Day nine of the trip started with a drive from Kalispell, MT into Glacier National Park. As the Going-To-The-Sun Road that cuts across GNP hasn’t yet opened for the season, we were not actually able to drive across Logan Pass. Since we were 99% sure that was going to be the case before the trip started, we had made plans to go horseback riding in the park instead and then travel on to Banff, AB.
On the way to GNP, we had a moose cross the road a few hundred feet in front of us. We stopped and tried to get pictures, but he had already disappeared over a hill next to the road.
Our 2-hour horseback ride actually ended up being closer to a 3-hour ride (a pleasant surprise), but they had strict rules about no video cameras and having to be stopped for pictures, so we didn’t get any great pictures of our trip. Most of the pictures that Rich tried to take were blurry (déjà vu) due to the shade of the forest and the movement of his horse. Alyssa was very brave and worked hard to handle her horse on her own, but it kept insisting on stopping to snack on anything green, so the guide ended up leading her horse for about half of the ride. We crossed the McDonald Creek on a horse/footbridge, which we’d stopped at on our way to the corral. It was somewhat scary being above the level of the railings as we crossed the rushing glacial melt. In general, we had a fun ride and even got to see three deer during our ride (one right at the end by the horse corral).
After our ride, it was on to the Douglas Fir Resort and Chalets in Banff, AB. Karen wanted to get there before the adjoining water slide closed at 9:30 p.m., so we had to keep moving. We did stop several times for pictures of deer near the road (mostly after we had entered Kootenay National Park), a few times for scenery pictures, and once for pictures of a herd of bighorn sheep. The big excitement however, was a black bear and her two cubs! We spotted a couple of cars pulled over and when we pulled over they pointed into the woods before they pulled away. We quickly spotted the mother and what we thought was a cub following close behind her (they were all pretty deep in the woods). We followed on foot on the shoulder of the road trying to get a picture as the mother moved parallel to the road, but we quickly lost sight of the cub. When Rich started back for the binoculars suddenly TWO cubs bounded after their mother. Everyone got a quick glimpse of them (but no pictures) before they disappeared farther into the woods after their mother.
We ended up getting to the hotel in time for everyone to go down the water slides about a dozen times and then Rich went to get some late dinner while Karen and the girls played a little in the indoor pool.