Kates Diary Installment Four - Banff to (very snowy) Yellowstone, Wyoming

Thursday 2 September 2010, Filed in: General

In Banff we met a man who had just biked all the way across Canada on his own. As he pedaled he made electricity which he stored in a battery which he carried on his bike.

By the end he had made enough electricity to power the torch for the start of the winter Olympic games which is to be held in Canada this winter. His main thing is human powered electricity so that the 12 billion people that have none will have a way of making their own by pedaling. Mum was more impressed when he said that he had lost 28 pounds in 3 months. (That’s 2 stones) in weight. She hasn’t lost any yet. In fact she thinks that cycling might be making her bottom bigger! I think its all the cinnamon rolls!

At night we went to the hotsprings in Banff. They are near the top of sulphur mountain and are the highest and hottest in the Rockies. The water was 39degrees C but the air was cool and we could see the stars and the lights from the town. Hotsprings happen when water seeps through the rocks deep into the earths crust where it is heated by magma. Magma is very very hot melted rock under the crust about 3 miles below our feet. The hot water is pushed to the surface through cracks in the rock. It is full of minerals and gases and often hotsprings smell like eggs.

A lady called susan showed us round the fenlands. She let me take Ladybug, the dog. Halfway round we met an Elk with a huge rack of antlers. Elk are like our red deer at home except bigger and more bad tempered. It looked like it might charge because Ladybug kept barking. We went back then Ladybug decided to chase a squirrel up a tree and took me with her… on my back!! After school I made friends with Susan’s son Aaron. We all went back to the house and had home made pizza and watched Cliffhanger. Next day Susan put my bear wrestling video on You Tube. It is on there now and is called Grizzly Brothers wrestling.

After Banff we went south to Kananaskis. The fall colours here were amazing. The birch trees were bright yellow. Then we went on the cowboy route. There were big fields of hay and haybails everywhere. We passed cattle ranches full of cows and horses and there was afence with a hat on every fence post for 5 miles!! We saw nodding donkeys which are used to bring up oil from under the ground. There were also lots of wind farms. I counted 149 wind turbines in a line. The wind was terrible. We kept being blown over and it got so bad we had to get off and push.

We came to a place called Chief Mountain. This is where we passed the border between Canada and the U.S. After 3 months we had done 3000 miles and been through the North West territories, Yukon, B.C and Alberta.
Then we went into Montana and Glacier National Park. We could not see any glaciers. The lady at the visitor centre said that they have nearly all gone because of global warming. It was 90 degrees F even though it was late September and high in the mountains and was breaking the records.

We left the Rocky Mountains for a while and went onto the plains. Here it is quite flat and windy and we could see nothing but brown grass and straight road going on for miles. In Browning we went to the Museum of the Plains Indians and learned about the Blackfeet tribes. They lived in tipis and moved around hunting buffalo which they used for their food, clothes, home and tools. They had beautiful clothes and moccasins made of buckskin and decorated with fringes and beading. Important warriors had big head dresses made from hundreds of feathers. There was jewelry made from buffalo teeth, bones and bear claws. We saw baby carriers, dolls and other toys made from animal skin and bones. They had lots of special ceremonies like the ghost dance and the sun dance where they wore costumes and face paint and danced for three days or more without stopping or even eating or drinking. In the museum there was a model of a village. The Blackfeet tipis looked very pretty as they were often painted with colourful patterns and pictures of animals and hunters. We could see women scraping buffalo hides and hanging up strips of meat to dry. The women took care of everything at home and made most of the clothes and other things. The men did all the hunting and warring with other tribes. They rode on horses and used spears and arrows. Sometimes they chased the buffalo over a cliff called a buffalo jump.

It was 90 degrees F on the plains and one day Mum thought I was getting heatstroke so we stood under one of those long irrigation machines that spray water over the field until I cooled down.

There are lots of dinosaur remains in Montana. We went to a dinosaur museum. There was a life size model of a seizmosaurus, the longest dinosaur ever. Its name means ground shaking lizard. We went up a hill called egg mountain where some of the most dinosaur skeletons and eggs and baby skeletons have been found. On the way down it was so windy that we had to push again. I had to help Dad because he could hardly hold the bike up. That night we found some trrs to shelter in and the wind was so bad that the branches began to break off. We moved the tent into a building because we were afraid that a tree might fall on us.

Its very hard to do schoolwork when squirrels keep throwing huge bunches of pine cones on top of you from the top of a tall tree.

September 30th was the first day we had snow. We had the day off and went to Boulder Hotsprings. It had an indoor hot tub, a steam room and a big outdoor pool that we could swim up and down. Next we went to Whitehall which is famous for its big murals which are painted on many buildings. They all show scenes from the Lewis and Clark expedition. This was a team of 32 people who were making a trail from the East to the West of America in 1806. The Native Indians from Montana helped them find their way through the forests, over the mountains and down the rivers.

We camped next to Quake Lake and in the morning there was thick snow everywhere. We hiked up a trail and looked for animal prints and made a snowman………. On the 2nd October!!!!

Next morning the water in our bottles was frozen solid but it was nice and sunny. Mum and dad bought me a pair of snow boots for minus 28 degrees and heat packs for my hands and feet. We saw bison on the road. They are big and woolly with massive heads. We also saw loads of elk.

When we got to Upper Geyser Basin there was big white clouds of steam everywhere right next to the road. We went to Fountain Paint Pot where we saw bright turquoise hotsprings, bubbling mudpots, fumeroles and geysers.
Geysers are like hotsprings but this time when the water gets forced up to the surface it gets blocked until the heat and pressure builds up so much that it explodes in a big fountain of spray. Bubbling mud happens when the hot water comes up through clay. Fumeroles are big smelly clouds of smoke and gases like a giant smoke machine.

There was snow and ice everywhere. Even the hotsprings had icicles around the edge. The Old Faithful Lodge had big icicles hanging off the roof. Old Faithful is a very famous geyser. It erupts every ninety minutes and goes 150 feet up into the air.

We saw it go off at half past five. There was nowhere to camp here. We still had to go 17 miles and over three high passes of more than 8000 feet high. When we got to the top of the first one the snow was a foot thick on the trees and on the side of the road. It was like cycling through Narnia in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I kept expecting to see a faun or a snow queen! It went dark and we had just stopped to put lights on and new heatpacks in my gloves and socks when a very kind man called Brett with a pick up truck stopped and gave us a lift to the next campsite. We were so grateful because he saved us from a long, cold night.

Now we are at Grand Teton. The snow is very very thick (Our bikes and tent nearly disappeared this morning) and tonight it is going to be 10 degrees below freezing! It is 28 degrees colder than it normally is at this time of year.



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