Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ice Field, Banff & Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump

Monday: Ice field! We took a ride on one of 23 Canadian made Terra Buses which were built to drive on ice fields. We rode onto the Columbia Ice Field. (The USA has one of those busses for exploring the Antarctic.) It was another once in a lifetime experience. If you look closely, you can see that my right pant leg is darker than the left. I stepped into a knee deep slush-covered hole about the size of my foot. All I can say is, “BRRRR.”

Tuesday: Hiked a Banff trail in Johnson Canyon and saw gorgeous falls. These pictures show the color of the water better than last week’s pictures. There are two main falls, and several smaller falls along the way. Stupendous. On the way there we saw a bear. We drove to Calgary and saw the unfinished temple. It’s going to be beautiful.


Wednesday: Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump. This is a fascinating museum. For thousands of years, Black Foot Indians staged buffalo hunts near cliffs (white man’s horses and guns ended the practice). It took weeks of preparation, and even then nature had to co-operate. They set up cairns several feet apart with tall bushes stuck in them which, to the buffalo’s poor eyesight, looked like a solid funnel shaped barrier leading from their grazing site toward the cliffs. A couple of braves donned wolf skins and prowled the perimeter for weeks adding to the anxiety of the herd. Meanwhile the rest of the villagers prepared for the big day. When the wind blew the right direction and everything else was in place, a young brave donned a baby buffalo skin and called out like a baby buffalo in distress. The whole herd instinctively tried to come to its rescue. Ever so slowly he moved toward the cliff while the wolf pretenders prowled. The anxious buffalo followed the baby buffalo pretender. When the brave reached just the right point close to the cliff, he gradually moved faster and faster until he broke into a run close to the edge. At that moment braves rose up with skins stretched out between the cairns. By this time the buffalo were running full speed ahead in a furor. The young brave slipped between the sideline braves just before reaching the cliff. The whole herd then plunged to its death below (today it’s not as deep mainly because of thousands of years of bones piled up). A few survived, but the braves killed those so they wouldn’t escape and tell other herds about the plan. They skinned, butchered, dried the meat, and used some of the bones to make tools. This kill would feed the tribe(s) involved through the winter.

Thursday & Friday: Moved on to Cardston, Alberta. Thursday we attended the temple, and took a rest and recuperate day here Friday. Cold mornings, but it warms up during the day. Pictures are of travel through Jasper and Banff National Parks and on the way here. The over-pass is so animals can cross the highway. Animal contact accidents are down 80%.


Saturday: We planned on moving on to St. Mary Lake for the weekend so we could be close to Glacier National Park Monday. (BYU is playing football Saturday afternoon, so we wanted to be in camp that day.) However, we would have to come back to Cardston for church, so we decided to save gas and stay here. We took a walk along the stream that flows behind our campground.


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