Thursday, 13 July 2017

Hiking and Camping in Banff, Alberta

With my trip to Costa Rica fast approaching, I was thinking back to my travels from last summer and decided to share my trip to Banff! Last summer I was working about 3 hours away from Banff National Park in Alberta, so I decided to go camping there with my roommate and her friends. I've done several canoe camping trips, so I was excited to try something a little different.

We decided to hike the Paradise Valley trail, which takes you by a lake, glaciers, and waterfalls.
In preparation for the trip, we loaded up on cans of bear spray and a horn. Banff is filled with Grizzlies and you can actually get fined for not hiking in a group of 4 or more, since this reduces the chance of a bear attack. This was the sign at the beginning of the trail. This particular trail actually closes down during berry season in July and August because of all of the bears in the area! Fortunately the only bear we saw was by the side of the highway on the way into the park.
The trail was given a "difficult" rating and I wholeheartedly agree! At the time I considered myself to be pretty fit from running and pilates, but nothing could have prepared me for how hard the hike was! Carrying a massive backpack of camping equipment and walking uphill didn't help. I felt out of the breath for practically the entire duration of the hike.

For the first part of the trip, we walked through the forest. It was raining and after a while water started to leak through my rain jacket and hiking shoes.
This is Lake Annette. You can't tell from the picture, but it was actually snowing! (So much for the bathing suit I packed...). From this point on, the trail gained a lot of elevation and it snowed the rest of the way.
It was the end of June, but it was snowing like crazy. My clothes were pretty wet from the rain so I was absolutely freezing and genuinely worried about getting frost bite on my toes. For a brief moment we considered heading back.
Soon after, we reached the campsite. It was a relief to see several other campers there and made me feel safe about staying the night. This is where we pitched the tent.

After the tent was set up, me and one of the other girls peeled off our wet layers and crawled inside. Two of the girls who had on warmer layers made a fire and cooked couscous. You know when you're so hungry and tired that whatever food you eat tastes like the best thing in the world? This definitely was one of those moments.

After dinner I snuggled up in my sleeping back as best I could and dozed off listening to pieces of ice fall off a nearby glacier.
The next morning on the way back, we passed by the Giant Steps, which is basically a set of waterfalls. It finally started to warm up and I was actually sweating under all of my layers.
My hiking boots were wet, so I wore garbage bags over my socks to keep my feet dry. It was quite a look ;)
As the hike continued, the clouds cleared a bit and we got to see some amazing views. Lake Annette looked absolutely gorgeous.
Overall, this was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I got to see one of the most beautiful places in the world, and push my body and mind to its limits. I think that the pictures I took are gorgeous, but they still did not do justice to the sights. If you ever have a chance to visit Banff, I highly recommend going!

1 comment :

  1. It looks absolutely gorgeous!

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