Day 11 — Castle Mountain & The End - Lookout Point
Castle Mountain

Last full day in the national parks. It was mostly a driving day, as I was staying in Jasper overnight so that I can catch the train there the day after. Getting to drive the full length of the Icefields Parkway in a day is actually quite an enjoyable trip.

Driving aside, it's a light day with just one planned stop at Castle Mountain, a short hike.

Day 11 — Castle Mountain & The End

Castle Mountain

Gallery
  • Bow Valley from Castle Mountain

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park Castle Mountain is a relatively easy trail, good for my last hike of the trip. Overlooking Bow Valley, with the Trans-Canada Highway and Bow Valley Parkway both carving its way through the trees.

  • Castle Mountain

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park A view of part of Castle Mountain along the trail up.

The hike itself was short and wasn't too spectacular (I guess I was too spoiled by the hikes from days before), but there were a lot of wildflowers. I took out my macro lens and went to work. Here's a sampling of the vareity of the flora.

  • Golden Cones

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park These look like mini golden pine cones. A spider web has also made its home here.

  • Fluffy Flower

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park A furry plant with an unique look.

  • Young Berries

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park These look like berries, but then they're on an evergreen, so I'm not entirely sure.

  • Polka Dot Flower

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park An interesting pattern on a flower. It even has a gradient of colours.

  • Many White Petals

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park A "glowing" white flower. The subtlely shaded interior looks sophisticated.

  • Red Indian Paintbrush Pair

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park I've seen these on other trails before, but here they are again. They never fail to catch the eye.

  • Pine Cone Cluster

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park That's a lot of pine cones. Not sure how there's room for all of them to grow larger.

  • More Young Berries

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park These definitely look like berries. They even have a bluish tint to them, but these aren't blueberries.

  • Glacier Lily

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park A fully bloomed lily in its distinctive upside down orientation.

  • Wild Mushroom

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park I love mushrooms and this one looks like one of those yummy ones. (Didn't touch it, of course.)

  • Butterly Camouflage

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park This butterly has clearly adapted to its environment.

  • Seeking the Sun

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park A light purple flower.

  • All Wrapped Up

    Castle Mountain, Banff National Park This plant is still hiding its flowers, although it seems like everything else has bloomed.

The End... Until Next Time

  • Bear Sighting

    Jasper National Park On my way back to Jasper, I catch sight of something that I had been on the lookout for all trip. I obviously didn't want to meet any bears on the trails, but this was from the car on the side of the road.

  • One Last View, Jasper National Park

    Jasper National Park Not sure what mountain or waterfall (lower-left) I'm looking at here. This should be in Jasper National Park, judging from the time. This marks one of my last shots of the trip, so I take one last look at the landscape.

And so that's it for the hikes and photos. The trip itself wasn't quite over yet since I still had a night in Jasper followed by a three day train ride to get back to Toronto, but that's all winding down time (in some ways the "real" vacation).

The train ride back was a time of reflection on what was really a successful trip. I did all the things I wanted to do and inspired myself with things that I didn't even know I would like this much. It's hard to ask for much more out of a vacation.

The journey back itself was also memorable because I met a family - a mother and her two young sons - who was also traveling by train to Toronto. After almost two weeks of little interaction with other people, I guess I was actually not meeting my quota for social interaction! In all seriousness it was really fun to chat with them. With lots of time available and over the luxuries of first-class travel - which included gourmet meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner - it was a wonderful way to wrap up this journey.


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