A Canadian Adventure (with the scariest hike that I've ever done)

Back in May, me and my good friend Randy decided to hit up the Great White North for a few days to just unplug from all of the stresses and worries in our lives. This was my second time in this beautiful country and it was a first time for Randy.

One of the places that was on top of our bucket list was Peyto Lake. As we got to the parking lot we couldn’t believe that it has been completely covered in snow.

Our next stop was Athabasca Glacier. We were astonished at how big the glacier looked in person. It looked like it stretched for miles. We could see to the side of the mountain that there was a road in which tour buses are able to take tourists to the face of the glacier.

Our next stop was Athabasca Falls. I’ve seen so many photos on Instagram of this place and I was stoked that I was finally here. I really wanted to go to the base of the waterfall, where it looked like the winter version of Antelope Canyon. Unfortunately, there was so much water flowing that it wasn’t possible to walk to the base. That didn’t stop us from exploring the area as there were beautiful views around every corner.

As it was approaching dinner time, we decided to check out the small town of Jasper and ate at ALBA Restaurant. This was probably the best decision that we’ve ever made because the food was excellent. Randy got the Pappardelle with Duck Leg Confit (1st pic below) while I got the Carbonara Alla Jasper (2nd pic below). The duck had such a unique taste to it that it left quite a lasting impression on us. Randy mentioned that he could tell that this was made from a chef who has perfected their craft over the years. Make sure to check out ALBA Restaurant if you’re ever in the area.

Since we didn’t have a place to stay for the night, we decided to car camp near Lake Louise. One of the benefits of car camping is that you can just wake up and don’t have to drive anywhere for sunrise since you’re already there! Lake Louise is a very popular spot as there are many tourists that visit during the day. Since it was around 6:30am, we had Lake Louise all to ourselves and it was AMAZING.

Most of the time when renting cars from rental companies, it’s more often a miss rather than a hit. This time however, we got really lucky and got a Jeep Cherokee (due to my friend upgrading his membership at Hertz) for our whole trip. Driving this car was such an enjoyable experience. This car has a lot of power, can handle most terrains, and has all the latest technology inside. But the highlight to me was the heated front seats! It was perfect for the cold weather.

After checking out Emerald Lake, we drove down to Banff to explore the city. We grabbed dinner at this small Japanese restaurant in Banff which we thought was ok, nothing too special. After we ate, we went to Cows to get one of the best icecreams that we’ve ever had.

One of the places that I wanted to visit was Vermillion Lakes. My goal was to get a good reflection of the mountain peak with the alpine glow and we got just that. We also ran into a fellow Instagrammer named Ryan Field. It’s crazy that just a few days ago before my trip, I was watching him in a travel video on Adorama’s YouTube channel and now I got to meet him in person. I love traveling because you never know who you’ll meet along the way.

The next day, we hiked to Johnston Canyon which is one of the most popular hikes in the Banff area. I always wanted to check out this secret cave where the huge rock was in the middle but couldn’t find it. After seeing a few hikers go down to the side, we eventually followed their path and found the cave!

For sunset, we decided to go back to Vermillion Lake. If there’s one things that I learned from photographing landscapes is that the same scene can look very different the following day based on the weather conditions. Compared to a clear sky yesterday, we got some clouds this time around.

The next morning at around 4am, I had to go to the airport to drop off Randy since his flight was 2 days earlier than mine. I wish he would of stayed longer but it was really fun adventuring with him these past few days. After dropping him off, I went home, got some more sleep, woke up in the afternoon and shot with a Calgary native: Theresa! It was so much fun working with her and being able to shoot at so many different locations. You can follow her on Instagram at @theresazulia

One the last day of my trip, I wanted to challenge myself and decided to hike the East End of Rundle. For those of you who don’t know, this is a pretty popular and strenuous hike in the Canmore area a few minutes out from Banff. They call this a “hike” but it becomes a scramble once you get past the forest of trees. It was quite the struggle trying to climb up, as there were times where I would have to use both of my hands and feet to climb. I came up to a very high viewpoint thinking that this was the top BUT to my disappointment, it was not. There was still a steep incline of rocks that I had to climb to get to the very top. At this point I knew I was not going to make it because it was one hour before sunset. I decided to make my way down until I reached a point in the hike where there was a significant drop from the rock I was standing on to the bottom of what looked to be a trail. I decided that I would drop down and had my two arms clinging onto the rock I was previously standing on. I looked down and had second thoughts. I saw the sun going down and started to panic. I eventually climbed back up and found another way to get down which was to go all the way around. Having finally found the trail, I made my way down but not without sliding down on piles of rocks and ripping a hole in my back jean pocket in the process. The trail became harder to see as it became darker and darker. I heard the sound of a river and thought to myself that if I go in the direction of the river, I should be able to get back. I was able to reach the forest of trees but at this point it was completely dark. Having only my smartphone as a flashlight, I used it and prayed that a bear would not pop out. On my way down I heard some rustling noises in the bushes which made me paranoid throughout the rest of the hike. After about 20 minutes hiking in the dark, I reached ground level and got to my car. You guys have no idea how relieved I was to finally make it back in one piece. This was my first time hiking by myself and also hiking in the dark. Something that I would probably do different next time is to manage my time more wisely and start the hike early!

There are so many beautiful landscapes in Canada that it’s very difficult to see them all in just one trip. I felt like we only scratched the surface of what Canada has to offer. I’m hoping that I can go back sometime next year to explore more of Canada and reunite with some friends. As always thanks for reading my blog and I’ll catch you in the next one!