Guess what?!? Another weekend into the fray. This time, at least, we leave early in the morning. We tried, in vain, to book a campsite in the Kootenay National Park and since it seemed everything was already booked, we decide to head towards the Kananaskis Country, some provincial parks which are framing the major ones.
We get to Canmore Visitor Center, the last town before entering in Banff National Park and another disappointment is waiting for us: the provincial parks too are rushed and there is not a single campsite which is still free. They advice us to go south, towards Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, and since our loyal guide covers it too, we just decide to go there.
Another our of driving, we can kind of foreseen it will be another weekend of long driving!
Once we get to the park, after a short visit to the Visitor Center to get some detailed maps, it begins to pour rain, a lot of rain. We don’t get disheartened at all and decide to walk a brief trail which is meant to be really scenic, the Fire Lookout which actually leads to the buildings where the rangers search for eventual fires, over a hill which has a view over the whole park.
It is not raining while we walk towards the steeper part of the trail – the first half is totally flat, while after it climbs steeper on the gravel road which is the road access to the lookout too – but as soon as we get to the junction, black, threatening clouds begin to cover the whole sky and the temperature drop abruptly.
Once we get to the top, really wet despite our waterproof jackets, we are rewarded by some minutes of sun which let us having a quick peak through the clouds, downwards, at the two Kananaskis Lakes. We have some time to enjoy the landscape and sign the summit journal.
We are given the right time to take our breath and have a snack and a big black cloud comes back with its load of rain, while we go back to the car, almost running.
Once we are in the car again, we decide to get into the park, driving towards the big dam dividing the two lakes which were probably once just a big one.
Today, unfortunately, it is a really bad idea. A light rain would have not stopped us, but an almost unstopping downpours is too much and we have not the right gear for that, we will be wet after just some steps.
In a particularly heavy rain moment in which we hardly see outside the window, we stop in the dam’s parking lot and we have a nice nap, with the rain tapping on the windshield!
Well rested, we open our eyes and it is not raining anymore. It is not time to start for a hike, so we search instead a nice place to have dinner, since up to now we still are homeless for the night.
We find a nice place somewhere along the north lake shore, which seems the right one. We park the car in front of one of the thousands picnic tables scattered around and we prepare dinner.
Lost in my thoughts while I do enjoy every single second of this unforgettable sight, in the vain attempt to open the soup can which will eventually become our dinner, I cut my finger with a following almost faint and an improvised band-aid with some wet wipes and some tape – we don’t like the first-aid kit!
Survived and with still all the fingers attached, we finish to have dinner and go pitching the tend in the only place available, the overflow camping of the Pocaterra hut, that is just a big parking lot around which you can camp when all the other campsite in a 50-ish km area are full.
We make ourselves at home among the trees, in a not too uncomfortable site, with our personal picnic table and shared bathroom, and the light rain begins to fall again and it does induce our sleep: we are asleep after just seconds.
The alarm is, again, with some really bad weather waiting for us. So we decide to leave the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and drive across the Kananskis Country along the route 22 and we go to visit our first national historic site, the Bar U Ranch – it is even better since the entrance is included in our Discovery Park Pass, along with other 76 historic sites and museums.
We drive fast on the almost perfect Alberta’s roads, leaving the mountains behind us and the bad weather with them, then we pass among the beautiful foothills which hide many little nice town and in the end, we enter the endless prairie.
Once we greet the old engine, totally abandoned in the middle of a field and burned down who knows when, it is now time to go and discover this historic site we have seen since some times now.
We are almost there, the Bar U Ranch is waiting for us…but this is a whole different story!