C-level Coal mine

I hiked up to C-level in Bankhead today to check out the mine up there. From Minnewanka I can see tailings up the Cascade, which I presumed was from this mine. So, instead of blowing past the supply building and surrounding area, I explored and wound up on the slack heap on the side of the mountain. Although not very long, it represented a lot of waste coal and tailings, cascading down around 200 feet below the appropriately named Cascade mountain. A metal drill extension lay on the ground, along with rusted cable, likely for the rail cars, and some large pipes.

I hauled my large format camera but couldn't really find anything compelling to take a photo of. The 9 unstable mine openings were surrounded by fencing and were difficult to view and photograph. So I opted for the supply building, highlighting the graffiti which defaced the building, which in turn is defacing the landscape.

The transfer station

It doesn't seem to matter how clean and tidy a garbage transfer area is kept. Beyond the fence, there's always stray garbage strewn across the ground, with plastic bags caught in the bushes. Ravens may have something to do with it, as many of them fly into the garbage transfer building looking for something to eat which they carry out to munch on.

A truck sits inside the building, waiting to be filled with Banff's garbage so it can make the 370 Km trip to Camrose. Around 250 of these trucks haul Banff's garbage this long distance every year. These numbers give me an idea of how big Banff has become. It produces a lot of garbage. And sends most of it away for someone else to deal with.

Bankhead 2

The Road to Bankhead is still closed but is cleared of snow and was being swept when I rode my bike to the site of the Holy Trinity church. It sits at the top of a hill overlooking lower Bankhead, with a view of the Fairholme Range as well as the Cascades, which was the mountain range being mined for coal. Only the foundation/basement and front steps remain. I sat on the steps, wondering what it would have been like to worship at this church back in 1910. Who were the people that attended? What was the priest like? I got out my large format camera and took two pictures, then headed up to upper Bankhead to look around.

Homesites were easy to find, and a couple of "L" shaped foundations remained. Other sites had sewer pipes sticking out of the ground. Farther north is a clearing that has what looks like was the main road, with building sites along it. Further north the town ended at a bank which had a lot of metal garbage strewn about. I could only surmise that this was where the townsfolk tossed unneeded buckets and cans when they were done with them. The whole northern bank is littered with rusted metal. A rotting barrel sits in the ground with the strap nearby.

I suppose it could all be cleaned up more thoroughly than it has been. How much work would it take? How about the sewer pipes and other utilities that are in the ground? I imagine that Parks keeps these curiosities because it now contributes to the history of the park. Funny how that works. If I tossed garbage into the park, I could face a hefty fine. But someone who tossed an old bucket over the north bank 100 years ago turns it into an historic site.

Prescribed burns

I grew up with forest fires being bad. "Only YOU can prevent forest fires" was the mantra of the day, with the iconic Smokey the bear and his shovel speaking for the trees. 70+ years of forest fire prevention ended up being really bad. It seems man doesn't really know what's best for the forest after all. But for now, prescribed burns are good, so we'll go with that, until it's bad.

I hiked around the approach to Carrot creek today, walking through the logged/burned area. It was actually kind of nice being in a big meadow with clear views all around. The elk like it there as well. But for some reason it doesn't feel right. All those stumps neatly cut, a few trees left here and there to blow down, and straight lines bordering the area speak of man's intervention. I counted the tree rings on a old fir which had succumbed to a saw--around 100 of them. It may have been able to survive a fire, but it didn't have a chance against the chainsaw.

Mountain Peaks

I decided to take pictures of the peaks of mountains yesterday. It is one the few places left untouched by man (except for Sulphur mountain). As I took some pictures and moved to another location, I realized this is a limitless task, since even moving a few hundred feet changes one's perspective and the peaks show a different presentation. And the fact that I'm pretty much limited by roads makes capturing even one peak to the fullest pretty much impossible. And as I was looking through the telephoto lens at each peak and their often foreboding approaches, I realized the very thing that makes Banff so majestic is pretty much off limits to the average man. Perhaps that is why they inspire awe. And perhaps it is good that mountain peaks are so inaccessible.