After a fantastic stay in Kamloops with Megan, we jumped on a bus to Alberta, to the scenic Rocky Mountain paradise of Banff.
Now, I’ve been to Banff many times throughout my life, and even lived there for a summer, but I still experience a great sense of awe whenever I visit the Rocky Mountains. Towering snow-capped peaks, radiant turquoise glacial lakes, and thick green pine forests surround you as you drive through the winding roads. Sometimes the road travels between sheer cliff faces where the path of the highway has been blasted right through solid rock, and you feel like you are sneaking right underneath the nose of a sleeping giant. Then you turn the corner and your breath is taken away by an enormous valley ringed by a row of jagged grey peaks so tall that mist surrounds their tops.
I can only imagine how amazing they would be to someone who has never seen mountains of this scale before.
Our major adventure in Banff was climbing Sulphur Mountain. This is one of the enormous mountain peaks which overlooks the town, and it offers absolutely amazing views of the larger-than-life Rocky Mountain valley that Banff is hidden within.
To get to the top, most people will take the Gondola. However, Lee and I decided to tackle the challenge of hiking up the mountain instead, because we heard a rumor that we would get a free ride down if we made it up to the summit on our own steam and as typical backpackers we jumped on the chance to make the experience cheaper.
Well, it was the hardest I’ve ever worked just to save a few bucks, but the fresh alpine air and the stunning views as we made our way up the mountain were totally worth it. It took us just under two hours of huffing and puffing up switchbacks, and when we started to see snowdrifts we knew that we were getting close to the top. Although my legs were sore for a day or two, I am so glad that we decided to make the climb. It feels truly amazing to stand on the peak of a huge mountain, knowing that you climbed up there all by yourself!
I loved that these 20-somethings were having such a great time exploring Canada, but as they described their experiences I don’t think I would prefer the same type of travel. They were on a package tour sort of holiday, and although it was of a very youthful and adventurous style it was quite controlled. They had a set itinerary, with activities planned out for them and all supplies, transport and food organized in advance. I think that although this type of travel would be fun for a few days, I think Lee and I prefer the freedom to go with the flow. I wouldn’t want to know what I was going to be doing on day 16 of a 20 day trip, and with the way that we travel we usually don’t know until a day or two before. Although this type of spontaneity might be nerve wracking for others, we find it liberating and exciting.After a couple of nights in Banff (because that’s all we could afford!) we jumped back on a bus and headed to our next stop: Calgary! Stay tuned to read more of our adventures…