This Canadian Thanksgiving I am looking back at the most amazing adventures I’ve had this year, all that I am so thankful for and wanted to share my second biggest adventure (of course you know my biggest adventure yet has been moving to Barcelona!)
Earlier this year, we did something super spontaneous and decided we were going on a road trip through the Canadian Rockies, wait for it- IN THE WINTER! Can I just tell you, that was the BEST decision EVER! Okay so it wasn't THAT spontaneous, it was about a month and a half or so worth of planning time but I think a month to plan a winter road trip is still pretty spontaneous if you ask me.
So initially the plan was to fly into Calgary and then go through Banff to Jasper to Whistler to Vancouver, however, the flight options to Edmonton were actually cheaper so that's what we did! R and I flew from Toronto to Edmonton, picked up a rental (word to the wise, in the winter -ALWAYS rent a 4 wheel drive, it will save your life) and then we were off.
Once we landed in Edmonton, we found out there was a blizzard circling around (the roads were already completely covered in snow) so we were a little bit freaked out but said a little prayer and got right on the road! Luckily, the blizzard was moving away from us so we didn’t get directly hit while on the road but it did extend our driving time from about 3.5 hours to about 5 hours.
The first night in Jasper we stayed at a really cute cabin resort right on Pyramid Lake, which was, totally iced over! We managed to wake up for the sunrise the morning after on the bridge at Pyramid Lake a couple of minutes from our resort. It was absolutely breathtaking BUT SO COLD (as in, eyelashes frozen and couldn't stay out longer than 5 minutes before having to run back into the car and blasting the heat-see Exhibit A at the bottom of this post).
We drove around Jasper town and then headed off to do the Icefields Parkway drive. Our intention was to drive half way at the least but things on that highway are unpredictable – especially in the winter, and that day there were some avalanches reported so the highway was closed half hour in. Nevertheless, we drove all the way to the closure and got some gorgeous shots of the mountains! We also visited Athabasca Falls (minutes before the ice fields parkway closure) but because of the crazy amount of snow on the ground (higher than my waist), we weren't able to fully walk around to get the photos we wanted.
While in Jasper, we also visited Maligne Canyon- the deepest canyon in the park dropping to more than 50 metres in some areas. We did a guided ice walk in the canyon and explored the magnificent ice sculptures built as a result of the frozen water. If you’re in Jasper in the winter – I highly recommend doing this, it was definitely worth it!
From there, we drove to Kamloops where we picked up R's younger brother who was joining us from Vancouver. The drive from Jasper to Kamloops was breathtaking, more so as you're exiting Jasper National Park and passing the Mount Robson area. We drove up to Salmon Arm where we found a few spots with some spectacular views, spent the night there and then headed off to Whistler the next day.
We spent the day in Whistler roaming the different ‘Whistler villages’ and then started our drive to Vancouver where we spent two more days before flying back to Toronto! Be sure to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge while you’re in Vancouver – it was scary but worth the walk across!
IF you are planning to do some early morning photography in the midst of -30 to -40 weather- be sure to have:
Thermals (LOTS of layers is the key, make sure you are SUPER warm. You don't want any frostbite!)
Ski gear & Snow boots (We were walking waist deep in snow to get to some locations, so our ski gear was essential and made sure we didn't get snow through to our inside layers)
Heat Warmers (out in -40 degrees, you may not feel them but they really do help)
Energy packed snacks and a bottle of hot water (always good to have these in your backpack if you're planning to hike lots away from the city/town areas. We also carried HOT water in my swell bottle; it was a lifesaver to heat us up when we were freezing. Just make sure you don't burn yourself!!)
Oh and bear spray :) - just in case.
It was insanely exhausting but SO worth it! We had the most amazing time and both R and I agreed that given the chance, we'd absolutely do it again! I highly recommend doing a road trip through the Canadian Rockies, if not in the winter then definitely in the summer. We were bummed when we couldn't drive the full Icefields Parkway to Banff but if ever we head back to Alberta, we'll be checking that off our list for sure!