Having decided a few weeks ago for a little nature escapade with one of my best friends, I headed last Thursday morning to Calgary, Canada. From Calgary we drove to Banff. The trip started better than planned. There were no economy cars per our reservation so we got a free upgrade to a Jeep Sahara. Talk about an excited driver?!
On our way to Banff we noticed we were literally heading to the middle of nowhere. The one and a half hour drive was a smooth welcoming to what our next three days in Canada would be like. We stayed at an Airbnb in Canmore, just fifteen minutes south from Banff.
The first night we decided to do an “evening safari tour”. It was a good tour to get our feet wet into the wildlife and the reality that was surrounding us. We learned about bear spray! Yes! Bear spray! Which in case you didn’t know, consists of pepper and if you are out and about hiking, should have one handy at all times.
We obviously shared with the tour guide our goal of “finding a bear”. He was quick to warn us that 1. They are just leaving their hibernation for the first time this season, 2. are extremely aggressive and, 3. wished us good luck in finding one. Turns out, spotting a bear in a National Park is no easy task, but we were up for the challenge.
That night, once we arrived to our Airbnb we started getting ready for our next day adventure. We had booked a 10am tour for the next morning to visit the Columbia Icefield Glacier in Jasper. Well, news to us, Jasper is not nearby. Once I started “Google Maping” our destination, it was showing an estimated driving time of five and half hours! This didn’t make any sense since the website stated it was only 2.5 hours from Banff. Being passed 11pm, no one picked our phone calls until one lady at, I guess a tourist center, answered, and stated she had heard other tourists expressed the same situation but that the location was in fact 2.5 hours away. Having heard this, we decided to leave the apartment by 7am.
On Friday morning, after several issues with the cars’ GPS and loosing signal on our phones, we headed towards Jasper. On our way we experienced a massive snow fall once again where in less than a minute a complete cleared road turned into the valley of slow snow death. Our jeep swiveled at one point, giving me every humans need to head to the bathroom. I couldn’t believe this was happening again! Driving here is definitely an experience on its own.
Having made it to glacier nearly on time, we immediately understood what all the fuss was about. It is truly magnificent to see such creation. We were the first group and it was only 7 of us, so for half an hour, the glacier was only ours. At one point we all made complete silence and heard the glacier crack! WOW!
Once there, as we went photo crazy, the inevitable happened. I spotted a solo traveler, Australian of course, and immediately became friends. There is just something about Australians! They have this magical happy soul and I keep bumping into them. We chatted and agreed on meeting up in Banff once she made her way there the next day.
What followed was one of the two most epic things that happened on our trip… As we left Jasper we stopped for the infamous picture with the Columbia Icefield sign. We pulled over on the side of a road for a quick picture. Little did we know that the sign was deep deep in feets of snow, and Lola over here, not being light weighted, sunk straight through the snow.
Yes, it was funny but it quickly turned into painfully cold and a concerned “little girl”. My boot was so stuck that my right foot was coming out of the boot! I fought with it but in the end, the damn snow won! I ended up rolling over the snow, and a stuck boot in the snow.
My poor friend, after being able to stop laughing, and recording, had to go in and search for the lonely boot. The next 5 minutes after the boot rescue were spent in the car with the highest heater you can possibly get. My poor friends’ hand was completely frozen! Jajaja Oops! Sorry! As for me? I was lucky to have another pair of boots in the car, so I went along for the rest of the day looking like this:
On our way back to Banff we stopped at Lake Louise. But, surprise! There’s no Lake! Everything is frozen! So I took the inevitable picture and off to the hot springs we went.
The springs? It was hot, it was nice, it was overrated. Lol. I don’t know if its because after a real hot spring in Iceland, a pool of hot water is just a wannabe version, but thats my opinion. Also, be aware, if you are plus size, you better have come prepared with your own bathing suit! Otherwise, you will be one sad puppy watching the rest of the people enjoying the nice warm water.
And then, Saturday came along. Our last full day in Banff.
My friend is a foodie so she insisted we had “proper breakfast”. Tooloulou’s was the destination. After a 45 minute wait we finally got a table. Verdict: the plates were very nice looking but nothing too exciting. I must also say I’m not a huge breakfast person, but I do know eggs benedict! Mine? Nothing extraordinary. Side pancake? Ridiculously huge! Flavor? Eeemm ok. My friend had a strawberry waffle. She was content. I have to say though, the freshly squeezed orange juice was a delight. 🙂
After proper breakfast, we agreed upon driving through the 1A road and search for the big prize: a bear! We were told this road was our best chance to encounter the fluffy creature. We were very excited as you can tell.
But after a few hours of driving to God knows where, we were realizing the bear spotting ordeal was not that simple. Therefore, since Lola had recently purchased a too expensive camera the week before, I decided to make the trip a photographic kind of trip. Picture here, picture there. After all, Banff is freaking gorgeous and practice makes perfect, right?
Funny enough, these pictures are from the GoPro and not from the new expensive camera! This is all a learning process…
Having said this, and given “my creativity” we came across some train tracks. I thought it’d made a good shot. So I made us get off the car once again and head unto the train tracks. We always left the car running, “just in case”.
Now, what I’m about to say will probably make no sense to you, but luckily there is SOME evidence. Turns out I was carrying my GoPro with me, it was recording, and I was carrying of course my sweet new camera. However, as soon as we got to the middle of the train tracks and doing a complete GoPro 360, my friend pointed out something, and it went quite like this: “Natalie, what is that big black thing in the middle of the road, and Im not fucking with you. Im being serious.” As I focused on the “big black thing in the middle of the train tracks”, Lola realized that “thing” was THE fluffy creature we had been searching for all along. But what was Lola’s reaction? Lola turned OFF the GoPro, never turned on the expensive lense ready camera and started running towards the car. Pretty ridiculous huh?
Midway on our run I realized I had stopped recording and basically recorded two yelling thirty year olds excited they had finally seen a bear but most importantly, had saved their lives from a possible death.
Now, all I have is this picture.
I swear the bear is behind me. But this is the curse of the GoPro: it is so wide angle, everything in a reasonable distance gets minimized or in this case, completely lost.
How far away was the bear? I’d say 20 yards. Was it a black bear or a Grizzly bear? I have no fucking clue! And trust me, neither would you. When you see that “thing” moving towards you and nothing in between you and the bear to cover your existence, you run! And mind you, I never run!
So how did we top off our day after spotting a bear? Easy! Watching hot Canadian men from the Banff Fire Department get naked! #nakedspy
Til next time Canada! Stay warm, stay wild, stay groovy! :*