Sunset from the Bow River Loop, Canmore

When we were in Canada, one of our goals was to see an amazing sunset, and Canmore finally provided us with one from the Bow River Loop trail.

We tried hard to chase sunsets but the sky was just not in our favour, over and over again. The sky would either go a darker shade of blue, completely cloud over, or it would rain torrentially.

On our first day in Canmore, we discovered the Bow River Loop, a 20-minute flat walk around the Bow River on the edge of town. As we were sat in our hotel room one evening, we spotted colour creeping into the sky and dashed out to the car and down to the trail.

Red and orange clouds over Mount Rundle, Canmore

Pink clouds at sunset over Mount Rundle

Canmore Engine Bridge

Golden light bathed the mountains and forests surrounding the town and we almost ran down to Canmore Engine Bridge to set up the camera. It wasn’t long until we were treated to a pink, red, and orange display lighting up Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain. I loved the way streams of light seemed to shoot out of the top of the mountain and paint patterns in the sky.

We stood there for a while, taking photos and trying to take in the awe-inspiring sunset, and were pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who started conversations with us. Considering both of us hate small talk, we loved the way people talk to each other on the street.

Everyone has heard the stereotype that Canadians are friendly, and it was true of the majority of Canadians we spoke to. Canadian hospitality has got to rival Southern hospitality because we felt welcomed and at home everywhere we went.

Sunset over Cascade Mountain from the Bow River Loop, Canmore

Canmore is one of our favourite places in Canada. The locals say that Banff is where you go to visit and Canmore is where you live. It’s a fairly quiet little town, about 20 minutes from Banff, on the Bow River with plenty activities to choose from, such as; hiking, kayaking, stand up kayaking, climbing, snowsports, and more.

If you’re ever in the Canmore or Banff area, it is well worth taking a stroll around the Bow River Loop at sunset. The trail in general is well worth a visit in general, whether you’ve got half an hour spare to take in some spectacular views, a few hours, or the whole day; the Bow River Loop connects to other walking and cycling trails, so you aren’t going to be short of things to do.

Sunset over the Three Sisters, Canmore

Where’s the best place you’ve watched the sun set?

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On the ferry to Vancouver Island

Our first 24 hours in Canada were a real mixed bag of “thank goodness we’re here” and “WHAT DO WE DO?!”. We emerged from a 9-hour flight having had no sleep thanks to two kids annoying each other and screaming the entire time to find out Hertz had given us a clown car.

Clown car avoided, we relaxed as we got on the 1 headed for Canmore to pick up our camping equipment. This was the moment we had been reminding ourselves of for months whenever we were stressed, “just think about being in the car on the way to Canmore,” we would say to each other. Everything was good in Canmore and we began the drive to our bed and breakfast in Golden.

The view over Golden from Le Beausoleil Bed and BreakfastCue the worst rain either of us had ever seen, much less driven in. You could barely see five metres in front of you. It eased off as we arrived at Golden, to the most welcoming and homely feeling B&B we’d ever been to. (If you are ever in Golden, stay there.) Our hosts at Le Beausoleil B&B were lovely and recommended local restaurant for dinner Eleven22 and boy, was that a good recommendation. It was exactly what we needed after way too long without sleep. To be honest, I’m still thinking about their lemon basil pesto pasta and could go for it right now.

After a truly restful nights sleep and delicious breakfast of homemade bagels and waffles, we hopped into the car refreshed and ready for eight hours of driving to Whistler. Let me tell you that that joy lasted about five minutes until we got to the junction for highway 1 in Golden. We saw a queue of traffic, cars turning around and no one seemed to be going over the junction to the 1. When we got to the front of the line, we were told a huge mudslide overnight had shut the road between Golden and Revelstoke and there was no real way around.

As we had a ferry booked from Vancouver at lunch time the day after, we really needed to get there and waiting to see if the road reopened later on (which we were told was very unlikely) was not an option. The stress was real.

We were given the suggestions of driving up to Jasper and down to Whistler, or going via Cranbrook and staying somewhere south of Vancouver, missing out on Whistler. Cranbrook seemed a couple of hours shorter so we decided on that route and managed to find a last minute motel in Hope.

