Wow! The few days that have passed since we last wrote have been intense! We arrived at Dinosaur Provincial Park on the evening of our last post. The park appears suddenly and in stark contrast to the pleasant, but remarkably unspectacular surrounding pastureland. As we crested the low hill from which the first view into the park valley is revealed, the sun was close to setting; we had maybe an hour of light left. Sense told us to pitch camp and start cooking in daylight but our gut had us running out and climbing the tallest hill that we could find with a view to the west.
After two days of prairies and almost 20 hours driving it felt so good to be out of the car. We ran around jumping, shrieking and laughing as the sun lit the surrounding prehistoric clay and rock mounds in a golden orange. We stayed out long after the sun had set and the orange and reds had cooled to blue and purple before finally making our way down to pitch camp and cook in the dark, energized by what we had just experienced.
The next morning we watched sunrise from the eastern side of the same hill. The rest of the morning was spent packing. We do a lot of that. It’s also largely pointless. It seems that however much we try, within about half a day of us having packed all our gear and ourselves neatly into the van, it’s complete mayhem again. We know we have too much stuff and we should probably have bought a roof box or just been more ruthless in stripping down our gear to necessities but in some ways we’re growing to like the clutter. It’s slowly becoming a vaguely functional collection of clutter too. For instance, it’s now instinctive that the box packed to the right of the ukulele contains our oatmeal, two propane bottles, three tennis balls, the first aid kit and all of our spoons. We like to think that with more time we could have done a better job of organizing what to bring but with 25 exams between us we think it’s fair to say we did at least an alright job.
In the afternoon we drove west across Alberta, skirting north of Calgary and entering Banff National Park. The day had turned grey and rain fell heavily as we drove up into the looming dark masses of the Rockies. Luckily the rain had stopped by the time we arrived and we spent the rest of the evening walking around the woods and small hills near our campground at Tunnel Mountain. We’ve come to really appreciate the fact that we’re visiting these places so far off-season. We’ve had the chance to explore with no crowds, empty trails and room to ourselves. Banff was the first place where we realised why this was possibly the case. Our naïve European sense for the seasons led us to think that by May, surely spring would have arrived and green, grassy summer meadows would be just around the corner. Silly Europeans.
Of course, in Canada and at altitude snow remains well into June and the summer. Unfortunately that meant that a lot of the more interesting, longer walks that would take us out of the valleys and onto the ridgelines were inaccessible to us. A shame, but no problem! We’ve shifted things up and are going to leave the Rockies a little earlier than planned. We’ll dot about a little bit between Jasper and Vancouver before taking a ferry over to Vancouver Island where we expect much milder weather and the opportunity for having some fun in the Pacific – see you there!
Road trip. Two months. Five European friends across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver and through the States from San Francisco back to Toronto via as many cool places in between as we can find. We’ve used cities as way-markers but our interest is in the land we’ll travel through between them. Along the way we’ll pass through more National Parks than you can shake a stick at. Camp stoves, beaches, forests, mountains, waterfalls, adventures and waking up in a tent somewhere new every morning.
Keep up with us throughout our journey via the weekly blogs posted here that we’ll be writing for Osprey Packs or follow us on Instagram:
Photos by Sam.