Friday Favorites: Niagara Falls

Waterfalls are always favorites, especially an iconic one like Niagara Falls. Best viewed from the Canadian side, every time I’ve been to Niagara I’ve been surprised by the huge volumes of water. From where I recorded the video, you can stick your hand right in the water as it plummets over the edge. rk

Picture of the Day: Mistaya River and Mount Sarbach

These pictures are of Mount Sarbach rising above the Mistaya River from Mistaya Canyon! Banff National Park is breathtaking and the Canadian Rockies have the best mountains I’ve ever seen!

Thanks! – Josh

Sunday Hikes: Bears Hump 

The Bears Hump trail is probably the most popular trail in Waterton Lakes National Park. The trailhead is right by the visitor center (or centre) and the hike is pretty short at only 1.7 miles round trip (2.8km). The trail takes you up about 650 feet in elevation to a large rock bald that overlooks the town, lakes, and up at the mountains! The views are great for such a short hike and it’s really cool to see the town from above! 

Looking into the mountains made me want to explore them more and wish that we had more time there. When we reached the top there was a teenager named Josh getting close to the cliff’s edge and his family was yelling at him to stop. “Josh Josh cut that out” it confused me at first because I wasn’t doing anything wrong and how did these people know my name. That’s the downside of having such a cool name, everyone else wants to be cool too and so they get the same cool name. Anyways this hike is dope and the more I think back to our half day in Waterton Lakes I want to return more and more! 

Thanks! – Josh

Picture of the Day:  Train Running Alongside the Columbia River 

I love this picture of the train snaking alongside the Columbia River.  This is in British Columbia just south of Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park.  This is a very beautiful area (as you can see!).  rk

Sunday Hikes: Mistaya Canyon Trail

Dad and I were driving up the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park having a grand ol time but a little sleepy so we decided to make some coffee and hike to Mistaya Canyon  to wake us up a bit! The hike to the canyon is only half a kilometer (third of a mile) making it feel like nothing. However the reward is for that measly fraction of a mile is a canyon worth a solid five mile hike! Not really knowing what to expect we walked down the trail and onto a bridge that crosses the canyon. 

What makes this slot canyon so cool isn’t the size but the unique way the water has formed it. The quick moving Mistaya River corkscrews down into the canyon, smoothing out its walls and creating a canyon reminiscent of those in Antelope Canyon, Arizona! 

After marveling at the canyon and the mountains behind it we decided we wanted an it more of a hike so we followed the Howse River trail into the woods. After leaving the canyon we didn’t really have any insane views just the quiet woods all to ourselves (which is quite nice after going to Lake Louise and it’s ten million hourly visitors). Anyways we hiked for a bit before reaching a nice fallen down tree to sit on and enjoy a snack and then we turned back for the Icefields Parkway! 

Also it’s hard to get good pictures of a slot canyon but I tried so I hope you like them. 

Fun fact: Mistaya means Grizzly Bear in Cree

Thanks! – Josh

Picture of the Day: Bison in Waterton Lakes

A baby bison and it’s mom enjoying the views! 

     Yellowstone’s wolves are one of the most popular examples of a successful species reintroduction in North America! Another popular example would be the California Condor who was once considered extinct in the wild and now has a population approaching 500! I have been lucky enough to see both the wolves of Yellowstone and a California Condor (at the Grand Canyon!). On our recent trip to Waterton Lakes in Alberta we got lucky again and saw a small bison herd that was reintroduced into the Canadian plains in 2014! Still being quite the small herd and an ongoing process of reintroduction I am excited to see how the bison thrive in their old Canadian home! 
Thanks! – Josh

Sunday Hikes:  Lake Agnes Trail in Banff NP

Lake Louise

Josh and I were able to spend the last few days in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.  The hike I was most looking forward to in Banff was the Lake Agnes trail in the Lake Louise region of Banff.   

