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Published: November 16th 2008
Wow. The Rocky Mountains are truly incredible. Driving from Calgary, the mountains appeared upon the horizon as we headed to Banff National Park. They looked impossibly big, but continued to grow as we got closer. Once surrounded by mountains we reached the park gates, paying our entry fees, getting advice on road conditions and bears, we headed into the park. Our first stop was the Banff townsite - a picturesque small town nestled in the mountains. We spent some time touring the town, and then decided to go on a couple hikes - up to the Hoodoos and down to the Bow River. It seemed that the town is completely run by travelers - in fact we met mainly Aussies at the hostel pub that night, who were working in Canada, just as we soon will be in Australia. As the sun rose the next day, we continued on to Lake Louise after stopping for a hike through the Johnston Canyon. It was opening day on the slopes at Lake Louise so we stopped by to see the hills, bustling with excited boarders. Already at the highest community in Banff National Park, we climbed another 400 meters on a trail to
a high altitude lake which turned out to be frozen over - but it was still worth the hike! The lookout from the top was amazing; mountains as far as the eye could see and Lake Louise was even bluer from a higher perspective. Another early morning and we headed north to Jasper. The Icefields Highway was an amazing drive with many stops along the way including the bluer-than-blue Peyto Lake (Pee-toe), the Columbia Icefields, and Athabaska Falls; where we were attacked and held hostage in the car by a giant Raven, too bad the Bald Eagle flying over head didn't scoop him up for us. As we arrived in Jasper, we were shocked to see elk casually walking throughout the town, mowing lawns and strolling down sidewalks! Unfortunately the sight-seeing gondola was closed for the season, but we made the best of it anyways, even off-roading it with our little car to get a good view of the town.
Our journey through Alberta's Rockies ended as we headed to British Columbia to visit Uncle Mike in Harrison Hot Springs. Enjoying the milder temperatures, it was another scenic drive across BC. Harrison is a beautiful small resort town on the
Uncle Mike and Andrew enjoying a fresh lunch
lake, surrounded by mountains and rainforest. We had a few days to spend there, but it sure went quickly! Arriving in the afternoon, we toured the town and went to the local pub. The next two days were filled with adventure, as my Uncle took us hiking through the rainforest, through an abandoned gold mine, and on a Jeep excursion. Even after two days of possibly the most fun in one spot we've had yet, there was still tons more to do, but alas we were out of time; I guess we're gonna have to go back!!
On Friday we headed for the ocean, taking the scenic route to Vancouver, then boarding the ferry for Vancouver Island. The ferry crossing took a little over an hour and a half on calm seas. Once we arrived on the island, we headed for the west coast, our destination Tofino. Thinking we were through the worst of the driving, the winding and steep Hwy. 4 was made worse by the dark, rain, and fog. It took a while but we finally made it to Tofino. The Pacific Rim National Park gave us a true appreciation for temperate rainforest. Hiking through the lush forests,
Waiting for the monkey's......
or the veloca raptors, we weren't sure.
with giant moss-covered trees and dense vegetation, we kept thinking we were more likely to run into a monkey than a bear, despite all of the "bear in area" warning signs. We saw waves big enough to surf (and apparently they do year round though it was so foggy we wouldn't have seen any surfers even if they were out) and stopped by the National Coast Guard to check out the lighthouse. As the afternoon approached, we decided to head back to Nanaimo in the daylight - it was still a crazy drive, but we could at least appreciate the scenery and anticipate the corners this time! So here we are, at The Painted Turtle Guesthouse in Nanaimo. Our journey throughout Canada has almost come to an end - we only have stops left in Victoria and Vancouver before we head down to sunny California!
Talk to you soon, and don't be afraid to write us back!!
lots of love, Cass and Andrew xox
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