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Banff Trip Report by Suzanne Grueser

22 Mar 2020 3:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Chattanooga Ski Club Banff Adventures 2020

I am so glad we got to go to Banff.  After seeing it in the wintertime, I am committed to coming back again to see it in the summer/fall time period.  There were so many things to do in addition to skiing.  Our flight was smooth and the bus transfer was very comfortable both arriving and departing.  We arrived at the Banff Ptarmigan Inn on Saturday afternoon in time to get our skis, gear, and supplies and to have dinner at the Inn.   It was so nice to have a good restaurant in our hotel.   By the way, Ptarmigan (pronounced “Tarmigan” - the “P” is silent) is a snow pigeon that turns white in the wintertime.  The Canadians added the “P” to remind us that it’s a pigeon. 

We got free Roam bus passes to get around town, in addition to the regular ski buses going to the three main ski resorts - Banff Sunshine, Norquay and Lake Louise.  Many folks started skiing on Sunday at Sunshine.  We started off with a bang as Gene Shokes fell promptly after coming off the first lift of the day with his new snowboard.  He cracked a couple of ribs, but after a few days rest and a couple of relaxing visits to the spa, he was back at it later that week.  Tom DuBose “tipped over” as he STOOD talking to Bob Tramel (no injury and no alcohol was involved). Betsy Darken gets “Most Spectacular Fall of the Week” after her yard sale and then sliding half way down the mountain, and Judy Norton strained an Achilles tendon, but that gave me someone to hang out with after my injury as I hobbled around on crutches throughout the week.  Penny Kramer fell and then found out after she arrived home that she had a hairline fracture in her arm after completing a week of skiing.   We are “tough old birds” but we need to be sure to keep up that calcium with all these broken bones.  

Let me say, the snow was great!  Dry powder, not too deep, many times we got fresh snow overnight, and it was really not too cold.  It was cloudy on many days but occasionally the sun peaked through the clouds and the scenery was brilliant!  Kevin Cleek spent part of the week looking for a rock that he skied off of several years ago.   On the last day, Robert Haile, Bob Tramel, John Hilbrandt, and Kevin came across a sign for Rock Garden and we think Kevin might have found his infamous rock.  We have the video to prove it.  The night before we left, they got seven inches of the white stuff and it was sunny! 
Barb Wise was great as she headed up some side trips for those who were not skiing.  We had high tea at the Fairmont Lake Louise, "The Castle of the Rockies. Lake Louise featured a beautiful ice castle and ice sculptures around the frozen lake, 3-4 mini hockey rinks, and ice skating, an Ice bar with hot and cold adult beverages and hot chocolate for the kids.  We experienced a new dessert at the maple syrup bar.  Hot maple syrup is poured on fresh snow and rolled onto a Popsicle stick as a maple syrup sucker….YUM!  There were several delicious restaurants with beautiful views inside the hotel and every kind of gift shop imaginable.  The ladies at the high tea came home with leftovers as the wait staff encouraged take home boxes.

One group gathered on a cold morning to do the Johnston Canyon ice walk.

Since Judy and I were limping around, we caught the Roam bus up to the Banff Hot springs and used our free passes to soak in the 105 degree water.  Soooo relaxing!  In fact the next day I introduced MeShon to the hot springs.
Later that week a large group took the gondola (above the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel) to the top of the mountain for dinner at the Sky Bistro and a breathtaking view.  They had a museum and gift shops inside and fire pits and a geodesic dome on the outside to stay warm because as the sun sets and the winds kicked up, it got really cold up there!

Some people jumped on (or off?) the dog sled rides and snow mobiles.

Barbie and I went to the Buffalo Nations Museum for a fascinating movie and displays about the native peoples in this region.  As we strolled through town, we stopped at Nester’s Market (where the locals shop) and I picked up some great souvenirs.  They had great prices on Canadian smoked salmon.

Cindy and I actually walked across the Bow River which was frozen solid in some places, on our first morning hike on Sunday.

I would have loved to have gone cross country skiing or snowshoeing but the old knee just did not cooperate.  Just means I need to come back again sometime. 

Evenings were fun as we enjoyed a variety of cuisines from cheese fondue, wild meats, vegetarian, and Greek food at the Balken Restaurant where Tom DuBose was whisked off his feet by a cute belly dancer.  He did his best to show her how it’s done in Tennessee.  Earl's was a hit after a day of skiing with great drinks and appetizers and happy hour pricing!

I really hope we can do this trip again.  Great lodging, food, attractions, skiing and great friends.   You can’t beat that!

Suzanne Grueser