Day Twenty Six: Trail of the Cedars & Avalanche Lake

We woke up to rain. Drizzling with a hint of depression. Just kidding, we truly have nothing to be sad about, but were getting a bit sick of the rain at this point. None the less! We perservered, made oatmeal, and put our rain gear on and headed out to do a couple of hikes before lunch. Trail of Cedars and Avalanche lake were just a short walk from the campsite, just as my grandma had told us. We did the trail of the Cedars first. A nice “forest bathing” stroll on a boardwalk as a warm up. There were plaques with poems on them along the way. That was my favorite part. Well, that and the ferns. The hike to Avalanche lake was only about 2 miles up with just the right amount of incline. The sun peeked out a bit and we shed a layer on the way up. The trail was lined with a babbling river and waterfalls , it seemed like we beat a rush of people also which was nice. When we got to the top we met the nicest family, of course. They suggested we visit a Glacier on the other side of the park so we made that our new plan! I shouldn’t even really say new because we didn’t quite have a plan to begin with, and that’s the way we like it.

When we got back to camp we made tuna sandwiches. I got a little crazy and added cucumber, sprouts and avocado to mine. It was delicious! We then hung out for a bit and read. I fell asleep.

When we (I) woke up at 4:30 Jake decided to go back up up Avalanche and fish. Crazy man! He ended up having the most incredible time and catching beautiful pink colored fish. He captured some beautiful shots as well. I stayed behind and did wifely things. Re-organized the truck, clorox wiped everything, threw away anything we didn’t need, made some overnight oats for the morning, and hung the blankets out to dry in the peek of sunshine we were blessed with.

I had tea and a very simple solo dinner, and left it out for Jake to have when he got back around 9. Leftover burrito filling and a premade salad mixture. It was delicious! And more importantly, super easy. We were both fulfilled in all the ways, and were ready for a good night’s rest. We would be up at 6 tomorrow to head over and try and get a spot at our new campsite!

Day Twenty Three: Waterton National Park and the day of few pictures

We woke up early and headed out. There weren’t any signs stating that we couldn’t stay there overnight but we didn’t want to hangout long enough to find out otherwise! Waterton National Park was about 2 hours away. We got there and decided to head to a campground near the edge of the park called Belly River. It was about 30 minutes from town with plenty of trees and open fields which sounded perfect to us! We went up to snag a site and make lunch. Veggie sandwiches have become our new favorite thing! After lunch I drove Jake’s truck down into town to have my weekly Arbonne meeting and catch up on some things. It was an exciting thing to drive it for the first time! He fished while I was away, but didn’t have any luck.

I arrived back (late) to the campsite and Jake was worried sick. 3 beers deep with a fire going. Poor guy! But I did pick up famous fried chicken from town so he was over it fairly quickly. We ate our very nutritious dinner and then hung out by the fire with our beer. I caught up on some writing. We walked up the road for a little bit and looked out at the beautiful flowers. We would only be here for one night, but I would definitely come back here. As much firewood as you could want and very peaceful.

Day Twenty Two: Canmore, We Love You

We woke up in our little parking lot community of car campers and hopped in the car to find restrooms! There was a rec center called Elevation two minutes up the road and it couldn’t have been more perfect. It was just the start of our regret sinking in telling us that we should have come here yesterday…oops ! They had a sweet little library with strong wifi that would have been perfect for me to get some work done, and an array of activities for Jake to enjoy in the meantime as well. They had rock climbing, a pool, and an amazing view. Next time! After we got ready for the day, we headed downtown to check it out and were absolutely delighted. I almost don’t want to share because I feel like it’s a total secret from the bustling well known downtown area of Banff. We loved the quaintness and space from the crowds. After walking a short ways up the street, a bagel shop caught my eye (of course) and we decided to stop in there. Jake grabbed an outdoor table and we enjoyed our breakfast and my very fancy most delicious coffee I had ever had. Rose water and vanilla! It was lovely. I then dragged Jake from shop to shop and enjoyed every minute of it. Not the dragging part of course, but small shops are the best! My favorite spot was a used book store next to Rocky Mountain Bagel. It was like stepping back in time and was so very special. At one of the stores we got a recommendation from the worker on which back roads to take on the way to Waterton. Jake was pleased with shopping around after that.

