The Rockies

I am currently sitting at Calgary airport, having arrived to the displeasing news that my flight has been delayed by 2 hours. And now it’s 3 hours. Perhps by the time I finish writing this post it will be 4. Unfortunately, I will miss my connecting flight from Ottawa to Quebec City this afternoon, and have to stay the night in Ottawa. But the hotel they put me up in will be a nice treat after a week of hostels.

The upside of this delay is that I have time to write a blog post about what is undoubtedly one of my favourite places I’ve ever been – the Canadian Rockies. On Saturday morning, I hopped on the Moose bus for a four day tour through the rockies. On the first day, we drove to Kelowna, with a couple of stops along the way. We visited a beautiful waterfall, and got lunch in a quaint little town called Hope and ate it by a lake. Throughout the day, I got to know some of the other people on the tour. There were about 23 of us, and I counted that they came from at least 13 different countries. Pretty cool.

The lake in Kelowna

Kelowna is a sweet little town which sits by a lake surrounded by mountains. When we got there, we went on a jetboat ride, which was lots of fun. But when the driver indicated that he was about to do a 360 turn, I learnt quickly that you’ve pretty much got to hold on for dear life. We also had a bit of a swim in the lake, which was a lovely way to relax after quite a few hours spent driving. The weather was perfect.

Some outdoor dancing festivities we came across while walking around Kelowna in the evening.

The following day we were off to Banff. The format of the tour was to go to a different place each day, stopping at various places along the way. That moring we visited a flea market, which was full of everything no self-respecting human being would dare wear in public. There were some cool little antiques and bits and pieces though.

That afternoon, we went kayaking in a place called Revelstoke. The guide who took us out had made the kayaks himself out of wood – quite impressive. The lake was the most serene lake I have ever seen; so peaceful. Besides a little bit of exertion on my arms, it was a relazing and enjoyable afternoon.

On the water

We stopped at another lake before arriving in Banff. The rockies have countless beautiful lakes, and many of them are a surreal aqua colour. It was explained to us why this is but I  didn’t manage to retain the scientific explanation.. It’s something to do with the glaciers. Whatever the reason, these lakes are stunning. A few people in the group were brave enough to jump in these lakes. As my grandmother would say, I was cold just looking at them.

One of the lakes… I don’t remember the name.

Banff oozes perfection. Again, it’s set between mountains. But there’s more to it. Every house, hotel, hostel, shop, and so forth has a wooden, country feel. It’s a little hard to explain. If there’s anything I’m sure of right now is that I’ll have to go back to Banff. I felt we didn’t get to see enough of it. We did however experience the nightlife on a pub crawl, which was a whole lot of fun.

A bit of Banff at night time

The next day, bleary eyed for lack of sleep, we began the drive to Jasper. It was a little sad because we had to say goodbye to some of our group members. The nature of the Moose tours is that you can hop on and hop off wherever you like, and take different routes. It’s a great idea, but it would have been nice if we could have all stayed together.

The place we went first that day was the place I had most been looking forward to, possibly over the whole trip. Lake Louise. And it certainly didn’t disappoint, as you can gather from the picture.

Me and Shawnee at Lake Louise

The rockies are known, among other things, for their glaciers. We went to Columbia Icefields that afternoon, and took a special ice mobile up to a glacier. I don’t think I’ve ever been as cold in my life as I was when I got out of the bus onto that glacier. There were gale force winds, ice flying everywhere, and it was FREEZING. And many of us were wearing shorts. I stood there just long enough to get a couple of photos, and then everyone got back onto the bus as quickly as they could. But it was cool to be on a glacier; something I’ve never done before.

SO COLD – on the glacier

That night we stayed at a wilderness hostel, just outside of Jasper. It was an interesting experience, and although there were some things I would’ve liked to have the luxury of (like running water) I enjoyed it a lot. In the evening we cooked a meal together, and after dinner we made a bonfire. We couldn’t roast marshmallows though, because you can’t have any food outside because of the bears.

The group having dinner at the wilderness hostel

Speaking of bears, we saw a few on our travels. Often we would be driving along and see a number of cars stopped on the side of the road, and people looking into the bushes eagerly with their cameras at the ready, having spotted a bear. We saw a few black bears, and also a grizzly bear. Fortunately, they weren’t close to us.

Yesterday we visited a couple of beautiful waterfalls, and went for a hike. The hike was up a mountain, so it proved pretty strenuous, especially for those unfit like myself. But there’s no doubt that the view from the top was worth it.

Me, Becki and Claire at one of the waterfalls

We stopped at a couple more lakes in the afternoon, before returning to Banff. I could recount how spectacular each particular lake was, but I think the pictures suffice. I was happy to be back in Banff for my last night with the group. I wasn’t feeling all that bright-eyed this morning, but it was worth it for a last hoorah with my moose buddies. We all became rather attached. Many of them are going further with moose, so I’m a little jealous because it’s the best fun. But I have to say, it’s exhausting. Going out at night and getting up early for a packed day really takes it out of you. I’m looking forward to a sleep on the plane.

The whole moose group

I hope I was able to successfully convey how much I loved the rockies. The seemingly endless mountains, waterfalls and lakes provided magnificent scenery from every angle. The group was awesome, our tour guide was knowledgable and a heap of fun, and I just generally couldn’t get enough of it.

Now to the east. Catch you soon.

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