It took us about an hour to calm down from that dilemma to realise there was a bright side here; we were going on a ‘proper adventure’ because we had no idea where we were going or what we would see. That excited us and it was all going smoothly until the traffic came to a halt at 2pm on a mountain road.

Traffic randomly coming to a stop because someone saw a bear, a goat, some elk, or something else is not that uncommon in Canada so we told ourselves we’d be moving in no time. Sure enough, we began moving again a few minutes later. And then we stopped.

Stuck in traffic

This was our view for two hours -.-‘

When people begin getting out of their cars, you know it’s not a good sign. We sat there for an hour and a half before seeing a lady in hi-vis, looking pretty pee’d off, who said, “you should get moving in the next half hour. They’ve blasted a hole in the road; don’t ask me why they’re blasting on a Friday afternoon.”

True to her word, we did get moving in the next half hour and we were curious to find out what this hole was. We were thinking it would be a large pothole but no; the entire right handside of the carriageway was missing for a good 3 – 4 metres. I am still kicking myself for not taking a photo of it but forgive me because I was too busy gawping saying “THE ENTIRE ROAD HAS GONE!”

The remainder of our drive took us through some parts of Canada we never expected to see; the Okanagan Valley, which looks so Mediterranean and is full of vineyards. Osoyoos was particularly breathtaking; we just weren’t expecting to see anything like that on our trip. The mountain roads began to feel a little dicey as darkness fell and we were coming up on well over 12 hours of driving (I say we, I mean Daz). We eventually found Hope (literally and figuratively) at about 11pm and fell into our beds after a really half-assed meal of rubbish noodles and Kraft mac n’cheese.

As not to tempt fate, we got up very early the next day and allowed for 4 or 5 hours to do a 1 and a half hour trip, “just in case”. Happily, we made our ferry to Vancouver Island and the rest of the trip was a lot more relaxing.

If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s this: if you are planning to do a long stretch of driving, check for other routes in case roads are shut and you have to go the long way around. Ah, the stressful side of traveling that Instagram never shows you.

Now it’s your turn, I want to hear about your travel stress.

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Why you shouldn't go camping in Canada

That's right, I am (sadly) back from Canada and geared up to start fangirling about it again; it never ends for you does it, my poor readers? Thanks to jetlag, my brain thought this post up at 3am in the morning and thought it would be hilarious to tell you why you shouldn't go camping in Canada. 

I like to indulge the weird sleep-deprived ideas I have sometimes, plus this post involves a reasonable amount of sarcasm, so here are 11 reasons why camping in Canada might not be for you.

 

...you hate awesome views while cooking

Perhaps you are blessed enough to have beautiful views from your kitchen, but the best views I've ever had while at the stove is while camping next to a lake. Who doesn't want to be cooking up some tasty nom, with a fire warming your back, while you look at a lake that looks photoshopped, thick forest, and jagged mountains?

Canada is pretty darn versatile, so you could also camp in the middle of a forest or even on a beach.

 

Panorama of Two Jack Lake, Banff

...you hate awesome views, period

Sure, you might get beautiful views from your hotel but when you're camping, you can open up your tent and be in that view in a matter of seconds. I will never forget waking up and unzipping the tent to see the sun coming up over Two Jack Lake. Daz was smart enough to bag site 44, which is apparently the "crown jewel of pitches in the Banff area", so prepare to feel smug because you've got the best view in Banff from your tent.

You don't need me to tell you that Canada is a beautiful country and the places you can camp are unreal. You can even do backcountry camping, which is like proper wilderness camping. We haven't done it yet but it's definitely on our list of things we want to experience.

 

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...you don't want to know what noise squirrels make

This might sound really dumb, depending on what part of the world you come from. In the UK, we have squirrels everywhere but I have never, ever heard them make a noise. While we were camping in Jasper last year, we were trying to figure out what this loud, squeaking noise was and eventually realised it was the squirrels. They are noisy little critters.

...you don't want to see loads of wildlife

While you really don't have to try that hard to see wildlife in Canada, camping is probably one of the best ways to see it. Two Jack Lakeside is a great place if you want to see elk; we saw a couple wandering around right on the edge of the site and a couple having a drink from the lake one morning.

