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Wanderlust cured’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 18 Jul 2009

Location: Canada

MapOut living life.

The rain felt like it wouldn’t end at the beginning of this week. The downpour so sudden and so heavy that the corral that holds the horses during the day resembled a mud pit, torrents of thick brown water streaming downhill. I was out on a trail ride when the rain began and although it’s been awhile since I have been soaked to the bone and that’s the way I felt that day. Dark clouds hung around the valley for those days, the mountains disappearing until the sunshine was to come out again.
Thursday night I packed the 70L backpack which held all my belongings when I first came to Canada in early January. I filled that and two other bags with clothes, shoes, books, camping gear and laptop...how quickly we accumulate stuff, my life fit into one backpack not so long ago and it somewhat saddens me that life will again be filled with so much when I know that I need so little. Maybe as we move forward we sometimes go backwards?

Early Friday I awoke to the car covered in all sorts of goodies. Tree branches, grass, flowers, serviettes, water bottles, lint brushes and twigs and I imagined my friends from the night before giggling and laughing as they filled the front of the car. Unlike my early night, they had headed out for the usual Thursday night shenanigans and last time they were contemplating the great idea of jumping into the bed at 4am, so maybe I got off lightly? It begun the start of my day wonderfully, I laughed a lot as I thought of them bent over laughing, trying to be quiet and loving that they had one up on me. Friends can light up your life and I’m lucky to have the ones that I do.

4 Day Summer Road-trip:

It began in Canmore and carried along the A1 road which runs parallel to the Hwy. People take this road as the speed limit is 60 and it usually has more opportunities for spotting wildlife. One black bear we had the pleasure of seeing as it wandered quite quickly through the forest. I think he wondered what all the bright metallic objects with engines running and cameras flashing were doing which we was trying to have brunch. The first stop on the road-trip was Lake Louise, considered the most photographed lake in the world, with its light torquise green water backed up by stunning glacier, yellow and red canoes dotted all over really did make for a picture perfect first stop. It would be the first of many. Moraine Lake is located quite close to Lake Louise and the blue/green of this water was even more spectacular. Moraine lake was our lunch stop, we sat right on the lake where the pale dry wood jammed and slowed the water’s exit but the old tree trunks were the perfect offset for the bright blue sparkling water which lay behind them. The black tarmac the only thing to split the dark green pines which blanket the valley. Every so often you would get glimpses of torrents of water rushing its way down the mountains to the rivers below. Most often this water was glacial melt and as we drove closer to the Columbian Icefields the stronger the torrents got. Peyto Lake was the last stop before the icefields and yet another glacial fed lake with its opaque light green tints. The view to the valley beyond from here was brilliant and only a glimpse of what was to come.

It is with difficulty that I try to explain what the Columbian Icefields look like. They take your breathe away. Coming over the mountains the glaciers grow downwards, the stand metres above the top rockline of the mountains. Some are pure white, some are a dirty brown, but all have made a similar journey and all are spectacular. Photos do no justice to the size that these ice formations take and the way they appear around every winding corner of the Icefields Parkway. Big, bright, in steps and stages, flat snow and deep crevasses, remnants of big icefalls lie beneath them. If once in your lifetime you ever can create the opportunity to see this, please do it, I will be here waiting.

Next stop was Athabasca falls. Most of the drive thus far I had seen in April on my Spring Road-trip, but still under the cover of snow and ice and barely any melt to get the waterfalls really thundering. Now is the time to see waterfalls! Athabasca falls pounded away at the rock below as hundreds of gallons of water flowed over, the spray alone changing the biosphere of this area into a moist forest. The noise created by the water felt like it changed my heartbeat awhile as I stared, amazed by nature. It seems to be happening here, again and again.

In Jasper I got some pretty special footage of a black bear, stopping for a scratch, overturning rocks in search of food and clawing away at a old fallen truck for whatever may crawl out – the video will be on my facebook account, enjoy. X

The rest of the evening was spent looking for a place to sleep. We had a big van, fully loaded and just needed to find a place to pull over for some rest. Let me keep it short, but there was a midnight shuffle as the park warden let us know that where we were (and where many others were) was not a place to sleep and we were given free camping for the night in an overflow camping area – sometimes crime pays.

Maligne Canyon was tackled with puffy eyes and a sugar high as I continue a Jacka family tradition of only eating sugary cereal when camping. Now let me tell you, this was not your average fruit loops or coco pops...this cereal was chocolately goodness called something like treasure chest or candy island as it was loaded with sweet sweet sugary lollies all the way through. You may as well go all the way I say. The sugar high ran out after 2 ½ hours of driving anyway. So Maligne Canyon, deep deep narrow canyon carved over many many years, more thundering waterfalls and mist and I will let the photos do anymore talking needed to convey its beauty.

As we crossed the border from Alberta into British Columbia my heart sank a little. The pine beetle, which is a native to Canada and is usually controlled by piercing winters to keep their numbers in control have now turned the dark green boreal forest into dead forests of red and brown. In some parts they have got so bad that its just bare trunks lining the sides of the mountains. Bald, scalded mountains.

Takakkaw Falls is one of the highest in Canada and means “magnificent” in Cree – and that it is. The water shortly after beginning its decent hits a rock and sends cascades of water forward and no longer down. The effect is a big wide white mist and its thunder can be heard when driving towards the falls. Emerald Lake was next stop and it was only short as we jumped out for a photograph of yet another torquise lake and started our hunt for a camping spot for the night.
No crimes commited tonight as we found a nice camping spot to set up the hammock right beside Kicking Horse River. The fire was lit, the damper made, the potatoes covered in butter and salt and the chocolate and marshmellow bananas so sweet. As I sit here now the light has just gone from the sky, its 11:26pm. At 9:30 the sun created an amazing colour on the mountains behind me. The water provides a constant hum and the quiet is only broken by the giant trains following the tracks, metal on metal squealing as they grind their way keeping the Canadian economy going. I have just finished my chai tea boiled on the campfire and my headlamp and slow, almost soundless music keeps me company while I type.

The adventures continue tomorrow...