I arrived in Banff, Alberta, after an amazing week experiencing the province of Manitoba and there was one thing on the agenda for me… getting a job. However, my momentum to find work was stalled after I met a group of girls in my hostel who had much more exciting plans for exploration in the Canadian Rockies.
One of them had a car and in this part of the country, where most places are impossible to reach via public transport, this makes seeing the sights much easier.
Ah, I can wait another week until I start looking for a job…
Days of incredible trips ensued.
Road trip 1: Sunshine Meadows
Shimmering lakes, a multi-coloured concentration of wild flowers and mountain views made Sunshine Meadows one of my favourite places visited in the Rockies.
There was a return bus ride from the car park needed in order to reach the base-point to start the hike, which cost around $30, but it was worth every penny.
This area is often referred to as the prettiest alpine setting in the Canadian Rockies.
We took a 10km round-trip, but there is also an option to hike 29km to Mount Assiniboine.
Road trip 2: Paradise Valley and the Giant Steps
This 20km hike was located behind Lake Louise and passed through the incredibly beautiful Paradise Valley, with the feature point at 10km being the Giant Steps waterfall.
Although this was the location where I managed to lose my second camera in two weeks, it was my favourite hike of all. The views, the lack of people, the sensation of being lost in nature and the slight feeling of danger all made this a highlight.
Because this was a high-risk trail in terms of the chances of running into a grizzly, it was illegal to hike with a group of less than four. However people clearly ignored this law as we spotted a couple.
Road trip 3: Lake hopping and Takakkaw Falls
Visiting one of the turquoise lakes in the Rockies is enough to leave you standing there staring blissfully for a long duration. I was happy to visit several during one day.
Lake Louise was first on the itinerary and it is just as stunning in reality as it appears to be in all of the photographs.
However, for me, Moraine Lake was much prettier…
The bluest of all was Emerald Lake across the border in Yoho National Park, British Columbia.
But my favourite was Peyto Lake. Why? It felt more natural seeing a lake that was not filled with canoes. It was a stunning early evening setting when we reached here and there was an opportunity to enjoy views from above and also at lake level.
We would not have known that it was possible to hike down to the lake unless a couple of local people had mentioned to us that there was an off-trail path.
I got to visit Takakkaw Falls – the largest waterfall in the Canadian Rockies – which is also over the border in Yoho. Despite it being a dribble compared with the likes of Niagara Falls, this was my favourite waterfall in Canada. We got really close and the spray of glacial water was wonderfully refreshing.
Delaying finding a job might not have been the most sensible decision, but even with the benefit of hindsight, it was so worth it!