Trip Start Feb 28, 2010
50Trip End Jul 18, 2010
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Where I stayed
Maligne Canyon Wilderess Hostel
On the bus driving up one of the top 10 scenic drives on the planet with a forecast that was sure to have me soaked in blue skies within the next few days.
Gazing out the window of the bus for the entire 6 hours i was mesmerized by the sheer size and beauty of the Rockies.
On and on they went, peak after peak of sheer rock face hugged the road side for the entire journey making it near impossible for someone to fall asleep along the ride. A few stops along the way allowed us to catch a few snaps without the scumb of dirty windows as well as a few shots of a few black bears spotted on the roadside.
6 hours later i finally arrive in a small open town surrounded by a rugged wilderness waiting for me to demolish....all in good time
Now it was time for me to find a place to stay, so i first head to the closest hostel to downtown which was full. Hmmmmm, what to do...where to go. There werent many options here as the town is not yet fully developed (this is a good thing), so afte roaming the streets with the now famous 25+ Kg strapped to me, i found a wilderness lodge nestled far away in the woods (wilderness meaning No showers, No internet, No tv, No food, No running water, No toilets....just a bed and a common room for cooking).
I settled in for the night scabbing what packed food i had left, and ended up cooking up a plain rice feast for myself in the common room/kitchen/hangout area where i met 4 climbers, and traveling hitch hiker from the Netherlands and Sandra, and french lone traveler on the road now for 3 months. The 7 of us ended up swapping travel stories the whole night making sure to lock all doors and windows and leave no scraps behind as this place is famous for roaming bears who arnt afraid of coming in. Awesome! Late that night after hearing heaps of stories, we rolled out our sleeping bags and crashed for the night. For those who dont know, it doesnt get dark here till around 11-11:30pm.
Maligne Lake is on the agenda for my first day here. Again its why most people come here, pretty much to ride "the greatest cruise of the Rockies", but that aint me
The lake is about 14 miles down the road, so again with no car theres pretty much only one way to get there from out here at the wilderness lodge.....hitch.
But this time its about to get a whole lot easier, Sandra and i decided to toe it together, making it much easier and quicker for me to catch a ride now that a female is with me....now i seem that much less like drifting psycho with a beard. Within 20 minutes we were on our way, picked up by a couple of ladies from the U.S who squeezed us into the back of their station wagon with their dog. A ride is a ride.
We soon arrive at the lake and the weather seems like it is on its way to getting better, Sandra and i soon part ways and i begin my hike through the woods alongside the lake western shores in search of 'the perfect spot for lunch'.
Roaming through the woods with my bear protection (a self made 'stick') i made myself noticed to make sure the black bear we saw earlier kept clear. Going through these woods on a pretty much trailess path now felt like the Canada i know. The spruce trees were huge, the lake was still and the ground was covered in decaying timber and foliage, its at this point i realise i am in real Canada
It wasnt long till i found a few perfect spots along the lake, but there was always more to go and it got better and better so i pushed on till i found what i thought would be untoppable....and mosquitoless (there are thousands as i approach the lake, so many i could feel your arm push them out of the way as i weaved my way through them). So i headed away from the water but keeping it in sight.
I soon came upon it, 'The Spot'.
I knew when i saw this thing sticking out of the ground that it was mine, the rock stood around 10 metres out of the ground on the shoreline, high enough for any mozzies not to bother me. It was only a matter of getting up the sheer face.....so up i went, and once i was up it was clear it was the spot.
I ended up hangin out there for about half an hour, and after snapping away and downing luch i moved on and headed back to the only road into town.
I walked this road for about an hour before i stuck out the thumb for the second time today, back back to the lodge to gather my gear, but not before spotting some more wildlife along the road
Seeing as i had some time left in the day, i went to the nearby Maligne Canyon for a hike along an easy path....which soon turned rough as the pathway seemed a little to touristy for my liking. So up i went again into the woods for a Canyon hike, Chad style.
Two hours and a kafta kebab later (i know, they actually served kafta here) i returned to the hostel to pick up my gear and head into town, this time hitching a ride with an English couple in their rented RV. turns out theyre heading north through the Rockies and into Alsaka. Awesome!
Stepping off into downtown i was now in search of accomodation, time ticked by and the load on my shoulders only got heavier, till i found a little place in a side street. Anne's place.
This place was just right, it had my name written all over it but could only keep me for two of the three nights that i needed. Desperate, i took it and had one of the best sleeps ive had in some time.
Day two and i was hungry for action, so i rented a mountain bike and set out to discover the town along a recommended trail that would take me past huge lakes and deep into the forest, exactly what i was looking for.
This ride was all me, i came across lakes with panoramic views of snowcapped mountains,criss crossed up and down the woods that offered a few challenging obstacles and rode the road way out of town to find pristine wilderness where you get the feeling youre the only one around for miles.....and whats best is that my plan to chase the sun has finally paid off, the famous clear blue skies of the Rockies i know was here, and here to stay. The day was long and awesome, but i was soon buggered, so 8 hours later i headed back into town for an unhealthy meal and an early night, where i needed to block out the already curtained windows to keep out the never ending sunlight.
Next morning i woke to perfect weather and headed out to find a place to stay for my last night in town, where it wasnt long before i came upon a nice looking house that offered a room in the basement with all the trimmings....Ladeedaa. So i took the place and headed out for some more of what i thought to be some of the best riding trails in Canada.
Today i was hungry for some action, so i took the advice of the shop owner as made my way out to the 'valley of five lakes' where the trail was designed purely for mountain biking.
This trail was awesome, it was situated deep, deep into the woods and was of the rocky type that had tree roots protruding all over the place, so pumped full of adrenalin i set out to put this bike to the test, while taking in the scenic views and making a few stops around the shimmering green/blue lakes, but not even adrenalin could get me up some of the long steep climbs that were waiting for me.
The day was hot, the day was long and it was just what the doctor had ordered. The thrillseeker inside of me had had its dose of a challenge and i experienced the Canada i know, I was now ready to depart the awesome town of Jasper to head back south to Banff, but not before heading out into the town that night to catch a few of the world cup games with the locals over a few beers.
The following morning i left my homestay and got onto the early outbound bus along the same scenic highway i came in on, only this time i was blessed with incredible weather now able to witness the Rockies in all their glory for the next 6 hours south