Sunday, 9 September 2007


We went to Canada!
(a brief synopsis)

We flew into Seattle, checked into the hotel and then went swimming in the deserted swimming pool, which was particularly welcome after a 9 hour flight, even if our body clocks did think it was 4am!!!

Early next morning, we met our group and set off. Our group was actually doing the Trek in parallel with another group, so we has two vans of people staying in the same place each night and doing a lot of the same activities in the day. Having two vans did mean however that the groups had more flexibility over what we did as there was effectively more options, which was good.

First day was a long drive from Seattle up into Canada to get to Pinantan Lake in British Columbia. To set the scence for the whole trip, the lake looked like this first thing the next morning:

Next day we went on towards Yoho National Park, via Revelstoke. We camped at Beaverfoot Lodge, which is on the floor of a wide valley, with the steep mountains climbing up at either side. It was a really atmospheric location.

This was further increased by the LOUDEST thunderstorm we've ever experienced which happened during the night! The thunderclaps actaully made the ground shake (we noticed as we were obviously sleeping on the floor) but the noise went on for literally 20-30 seconds each time - basically because the sound was bouncing back & forth between the two sides of the valley.

The next day we went on a hike from Takakawa Falls through Yoho pass. It was a spectacular day and we saw some of the most fantastic scenery.

View as we came out of the pass:

to the left as we came down...

and across the lake at the bottom:

Having compelted this hot trek, we jumped back into the van to head back to the camp to go horse riding. This took along the side of the valley, but ended not quite as expected when the guide's horse got stung by a hornet and freaked out all the other horses, who decided they were going home, regardless of what people wanted them to do!! Taz & I weren't too phased by this, but that wasn't the case for some others in the group who found the whole thing a little too exciting. We just thought it added to the interest!

The next day we went on to Lake Louise, where we did another hike. This started of with a steep climp up to the tea house by Lake Agnus.

Lake Agnus, with the teahouse just visible:

We then went round the lake and up the Big Beehive. This is the view from the top down over Lake Louise and the famous Chateau:

We then decended down the other side (at a gallop in our case) which brings you out half way down Lake Louise. We then made a very brisk dash to the far end of the lake, up towards the Plain of Six Galciers. We got as far as we could before time meant we had to head back, which we did via the medium of running the length of the lake. (We'd already decided to do this when on the Beehive to give us maximum time to get up to the Six Glaciers - the others thought we were crazy!!)

At the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers, with Lake Louise behind:

To be continued....

More Canada

On leaving Lake Louise we headed for Banff and returned to the Tunnel Mountain campground (6 years on!), where we would spend three nights. We set up camp in the sunshine and revelled in having returned to such an idyllic setting.

This looks like a pic from the brouchure...

We spent a happy evening around the campfire and then had the next day to mooch around banff. The next morning was simply beautifu; clear, crips, still and quiet. This was the view out from our camp:

It was a beautifully sunny day and we had a most relaxing day.


In the evening we went back into town for a meal, where I had an Elk Burger, which was very fine. We then went to another bar for a few beverages, before calling it a night.

The next day we went to Johnstone Canyon in the morning and took a short(ish) walk up to the waterfalls. It was another beautifully sunny day (this was now a theme which continued for the majorty of our trip!)

In the evening we went to the hot springs and then spent the evening around the campfire again. The next morning we started with a great breakfast of bacon & eggs and Tassy excelled at cooking perfect scrambled eggs for 24 people! I think the trek leaders expected it to be a big lump of rubber, based on previous experiences!

We loaded the vans and headed off north...

The roads up through alberta we're superb and run past numerous stunning bits of scenery. We also saw an enormous moose wading across a river.

The Majestic Moose...

Probably the most famous stretch is the Icefields Parkway, which runs past the Columbia Icefield. This is the edge of a huge mountain ice feild, which you can walk a little way up to on one of the galciers. This is pretty cool, although it has now become a little touristy. It was ok when we were there but I'd hate to be there in season.

We happened to be there as the sun was going down as well, so it diappeared behind the nearby mountain whilst we were on the glacier and it was amazing how quickly the temperature dropped when we were plunged into the shade!

Once we were off the glacier we made a leisurely return to the van (despite it being already quite late in the day) and header off further north up to Jasper.

To Be Continued...

More More Canada

We arrived at Jasper and set up camp in the rapidly descending dusk. A key feature of the trek was that our entire group was very laid back and we were never in a hurry to get anywhere and hence took great pleasure in just enjoying the journey and stopping to see anything of interest along the way. The flip side of this is that we often set up camp quite late in the day, but we coped!

