On our 25th day, we left Whitefish and started driving to Glacier National Park. Before we headed off, we had seen on Google Maps that a part of the famous Road-to-the-Sun is blocked, due to wildfires. Uh-oh…
When we got to the first visitor center within the park, we got very bad news. There were fires, and so much smoke we couldn’t see anything. The park ranger advised us to skip everything we had planned for the day. This is the best we could get from visiting Lake McDonald:
I asked the ranger if the wildfires also reached Canada, and she responded that British Columbia was actually having many wildfires. The smoke was also getting to Banff, our next destination.
At this point I was really bummed. The Canadian Rockies, and Banff specifically, were the places I have been waiting for the most – from all places we have visited and are yet to visit. Our drive to Banff was so sad, as we drove through lots of smoke. We were in one of the most beautiful places on earth, and we couldn’t see anything. This is the view we got from the car:
We could only get glimpses of silhouettes of huge mountains, and some of water that should look turquoise-blue, but instead seemed grey. When we reached Banff, the locals told us that they had no idea what would happen. The smoke has been around for almost a month, and some days are even worse than today (really? how could that be?!), and some had perfect blue skies. No idea what would happen next.
We went to a local brewery to get some food and drinks.
The next day was actually better. It was a bit less smoky, and we went to a short hike in Johnston Canyon. It was a good choice, as the trail goes through the canyon so the smoke doesn’t get in the way. It’s a nice trail, yet nothing too special in my opinion.
At least we were doing something. I had been really scared that we would spend a week in the hotel doing nothing, given the smoke.
After the trail we went to Moraine Lake, which turned out to be a brilliant choice. There was some rain in the early afternoon, so it cleared some of the smoke. Despite having some smoke around, the views were spectacular. We actually got to see the Canadian Rockies we were looking forward to!
We also took a short walk along the shore that was really nice.
After having such a desperate start, things seemed to get so much better! We just prayed that the next days would be even better, and if not – at least not worse.