We have just spent a wonderful week in the Rocky Mountains. After leaving Hope last week, we followed Route 5 up to Jasper, the head of the Rockies.
Jasper was gorgeous and definately our favourite town. It is a very popular winter ski town and is full of log cabins and nice bars with views. It was a tiny town with some lovely cafes. We stayed at a hostel in the middle of the forest right next to a river. It was very basic, with no showers and only long drop toilets. But it has been our favourite hostel. The people were lovely and it had a great vibe, with a campfire each night etc, we even had to take our shoes off inside each building.
The following day, was lovely weather, very cold but sunny. We did a hike by Pyramid Lake through the forest adn it gave amazing views back over the snow topped mountains and Jasper. It was quite a hard walk uphill but we stopped to play poohsticks which G won. It took around 4 hours and because of the mountain air we were knackered. A 5 minute nap in the car park turned into 50 minutes. We went and had a beer in a bar as a treat before heading off for another hike by the Moraine Canyon. It was beautiful to see glaciers meeting the river and huge waterfalls. That night we were lucky enough to see two brown bears walking down the road outside of our hostel. A mum and cub. Very cute.
The next day we woke up to terrible weather with rain and low cloud. When it is cloudy here it is so low you can drive up a hill and be in the cloud. However, we were driving the road down to Lake Louise, through the Columbia Icefield, which is a beautiful drive. We were lucky enough for the cloud to clear and the sun to shine for the whole drive. It was amazing, every 10 minutes we had to stop to take pictures of more incredible sights. Our wow-ometer is definately back and in full swing. The weather here is about a month and a half behind what it should be so there is still alot of snow on the mountains, it is very cold and the daffodils are only just coming out.
Some of the lakes on the drive were so blue you can't even describe the colour. They look like swimming pools, however they are far too cold to swim in as the water comes straight off the glaciers. We saw the weeping wall, a huge mountain covered in waterfalls, the athabasca waterfall and the athabasca glacier. It was huge and extremely beautiful. You could do a snowbus tour on the ice in a huge monstertruck/coach which looked fun but it was very expensive. We finally arrived in Lake Louise and checked in to a beautiful hostel. We also saw another bear walking along the road. The accomodation is very expensive here, it has cost over $80 for a dorm room each night. So we have been living off soup, noodles and peanut butter sarnies. We were lucky enough to have a sauna in this hostel so were straight in it.
When we woke up the next morning, it was raining and cloudy and you could not even see that there were mountains surrounding lake louise. So we decided to travel to Banff and return to Lake Louise. We took the 1A and again it was beautiful, but we saw sooo much wildlife. We had 3 Caribou walking so close to the car we thought it was going to ram us. We then saw a mountain goat and lots of deer. Very exciting. Banff is alot bigger than Jasper, it was very commercialised they even had a Louis Vuitton shop, which ruined the magic for me. Becuase of the weather we spent the day walking around the town centre before heading back to the hostel. The weather the next day was not much better but we drove to Lake Minnewanka (pronounced Mini Wonka) and took a trail to the canyon. It was about a 2 hour walk and we got soaked and very cold. It has only been about 40oF. We then drove to the Banff Springs hotel and up the road to the Hot springs pool. It is naturally 42oC but cooled down to 39oC by the melting snow on the mountains. That was a lovely treat to warm up. We then drove back to Lake Louise but only saw lots of deer.
Although the weather was bad again we fought through it and went on a long hike anyway. We did a hike called the Plain of 6 glaciers and it is around 15km return. We straed by the huge hotel on the Lake and took a trail right up into the mountains to a gorgeous tea house. Along the way, we were lucky enough to see a Grizzly bear and 2 cubs. It was absolutely huge and thankfully quite far away. The walk was very tough as we were constantly climbing but the views would be amazing in good weather. As we started to climb, we were eating Raisins and a we saw a chipmunk and it took one from Gs hand and started to eat which was naughty of us but soo cute. We then saw a huge Marmot thing coming out of its house under a log. I was convinced it was a wolverine but unfortunately it wasnt.
Because we were walking on the glaciers it was extremely cold but we warmed up with a cup of tea at the tea house which was lovely, before walking back. BBack at the hostel, G fell asleep for a long nap and then we warmed up in the sauna.
So we have been pretty active during our Rockies stay. We have arrived in a small town along Highway 1 for the night which means the prices are a little cheaper. Our plan is then to head down into the wine region. Hopefully it starts to warm up a bit and we can put the hats and gloves away.