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30

The emergency situation in British Columbia

In the hotel, we see images of the intense fires that are raging in large parts of British Columbia on all the

television screens. Tall plumes of smoke rise from the mountainsides and we see firemen working hard to

get the fire under control. There has been no rain for weeks now. They are fighting a losing battle. The fire

spreads very rapidly and more fires ignite than can be extinguished. The Canadian television channel CBC

talks about the largest forest fire in British Columbia since 2003 and the provincial government has called

a state of emergency. At the reception desk of the hotel, we find overview maps showing all the flash-

points. Kamloops, Clearwater and Wells Grey Park are the affected areas that are closest to Revelstoke.

But even then, we are talking about distances of 100 to 200 kilometres. So, we are safe here. The wapiti

deer seem to feel this too, like the sheep in the nativity scene they lay down to rest close to the hotel.

Yoho National Park: finally, the Rockies!

The following day, the situation has not yet improved. The wind from the west blows the smoke all over

the Monashee Mountains in the valley of Revelstoke. Visibility is virtually zero and ash and soot particles

are suspended in the air. But as we continue to move eastwards, it slowly but surely starts to get better.

Near the town of Golden, at the crossroads of the quiet Columbia river and the wild Kicking Horse river, we

suddenly come out from under the low-hanging smoke curtain and look directly at the dramatic mountain

tops of the

Yoho National Park

. There they are - the

Canadian Rockies

presented on a silver plateau!

The Yoho National Park is rather small by Canadian standards, but because of its 36 peaks over 3000

metres, it can be irrefutably counted among the big ones. 'Yoho' actually means 'awe' and 'wonder' in the

Indian Cree language and these are exactly the sensations we are experiencing at the moment. Between

the mountains, wild rivers roar, cascades of water thunder down, and silent forests with silver firs thrive.

Lake Emerald is like a beautiful gemstone. The white of the snowy glaciers reflects beautifully in the

crystal-clear water.

Deliberate choices in Banff

Now that we have discovered that it isn’t quite so certain that we can experience nature in BC in optimal

circumstances at all times, we become selective and we choose the highlights. We start things off with

Lake Louise

. The largest lake in British Columbia is world-renowned. We manage to take a picture of a

bright red canoe on the mirror-smooth water surface with the Victoria Glacier in the background. A very

primitive Canadian picture, but that is exactly what we wanted, and we are overjoyed. A beautiful road

leads from Lake Louise to

Lake Morraine

. High, fierce mountains line the lake area. The

Valley of the

Ten Peaks

owes its name to them. We walk to a viewpoint situated some 25 metres higher where we can

admire what may be the most photographed panorama of Canada.

Many people call it the

Twenty Dollar View

because for many years it was depicted on the back of the

Canadian twenty-dollar bill.

Lake Minnewanka

is not directly connected to a glacier and is, therefore, an

outsider. There are even more delightful views, extravagantly beautiful lakes and beautiful dream pictures.

Emerald green or turquoise blue? The name of the remarkable colour of the water of the Canadian lakes

may be a subject for discussion, but that it is beautiful and unique is surely indisputable.

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