Standing in Two Jack Lake

...you don't like fighting for festival tickets

I'm going to preface this by saying that not all campsites in Canada have as much demand as a Glastonbury ticket, but some do. We booked our spot for Two Jack Lakeside in Banff the day pitches were available, and we heard that it had completely sold out for the season in a matter of days. (Again, pitch 44 is what you really want!)

As a general rule, the better the view from the campsite, the more demand it is going to create. If you have your heart set on a site, try to book your spot as soon as pitches are available. You honestly will not find that every campsite sells out within days of going on sale, there will still be plenty of choice. Last year, we visited in September and only booked our pitches in August and we visited some great sites. We even got a pitch at Two Jack Lakeside, I think the demand this year is due Canada's 150th anniversary and free park passes.

Similarly, if you are interested in visiting Lake O'Hara, good luck trying to get tickets. They only allow a small amount of people in or to camp there each day, to protect the environment. We tried to get two bus tickets and they were sold out within a minute. I'm not sure how fast the entire season sold out, but I imagine it was within less than half an hour. Take that, Beyonce. 

Cooking on a campfire

...you think fires are lame

The unwritten laws of camping state that you must have at least one fire a day. Everyone seems to love fire and I'm sure that watching wood produce glorious orange and red warmth is the closest us muggles will ever get to magic. There are few better joys in life than toasting yourself too close to the fire and relaxing after a long day of adventuring.

Plus, you feel pretty Bear Grylls when you cast aside fire lighters and make a badass fire which cannot be doused by rain or pouring 2 litres of water on it. Just don't go too Bear Grylls and start stealing parachute cord and doing pressups wearing nothing but a coat. That's too far.

...you don't like saving money

I don't know about you, but I am all for saving money. I have only visited a relatively small part of Canada, so I will not speak for all of it, but hotels are not cheap in the parts I've been to. Air BnB is for sure cheaper than hotels, unless you can get a really cheap motel, but why would you want to when you can camp at the edge of a lake for $36 per pitch (that's £21 at the time of writing)?

Prices do vary between campsites (even Parks Canada owned ones) and some of the more luxurious, independently owned sites, such as Bella Pacifica in Tofino, are going to be more expensive than your basic unmanned sites. That said, it will still be cheaper than a hotel. While we were researching, we saw prices range from $12 - 60 CAD per pitch, per night. The most we paid was $36 per night, so above that is going to be some (definitely not all) of the privately owned sites with more amenities.

...you don't like forest toilets

On a campsite, you're either going to get toilets that resemble your standard public toilets or a shed with a pit toilet (I prefer to call them forest toilets). I have actually grown pretty fond of a forest loo. The first time I experienced one was in Yosemite and I was not prepared for it.

They really aren't as grim as you think (just don't look in) and my common sense says they're probably as clean as a normal toilet. In fact, they could even be cleaner because they don't produce an aerosol as a normal loo does when it flushes. Obviously I do not have the science to prove it, but give me some agar gel and I will.

All the campsites I went to had clean forest toilets and there's something kinda nice about hearing the birds and squirrels in the bathroom.

...you don't want to reset your sleeping pattern

Studies have shown that by camping for just one weekend, the natural light can help reset your circadian rhythm and your sleep pattern. The same study also found that people were going to sleep earlier and then waking up earlier than they would if they were at home.

We definitely experienced this. As anyone who has ever worked in hospitality will know, it is near impossible to have a good sleep pattern but we noticed a difference after just a couple of days of camping. We were going to sleep at about 22:30 (unheard of for us) and waking up between 7 - 8 in the morning. I wish we could keep it up now we're back, but we're already way out of step with the routine we had while camping. 

Pitch 44 at Two Jack Lakeside campground, Banff

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Marmot Limestone 4p tent

...you don't want someone else to deal with sorting your stuff for you

If you're flying to Canada, or even driving a very long way, it would be very expensive and a pain to take your own equipment with you. We don't own any camping equipment at all, so we wondered how we were going to do it. Surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be a huge number of camping equipment rental companies, but we found Rent-A-Tent in Canmore. (They also have an office in Vancouver and I believe you can pick up from one office and drop off at another.)

