Ultimate Canadian Adventure Part I

A mysterious title, huh?

I’ll surprise you. It means exactly what it means- Ultimate. Canadian. Adventure. Maybe half-ultimate, cause we decided we didn’t want to go to Yukon this time of year and freeze our asses off.

So Ultimate Canadian Adventure, by Klaudia Pyc, is a month-long road trip across Western Canada, through Alberta and British Colombia.

Let’s begin!

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The idea of that trip came to our heads last summer when my boyfriend said he wants to go to Canada February-April and I realised I have almost a month of Easter vacation from the uni.

So here we are, two world travellers riding across Canada and working remotely from coffee shops. And Airbnbs. Unfortunately, it’s not one of those adventures when you have two crazy people, driving around and sleeping wherever. But I still will call it an adventure, especially because of our amazing Toyota Ta-home-a (I am not taking a credit for it, I’ve read an article where someone used it and I just loved it).

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So we do sleep in Airbnb’s from time to time. But other times, we actually ARE crazy adventurers:

 

CALGARY
I didn’t have much time in Calgary, barely two days, since flew in Wednesday evening and the Saturday morning we were already heading out to Banff for our Ice Climbing course, but I had couple days to do a little exploring.
One of my favourite parts of hanging around Calgary were the Pedestrian Walkways. I wasn’t sure how to get into those interesting looking bridges, that were connecting building, about 15 ft up, everywhere around Downtown, but at some point, I just got inside the mall and followed a bunch of different bigger groups of people. That caused me falling into the labyrinth of glass tunnels, with each of them being different and taking you to a different place. I think I ended up crossing about 6 of them but kinda lost counting and I’m not sure if I didn’t cross one walkway a couple of times. They say there is supposed to be over 15 of ’em. It is really hard to keep orientation there, there were supposed to be maps of the walkways between them, but I didn’t find them.
At one point I got to a dining area with some kind of tropical garden under and a plane over it.
 
AND some of their pedestrian lights signalize green via bird sounds, that’s pretty unique!
There is also a great park in the northern part of downtown, on the Bow River bend, called Prince’s Island Park. I loved the connection between nature and the big city right next to it. Kinda reminded me of Central Park in New York. If you cross the river, about in the middle of the park there is a nice viewpoint, made on the wooden stairway up the cliff, and to be honest, the point was actually more interesting than the actual view.
BANFF NATIONAL PARK
We were staying in the area for over a week, and gotta be honest- Canmore definitely wins over Banff. You can totally feel the vibe of the National Park village, but it lucks irritating tourists with their noisy children. Of course, Banff’s beautiful, and worth visiting, even couple times, but seriously, if you stay in the area, with a car, safe those couple bucks and stay in Canmore.

One day we decided we need some time to play in the snow, learn how to ski, practice some snow anchors. For that reason we drove 742 road, leaving Canmore, going through Kanaskis, next to Ha Ling and Three Sisters Peaks. We found a nice piece of snow and had a lot of fun. A girl we met told us there are a lot of unnamed peaks in the area that make great backcountry skiing. Worth checking out!

Our biggest adventure in the park was our Ice 2 course- two days of Ice Climbing fun in the beautiful area, spiced up by some amazing knowledge gain and skills acquired.
FUN FACT: did you know there are 5 essential climbing knots, that you can do basically everything with?? Those are munter, overhand, figure 8, prusik and clove hitch.
FUN FACT #2: one ice screw placed properly can hold up to 14 kN of force. Falling on the top-rope generates about 2kN and a lead fall about 4kN (human body starts to break at about 7 kN). I feel much safer with those things now.
There is a great Nordic centre in Canmore as well. We did half day of cross-country skiing that ended up in many, many falls. But it was fun anyway. It’s about 20$ to rent the skis (25$ for skate skis), and 15$ for a park pass.
JASPER NATL PARK

So, the saddest thing about that trip was… we never actually got to Jasper. I never got my perfect picture on the Icefield Parkway. At the time we were planning to get to Jasper, due to the weather conditions and that there was an avalanche that came down on the Parkway, it got closed for about 3 days.

But we did come up with some interesting ideas. Driving up in the snowstorm, we decided THAT was a real Canadian experience. But to make it as Canadian as it gets that view was missing a moose running around with Canadian flag in his horns and a bear chasing after him with a bunch of maple syrup in his paws. Just a thought.

So cut off from Jasper, we decided to head down to British Colombia.

It is amazing how, driving from Banff, within like 4 hours, we crossed three different biomes (landscapes/weather). We went from alpine snow storm with an avalanche danger, to Alaskan style chilly rain, to windy Arizona-looking landscape. And then to something that looked literally like Western Colorado (rocky but green).

KAMLOOPS
What kind of word even is that?
We got really interested about the pronunciation of it, and got to pretty interesting etymology- they say there are two possible sources of the name, one of them is an anglicised version of “Tk’əmlúps” (“meeting of two rivers”). The other one mentions the similarity of the name to French “Camp des Loups”, which means “camp of the wolves”, whatever that would mean. But well, it looks like there is not any hidden way to pronounce. It’s just as you think.
But anyway, it was the only bigger town on our way, and an interesting change after all those little town and villages (some really creepy-looking) that had like one restaurant (usually called as “the best *sth* in the town”) and maybe a gas station, that was also a convenience store and a bakery.

There is that one part of Hwy 99, between Kamloops and Lillooet going through the Marble Canyon BC and getting to the Pavillon Lake. Make sure to keep your eyes open in the area. There is an Island on the lake, with an actual house on it! It’s a view straight from a strange movie. (According to Google it was recently for sale)

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TIPS:

Camping
To be honest, camping in Canada is not that straightforward as it is in the US. They say there are crown lands that are supposed to be the same as American National Forests, but good luck finding the map of them on the internet.
It is much easier in British Colombia than it is in Alberta, mostly because of National Parks, when there is no talking of dispersed camping, only backcountry by permit or on the campsite.
During the trip, we had a very good use of the Free Campsites website.
Campfire
Apparently, you need to obtain a special permit to have a fire in British Columbia. Also, the firewood sold at the gas stations is not that popular here…
National Parks
Remember that both Jasper and Banff are National Parks, so in order to enter Banff, you need a National Park pass. Anual pass for all the Parks in Canada is about 140$.

P.S.: If you got confused with times I used, I am writing it from A Zephyr Cafe in Squamish. Just to explain a reason why I was using present and then switched to the past 🙂 To explain mentioning exact coffee shop- I sit under an armour of a unicorn!

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I hope you enjoyed it!

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