Recently my attention was drawn to a post on David Kanigan’s blog. It featured a place that has always been an old favourite of mine, a mountain beside the highway between Calgary and Banff.
When I was a child I had a calendar with this mountain pictured on one of the pages. I thought it had a unique shape and was impressed because in those younger years I still thought that all mountains had the traditional volcano- like triangular look, and this one was so different.
Imagine my surprise when I saw this mountain “in the flesh” on a special holiday through the Banff area when I was about 14. I was thrilled to see the famous calendar mountain.
Many years later I was passing that way again and wanted to be sure not to miss seeing Mount Eisenhower, meaning to take photos of it (in case I wanted to make my own calendar). Mount Eisenhower no longer existed. It took a fair bit of digging to discover that this mountain was now called Castle Mountain. After reading some of the comments on David Kanigan’s blog, where he featured this mountain, albeit from a much different angle, I learned that the original name of the mountain – well, original … let’s say in recorded history – was Castle Mountain, named by James Hector in 1858.
In 1946 it was renamed Mount Eisenhower, in honour of the U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower, but in 1979, public pressure caused the name to be changed back to Castle Mountain. A pinnacle on the southeast side of the mountain is still named the Eisenhower Tower.
Last year when I had occasion to go on a trip from Calgary to Banff and Lake Louise, I made sure to get pictures of Castle Mountain as we drove by it.
I looked forward to seeing Lake Louise. Many years ago I had seen it and remembered the bright turquoise colour of this beautiful lake surrounded by a framework of mountains. What a shock it was to see the lake frozen solid and being used as a skating rink. Someone had made a beautiful wall of ice to look like an entrance to the lake.
Driving on, I had to see where the gondola lift took me up Sulfur Mountain so many years ago. On the way, I saw the famous hotel peeking through the trees. Do you recognize it?
This trip took place near the end of March, so if you’re planning to visit this area, maybe try it a little later in the spring or summer. It was beautiful in March, but in summer it’s gorgeous, and you have the added bonus of most likely seeing plenty of wildlife (black bears, deer, and elk) along the road as you drive the scenic route through Banff National Park.