Rocky Road

This is my first time in Canada and unfortunately I’ve found yet another place I want to spend more time in. We’re coming to the end of our Moose tour of the Rockies and it’s been so much fun. We’ve had an amazing guide and a great group, which are two of the most important things on any tour. We’ve had a Kiwi talking about ‘decks’, Aussies who will say exactly what they think and be hilarious about doing it, and, of course, translators for the Scots. I’ve educated my new German friend on what a ‘cheapskate’ is and how it’s possible to laugh so hard that you’re ‘in stitches’, and in return I can now add ‘pieksen’ (to poke) and ‘Huckepack’ (piggy back) to my own vocabulary. There’s also a fellow Brit, a Quebecer, and a Dutchie who’s just as obsessed with Disney as I am.
Canada is frickin’ gorgeous. I’ve never seen so many glaciers and waterfalls in my life (and I’ve been to New Zealand). The wildlife and endless fir tree forests (try saying that five times fast) are so different to anything else I’ve experienced and I’ve loved being driven through the mountains. It’s been hard to stay awake on the bus all the time but I haven’t wanted to miss a second. I didn’t get to see my first wild bear but I’ve got to save something for next time, right?

img_3998We’re currently jamming on the bus to the ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ soundtrack, which is great fun but definitely very counter productive to blog writing! It was also extremely poignant when ‘When I’m Gome’ came on (at least it was to a soppy cow like me), because ‘I sure do like your sweet company,/ and we’re leaving tomorrow, what do you say?’. *sniff sniff* One minute, I just need to run and grab a tissue.
I still have a week in Canada after the tour which I’m spending on Vancouver Island with some friends, but I wanted to write up my review of the Rockies first.

Five things about Canada that made the trip:

1) Lake Louise and the Big Beehive walk.

The day I walked more than 35,000 steps, over 26km and climbed up the equivalent of 242 floors. Genuinely one of the best views I’ve ever had was on top of the Big Beehive. The walk was long, hot and challenging at points but so worth it. I felt literally on top of the world with an incredible view of Lake Louise laid out before us, mountains extending to the horizon in all directions.

We then tied the whole day together with a pretty freezing dip in Lake Louise to the infinite amusement of the onlooking tourists. Our tour guide managed to convince twelve of us to take the plunge with him which was apparently the largest number of suckers he’d ever managed to make do it. I definitely don’t regret it. Yes, it was some of the coldest water I’d ever been in, but I sure felt alive afterwards.

2) Kayaking on Lake Revelstoke.

I love being out on the water and there are few better ways to do it than in a kayak on a crystal clear lake nestled amongst the Rocky Mountains. It definitely helped as well that the guys who organised the outing were just so incredibly lovely. They seemed just as thrilled to be taking us kayaking as we were to be going, and when we eventually had to leave, we each got one of the best bear hugs I’ve ever had. It was cheap and definitely cheerful, and it all took place in such a gorgeous setting. We were given homemade muesli bars while we were out on our homemade kayaks and we got to enjoy yelling our lungs out for a good ten minutes to test out the acoustics in the mountains.img_4018
3) Top of Parker Ridge.

Parker Ridge is on the list because of a beautiful view as well. Generally we were really lucky with the weather and the clarity; just a week before the wildfire smoke was so bad that apparently you could barely see the mountains in front of your nose.

Parker Ridge is a lovely walk up to a, rather blustery, meadow with a view of the Saskatchewan glacier. Three of us went up a bit higher and got an incredible panorama of the valley and on the way down we talked about the most interesting jobs we’d had, how to teach goldfish football, and sleeping in closets. Standard.

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4) Being reflective at Morraine Lake.

Morraine Lake was a clamber up to a beautiful viewpoint on a misty morning after a couple of intense days. I found an alcove out of the wind, huddled in my anorak, and just had a few moments to myself looking out over the lake. Tours can be pretty full on, especially if you’re an introvert, so I appreciated just being able to enjoy my own company for a bit. The mist hung over the mountains like a gauze and gave them a purplish tinge which sat nicely with the baby blue of the lake. The water was lined by fir trees which undulated with the landscape as far as the eye could see, where they seemed perfectly content to stand forever and watch the world go by, just like I was in that moment. Everything sat nestled under an overcast sky, covering us like a blanket which blended seamlessly with the snow on the peaks as if the clouds were flowing down the mountains like water.

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5) Paddle boarding on Lake Okanagan

This was on the last day of our trip so it was definitely bitter sweet, but it was so much fun to get out there on a clear, still day after a beautiful drive from Kelowna and mess about on some boards with friends. We were warned in advance not to use the paddles as swords or javelins (we must have looked like one of those groups), but using them to splash each other was definitely still on the table. …knocking people off their boards when we swapped to the other half of the group was also definitely allowed. A few of us even managed a bit of paddle boarding acrobatics! (We were trying to show off to the women doing yoga on their’s…)

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Five things about the tour that made the trip:

1) Watching four fully grown men trying to throw a 20ft long tree called Phil off a cliff because they could.

2) Playing Spoons with several people who just refused to learn how to play properly.

3) After a night out, dancing to Uptown Funk on the walk back, debating the best year of birth (1994: Lion King, 1993: end of the Cold War [which the Internet disputes anyway so I definitely won]), stargazing, and discussing the radiation vs. unicorn funeral theory for the origin of the Northern Lights.

4) Witnessing two insanely brave or just pure insane guys swim in a glacial lake, clamber onto a block of ice and hang out on it long enough for a photo shoot and a pose as Charlie’s Angels.

5) Shouting ‘Alan!’ at Columbian ground squirrels and hoping they’d respond, and discussing the possibilities of using ‘wanna play a game of nighttime/daytime?’ as a legit chat up line.


It’s going to be sad to leave this crazy bunch of travellers behind, but I’m sure we’ll met up again somewhere along the way.

A wise woman once told me, ‘Man soll aufhΓΆren wenns am SchΓΆnsten ist’, and we can all be content reminiscing about climbing on statues, judging each other’s cleanliness and playing Pictionary on bus windows (as well as drawing other things which shall not be named!).

‘Til next time guys! I know I’m stoked for it!

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8 thoughts on “Rocky Road

  1. What an amazing experience! The hike of 35,000 steps looks definitely worth the view of the Big Beehive, and Morraine Lake looks truly amazing! I hope I can visit Canada one day!

  2. Hey Amber, which tour did you end up doing with Moose Travel? I’ve got 3.5 weeks in Canada next august planned and hoping to do the 10 or 14 day and spend most of my time in the rockies before moving onto toronto/montreal before I head home, was just curious which one you may have done? πŸ™‚ I know this would be quite a specific circumstance, but did any of the solo travellers on your tour decide to continue travelling together for a bit longer after the tour ended?

    Thanks!

    Jess

    1. Hi Jess!
      I did the Big West 10 day tour and I really really loved it (as you probably gathered from my blog post!). I would definitely recommend.
      Yeah, plenty of people did their own travelling afterwards. I did a week on Vancouver Island, for example, and I know a few people who stopped in Banff for a bit longer mid-tour or who went travelling on the east coast after the tour was over. It’s definitely doable 😁

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