Home Sweet Home

Our first plane, to Edmonton (right)

By Noah – After a gruelling day of travelling via two planes, coach and car, we are finally back in England and in our own beds for some much needed sleep. It has been a great trip away to Canada both to meet family and just to be in awe of the surroundings and the Rocky Mountains that followed us wherever we went. My mum has greatly enjoyed the driving aspect of our adventure due to the simplicity and ease of driving on Canada’s highways that were never busy with traffic and always gave way to spectacular views of massive glaciers, pristine lakes and endless forests. We returned to a predictably dull and overcast sky that didn’t change from Gatwick all the way to our house but over the past few days the sky has lightened and now features patches of blue sky. By now the jet lag is wearing off and on Tuesday I must return to school to start my GCSEs and hope that all the months, years I have spent touring the planet, some interesting and useful information has remained and will help me over the next two years…

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Banff and Boardwalks

Cave and Basin Historic Sight

Beautiful Boardwalk in Canmore

Steps: 17,810

By Noah – Today,our last full day in Canada, was the hottest day so far and included our customary long walks and sightseeing stops. We set off from Lake Louise and pointed our car in the direction of Banff, partly on the scenic route. Our first stop was the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, where the idea for Canada’s national parks came from. Discovered by three Canadian railway workers in 1883, the area comprises of hot springs, rich in sulphur and minerals and famed for their restorative powers as well as modern day signs to help you understand the history. Our next stop was Banff village itself where we visited the Buffalo National Luxton Museum, a museum about native cultures and the buffalo herds that they based their lives around. After Banff, we drove to our last stop of our trip, the small riverside village just west of Calgary, Canmore. Only 12,000 people live in this town situated in the Bow Valley but it has a beautiful boardwalk and great weather. We had a very interesting (awful) Canadian meal in a local pub and despite trying elk pie, we were all excited by the prospects of Safeway and donuts. Tomorrow we fly from Calgary in the late afternoon to land in London the next morning…

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Jasper to Lake Louise

Mistaya Falls

Lake Louise

Steps: 15,633

By Noah – After spending a very enjoyable day in Jasper, we were up early at 7:30 to lève for our next destination, Lake Louise, some 250km (155 miles) south. We set off at 8:00 sharp and despite our sat nav wanting to take us on a 700km (430 mile) scenic detour, we were back on Icefields Parkway retracing our route from previous days. Our first stop was Mistaya Canyon and Falls, only just off the main highway but a very deep canyon. It was so far down you could barely see the water gushing through at very high speeds. We drove for another half an hour before stopping for the second time, at Bow Lake for a short walk around a very green lake that has become very commonly us now. In the early afternoon, we arrived at a very busy and packed Lake Louise with car parks that were impossible to even get in for all the traffic around us. We parked the car at our accomodation and took a shuttle bus to the lake. Being the second largest glacier fed lake in the world, Lake Louise itself was extremely busy and a very popular tourist destination for travellers from all over the world. To get a better view away from the crowds, we hiked 1.5km up a steep incline to a great vantage point that gave us great views of the entire lake. Returning to our small chalet for the night, we only have one full day left in Canada and hope to make the best of it tomorrow…

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Kayaking in Jasper

Beauvert Lake

Downtown Jasper

Steps: 9,310

By Noah – After pulling into Jasper late yesterday night, we spent the night in our spacious basement just south of downtown and the main shopping area. We had an excellent sleep in very comfy and large beds that gave our mosquito bites, from the previous nights, time to disappear and in the morning we were ready for the day ahead. At about 10:30, we were in the car and on our way to Beauvert Lake to hire some kayaks for the morning. Before we reached the lake, we passed through a very luxurious lodge with expensive but amazing looking log cabins that backed onto the lake. We hired two single kayaks for two hours and spent all of it exploring the beautiful green lake from our boats. The water was crystal clear which meant we could see right down to the bottom and even spot some golf balls that had been over hit from the greens surrounding the lake. Also surrounding the lake were massive mountains that towered above us and made us feel extremely small in our little kayaks. In the early afternoon, we returned to Jasper to find some lunch and explore the mountain village. Jasper is a small town on the Athabasca River that many travellers use as a base for winter activities and sports in the parts of the Rockies close by. There is also a skytram that takes people halfway up a mountain for spectacular views and hikes available to the peak for even better views of the other peaks in the area.This is as far north as we go and tomorrow we’ll drive south down to Lake Louise and Banff for the last three days of our trip to Canada…