We had another evening around the campfire and after a long day went to bed relatively early. We were then woken rather early by Elk barking in the woods around the camp. In the end we got up early and enjoyed another beautiful Canada dawn...

As everyone gradually emerged (some had had a rather later night...!) we set to breakfast and then headed off into Jasper.


Our group decided to go for a hike at mt Edith Cavell in the morning, with the plan to come back to Jasper early afternoon to go to the swimming pool! The hike was again great and we got the sense of being really quite remote, despite the other people around. We walked up to the lake which had the galcier carving into it - we heard the roar of bits breaking off and falling into the water whilst we were walking.

View down the valley from near the top

After some lunch at the top with a view of the "Angel Glacier", which is perched precariously on the side of a mountain, we headed back down and returned to Jasper.

Lunch and Angel Glacier

On an iceberg in the lake.

Chris tests the water and finds it a little cold for his liking!

In Jasper we all took great delight in going to the swimming pool complex, which was complete with water slide, inflatables, water polo nets steam room and large jacuzzi! The group of us spent about 2 hours in there exploring all the activities and thoroughly relaxing. It was great!

After, we took a walk back along the main (and really the only!) street to the local brewery pub, where we sampled a selection of the local wares...! We then wandered back along the street to the pizza & pool bar, where we ate pizza, drank beer and played free pool whilst doing so. Then we decamped to a local bar/club where we hustled some more pool and some of us (me not included!) graced the dance floor.

The next morning we packed up and headed across to Clearwater and the Lake on which we would spend the next two day and a half. The roads looked largely like this...

To be continued...

More More More Canada

We arrived in the town of Clearwater, where we met our guides and transferred all our gear into waterproof bags. We then headed off down about 45mins of winding backroad to the edge of Clearwater Lake itself. This place was already pretty remote but across on the other side of the lake there was no habitation for miles & miles. If you want to travel anywhere from the other side you apparently needed to beat your own trail!

Excitedly, we packed our stuff into our canoe, along with some group bits from the van. Interestingly, several of the group were really nervous about the canoes - I guess we forgot that not everyone is most at home on the water! And so, we set off...

Clearwater Lake lives up to its name - the water was icy cold and crystal clear. It's also clean enough to drink, so we all enjoyed paddling along, dipping our mugs over the side. The scenery was superb and it was so quiet (apart from all of us calling across the water to each other!)

After a couple of hours of paddling we reached our camping spot and pulled up on the beach... literally:

We set up camp amongst the trees along the edge of the lake. It was simply idyllic. That night there was a monstrous campfire and lots of tasty real ale and Fireball was consumed. After some increasingly silly campfire games, we all suddenly decided to go for a midnight paddle on the lake! This was SOOOOO much fun - paddling around in the PITCH black. All we could see were the stars straight up through a haze of low cloud and the faint glow of the campfire between the trees. In many ways, this was when you felt most remote - drifting silently in the middle of nowhere and not even being able to see the middle of nowhere. It also made it ideal for sneaking up on people...!

I'd post a picture but, well... it was dark.

The next morning I was awake early and watched the sun rise over the opposite sure. Again, it's impossible to describe. Everything was just so serene and beautiful. This was the view out of our tent...!

After a peaceful walk on the beach, others began to stir and breakfast began...

I have to say that this is probably my favourite campground ever - it would take quite a lot to beat it. Though, I guess the facilities were pretty primitive (toilet = hut up the hill with a stinky hole in it and sharing the whole area with bears!) Even so, it takes some beating!

After an extensive pancake breakfast, with many accoutrements, Taz and I decided to paddle across to the other side of the lake and catch up with the rest of the group later, who were going for a short hike in the next bay. On the opposite beach, we met two older ladies from Salmon Arm, who'd been travelling up the lake in their canoes and camping in on various beaches for the previous 4 days. One of them turned out to be English, which was slightly random! That was one of the fun things - meeting random people in random places.

We paddled back to the beach where the others had set off for their walk, had some lunch and took the obligatory canoeing picture:

Chris then suggested people should go for a swim in the lake. Having drunk and dipped hands/feet in already, we were aware that it was VERY cold: certainly single figures centigrade and we thought probably only a couple of degrees above freezing. Chris & Lori plunged in (the latter screaming) and I then decided that I'd probably only ever be there once, so why not. Swimming shorts on an CHARGE...!

Let's just say there was swearing and it was cold! Worth it, though!

To be continued...