Trans Canada, Eh: Across the Continent

Trans Canada One is our road of choice as we road trip 2,200 miles across the continent. Snow and sunshine. Farmland and cities. Lakes and mountains. Each day is a new adventure. I’m embarrassed to admit I never knew much about “our neighbor to the north.” This trip has really been an eye-opener. The cosmopolitan cities, the friendly people and the stunning scenery has amazed and delighted us. Come along and enjoy the ride . . .

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Trans Canada, Eh: Banff

In 1883, three railway workers stumbled upon some bubbling hot springs. Little did they know that discovery would lead to the creation of Canada’s first national park. Today, Banff, in the midst of the Canadian Rockies, is a top travel destination. The area draws four million visitors each year! The park encompasses the town of Banff. At an elevation of 4,537 feet, it is the highest town in Canada.  Banff has been on my bucket list forever.

Arriving on a weekend, the town was packed with tourists. Our interests were nature and beauty over shopping so we didn’t spend a lot of time exploring the crowded streets of designer and outdoor shops.

The guy at the Banff Information Centre told us about a hike near Lake Louise that was stunning but warned us that the parking lots filled up early. (We had zero interest in overcrowded shuttles.) Frank and I arrived before sunrise and the crowds to Moraine Lake, where we took an early hike to Larch Valley and the Ten Peaks. The hike was strenuous with a very steep, 2000-ft. elevation gain. I felt like I was wearing cement shoes as I struggled upwards. The top of the trail was treacherously icy in spots. Had we known it was going to be so long and hard, we might not have done it. Once we got there, however, it was so worth it!! It was just the two of us. The sun was up. The sky was clear and blue — the perfect backdrop against the ten snow-capped peaks and the golden trees, which encircled us.

All too soon, the valley began filling up with groups of hikers. We started back. I’ll have to say, it was pretty empowering to face many hikers who enviously commented on our descent as they struggled to climb. “Is it much farther?” they’d ask. When we got to the trail head, we were further rewarded with views of beautiful  Moraine Lake, which was now visible (it had been dark when we left).

While we saw many gorgeous sights during our stay here, this hike was a highlight and will be what we remember when we think of Banff.

 

Happy Birthday Canada!!!

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Happy 150th Birthday Canada! And what better way to celebrate than with a road trip across the country?! Frank and I are heading along the Trans-Canada Highway. It’s one of the world’s longest highways, spanning ten provinces and 5,000 miles! Since we’ve been to and LOVED Vancouver, we are beginning this adventure near the eastern edge of British Columbia in Kootenay National Park. In honor of the sesquicentennial, Canada is providing free admittance to its national parks!

 

Border control was a breeze as we entered Canada north of Whitefish, Montana. Almost immediately, we were greeted by the jagged, ice-capped peaks of the towering Canadian Rockies. The road itself is visitor friendly. Speeds are slower, giving us a sense of safety and the opportunity to admire what we are seeing. Restrooms (albeit simple outhouses) and roadside “litter barrels” are plentiful.

About halfway through Kootenay Park, we begin to notice severely charred hills.  Like so many areas in the western United States, this summer’s wildfires have ravaged millions of acres. Lightning sparked a blaze that has scorched over 38,500 acres in Kootenay and neighbouring Assiniboine Provincial Park.

In contrast, we hiked the area around Kootenay’s Marble Canyon, a limestone gorge with stunning aqua waterfalls.