Saturday, 28 September 2013

Farewell Road Trip (6): Cakes, lakes and fossils

Our first stop back in Canada was Calgary, capital of Alberta, a province which styles itself on Texas, just with much colder winters. So cold, in fact that it has constructed 15km of underground walkways to connect its downtown offices and shops, the centre of which was a strange indoor parkland on the third floor of a mall...

Our booking at a youth hostel had been cancelled due to some pretty serious floods, so we paid just $50 extra to stay at a 5 star airport hotel. An ensuite shower felt pretty luxurious after five weeks in a tent and was good preparation for a 7am skype job interview (find out the result below).  We collected our second guest (the third Nicola of the trip) and made our way to a small campground on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies.  

Porcupine defence mechanism: activated
Those of you that own a Bugaboo pram might not know that it is named after a little visited, but world class, climbing destination, hidden from the highway by low hills and 50km of dirt roads. Rain didn't deter us from a 5am start and we breathed a sigh of relief as the weather started clearing as we approached the park. The huge granite spires and tumbling glaciers only become visible a few minutes from the car park, which itself was keenly anticipated. Porcupines are prevalent in the area and attack brake lines and other car bits, so you must build a defensive chicken wire and stick cage before hiking.  That achieved we hiked the short, steep trail to the hut and campground and marvelled that no one in Vancouver seemed to have heard of it.

No Timmins photo is complete without jazz hands
The Western Kootenays was our next stop, about 2 hours east of the Rockies. We love BC, but it is not renowned for the quality of its small towns. But the WK bucka the trend with historic wooden houses and stores, cute cafes and stunning mountain-lake combo backdrops.  Our canoe/hike turned into an all day canoe (not saying who left her hiking shoes in the car) but if you squinted to get rid of the fir trees, the beaches fringing the turquoise water could have been a tropical desert island.

Our penultimate stop with the Timmins was an incredibly steep guided hike to world famous fossil beds. We stood on top of literally thousands of 505 (apparently the 5 is significant) million year old fossils of trilobites, crazy headed shrimps and worms. Beautifully preserved in good enough relief you could make rubbings of them, it was a proper natural history treat (and a great complement to the much 'younger' dinosaur fossils of Utah).

Oh, and I got the job, pretty much my dream job actually, so we found the world's tiniest bottle of champagne to celebrate with.  Next stop: the gem of the Canadian Rockies...

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