We headed out of town, and stopped at the rec center so I could do an hour of work. Squeezing it in while I can! It actually working out quite well. That library is perfect and I would highly recommend it to all of my digital nomad friends out there! We followed our new friend’s directions and headed on our way to 742 Smith Dorrien Trail Rd. We would take this road to 40 and then onto 22 South all the way to Waterton. The drive was mostly gravel, but came with stunning views and many opportunities to pull off and soak in the wild open air. We saw some big horned sheep but not much else. Jake still hasn’t seen a moose! Poor guy. We stopped for lunch and made tuna sandwiches. Then checked out the lodge close by called Mount Engadine. It was delightful but out of our price range. We’ll stick with our hotel on wheels for now. We were out of service and had to go old school with the atlas to find our way! We got lost, but found our way again.

After a couple more hours of driving, we saw a place to pull off called “Cat River” It was about an hour and a half away from our original end destination but we were both a bit tired and loved it. I’m so happy we made the decision to stay. It was one of my favorite stops. It was probably all the horse poop smell from trail riders but I just loved it! Jake went off fishing and I stayed behind to do some yoga. It was about 6. I started making dinner when he returned and rain swept through. It was a quick finish trying to get the asparagus cooked before we were soaked but it actually tasted great. Win! We ate inside the truck and then waited for the rain to stop by watching a predownloaded movie and eating popcorn. We truly have everything we need. After the rain stopped, we cleaned up the damage and then headed on the most wonderful golden hour walk I think I’ve ever been on. The fields of yellow flowers were glowing and we could hear cows talking to each other. On our walk back we got a glimpse of our little home beneath the moon and it all felt so special. We would be leaving early to head to Waterton in the morning, so we climbed in early for bed.

Day Nineteen: Hobby Day

Jake was up at 7 and fishing by the time my lazy bum woke up. He had already caught 5 fish when he got back around 10! He was the happiest. Good sized trout and a beautiful morning with rainbows. He had his coffee, I had my tizzy, and soupy gross breakfast together. Jake added too much water, oops! Watery eggs it is.

After breakfast, we packed up some lunch and snacks and headed to hike to lake O’Brien. The trail said it was only 2 km but it felt much further. Whew we were sore! The lake was so peaceful. It was a bit swampy due to the heavy rains but it almost made the scenes even more beautiful. Jake fished and I caught up on some writing . We made the best of it until it began raining again, and then we headed back down. I went back to camp to paint and Jake stopped by the river to continue fishing.

Jake finished his book in the bug net hammock and then made friends with our neighbors and played a game while I finished up painting. They were the nicest people from Calgary! I wish we got a picture. We made a very delicious but not so good for us backpacking dinner and then hung out for a bit before heading inside for sleep to escape from the bugs.

Day Eighteen: Up the Mountain!

Today was the first day of our backpacking adventure! We woke up to rain drizzling and started getting ready to leave the site. Two Jack’s was okay but I doubt we will be back. A bit to out of the way and no showers. We headed into town to pick up some last minute groceries, get some ice, and make sure our cooler was free of perishables while we were gone. We ate our taco salad leftovers in the parking lot for lunch nad then headed to the base of Taylor Lake trailhead to start packing our backpacks full of everything we would need!

We headed up the mountain at about 2. The trail was 6.3 km with a 3,000 ft. gain. I complained much more than I should have. My pack was heavier than usual and the incline really did us in. Shouldn’t have brought the night creme. When we made it to the top it started raining, and we quickly (after taking a victory picture) found coverage to wait in until we could pick out site to set up camp.

We found the least squishy place to set up our tent, and took shelter from the rain that came back through. We ended up taking a little nap and then Jake headed out to fish. I, on the other hand, stayed in and made tea while reading. It was lovely. This lake is like glass and the mountains are just incredible. It felt like our own little sanctuary. When he got back we made dinner. Vegan rissoto! For backpacking food the ingredients were actually really good. It began raining again so we headed in. Both of us were incredibly sore so sleeping wasn’t the easiest. However the peace of where we were definitely helped.

