Start: Johnston CanyonParkway

Destination: Ink Pots

  • Distance: 5.8 km con.
  • Gain: 210m

We take the Bow Valley Parkway, this amazing 60 km sceninc drive which pass through some of the most beautiful places in Banff National Park, included the Johnston Canyon.

Our stop is due just some kilometers after Lake Louise, it is impossible not to notice the totally packed parking lot with lots of road signs pointing out to Johnston Canyon. We search for some little space for our car – not an easy task, mostly among this road giants so common here around – we refill our water bottles and here we are, deep in the woods again.

Ink Pots

We are back home, deep in a dense forest, a clear blu sky above us, yeah

“The earth has music for those who listen.”
George Santayana

Today we will not walk too far. We have decided to visit the Johnston Canyon waterfalls and the Ink Pots The lower waterfall is just a km walk distance and the upper one after another 2 km, then it will take another 3 km to reach the Ink Pots, such a lovely days so.

We start to walk on a short part of the trail under the trees, then we enter in the canyon itself, where tall rock walls carved during the centuries are enclosing a wild, ice cold creek.

Johnston canyon

Once we enter the canyon, the real show begins

We walk along with lots and lots of tourists on the first kilometers, up to the lower falls. The catwalk to get closer is totally full, we have to take turns to enter the little cave carved by the water during time where once the creek was flowing through, now abandoned and ready for tourists visits.

Johnston Canyon

La prima cascata è spettacolare, l’acqua impetuosa, come potrà essere migliore la seconda?

We don’ stay there long, we think the crowd does not really get along with our pictuers of these amazing wild natural places, we better prefer to move and go on, hoping another 2 kilometers walk would not be for everybody.

We walk on this path scattered in boardwalks and catwalks overhanging the canyon wall and the creek, the more we walk the more we are in awe. Lots of boards are everywhere, explaining how this place had come to life and all of its peculiarities: how it has been carved, the animals leaving in it, rock and vegetable types and so on, really interesting.

johnston canyon

And then we arrive at the Upper Falls, even better than the lower ones

Here too, again, the boardwalk with the best view is totally packed and so full that it staggers, so photos are blurred. In the end, we cannot stop here again, and so we go, hopefully another 3 km will cut a lot of people.

Ink Pots

And here we are at the end of the canyon, where this unbelievable valley opens and is full of perfect colours

Finally we leave the crowd behind us and we are finally able to enjoy this beautiful place with a few others, six kilometers walking are not for everybody, lucky us!

Once we get to the meadow we still have to walk a little while on a gravel road and then down there, at the end of the trail, we glimspe this famous Ink Pots. They are just little ponds at the beginning coloured in bright green and blue, but once we get closer we finally understand why they are called Ink Pots.

Ink Pots

The Ink Pots…finally out of the crowd

The bottom of these pools is covered in a really subtle sand and the water pouring from down below, create particular games of bubbles and circles on the bottom.

We read on the always-present explaining board, that the colour depends on how fast the water flows in the pool, which lets or doesn’t to algae to grow: with fast water there will be a blue pool, with slower one, a green pool.

It is really interesting that all of the peculiarities are always explained on boards and signs, a fast and easy way to learn and satisfy one owns curiousity about this places.

Ink Pots

Having lunch at the creek with a woodsman

We leave towards the creek flowing just a little bit further to enjoy our deserved lunch – guess what?!?! potato salad and bagels again!

It is quite hot, but a fresh cold air, straight from the mountain, comes refreshing us, right what we needed.

Ink Pots

First attempt to cross the river: failed. One cannot stay more than three seconds with feet in the water

We refresh our feet, hot from the boots, in the ice-cold, one second and our feet are already frozen. We can spot in the distance a really narrow wood bridge, some kind of trunk crossing the river with just a railing to hold on.

It is the beginning or a 2 to 3 kilometers which lead to Larry’s Campground, a backcountry one which we would like to see, just to understand what a backcountry campground really is.

Ink Pots

Balancing over a freezing cold creek, what for sight these places

We are not even half the way down, more or less an hour walk between short bushes on the bottom of the Johnston Creek Valley, and here it goes, it’s heavily raining again.

We go a little bit further, looking carefully around in search for the eventual bears – this is the most likely place to meet them! – then we decide to head back: we already are wet and still a lot has to be walked back.

Ink Pots

Marching towards Larry’s campground…and then it begins raining again

Once we walk near the Ink Pots again, on our way back, the weather begins to get slightly better, and we are able to watch the previously so crowded places almost on ourselves now, finally!

Ink Pots

Johnston Creek and its fast freezing-cold waters

We enjoy the silence for almost all the 3 km which will bring us back, again to the parking lot, discovering new hidden corner that we have missed previously for the “chatting tourist stress“.

We stop enjoying a bend in the creek from where you can spot the sky up above, or a little corner of the forest enlighted by the now low sun rays. This little things are usually lost when you are walking in the middle of a hundred people, but now we can enjoy them all.

Ink Pots

A ray of sun in the middle of the forest, unforgettable moments

Then the trail begins to distance itself from the creek, we walk on the last part of it without hearing anymore the constant rumble which has gotten with us during the last few hours, and here we come again to our normal lives: parking lot, car.  But the day is still not finished, we head back again to the camground, making project for other adventures!


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