Lake Louise is an extremely popular area so Josh and I were fortunate to be able to get one of the last parking spaces in the upper parking lot.  We really didn’t want to have to take the shuttle in.  After a short walk we arrived at Lake Louise which was rapidly filling in with tourists seeking that perfect selfie in front of the vivid turquoise waters of Lake Louise.  I grabbed a quick pic and headed to the trailhead with Josh.

The Lake Agnes trail is notable because it features amazing views of three lakes and finishes at a tea house on the shores of Lake Agnes.  The trail is 3.4 km one way which equates to approximate 4 1/4 miles round trip.

The beginning of the Lake Agnes Trail

We started up the trail as it wrapped around the side of Lake Louise.  The trail is an incline the entire length — 385 meters which is 1263 feet.   On our left there was a vivid contrast of the turquoise lake through the green fir trees.  At the far end of Lake Louise the trail switchbacks a few times and then continues its incline until reaching the shores of Mirror Lake.  

Views of Lake Louise through the trees – this picture captured the turquoise color of the water the best

Mirror Lake was much smaller than Lake Louise.  Behind Mirror Lake is the aptly named Beehive Mountain.

Beehive mountain with Mirror Lake in the foreground 

The trail continues to the right and joins in with a horse trail.  I’m not sure why folks don’t bag their horses as the trail through this portion was completely covered in their excrement.  Luckily this doesn’t last long as there is a tie off area for the horses after a short distance.  We came upon a small waterfall and then ascended two flights of stairs to come to the shores of Lake Agnes.  Lake Agnes was clear and turquoise just like Lake Louise.   It was of good size compared to Mirror Lake.  

Waterfall just before the staircases up to Lake Agnes

I had pictured the tea house looking like a Japanese pagoda for some reason.  Instead it was made of wood logs.  The tea menu was extensive and they offered light lunch fare as well.   Suprisingly, the tea house took both US and CA cash.  No credit cards.   

Lake Agnes and the Lake Agnes Tea House

We took an alternate route around the far side of the waterfall which came out at Mirror Lake (and bypassed the majority of the horse area).   The descent down was quick and easy and we encouraged those struggling on their way up that they didn’t have much farther to go.

Josh and I agreed that the best part of this hike was the strikingly turquoise water.  It is probably the most iconic hike in the area and I highly recommend it despite the crowds.  rk 

Canada here I come….


My Discovery Pass came in the mail this week!    If you remember from my previous blog,, Canada is offering their National Park pass for free in 2017.   To be honest, I wasn’t really sure if this offer was open to us in the good old USA or if it was only for Canadians.   Since they were so kind to send me the pass, I will have to make sure to visit one or more of Canada’s National Parks this year.   If anyone has suggestions of their favorite Canadian National Parks to visit, please comment and let me know.   Thank you!


Watching water going backwards in Saint John


Earlier this week, I spent the afternoon in Saint John in New Brunswick, Canada.   It was a beautiful sunny day, almost too warm.   There was a large cruise ship berthed which I found surprising.   I didn’t know the cruise ships come this far north.   As you come over the bridge into town you can see several church steeples pointing up into the blue skies.   It kinda reminded me of Charleston SC in that way.

I really enjoyed walking the streets and exploring the market area.   This is a kind of town you could walk all the main areas in an afternoon.   At the local coffee shop, Second Cup, I asked for lunch recommendations.   Pretty much everything recommended was a pub and there was a bunch of them.   Best I can gather, that is the local food experience.   We decided on Cask and Kettle which was very good.  Since I was in Canada, I did get the daily special poutine to go with my fish and chips.


The coolest part of Saint John is that the Saint John River has an interesting phenomenon called the reversing falls.   The Bay of Fundy has a huge 28 foot swing between high and low tide.   As a result, during high tide the ocean flows upstream the river reversing the course of the river.   At low tide, the normal river course flows into the ocean.   While watching the reversing falls, a seal popped up and made eye contact with me and my son, Josh.   Unfortunately, like a rookie tourist, I jumped up and down yelling “Seal” and scared it off before I could get a picture.