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Glacier Walking

Sunwapta Glacier

Athabasca Falls

Steps: 11,204

By Noah – Today began by leaving Saskatchewan Crossing and beginning our journey to Jasper. Along the 154km drive, we had planned a few excursions to keep us busy. One of these was the very popular tourist attraction the Columbia Icefields and Sunwapta Glacier. We had booked our 10:30 tour two nights before and were there at  10:03 in readiness of our expedition. After queueing for a short while, we got on a bus that would take us to the tip of the glacier. Once there, we transferred onto a larger vehicle designed for driving on the slippery ice that made up the glacier. Costing just over CAD$ 1.2 million (just shy of £750,000), these giant, six-wheeled buses took us high up on the glacier to a place where we could get out and walk around. This was easier said than done though as the ice was extremely slippery but we managed to take some nice pictures and collect some water from the glacier itself. Strangely though, this water had a very coffee like aftertaste that we weren’t too sure about and was icy cold. After slipping a bit more, we were able to take in the scenery around us and my year 9 geography school knowledge came in handy.  It was far easier to identify all of the corries, arêtes and tarns that made up the v-shaped, glacial on this massive scale. After returning to the centre, we took another bus to the glacier skywalk. Opened in 2014, this is a glass-floored, semicircle that stood 30 metres out from the cliff-edge. This novel vantage point stood 280 metres above the valley floor and gave us some amazing views. 

After leaving the Icefields at around 14:00, we continued on our way to Jasper via two waterfalls, conveniently located on the highway – the Sunwapta and Athabasca falls. They were both very loud and aggressive with sprays that soaked anyone who got too close. We have two nights in Jasper now, and plan on going kayaking, one of our favourite activities, tomorrow…

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Yoho National Park

Wapta Falls

Emerald Lake

Steps: 24,721

Tuesday – by Sam

After a hearty pancake and bacon breakfast, we left Golden to explore neighbouring Yoho National Park. A short distance on Highway 1 was Wapta Falls. A beautiful 4.6km hike through forest opened out to a roaring waterfall set against a backdrop of  bright blue sky, snowy mountain peaks and verdant green forest. It was beautiful and the scenery just got better as you descended to the Beaverfoot River bed. Rivers fed by glacial waters are such a wonderful blue mint colour and the contrast with the white foam as the water crashed and tumbled below was just breathtaking. 

Our second stop of the day was Emerald Lake.  Encircled by mountains, glaciers and dense forest hill sides, this beautifully-set lake truly sparkled. The 5.2 km loop walk provided countless photo opportunities though not enough shaded benches to be able to sit down and enjoy it. Information boards explained how the lake had developed and how it would slowly be filled in because the debris from the alluvial fan, from the glacier, would gradually creep down. 

Our third and final walk of the day was to Takakkaw Falls. There was a very scary bit of driving with something called a switch back. Having had no experience with this I was naturally quite alarmed to see a huge camper van reversing downhill towards me on the other side of the road whilst having my own concerns with the automatic car and the steep, windy road. Once at the waterfall though my stress levels reduced as Noah dragged me to stand in its freezing spray. It is enormous! Perhaps 4 times taller than Wapta Falls and loud – thundering. It was also beautiful. In fact the whole day in Yoho National Park was just a string of superlatives – tallest, most beautiful, best, greenest, loudest, most fantastic and so on.

Our wonderful day ended at Saskatchewan River Crossing. The Crossing has long been identified as a strategic location in the history of the Canadian West. In the early 1800s, it was the route of the fur trade. Today, it provides weary travelers like us the chance to break up their journey to Jasper and beyond…

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On The Road Again

Beautiful Landscape

Bridge in Golden

Distance Travelled: 296km

Steps: 10,689

By Sam and Noah – Today we began our roadtrip through the Canadian Rockies. With our hire car, it was good to b able to stop whenever the need arose, which was quite often along the beautiful mountain highways. Mum is driving well despite being on the wrong side of the road and having an automatic with very responsive controls. Most of the journey we were enveloped by massive forests and could see towering, snow-capped mountains in the distance on our way to Golden. We have already obtained some insider tips for our journey tomorrow including waterfalls and glacial valleys…

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