Earlier this summer my VSLF (Very Special Lady Friend) and I took a trip to the old country for a family wedding. Since it is fairly expensive to travel to Canada from our location, we generally make them longer trips (around 10 days) and work in a mini vacation for ourselves too.
Our high level itinerary is below. I actually wrote a really detailed itinerary in GoogleDocs because I like being organized and sent it to my family to keep them in the loop. It also helped to ensure we wouldn’t be overlapping or missing any big extended family activities. It was met with giggles and loving familial ridicule.
There are quite a few good stories to tell, but will only be sharing the highlight reel:
Day 1: Pincher Creek/Waterton for a day hike with my close friend Blake up to Goat Lake, around 14 Km round trip (there is a really cool circuit overnight backpack from here I would like to do). It rained the whole time and it was still fantastic. We were dead tired from some travel delays and an overnight stay in our rental car so we smashed some Tim Horton’s Double Doubles for energy. We ate summer sausage and Laughing cow cheeses on Pita bread with dried mango for snacks.
Day 2: Crowsnest Pass –> Frank Slide –> Radium Hot Springs and Dry Gulch Provincial Park for Camping. We said our goodbyes the next day and after a big breakfast we headed for Frank’s Slide and Crowsnest Pass (Migratory route for Golden Eagles). Franks Slide was pretty humbling to witness and hike around.
We were fairly excited for the drive that day through mountain passes and forest heavy scenery. We stopped for road side blueberries, and local ice cream and beer, and of course to put our feet in cold, cold rivers. We rounded it out with Pad Thai for dinner and more games of Speed. Our campsite at Dry Gulch was really nice, cozy and near many mountain bike trails.
Day 3: Dry Gulch Provincial Park –> Stanley Glacier Hike –> Banff –> Bow Valley Camp Ground. This was a pretty sweet day, although we did a bit of driving and had an underwhelming time in Banff, the hike was spectacular with a primo lunch spot. We ate some poutine post hike and then went to our final campsite, which was the cleanest one I have even been in! Stanley glacier has been described as a rock and roll glacier, “a big, iconic slobbering tongue a la The Rolling Stones.” It was true.
Day 4: Meet the family in Canmore at Tim Horton’s for more double doubles, carpooled to another day hike to Boom Lake, headed into Calgary. We got to spend some quality time with my sister, who I had not seen in months!
Day 5 and Beyond: Family, Family, Family and VSLF was able to fit in some horse back riding. I was able to rent an FSR (Full Suspension) Mountain bike for a few hours with my sister along the elbow river!
A few lessons learned:
- We were able to reserve all our campsites online ahead of time for super cheap.
- We drove a lot, but it was worth it. As a results we were able to hike in different parks every day, and each drive was pretty spectacular.
- We should have picked out our hikes ahead of time.
- More research on hot springs would have been good.
- Bring climbing Gear next time or rent bikes for Canmore to Banff Trails
- Banff is great if you have never been there, but can be overwhelming due to the volume of people.
- Grocery stores are the best places for food, period.
- There is good Mexican food outside of Waterton.
All in all it was a great trip!