Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hiking, Hot Dogs and Shakes, OH MY!

Today I took a much needed getaway out of Red Deer. Friend and I packed up bright and early this morning and headed out to Banff to hike at Johnston Canyon. It was a gorgeous day to go there, not a cloud in the sky!

We had nearly made it to our destination without seeing any wildlife and I was starting to wonder if we’d be lucky enough to see anything this trip. Before I could even complete that thought we came across one of the largest elk I may have ever seen in the wild. Ten minutes later there was another pile of cars stopped in the road with people looking in the direction we had just come. We had no idea what people were looking at until I spotted the black bear in the bush right beside me. There was a park warden there waving us along before I could snap a photo of it.

Big Elk
It was a short trek (1.1km) to the lower falls of Johnston Canyon which are 10m. Another 2.7km leads to the upper falls which are much larger at 30m. The falls were gorgeous and it was refreshing to stand in the mist. I was expecting that hike to take a lot longer than it had so we decided to make the drive worth while and continue along the trail to the Ink Pots.

Lower Falls

Upper Falls

This second half of our journey was a little more physically demanding. Lots of hills to climb and descend and our water bottles quickly became empty. The final destination was well worth all the 5.8km walk though, leading to an open valley with the Ink Pots.

The Ink Pots are six small pools full of beautiful green, bubbling spring water. We took a few moments to wander around the pools and catch our breath, refilling our water in the fresh stream flowing nearby. Man, you’ll never taste fresher, colder water than in the mountains. It definitely felt good!

Ink Pots
We made the entire journey in roughly 3 hours, which was a few hours less than expected. After devouring the remaining snacks I brought we decided we should probably make a pit stop in Calgary for dinner.

As most people know I have a thing for hot dogs, I had never had the chance to experience the epic 17th Avenue delight known as Tubby Dogs and decided to make that our dinner destination. While the Cap’ns Dog peaked my interest, topped with peanut butter, jelly and Cap’n Crunch, I decided to keep it semi-normal and went with the Harlo (bacon, cheese, mustard, relish). There was nothing I can do to control the cheesy, bacony mess that exploded while I ate. It was hot dog heavenly!

Tubby Dogs!
With our full and satisfied bellies ready to leave the city down 16th ave, we began approaching another Calgary staple, Peter’s Drive In. Neither of us could resist ending the day with a milkshake. There wasn’t much room left after the giant dogs, but we made them fit anyways.

Taking in the mountain views, wildlife, fresh air and some of Calgary’s most treasured food stops made for one of the best days I’ve had all summer. If anyone else is needing an escape from the every day routine, I highly suggest gassing up your ride and heading out to the mountains!


  1. Love the pictures. I work at the Visitor Centre in Rocky and always recommend Johnston Canyon to anyone that is going to Banff. It is beautiful and would love to go in the winter. I have seen pictures and it looks amazing.

  2. Glad you had a good day. Nice elk!