We have used them twice now and they're great. You walk into their offices and they give you everything you need, and at the end of the trip you take it back to them and they sort out cleaning all the mud and pollen off it (oops). As well as giving you equipment, they're campers themselves and can tell you about places to stop, things to do, and have some great links with local tour operators as well. On top of that, they are really friendly guys; Canadian hospitality must surely rival Southern hospitality.

...you can't be bothered to clean up after yourself

This is actually a serious one. On every single campsite (and on most trails and day-use areas) in Canada you will be told and see signs regarding food, food waste and wildlife. All campsites operate the Bare campsite scheme which means you cannot leave anything out which has a food smell; this includes food, food waste, packaging, or even clean dishes or towels. It seems pretty overwhelming to begin with, but you just keep everything in your car or a food locker.

The problem with food smells is that they attract local wildlife, which can be dangerous for them and us because they might end up associating humans with food; they will stop hunting for their own food and will begin to enter campsites looking for food. This is not some kind of scare story either, it happens because of people's ignorance and stupidity.

Last year, we tried to book in at Two Jack Lakeside in Banff but couldn't because the campsite was shut due to a "wolf problem" and they weren't sure when it would reopen. We researched it and discovered that a wolf had been showing "bold behaviour" and entering the campsite frequently, attracted by food left out by campers. Unfortunately, that wolf had to be destroyed because you just can't risk a wolf attacking someone for food. The sad part is that it could have been entirely avoided and it was ignorant humans that cost that wolf it's life.

What's worse is we still saw people ignoring everything they've been told and leaving half-full cups out overnight or rubbish. If you can't be bothered to keep on top of the washing up or keep your campsite bare, don't go camping in Canada.

 

What do you think, think you would like camping in Canada?

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Why you shouldn't go camping in Canada

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Lake Minnewanka and Mount Inglismaldie at night

There are some things you can't imagine ever needing to say and "we're not going to be eaten by wolves" is a phrase I certainly never imagined myself saying. That said, I did have to tell my sister and various people we work with that we weren't going to be eaten by bears while camping.

Daz and I are both flappers. We don't seem to get stressed about the same things at the same time, which is great because while I'm convinced we're gonna die in a kayaking accident 10 feet from the shore, he's says "no we're not, I got this." Which is great because I believe him over the voices in my head that try to tell me everything is dangerous.

Last August, we were booking campsites for our trip and we really wanted to stay at Two Jack Lakeside. We'd looked at all the other Parks Canada sites in the Banff area and Two Jack was easily the most beautiful and quietest looking. We tried to book and were halted by a message saying that due to a "wolf problem" the site wasn't accepting bookings at that time.

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Cloud over Lake Minnewanka

We soon discovered that some idiots had left food out at the site, which had attracted wolves. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if you provide a wild animal with a really easy source of food, they'll come back to find it again. Not only does that cause them problems by making them dependent on humans, but I think you'll agree a tent is probably next to useless in protecting you against a hungry wolf. You may as well wear Lady Gaga's meat dress and offer yourself to them. On a more serious note, a wolf had to be destroyed because of someone's thoughtless actions. The campsite re-opened and that was where we ended up staying for the last couple of nights of our trip. It totally surpassed our expectations and we're going back there again this summer, so it is definitely worth a visit if you're planning to stay in the Banff area.

It had been cloudy our entire trip and on the last night we finally had some clear sky, so I wanted to try a bit of nighttime photography. We drove to a little jetty (if that's what you call it) at Lake Minnewanka and I started faffing about with my camera.

This time, it was Daz's turn to stress. It was pretty much pitch black and we were the only people about. We'd been told to be vigilant for wolves (we didn't see any), had seen signs up about wolf sightings on trails in the area, and for some reason I'd seen fit to park at almost the furthest point away on the car park, which was surrounded by forest. This is how horror movies start.