Day Seventeen: Tourist Mistakes and Happy Endings

We woke up slow. The days here are so long it’s easy to stay up until midnight or later and feel like it’s only 9 or 10. Our plan for the day was to visit Lake Louise and Moraine. We made shakes to have on the way and were hyped up on this new coffee we bought. Or at least I was. So much singing and anticipation to see the views we had been dreaming of. To our surprise we of course were very late and the overflow parking for the shuttle to either lake would be a 2 or 3 hour wait. Oops. We adjusted our plans and decided to make the most of our day by visiting a park nearby until about 8 tonight when we would try again and hope for the best. Jake and I aren’t much for waiting or large crowds so this was going to be interesting. We continued up the highway and pulled off onto the Iceland parkway in Jasper national park. I was still a little bitter from the change of plans but it didn’t last too long because hello there is SO much to see. We looked at the map and decided to hike back into Glacier Lake. We made it to the red chairs overlooking the old fur trade route and had our pb and J’s and then continued on our way in the wrong direction. Oops again. By the time we turned around and found the correct route we just decided to head back and check out a few more places on the way out.

Jake was interested in seeing a free campsite we had found online. After some off-road driving we found it and were quickly filled with regret in booking the other site. This was much closer to the places we wanted to see and FREE. Ah well, next time. Afterwards we stopped by Mistaya Canyon and then pulled off into a campground by Waterfowl lake. Jake fished while I read and did yoga. Then I made us dinner. Beef burritos and taco salad. Way too much, but it worked out well! We saved the leftovers for lunch the following day. After we ate, we headed up to give these lakes another try. Having everything we need in the truck really makes things easy to make things up as we go. Especially when things don’t go as planned, which is mostly always.

Grass fed beef with taco seasoning, avocado, bell pepper, Mexican rice and a taco salad mix with cilantro

We drove through the village of Lake Louise and followed the signs to what we thought was the lake itself. We found ourselves in a long line of cars and weren’t sure if we had made the right decision or not. It was about 8:30 and we could hardly keep our eyes open. As we pulled into the parking lot the heavens opened up and there were PLENTY of spots. Hallelujah! To top it off we had actually driven to Moraine Lake instead. Oops again! This day. We climbed up to the view point and it was almost as if this entire trip had led to this moment. The water was even more blue than we could have imagined. It was truly unreal. The timing of the evening couldn’t have been more perfect either. The skies were turning purple, people were leaving, and we just sat. Staring at each detail and taking in every moment, laughing about how the seven peaks seemed like seven old and noble men. I have feeling we’ll be coming back here for our anniversary someday. We didn’t make it back to camp until midnight. We were exhausted but entirely full. Our plans to see Lake Louise were set aside for now. That was all we really needed in the end.

Day Sixteen: Arriving in Banff

We left the campsite rather quickly, as we were excited to get to Banff. We were in such awe driving in that we could hardly contain ourselves. Just a lot of “wows” Giant mountains peeked through the clouds that looks like space ships and it seemed like every lake we passed was crystal clear. We drove through the downtown area, picked up some groceries and soup for lunch in the park. I can’t wait to go back and check out the Christmas store! We might move here.
We left town to check out our campsite and see the area a bit more. The views only became more and more beautiful. We passed by lake Minnewanka on the way to Two Jack’s Main campground where we would be staying. More “wows” There wasn’t much as the campground, including no showers. It’s a good thing we love each other. We made shakes for a second lunch and headed to a hike through the canyon by the lake where we met the sweetest couple from Montreal.We headed back to town so I could get a few hours of work done and have my weekly Arbonne meeting. Jake did the laundry while I was working. He’s the BEST. When I was finished we headed back to the lake so he could do some evening fishing. I called family and enjoyed my new favorite beer while he did. This is taking work life balance to a whole new level if you ask me. We stopped to watch the sunset on the way back to camp. No matter where you are in this place, every view is just incredible. When we got back I made pesto pasta with Chicken. I tried to take a picture but Jake’s response was a hard no. He doesn’t feel I need to capture every meal. I disagree. #compromise

Day Thirteen: Fields of Yellow Flowers

We had a slower morning at the campsite. As much as we wanted to stay longer, we were determined to get to Banff by Monday, and didn’t want to travel too far in one day. Our morning consisted of yoga, a shower, and coffee. We did some nail care as we drank our coffee at the table and it was pretty adorable. I made our shakes for breakfast and we finished packing up. We listened to some music but were quiet for a lot of this drive. I think the moving around everyday had caught up with us that day. Other than the gleaming fields of yellow flowers there wasn’t much to see on this stretch. Just farm lands and open prairies. We stopped at a place called Clear Water market about 2 hours out for chili and a Reuben. It was a lovely stopping point.

