunblock and water. However, after a nap, we went to the reception/icebreaker at the Whyte museum where there was a terrific small exhibition of artifacts surrounding Walcott's discovery. Notably there wasn't anything from the Smithsonian, where Walcott took his hoard of fossils. His panoramic photographs of the mountains were lovely, and it's always great to see the mountains, even though we had just seen them.
We decided to get supper and go to bed early; so had a comfortable Japanese meal at Suginoya: beautiful sushi with that gorgeous Japanese pearly rice and a noodle broth bowl with preserved wild vegetables. Not sure whether it was wild mustards, but it could have been dandelions: they just pick what's around. Also pickled radish, plum and a delicious cabbage pickle. Seems as if Banff has more chain eating (the Keg and Tony Roma's) than we remember. Early to bed in anticipation of 8:30 plenary!