Canada, eh? Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and Other Wonders

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The name says it all.

A few miles outside of Fort Macleod is the Head-Smashed-In (it feels so wrong to capitalize a preposition!) Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  For thousands of years, the Plains Indians would “hunt” bison here, by stampeding them over a sheer precipice.  The colorful name is derived from one of the young men of the tribe, who, wanting a good view of the action, stood a smidge too close and…you guessed it: had his head smashed in by falling bison.

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The lethal cliffs.

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Gorgeous, natural scenery surrounds the jump.

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Cliffs in the background; in the foreground is the area where carcasses would be dragged and processed. The soil is very thin here, and all sorts of ancient bones are poking out of the ground.

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A nice, little loop of a trail takes you around the area and back to the visitor’s center.

From Fort Macleod, we went east through the Okotoks area.  Along the way, we paused at some touristy destinations.  The first was a honey bee farm and meadery, where I got to sample way too much mead.  It was sweet and flavored with a variety of local berries – yum!  Inside, there was a bee colony between glass panels that we observed for a few minutes.  If you decide to swing by here, I’d consult the website for business hours; they’re a little odd.

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The Chinook Arch Meadery in Okotoks.

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If I were a bee, I would totally pollinate those poppies.

The meadery was kind enough to make a scenic driving recommendation and supply us with a local map.  Feeling adventurous, we decided to investigate something called the Okotoks Erratic.  The term “erratic,” used in this setting, is a new one for me: it basically describes a rock left behind by a moving glacier.  This particular erratic is the largest known in the world.  Impressive, eh?

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This gives you some idea of the scale – see the rock, down the path?

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Up close and personal with the world’s largest erratic.

As you can imagine, seeing a rock that big made us awfully hungry.  We stopped for lunch in Bragg Creek, to find that most businesses remained close due to water damage sustained during the flooding of Calgary.  We ate at a cosy sandwich place, whose new drywall needed finishing, and whose WIFI wasn’t expected to be working for another month or two.  The devastation was amazing.

A few more hours’ worth of driving found us in Banff.

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Day Three: Tunnel Mountain Village Campground in Banff.

More to come tomorrow!

-H

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