Category Archives: lakes

Mr. Cool

***My 99 cent e-book special is still on until Monday, April 1. Please find it on the post before this one, called Easter Special. Be sure to look there for the coupon code. You need it to get the discount.

And now, for an embarrassing fishing story.

This little article I wrote was published in Canadian Fly Fisher magazine a few years ago and was posted on this blog in 2011. For the record, the trout pictured below is not the one in the story. This one was released after its photo op.

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Mr. Cool Goes Fishing

I now believe that lawn chairs should come with a warning label: “Not recommended for use by fools in small boats.”  My cold splash of reality came on a sunny day.

Gary and I love fly fishing, but two people standing in a small boat isn’t safe. However, it isn’t particularly comfortable sitting on cold aluminum seats either. To please me, Gary came up with a solution. He would put lawn chairs in the boat so they straddled the bench seats. We knew it was a bit risky placing our centers of gravity up so high, but we were old hands at boating and decided we would be safe enough fishing for trout on the calm, reedy edges of one of our local lakes.

The day was perfect for shorts and T-shirts. We had brought a picnic lunch in our cooler bag, a thermos of tea, cell phone, and the usual clutter of fishing tackle. We cast towards the lily pads.  In no time, Gary had hooked a trout. I offered to net it and wisely, I thought, slid down off the lawn chair to gain more stability. Net in hand, I dipped for the fish, but it darted under the boat. Gary, still up in his chair, leaned over to see where it went, and that was the end of our lawn-chair fishing.

Over I went, head first into the lily pads. I kicked away the entangling lawn chair that threatened my demise. Lily pads! As I floundered underwater thrashing through their long stems, my mind flashed to the story of a woman who had drowned in lily pads at Swan Lake when I was a child. Determined not to repeat history, I kicked and fought my way to the surface, inhaling water and belching. Madly treading water, I gulped for air.

Several meters away, Gary shook his head in slow motion and I blushed to realize how unimpressive my plunge was from the point of view of a perfect swimmer. I grabbed sinking articles near to me and tossed them into the half-sunken boat wallowing nearby—cooler bag, thermos, tackle box, my fly rod, even the old life jacket I had been sitting on instead of wearing, and of course, the accursed lawn chair.

I glanced over at Gary, bobbing calmly in the lake, scowling at me.  Mr. Cool. His entry into the water, like that of an Olympic diver, had been almost soundless with barely a ripple. His frown suggested that I had been making quite a fuss and had attracted unwanted attention.

Two men who had been spincasting farther out on the lake, reeled in frantically. “We’ll be right over,” they called.

“That’s okay,” Gary yelled back. “We can stand.”

“We… can?” I spluttered.  It hadn’t occurred to me to try to stand. My toes stretched down into the gooey silt, and my mouth went under. Being a couple of inches taller, like Gary, would definitely have been an advantage.

By this time the spincasters had paddled over. They held the side of our half-sunken boat as I scrambled in as gracefully as a calf moose. I began to bail water double time to keep the boat afloat. Gary, who had been steadying the bow of the boat, waited until there was enough freeboard and then hopped in easily. We thanked the men, sheepishly chuckling about the story they would tell their wives that night.

As we took inventory, Gary netted his trout, still hooked after all the commotion, while I wondered which fish was swimming away wearing my expensive Serengeti sunglasses.

Beautiful B.C. (but mostly Alberta today)

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.

Mount Eisenhower

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.

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Castle Mountain

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.

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Lake Louise with skaters and cross country skiiers

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?

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Hiding behind the trees is the Banff Springs Hotel

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On June 1st, 2013 Canada’s castle in the Rockies, the Banff Springs Hotel, turns 125!

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.