My slogan for this week seems to have been ‘This is so beautiful, I could cry!’. The Canadian Rockies can be inspiration enough to turn you into a modern day Romeo (or Devdas, if you are Indian). It is the kind of beauty that is so overwhelming, it gets you wishing that you had the ability to write a sonnet so that all those emotions of awe inside of you can find some sort of an outlet. See, don’t I sound like a Devdas?!
Now, let me get a few things straight. This is actually the second time we are visiting the rockies. A few years back, Pierre and I did a quick and dirty tour through Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, etc. This time, we hoped to take our time and do a few hikes. We also have a third trip back here in the works (with the whole fam jam this time!) for next summer. Point is, we just can’t get enough!
This time, we got lucky (or unlucky) because the day we drove into Jasper, Mother Nature came right along and covered the whole place in snow! This was good and bad. Good because a sprinkle of snow on trees and mountains can create new levels of beautiful. And bad because we don’t have winter tyres (because it is October!!!) and because a lot of hiking trails were closed or just plain icy (and hence, dangerous).
Our first day in Jasper, we drove here and there, trying to beat the clouds in vain. Finally, we gave up and went to Miette hot springs. Perched up on one of Jasper’s many peaks, these hot springs (40°C or 104°F) are surrounded by even more mountains! Feeling the warmth of the hot springs engulf you as thick snow flakes fall all around you is almost euphoric.
The next day, we headed down the Icefields Parkway towards Lake Louise. This 3 hour drive can take about a week if you set your mind on stopping every time you see a place that takes your breath away. We oohed and aahed over a lot of places but soon enough, we were hit by a snow storm and had to keep driving so that we could get off the highway before the road conditions worsened.
The next day, we wrapped ourselves in our warmest clothing and decided to hike up to Lake Agnes tea house from Lake Louise. As we were heading up, the snow falling almost made the place feel a bit magical, but by the time we got to Lake Agnes tea house (the highest teahouse in Canada at an altitude of 2,135 m), it was too cloudy to see anything! It was still a beautiful hike and it is definitely on our list for next summer!
Back at Lake Louise, we had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Casey Anderson, more commonly known as the guy who raised a grizzly bear. It was so cool listening to his stories and watching some of his wildlife footage. What I loved about his presentation was that he made bears, mountain lions and all wildlife more relatable. His argument was, let’s stop fearing them and learn to coexist with them because they are doing the same for us. Check him out at www.grizzlyencounter.org.
Our last day in Lake Louise was a busy one. In the morning, we drove to Moraine Lake. The drive itself is magnificent. What’s more, once we got to the lake, it was surrounded by several inches of snow. The unique blue of Moraine Lake with the sparkling white of the snow made me want to write sonnets again! I would make an excellent Romeo!
After yet another drive up Icefields Parkway and then down the Bow Valley Parkway towards Banff, we were ready to call it a day. You see, being Romeo is exhausting business!
Now since I am running out of synonyms for beautiful, I will leave you with one last thought: Banff is exquisite. You must visit! More to come…
Must-sees in the Canadian Rockies:
I can’t possibly list everything there is to do here. I will leave you with a few tips though:
- If you are staying longer than 6 nights in the rockies, buy a Discovery Pass. This is the cheaper alternative to paying park fees everyday!
- Go to every visitor centre that you pass. The locals in each area will tell you what is unique to see in that area. And even if you don’t get new information, at least this way you make sure you are not missing anything. FYI, this applies to any other place too.
- You can easily spend a month in Jasper and Banff National Parks and come away with lots more left to do. So when you come here, don’t try to squeeze other places in because you will most likely regret it.
- Summer is peak season but that is best time to make the most of your trip because not as many places are closed and the weather is a bit more predictable.