Monday, November 17, 2008

Waterton Park and the Frank Slide...Heading into BC

We ended up staying two nights in Pincher Creek, Alberta. They were forecasting snow on Sunday and beautiful weather on Monday, so we decided to stay put. I am glad we did (not that there was much snow), but Sunday was a very cloudy day and you couldn't see the mountains at all. This was the view on Monday when we left with the mountains peeking over the horizon.

We headed to Waterton Provincial Park "where the mountains meet the prairies."

Absolutely gorgeous scenery...

Unfortunately, most of the trails in the park were closed. It's to be expected at this time of year, but we were looking forward to driving through the park. We had heard that it is really beautiful. The description was "where the majestic Rocky Mountains rise suddenly out of the rolling prairies. Amid the peaks are the lakes of Waterton Lakes National Park carved out of rock by ancient glaciers." Sounded great!

We were still able to drive into the village and spotted the Prince of Wales hotel from afar. Now that's a setting for a hotel!

The hotel was built in 1926-1927 by the American Great Northern Railway to lure American tourists during the prohibition-era south of the border. The hotel was named after the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), in an attempt to entice him to stay in the hotel on his 1927 Canadian tour, but the Prince stayed at a nearby ranch instead.

It was really, really windy and the temperature was climbing to the forecasted high of 16. All of a sudden, we noticed deer everywhere in the town.

Four more here...they don't like the wind.

I couldn't believe how many there were!

A beautiful scene...

The town is pretty much closed down except for a few hardy motels.

We weren't going to be eating at this Subway. The town is not only shut down, but boarded up!

As we were leaving we spotted a herd(?) of Rocky Mountain sheep. It's mating season, so the females were leading the pack (rightfully so because they will ask for directions!)...

Now here's a sight...a bunch of bums!

Here they are just enjoying a run down the road...

Not much traffic...

Suddenly the terrain changed and we saw all these piles of rocks...

And we realized that this is the Frank Slide. On April 29, 1903, 30 million cubic metres of limestone crashed down from the summit of Turtle Mountain burying part of the town of Frank. The rock avalanche covered 3 sq km of the valley in less than 100 seconds. Frank was a bustling coal town with a population of 600 in 1903. Luckily the slide did not go directly through town. As it was, 90 people in the path of the slide were killed and the slide covered the entrance to the coal mine trapping several of the workers inside. Incredibly, one of them realized the coal seam was close to the surface and they tunnelled their way out through the coal.

You can see the scar on the mountain. The slab of rock that broke free was approximately 650 m high, 900 m wide, and 150 m thick!

We went into the interpretative centre where learned more of the story.

It's incredibly hard to get the whole magnitude of the slide in a photo. Here you can see the mountain with the rocks covering both sides of the highway. The slide only stopped when it reached the top of the hill on the other side.

This is only part of the slide...

And when you see the rocks up close, you realize the incredible size and force. This is more than a kilometre away from the base of the mountain.

We've heard of many disasters over time, but this was truly mind boggling to me because 105 years later, you can still see the evidence as if it happened yesterday. Not a tree has managed to grow up through the rubble. It is really a site that you should see if you are in Alberta....

From there we headed on to the Crowsnest Pass. The pass is located in southeast British Columbia and southwest Alberta, and is the southernmost rail and highway route through the Canadian Rockies.

We are in BC! We have arrived in the last province of our trip!

We saw a sign on the road that said "World's Largest Truck" so we couldn't miss that! We headed into the town of Sparwood. Really I was thinking "I have stood next to an 85 ton truck at the big can it be?" Ha ha!!

This big!!! 350 ton capacity! I like these trucks...they are very slimming!

Here we are arriving in Fernie, our stop for the day...

A very pretty town which is gearing up for the ski season. Some of the locals are grumbling that it is so touristy that a ski lift ticket is being priced out of their range.

Pretty view from our room...

Tomorrow we are heading to Castlegar where I am trying to find a girl that I used to work with at Hepworth. I tried calling her but I am only getting a busy signal. Hmmm....may require some detective work!!

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