Embark on a journey to explore Johnston Canyon, a popular tourist spot near Banff known for its waterfalls and well-maintained paths. Despite the crowds, the canyon offers a unique experience of close-up landscapes unaffected by the hazy atmosphere. This travelogue captures the spirit of adventure and the grandeur of Canada's wilderness.

Johnston Canyon: A Tale of Waterfalls, Wilderness, and the Wonders of Banff
On the last day of my stay in Banff, I had to change my plans. The wind direction had shifted, and the smoke from fires between Banff and Jasper was blowing towards Banff, creating a hazy atmosphere. The usually crisp air in the town was polluted with smoke, reducing visibility for the local lakes. I had originally thought about wandering around the surrounding areas of Lake Louise, or hiking to some other lakes, but realizing that visibility would be minimal for distance photography, I decided to change plans and head to Johnston Canyon.
Johnston Canyon is not very far from Banff and is a well-known tourist spot, probably due to its convenience. There's a well-maintained path along the canyon that makes for an easy walk. You can spend around two hours on it, walking the complete route there and back. The primary advantage was that the close-up landscapes in the canyon wouldn't be affected by the hazy atmosphere since you wouldn't need to view the distant mountain landscapes.
However, in my opinion, the canyon falls short compared to the sights I had seen on previous journeys, primarily because many other people had seemingly followed my example. There were crowds at the most popular spots. For instance, where there's a lookout to watch the waterfalls from above, creating a rainbow in the mist, there would be a queue of people waiting to take photographs. Therefore, to some extent, this day and the scenery here fell short compared to what I had seen on previous days.
Having spent about half the day in the Johnston Canyon area, I decided to head back to Banff to explore the town itself, stroll down the local streets, and try some local eateries. There's a café known for making particularly delicious coffee and pastries, so popular that there's often a line just to try them. Following this recommendation from the guidebook, I also explored several other restaurants, settling on Greek cuisine for the evening.
Afterwards, I began to prepare for my departure. The next day, I had a bus transfer to Calgary from where I would fly to Seattle and then finally head back to London. I would spend one night in Seattle before continuing my journey home. The memories of the stunning landscapes and natural beauty of Banff would remain a highlight of my trip.
Sitting on the bus taking me to Calgary Airport, it seems like a good time to write down some thoughts.
In the last couple of days, a slight haze of smoke descended over the town of Banff, turning the contours of the mountains into mere silhouettes seen through the haze. Fortunately, I managed to catch the days when the local mountains and lakes shone in all their unreal shades of blue and green, leaving me with a lot of work in the future sorting through numerous photos.
What sets Jasper apart from Banff, and also from another park, Yoho, which I was only able to visit briefly?
The boundaries of the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, seemingly running through an invisible line among the surrounding mountains, nonetheless have a significant boundary underneath - the watershed of local rivers. If the rivers of British Columbia pour their waters towards the Pacific Ocean, then the rivers of Alberta in the Jasper area flow towards the Arctic, and further south in Banff towards the Atlantic...
One might wonder, what difference does it make what happens at the sources of rivers thousands of kilometres away from their beginnings?
But this puts a stamp on many things. As we know, salmon, when spawning in the fall, overcome thousands of kilometres upstream, returning to the place where they were born...
However, unlike the Pacific Ocean, salmon do not inhabit the Arctic Ocean and therefore, unlike the rivers of British Columbia and Alaska, the bears of Alberta are deprived of the annual feast in the "fish restaurant". What replaces salmon for them are mountains covered with berries, mainly cranberries or similar berries.
The differences between these regions don't end at the landscapes or the fauna. They each have their unique characteristics, shaped by their geographical and environmental factors. These seemingly small differences have a big impact on the whole ecosystem of these areas. What a wonderful way to reflect on the interconnectedness of our world, as I bid farewell to the majestic landscapes of Banff.

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