Visiting Alberta Rockies (part of the Canadian Rockies)

Our spur of the moment decision.

In October 2014 we were sitting comfortably in our friend’s home on Vancouver Island when Derek suddenly got a spark of inspiration and announced, “since we have 5 spare days before we have to leave Canada why don’t we visit the ice-fields, the Canadian Rockies?” Two things flashed simultaneously through my mind: 1) that’s an awesome idea and 2) won’t it be dangerous? If you don’t know it yet: I am the anxious one and I will almost always ask ‘won’t it be dangerous?’ Along with other anxiety inspired ideas like: It’s autumn – what about weather changes? We have never driven in snow or encountered black ice. Then the personal conversation continued in my head: “but it is a once in a life time experience”… “if you die you die”… “yes but what if I am just permanently maimed?”…“Well you have traveled through Africa and survived”… “Yes, but I was born in Africa and understand the ways better than in Canada…” I was still chattering along in my own head when I decided that I will put aside my fears. The overwhelming conviction for me was: I had faced cancer two years prior so let’s live life to the fullest! (almost like I am living on borrowed time). At this point I would like to say that I wish I had known about Alison Dopf who is a woman who lives in Alberta and who offers adventures in hiking and skiing as a guide. She recently wrote a post called Shoulder Season Shuffle which discusses the unpredictable weather of Autumn and Spring. I think I would have felt much more confident with her expert advice but alas I only got to know of her last year. I love reading her blog posts as they are so informative and meticulous.

Here is a short explanation of the Canadian Rockies:

The Canadian Rockies (French: Rocheuses canadiennes) or Canadian Rocky Mountains, comprising both the Alberta Rockies and the B.C. Rockies, is the Canadian segment of the North American Rocky Mountains. It is the easternmost part of the Canadian Cordillera, which is the northern segment of the North American Cordillera, the expansive system of interconnected mountain ranges between the Interior Plains and the Pacific Coast that runs northwest-southeast from central Alaska to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico.



Soon we were traveling to Calgary, Alberta: first to Vancouver mainland by ferry, then by public transport to the airport where we took a small plane to Alberta. And from there we hired a car for our travels. I love the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500, any guesses why. I like small cars and much to my delight the only car that was available that day was a Fiat 500. When we did our road trip through Southern Africa we traveled in a KIA Sedona which carried all our supplies, food and daily essentials, even our rooftop tent. Now we were facing the fact that we had to flatten our backseats to fit our entire luggage in as we were traveling straight to London after the trip. We laughed at how funny it would look if we fitted a rooftop tent to this little car. It was a wonderful ride through the great rocky canyons and seemed to emphasize how small we actually as humans are. 

One of the other things that I didn’t mention is that we had never driven on the “wrong side of the road” before. Meaning that in South Africa we drive on the left side of the road where as in Canada they drive on the right hand side of the road. For my anxious self this was a bewildering experience but soon my “little girl” came out and I was quite enjoying how funny it felt to be in the “wrong side of the road.” It was truly another adventure for us. I can’t even say it was ‘a dream come true’ as I had never imagined that we would ever have the opportunity to travel the Canadian Rockies. It was more like a gift out of the blue.

Our adventure

We planned to drive from Calgary to Jasper and as it is a 4 hr 49 min (415 km) via Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W and AB-93 N we decided to divide the trip into two days, stopping in Lake Louise, then drive on to Jasper; and then two days going back, staying in Banff; and the last day for getting back to Vancouver airport. To cut down on our expenses we stayed in cheap hotels and planned our frugal meals for the next 5 days, after all it was experiencing the immense mountainous beauty with snow-capped peaks we were after not hotel paradise and pampering.  The first afternoon, when we stayed at Lake Louise we visited the lake, which was a beautiful turquoise colour. It was quite magical for us as it was the first time we had ever seen lake water so turquoise. It was nestling at the foot of beautiful snow-capped mountains. The next morning we went again because it was so beautiful but the fog hung low and we were glad we had seen it the day before.

The drive and the views were inexplicable: never having seen ice-fields and geological/glacial action before (we had only studied it in geography class) it was amazing to see first-hand. It was also colder than we had ever experienced and felt a bit like we were living in a fridge. We were glad to have bought warm jackets that protected us from the cold biting wind.

The sound was eerie. We enjoy driving in silence as a couple and our drive was most memorable: to be traveling through a landscape never experienced before, seeing rock faces, forests, gleaming snow, rock outcrops that looked like giant frozen people and hearing silence, except for the sound of the tires there was nothing to hear. It was like listening to a different type of nature: like frozen clarity. 

Next up will be our stop at Athabasca glacier and the Athabasca falls before we get to Jasper.

Take care.

27 thoughts on “Visiting Alberta Rockies (part of the Canadian Rockies)

  1. Oh, how beautiful are your photo’s … wow, the colour of that lake
    And I was laughing at your questions in your first paragraph, sometimes I find myself thinking about exactly the same things … but then my sense for adventure kicks in and I’m the first one out of the front door!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are SO brave! It’s one thing to visit Vancouver, but to rush off and see the mountains and icefields in five days! Way to embrace the adventure! Personally, I think you did the timing just right. You would have had Lake Louise all to yourself, which is so RARE these days. Since 2017, Louise has been absolutely inundated. Getting up close and personal without a million other people is almost impossible now. You made the right decision to hop on that plane and visit.

    Thank you also for your very kind words and link to my site. I wish I had know you back then too, as I would have given you a personal (and safe) tour of the area. I can’t wait to read about the Athabasca Ice Fields. If you thought Lake Louise was cold… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, for your encouragement. I think it was crazy but I am glad it worked out and definitely had an adventure. I am thrilled that you think it was good timing… You are right we did have Lake Louise virtually to ourselves 👍I am happy to hear we missed the crowds 😅.
      It’s a pleasure, I always find your posts interesting, and I think I once said, I feel like I live vicariously through your posts shared 😂 take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is always a pleasure reading and getting to know of your adventures. You inspire me. I couldn’t make time to read this earlier. But I’m glad I did now. I enjoyed reading your blog. It’s fun. Thank you Morag

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, this is a wonderful trip! We were there many years ago when our boys were young. The Canadian Rockies are a fabulous place to visit! We rode the ice buggy up onto the glacier. So cool!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful photos and a lovely trip! There’s nothing like a bit of adventure! We have also spent most of our holidays travelling all around Europe in a VW weekend camper van — such a sense of freedom. Go for it!

    Liked by 1 person

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