Day 26 - Lethbridge, AB to Banff, AB - ___ Miles
Fascinating and fun day today, beginning with a drive through Fort MacLeod, home of the Fort Museum of the North West Mounted Police, who founded a post here to establish law and order, taming the riotous whiskey and gun trade.
The town is only a couple blocks long, but has one of the largest numbers of buildings of the Edwardian era.
Then it was off to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, which is a UNESCO WORLD Heritage Site – in the good company with the Egyptian Pyramids and Stonehenge!
For up to 11,000 years, natives strategically gathered wild buffalo into drive lanes, by feigning that one of the natives dressed as a buffalo calf and MOOING in distress. This caused the herd to follow the sound of the calf. Other braves were dressed as wolves and gently urged the buffalo herd toward and forward on the drive paths. Their instinct is to follow a female leader. The drive lane narrows into a tight bottleneck that ends at the edge of a cliff. As they neared the edge of a cliff, the braves would startle the buffalo into a full gallop. When the leading buffalo realized she couldn’t stop in time, it was too late. Buffalo are like lemmings, following each other until they all fell over the cliffs to their deaths. The buffalo were butchered at the bottom, and the natives used virtually every part of the buffalo, meat hides, bones for weapons and tools, etc.
What was especially helpful to the natives at Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump Site was that the terrain from the top looks like a gentle slope downward (an optical illusion) and the buffalo couldn't see the drop off until it was too late.
One young brave wanted to watch the buffalo tumbling past, as he stood under the shelter of a ledge as if behind a waterfall. As he watched the great beasts fall, and it was an unusually good hunt, he became trapped between the animals and the cliffs. When his people came to do the butchering, they found him with his skull crushed by the weight of the buffalo carcasses. Thus, they named this place “Head-Smashed-In.”
The next stop was Calgary with two stops. First, one of Canada’s largest independent quilt shops and second, Home to the 1988 Winter Olympics.
The location of the 1988 games is now used as an athletic training facility as well as summer camp for various sports. A big draw is their mountain bike training.
During the summer the Luge and Bobsled tracks are converted to allow wheeled bobsleds and luges. It was the “Ride of your Life” and once is just not enough! I did the luge run and it was awesome! Should have paid for more rides down the mountain... Should have paid for the photo...oh well you will just have to imagine it! lol
Lots of wonderful scenery along the way!
Finally the day was over and it was time to head for the campground at Banff National Park, said to be one of the most beautiful parks in Canada. And I have to agree. Absolutely wonderful campground and the park is just stupendous.