Around 7, we pulled over at a campground called MeadowLark. We didn’t love that it was right by the highway, but it was only $15 for the night with showers so we did it. We did a 20 minute workout to move and stretch, and then made dinner. I used the “meat” we bought the day before, quinoa, and all of the veggies to make bowls and a wrap for Jake. After dinner we had tumeric ginger tea and Jake played guitar while I caught up on some writing. 7 hours of traveling tomorrow! We’ll see where we end up.

Quinoa, veggie meat cooked with seasoning, avocado, peppers, and sprouts.

Day Twelve: Omens and Blue Lake

We woke up to the buzzing of mosquitoes early this morning. Realizing that having coffee and breakfast here would not be enjoyable, we basically just hopped in the cab and left. We didn’t even make the bed because we knew we’d get to do laundry later that day. Yippee! We stopped for gas nearby and decided to have breakfast at the hotel restaurant connected to the gas station. It was called “Drifters” so we thought the name made sense also. When we sat down Jake noticed on the map behind me a compass identical to the one on the drawer of the truck. Omen! Our breakfast was delicious, our waitress was the nicest (of course) and soon we were on the road again.

Another beautiful day with stunning views! We feel so blessed. We stopped at Safeway to pick up some groceries and then over to Walmart so Jake could pick up a new watch because his had broken. I found the best “burgers” that looked like they would last two meals and would be yum! If they make something like these 1/2 vegan burgers in the US someone please tell me. I made shakes for us in the parking lot and then we hopped back in the car to head to Willows Campground…or so we thought.

About an hour away from our destination we stopped at a Fort Gift Shop and BBQ because I couldn’t hold it. So happy we did! Jake ended up talking with an older man who filled us in on the fishing and wildlife around the area, as well as other traveling tips. I picked up a few things (of course) I just can’t resist homemade organic goods! Natural bug repelling lotion, a citronella and cedar candle, and a mala bracelet made by the woman I was speaking with. They insisted we visit Blue Lake right up the road, and we decided to check it out. We were greeted at the park by such enthusiasm from our new friend Grant, that we ended up staying and having the best evening. We showered, did laundry, and made a 4th of July inspired dinner of cheese burgers, potato salad and chips and dip. After dinner, we took out the canoe to watch the sunset and fish. They certainly call Blue Lake for reason, this campground is 100% worth visiting . We came back to the campsite, folded all of the clothes, and then made the bed. We hopped in to read and enjoy the fire from afar. Clean sheets felt so good.

Heavens Door ~ Unedited

Day Eleven: Bound West

We have campsites booked in Banff for Monday. At this point we were about 31 hours away and it was Wednesday. So we made a plan to drive about 5 or 6 hours each day, stopping next at another free campsite, and then splurging at a campground to do laundry and take a (real) shower. We started off the day with fancy chocolate almond butter oatmeal, and then did 15 minutes of yoga on the beach. We left the site at about 9:30 and had about 6 and a half hours of driving to our next site in Terrace Bay.

Oatmeal, almond butter, dark chocolate, honey, cinnamon

The drive was STUNNING. The further we drove, the more mountains we saw and the bigger and more dense the forest became. About every 2 minutes there were lake pools on either side of the highway, and fields full of yellow and purple wildflowers. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It made it difficult not to pull over every 30 minutes. First world problems, I know. We pulled over to a picnic spot by a river, there are so many here! It’s lovely. Jake fished for about an hour while I made veggie sandwiches and read by the river. We probably spent too long here but it was beautiful.

Hummus, mustard and garlic aoli spread. Avocado, cucumber, tomato, broccoli sprouts. Topped with Italian seasoning and black pepper on Ezekiel bread.

When we arrived to our next campsite it was surprisingly spacious! A big lot with hardly anyone there, probably because it was a bit chilly. We found a nice place to park by a picnic table and Jake started cooking dinner. We ate quickly and then took a walk down the beach. Watching the birds glide together over the water was like a scene out of the Notebook. The sun peeked out and Jake went fishing under the waterfall while I caught up on writing. The bugs were by far the worst at this spot. I’m not sure if it’s because we were close to the water or because we were further into Canada, either way, they were quite annoying. We watched a beaver fish for a while and when I checked the time at 11 it was still completely light out! Oh, Canada. We love you.

Spinach raviolis with sauteed broccoli, tomatoes and Italian seasoning