It's one of those situations you look back on and wonder what on earth you were thinking. Especially given childhood nightmares about being eaten by a black demon dog / wolf. If I ever see a horror film again, I won't ask "what were they thinking?!" because I now understand that they were probably just trying to take some awesome nighttime shots.

Clearly, we did not get eaten by wolves, which I guess is pretty anti-climatic if you were expecting my title to be famous last words. I can't look at these photos of Lake Minnewanka without laughing to myself about the wolf incident.

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Snow clouds at Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake is easily one of the most photographed lakes in Canada and it's easy to see why; it's shaped a little like a wolf, is a beautiful milky blue colour, and is right off the Icefields Parkway.

Because of all the reasons above, it was high on our list of places to visit and was one of the first (if not the first) stop we made on the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper.

It probably takes about 10 to 15 minutes to walk from the car to the first lookout over Peyto Lake, depending on how fit you are because boy it is a steep hill. I was incredibly unfit and Daz would not give me a piggyback. The panting, groaning and pain is worth it to see Peyto Lake with your own eyes and try to fathom that colour, and get a few photos that will probably be an instant Instagram hit (unless you got hit by the sucky new algorithm, yes, I'm bitter) because who doesn't love a lake the colour of the Night King's eyes?

While we were stood here it started to snow and a blanket of cloud descended on us. We had planned to keep walking up the trail to Bow Summit Lookout but wussed out because of the snow. If you decide to do that trail it's a 6km return hike, so it's easily doable in a morning or afternoon.

Peyto Lake and Bow Summit are high up our list for our return trip this summer and we're hoping not to experience snow in June, but who knows?

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake

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7 days in Banff and Jasper, an intinerary
7 days is no where near enough time to discover all that Banff and Jasper have to offer but we found that we got a surprising amount done in a week.

When we arrived at Canadian border control, the chap behind the desk did seem a bit befuzzled about us visiting Canada for just seven days but hey, you do what you can with your holidays.

In reflection, the way we planned our time in Banff and Jasper could have been a little better as we spent a couple of nights in Canmore, before driving up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper for a few days and then coming back down to spend some time in Banff. I'm not suggesting this is the perfect itinerary but I think it gives you a good idea of what things to try and see on the same days.

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

Day one: Emerald Lake & Takakkaw Falls

Emerald Lake is about an hour and a half drive from Canmore (and a bit less if you're staying in Banff) and boy is it worth the drive. You will no doubt have seen photos like this (to the right) on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest because it is just so beautiful and shareworthy.

Take a couple of hours to stroll around the lake, gawking in absolutely awe of the crazy blue colour of the water which makes it look like photoshop in real life. You can also hire kayaks to go out on the lake as well; we didn't do this but it would certainly be worth it. The price for kayak hire is pretty much the same at all the lakes we went to. We didn't really consider it to be cheap but it is worth it for the memories and experience of getting to kayak on a lake that looks like someone dropped some huge blue bath bombs into.

Pick up a snack from the little hut next to Emerald Lake Lodge and then head down the road to visit Takkakkaw Falls. The road up to the falls is well paved but can be quite windy and tight at times but do not let that deter you because it is stunning. The falls are about a 10-15 minute walk from the car.

If you want to find out more about Emerald Lake, I did a whole blog post about it.

We stayed at: Windtower Lodge & Suites in Canmore

Emerald Lake Lodge, Yoho National Park

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The Icefields Parkway

Day two: explore the Icefields Parkway

We were camping for the rest of our trip so we picked up our camping equipment from Rent-a-Tent in Canmore. If you are thinking about camping go for it because these guys were amazing and we're hiring from them again this summer.

The Icefields Parkway is a 232 mile (144 km) road connecting Banff and Jasper that features in a lot of "best roads to drive" lists, and for good reasons too. The views from the road are absolutely stunning and there are no shortages of places to stop off; whether it's a lake that is just at the edge of the road or the start of a hiking trail.

We made a few stop offs on the way up, including Peyto Lake and the Athabasca Glacier. It is possible to drive the entire length of the Icefields Parkway but as we stopped off a few times it took us about six hours.

In the evening, take a stroll around Jasper and find somewhere to eat. We found that some of the restaurants stopped serving food about 20:00 - 20:30, I'm not sure if that's normal in Canada but do keep it in mind.

