Our second full day in Vancouver started with french toast and strawberries which was well needed as we had a day of cycling ahead of us!
One of the things I wanted to do the most when visiting Vancouver was cycle the seawall around Stanley park. Not only is Stanley park one of the most iconic things to do you can’t really beat a seawall especially when it has a wonderful cycle path.
Our time was up in two of the most stunning national parks we had ever been to. It was time to pack up and head back to the bright lights and city life of Vancouver. It was a mission of the day to drive from Jasper to Vancouver and I believe it took about 10 hours in the end.
It was a tiring day filled with signing along to songs, beautiful roads and Tim Horton’s iced coffee. We stayed on the road as much as we could but did make a quick stop at the base of Mount Robson that we had seen a few days previously. The weather wasn’t on our side but the signs assured us it was behind the clouds.
Once we arrived in Vancouver and had found the hotel (stressful when driving in the city after having been on the open road for 10 days) we ordered room service and had an early night. In the morning we returned Wally and got set up for the next couple of days in one of the world’s favourite cities.
Today was our anniversary, what better way to celebrate three years of marriage then chilling out by some lakes and just taking the time to be with each other. Sounds cheesey I know but sometimes you just have to not do a lot to appreciate how special that side kick is. It was also the first night in 10 that we would be sleeping in a proper bed!! (This also meant that our camping days were done as it was hotel beds from here on.)
The drive from the campground to the lakes wasn’t long and we left fairly early to guarantee less people at the lakes. We were staying at Pyramid Lake but stopped off at Patricia Lake on the way. It’s a wonderful mirror lake – we were luckily as when we drove past it later on it was windy so not as glass like.
If you go down to the woods today, You’re sure of a big surprise
If you go down to the woods today, You’d better go in disguise
For ev’ry bear that ever there was will gather there for certain because
Today’s the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic
Yes. You guessed it, today was the day that the bears came out to play!!! Well, to be honest we did spot a bear by the side of the highway but barely caught a glimpse as we drove past. There was a women who had got out of her car on a 120km per hour piece of road and was following a bear!!! Crazy!!
We had tried and failed with the Bow Valley Parkway (somewhere animals are often seen and is recommended for bear sightings) to “run” into a bear so had lost hope we would ever get to see one. In spite of that we headed off to Maligne Lake which was on my must see list. The lake is home to Spirit Island which is one of the most photographed islands – google it!! On our boat tour the guide explained it became popular after a photographer won a Kodak competition, since then thousands of people have flocked to get the same iconic shot.
Today was one of my favourite days of the trip as it involved some trips to some awesome sights, a awe inspiring view from the top of a mountain and some waterfalls! The pictures do the most justice compared to my ramblings!!
We had previously checked out the Banff Gondola so were keen to get up to the top of Whistler Mountain via the Jasper Tramway. What is the difference between a gondola and a tramway I hear you say….well, from what I could work out a tramway just has one car going up and one coming down pulling each other, whereas a gondola is a circular track where multiple cars go round. Either way they get you up mountains much quicker than walking!!
Our time in Banff National Park was over but only because we were heading back up the road to Jasper National Park for 4 days before heading back to Vancouver. We had an early start as had some ground to cover before our anniversary treat of a helicopter ride!!
Part of the reason for the early start was because I really wanted to take a trip to Peyto Lake. I knew it would be brief and we wouldn’t be able to go on any walks or even down to the shore but despite all that I was super pleased with the decision to stop.
Day 5 in the national parks of Western Canada led us to Johnston Canyon and Lake Minnewanka. We were staying at the Johnston Canyon campsite which gave us direct access to the canyon so no need to jump in the van which was nice.
We headed off in what we were sure was the correct direction only to discover 5 minutes later it wasn’t. Never trust a campsite map.
The canyon is made up of two sections, Lower Falls which is 1.1km from the start and Upper Falls which is 2.7km and 30m high. There are a series of small falls between the two (I remember six but don’t hold me to that), the trail is a path and catwalk hanging from the cliff face that runs all the way along.
We had already had a pretty amazing trip and we were still only a few days in. I remember feeling like it was going so slowly and was lasting forever which is exactly what you want from a trip. Normally they whizz by so fast you don’t get a chance to breathe.
Our trip to Lake Louise had left us pretty exhausted so the next day was a little more on the relaxed side. We had a lazy morning and headed into Banff town to pick up some tickets for our upcoming adventures, have a mooch about and see some sights.
Now, we were a bit rubbish when we were in Banff town and only took a grand total of 2 pictures. Ooops. Perhaps this was because I had a minor major strop trying to find somewhere to park the van. The town is lovely but is very much a tourist centre, with gift shops, tourist information and a few museums.
Two Lakes and One Long Hike – Lake Louise & The Plain of Six Glaciers
Lake Louise is renowned for its turquoise blue waters and is photographed more than any other natural feature in the Canadian Rockies (in my opinion anyway). Needless to say we were pretty excited to get there. We had also decided that we wanted to undertake a pretty intense hike to one of the two teahouses. The options were Lake Agnes and the Plain of 6 Glaciers, we opted for the latter.
So, we had a good breakfast, stocked up on water and snacks and drove the few miles from the campsite to the lake. The internet tells many stories of crowds of tourists being shipped in on buses ruining the view, which to a degree is true. The first part of the lake you get to from the car park is behind the Fairmont Chateau and is pretty busy. We managed to get some good snaps but took the Internets advice and moved down the path for 5-10 minutes. It was still busy but you could get closer to the shore and get those iconic pictures.