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Page history last edited by Phil Baraona 12 years, 8 months ago

Saturday, August 13


Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and August Camp is no exception. People started trickling out of camp as early as 3:30am today. My flight home isn’t until Sunday so I was in one of the last vans to leave (around 9:30am). I drove to Banff with Julie, Michele and Amanda. They were meeting four other people who will be doing a six day backpack with them starting on Sunday.


We arrived in Banff around 11am and had a few hours to explore the town. Amanda and I went for a nice little walk past some amazing homes and a scenic river. We met the rest of the group (including the four new additions) back in the Safeway parking lot at 1. That is when the cat herding began.


With the seven people doing the backpack plus Deb, Clare, Walter and I, there were 11 people to organize, some of whom needed to get things done in preparation for their backpack (such as buy supplies and spot some cars around the area). Trying to get a group of 11 people to do something like this in an efficient way is challenging even when you have a well thought out plan. Unfortunately, circumstances (such as the sandwich shop being out of food) on this particular day were changing rapidly which meant that all of the planning was done “on the fly.”


Eventually, we all got a tasty lunch at the Cake Company Café and ate it at the park next to the river in the center of town. We then (hopefully) transferred all of the gear into the correct of the three vehicles we are (currently) driving. One of the cars is being spotted at the trailhead at the end of the six day backpack so it won’t be seen for awhile. The second is a car that Deb, Clare and Walter will leave in Canmore for the backpackers to retrieve at the end of their trip. The third is the August Camp van that I am driving so I can return it to Calgary this evening. We loaded it with most of the gear and set off in search of a campsite.


As we headed out of Banff, we encountered my last critter jam of the trip on highway 1A. This one was for two pretty nice looking Elk just hanging out on the side of the road. Unfortunately, we were on a mission and didn’t have much time to dawdle.


Our goal was to find a campsite for the rest of the group to stay in for the evening. Unfortunately, we were shut out of Julie’s first choice when someone swooped in and took one of just two sites that were left at Castle Junction. Undeterred, we backtracked to the very crowded Johnston Canyon area. Luckily, most of the crowd seemed to just be visiting for the day so they had room for the groups’ tents in a field that was usually used by cyclists passing through. It was very nice with a lot of room and hot showers nearby.


I was not planning to spend the night here, but I did stick around for a couple of hours while packs were being rearranged, food measured and questions like “Will one pair of underwear be enough for the week or should I bring two?” were being answered. It was kind of entertaining, but I also went for a walk down the lower part of Johnston Creek to the railroad tracks that parallel the highway. I took some neat photos along the way.

Finally, around 6:30 I decided it was time to head out so I said my goodbyes and got in the van. As I was walking away, Michele led the group (or at least tried to) in a rendition of the August Camp farewell song “So long, it’s been good to know you.” Somehow, this seemed like an appropriate way to make my exit from the Canadian Rockies.


The reason I had to leave is that I agreed to return the August Camp van to Calgary that evening. I was alone in the car, but it was less than a two hour trip so it wasn’t too bad. At one point shortly after I left, I tried using the “Seek” button to search for a radio station. Unfortunately, it wrapped around several times without finding a single station. This left me alone with my thoughts which was actually kind of nice.


I ran into a bit of traffic on my way to the hotel (the Radisson – Calgary Airport, found on hotwire.com for $74/night) but I still made it there around 8:30. After checking in and throwing my stuff in my room, I went down to the hotel bar for a quick dinner. To my surprise, Frank was sitting there having a drink himself. He and Maureen had not reserved a hotel room until today and this is where they happened to end up. We had a nice time chatting about the trip and figuring out when we’re going to see each other again.


After dinner, I had one last piece of business to attend to: returning the August Camp van. This was somewhat complicated by the fact the Enterprise Rental place I needed to take it to was not at the airport. It turned out to be in an industrial looking zone that did not seem to be close to anything. The people at the hotel had called a taxi and asked it to meet me there. I was happy to see there was indeed a taxi waiting as I pulled in to the lot. Unfortunately, the taxi started to pull away as I was dropping the key in the return box. I kind of panicked because I had no idea how I would get back to the hotel without him (my phone doesn’t work in Canada). Fortunately, the taxi driver heard me screaming frantically as he was pulling away and he turned around to come pick me up. I was 6 minutes late and he didn’t think I was going to be there. Although he had seen me pull in, he somehow didn’t put two and two together and realize I was probably his fare. I’m just glad he didn’t drive away.


Back at the hotel, I checked my email for the first time in a week. There was nothing terribly exciting so I just headed off to bed.


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