We stayed at: Wapiti Campground, a few minutes drive outside Jasper. You can find out more about it and reserve a pitch through Parks Canada.

Maligne Lake boat house and kayak rental

Medicine Lake, just outside Jasper

Day three: Medicine Lake & Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake can be very busy during the high season, so it's worth getting up early if you want to avoid the crowds. Also, if you get up early you are more likely to see wildlife; we saw a huge elk stood on the bank at the side of the road, looking out across his kingdom. We also saw a bear just outside Jasper early in the morning too.

On the way to Maligne Lake, it's worth stopping off at Medicine Lake and to see some of the eerie looking prescribed burn sites. Interestingly, Medicine Lake isn't really a lake and is actually a part of the Maligne River and it fills up to become a lake when the melt water can't drain away fast enough.

Once you're at Maligne Lake, there are a few trails you can follow, or you can take a boat tour around the lake, or go kayaking. We followed the shortest trail around the edge of the lake and into the forest before deciding to hire a kayak. Let me tell you that I do not recommend you do that if it's a windy day because it was pretty tough and was not entirely relaxing. You can read more about our windy kayaking experience on Maligne Lake here.

On the way back to Jasper, we stopped off at Maligne Canyon and had a walk around for about 45 minutes. Heights don't usually bother me, but looking down into the canyon was a little mind-bending.

We stayed at: Wapiti Campground again.

Athabasca Falls, just outside Jasper on the Icefields Parkway

A canyon at Athabasca Falls, Jasper

Day four: Around Jasper & Icefields Parkway

In the morning, we explored some of the stops on the Icefields Parkway closest to Jasper. The first one we went to was Athabasca Falls, which is about half an hour out of Jasper, as we decided we'd drive to the furthest point and then start coming back on ourselves. It was basically like a grander and fancier version of the canyon we visited the day before. It had longer trails, a roaring waterfall and the drops seemed even deeper.

The next stop was just a few minutes up the road; Horseshoe Lake and it was a real hidden gem. To get to the other side of the lake you have to follow this trail, which feels quite overgrown in comparison to pretty much all the other trails we saw. It was the only time in Canada where I felt like I might get snook up on by bears. The water looked so inviting and I had to stop myself from jumping in.

After that, we headed back through Jasper and stopped off a Pyramid Lake. When you see Pyramid Mountain from Jasper and the sun hits it at the right angle, it seems to glow a little and reminded us of a dragon's egg, so we took to calling it Dragon Mountain.

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Edith and Annette Lake. The two lakes are really close together and you can easily walk between the two in a couple of minutes. In between the lakes are loads of picnic areas and you can just imagine how packed it must be come a nice summer day.

 

Snow on the icefields parkway

Lake Minnewanka, Banff

Vermillion Lakes, Banff

Day five: around Banff

We left Jasper just before 11am and only stopped off a couple of times on the way back down the Icefields Parkway to make the most of our time in Banff. It took us about three hours to drive from Jasper to Banff and we headed straight to Two Jack Lakeside campsite to set up our tent.

After being in the car for so long we took a walk around Banff, explored Vermillion Lakes, and Lake Minnewanka. Vermillion Lakes is on the edge of Banff and is a nice little route that takes you past the lakes, that have a distinctive sulphur smell.

There is a loop road around Lake Minnewanka called Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive, and there are a couple of trails which start off the loop as well.

Where we stayed: Two Jack Lakeside campsite. Again, this can be reserved through the Parks Canada website.

 

Kayaking on Lake Louise

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Day six: Lake Louise & Moraine Lake

Our sixth day was a seriously jam-packed one. We drove up to Lake Louise to see what all the hype was about; yes, it's very touristy but it is for a good reason because it is beautiful. We followed the Lake Agnes teahouse trail up the mountain to the teahouse, where we enjoyed a spot of well-deserved lunch. It probably took us about 40 - 50 minutes to reach the teahouse and it is possible to go onto do another tea house, called the Big Beehive, but we were not feeling fit enough at all.

