So I’m back from my Canadian Adventure and over the jet lag (mostly!) it’s time for my big post-Holiday, image heavy round up!
So, this is the view that greeted me when I arrived at my sister’s apartment in Banff, Alberta. That’s Cascade Mountain… I think! Pretty snazzy, huh? The building in front in the High School. That’s their ice hockey pitch out front. Uh huh. All the Canadian stereotypes? Probably true! And they are SO POLITE!
This is going to get pretty long but this place is STUNNING!
My first venture out doors was to walk the dog, my was that nippy! I was actually sort of lucky on my trip, they had a very unusual 2 week warm spell so after that first night it wasn’t ever actually painfully cold outside, which suited me down to the ground! I don’t like the cold! (Totally typing this in jolly old England wearing thermals, god I love my thermals!)
Millie was an excellent canine companion for my trip, without taking her hiking around town I probably wouldn’t have got out and about half as much as I did! This is the Bow River Trail. We walked across that frozen river, good job we didn’t try it later on as by the time I left that river had thawed!
On my second day in Banff it snowed ALL day, it was amazing! Millie and I went for a good long hike up past the Fairmont Springs Hotel to the golf course. I’m sure it’s a lovely golf course but it was just a beautifully silent snowfield when I visited!
The frozen Bow Falls looked amazing, I stood for ages just watching the water!
Then it was up to Sunshine Village to hit the slopes! Although the first day was terrible with fresh powder up top but no visibility and sandy snow down where you could see! I spent the first day convinced I was going to ski off the edge of a mountain!
I’m just going to go ahead and get all of these skiing selfies out of the way, hey, it’s my blog!
It did brighten up a lot on the second and third days. The fourth day I went up to the Lake Louise ski resort for a change of pace. The snow was quite icy up there as its much lower altitude so they have to make more snow themselves but the runs were super long! Always nice to get a good long ski in but my goodness were my quads killing me by the time I got to the bottom! I liked the slower run through the trees there too. I was a rather conservative skiier this holiday. Didn’t do anything too challenging or scary (other than an inadvertent 2′ jump off a ski lift, but I stuck the landing, that’s the important part! Ski lifts were my nemesis the first three days!) I was just there to enjoy myself and have fun playing in the snow, no need to risk going home with anything broken!
Sunshine Village was better for the variety of shorter beginner runs. There are some nice longer options too so it’s good to be able to mix it up. Also, skiing on the three mountains (Goat’s Eye, Lookout and Standish) meant that you had a lot of options when the weather wouldn’t cooperate. If you couldn’t see at the top of Standish you could usually just look around and see that Goat’s Eye was clear. You definitely need low light goggles to ski here though!
I wish I had spent more time on Goat’s Eye because it was such a good long run! For my very last run I skied down the whole mountain from the very top to the car park at the very bottom (another nice feature of Sunshine, it’s always nice to be able to end the day with a good Ski Out!) in one go, no stopping, no pausing, singing the Ski Sunday tune as I went… my sister was right, I swear that tune makes you a better skier!
The visibility on my last day left a lot to be desired…
But for my very final skiing adventure I headed to Mt Norquay to do 2 very quick runs on their floodlit slopes right before returning my skis! So I managed all 3 resorts (technically!) and did night skiing for the first time too!
There’s so much more to do in Banff than just the skiing. It is simply a beautiful area!
Lake Minnewanka was absolutely stunning! We went up there at the end of one day and the light and the ice and just the whole atmosphere was breathtaking!
The ice was so thick and in these huge sheets. Just mind boggling!
I got a whole thing about walking on Frozen water this trip!
Apparently, if you walk out further into the middle you can see frozen bubbles of methane that form in the ice. I wasn’t quite brave enough for that though!
I took a 2 day break in the middle of my skiing to do other things. We went hiking up Johnston Canyon, which was suitably impressive!
It starts off relatively easy but as you climb it gets steeper and slippier so you definitely need your ice grips for this hike!
The upper falls are amazing and we got to watch these nutters ice climbing when we finally made it!
The lower falls are accessed through this little tunnel in the rock and then you’re greeted by this roaring plunge pool!
After all of that hiking we needed the soothing waters of the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Kinda grubby facilities if I’m honest but the water was so lovely! Just brilliant to sit in the pool with the open sky above you and a view of the mountains as the sun set!
The next day I went snow shoeing!
This trip was with Discover Banff Adventures and the lovely Anick was our guide.
Marble Canyon is in British Columbia and to get there I got to tick something off my bucket list I didn’t even know was on it: I crossed the continental divide! Not much to look at but this is the point at which the water on one side goes into the Atlantic and the water on the other side goes into the Pacific. I thought this was really cool but I’m a big geek! The forest looks kinda naked because it all burnt down about 10 years ago. That seems to happen a lot in Canada!
It looks so innocent, just a nice gentle valley… then you get to the edge! I did not look down that much as I’m terrible with heights!
It’s amazing what a bit of water and a lot of time can do, right?
We also got to drink Hot Chocolate and eat Maple Taffy prepared in the snow!
Snow shoeing was so much fun though, I’m so glad I did it! The snow was really deep if you went off the trails, I totally fell over and got stuck and basically had to swim my way out!
For my final day my sister took me to hike Tunnel Mountain. I can now say that I have hiked an actual mountian! (It’s not too tall from the base up but in altitude it counts!)
It was a beautiful day and the views were amazing!
That’s me at the peak of a mountain! Yay!
And on the way back down we came across an elk!
Yup, really, that’s an elk! We got much closer to it before we spotted it and back tracked… which is when I then stopped to take selfies! We had the dog with us and they are much more prone to charge downhill (coz it’s easier) so we didn’t want to chance it.
So, let’s talk about the food!
Poutine was on the top of my list of foods to try. It’s chips, cheese and gravy. What’s not to love about that?
Beavertails were next, again, fried dough with all kinds of amazing sticky substances on top… YUM! (I am still sad that I did not have time to work my way through the whole list of toppings while I was there but these guys pack a lot of sugar, you’ve gotta pace yourself!)
On the mountains the food was very American! (My previosu ski trips have been in Italy where the food was all very Italian, go figure!) Philly Cheesesteak was my favourite!
A little gem on Banffs food scene is Touloulou’s. A Louisiana style restaurant. Because of course!
Brunch was a thing that happened!
I also took some time to delve into the local brewing scene. I loved these beer tasting trays, which allowed me to try all kinds of different beers and see what I liked. I’ve never been able to just play about with beer before. These were 3 hits and 3 misses! I don’t like stout! I tried the local cocktail of choice, the Ceasar… Canadians are so weird! It’s kinda like a Bloody Mary but with Clam broth or something in it… I was not a fan!
And literally my final foodie venture while in Canada, Tim Hortons! A national institution, I recommend the Canadian Maple donuts because why wouldn’t you???
And so that’s it! My lovely little trip to Canada! I can’t say I would ever have taken the opportunity to visit if it hadn’t been for my sister living there and I think I would have missed out. It was an amazing trip with some great skiing and some absolutely staggeringly beautiful scenery. I can see why my sister doesn’t really want to come home!