When we returned to Lake Louise we decided to hire a kayak for an hour (read more about that here), which was more than enough time because it doesn't take that long to explore the lake.

Afterwards, we drove to Moraine Lake as we'd seen it on the cover of our Lonely Planet guidebook and wanted to see it for ourselves. It was early afternoon by the time we got there and there were buses, camper vans, and cars parked everywhere. Despite that, it wasn't that crowded and it certainly wasn't anywhere near as crowded as Lake Louise.

I think we both wished we had kayaked on Moraine Lake instead, hindsight is a wonderful thing. For both of us, Moraine Lake was an absolute highlight of the trip so if there is one thing I recommend you do, out of everything listed here or anything you see in guidebooks, it's Moraine Lake. Photos do not do it justice at all.

Kayaks at Moraine Lake, Alberta

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Morning reflection in Two Jack Lake

Day seven: Banff

If you are staying at Two Jack Lakeside, or even in the Banff area, I recommend getting up early and visiting Two Jack Lake as the sun rises. I am not a morning person at all but Daz managed to drag me out of the tent at 7am and I was rewarded with this stunning view. If you're hunting for all the red chairs, there are two on the banks of the lake.

After packing up our tent we went into Banff to get a couple of souvenirs, headed back to Canmore to return the camping equipment, and then went to the airport.

If your flight is later on in the day there are loads more things you could do around Banff, like visit the Cave & Basin museum, take the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain, visit Banff Hot Springs, go to the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary on the way to the airport, and so much more.

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The edge of the Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park

Today I’m not just going to show you pretty pictures of the Athabasca Glacier and talk about how wonderful it is; I need to get something off my chest and have a little rant about climate change.

About two-thirds of the way up the Icefields Parkway, you reach the Athabasca Glacier. Neither of us had seen a glacier before (apart from on TV) so this was one of our “must see” stops on the road.

Before we went we were kind of confused about access to the glacier. Everything we read made it sound like you had to pay for a trip out onto the glacier on some kind of evil looking off-roading vehicle, but you can actually walk almost up to the edge of it for absolutely nothing.

Pool near the Athabasca Glacier

Athabasca Glacier Jasper National Park

It was quite warm by the time we parked up near the glacier, and it’s kind of weird seeing a huge chunk of ice when it feels so warm. It’s a novelty I didn’t quite get used to while we were in Canada.

What hit me hard was little markers on the path up to the glacier, which showed how far the glacier had retreated in recent years. What you noticed quite quickly was how the speed it had retreated at changed. At the first few markers, the glacier didn’t seem to have been retreating that fast, but then you really noticed how much things had stepped up when you crept towards the present day. In 2014, a conservation manager for Jasper’s National Park said the glacier was retreating five metres per year

The path up to the Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park

I’m currently taking the University of Alberta’s online Mountains 101 course (highly recommend it by the way), and one of the topics covered is glaciers. It’s astonishing how fast they’re retreating, and some icefields are already considered to be beyond saving. It really saddens me to hear things like that; that we’ve done so much damage to our environment that things are beyond help. Another added “bonus” of human pollution is that as glaciers and icefields begin to melt, they are re-releasing harmful chemicals into the environment that we used historically and were then trapped in the ice, as well as contributing to global warming.

All of this leads me to right now. Right now one of, if not the, most powerful country in the world has a president who doesn’t believe in climate change and doesn’t give a rats ass about protecting it. Just five days into 2017, London had already broken it’s annual air pollution target for the year. The most recent UK budget didn’t even mention climate change. In general, it feels like protecting the environment isn’t being taken seriously in a lot of countries.

Things like that make me angry, but also inspire me. Things might be about to get a lil’ cheesy now, but we can force change. We can make changes in our own lives, we can put pressure on our favourite companies who are still using packaging which is not recyclable (Quorn, I’m looking at you; make your nugget packaging recyclable!), we can annoy our MPs by writing to them, and websites like 36 Degrees and Change have shown that we can force change by bombarding the people who can actually make decisions with our views. And on a more personal note, it’s this that makes me want to go into environmental research; I want to play my part in protecting our home and every thing that lives on it.

Feel free to chip in and ramble.

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