Sunday, 27 March 2016

Farewell Road Trip (8): The final glaciers, bears and... a pedicure?

I was pretty dedicated to this blog whilst living in Canada - 50 posts detailing animals, birds, parks, campaigns and a lot of roads. After returning in 2013, I wrote up our final road trip, except this very final post. So this is written in March 2016, trying to remember what I can about our final ten days in Canada...

It actually turned into two final adventures in the north. On the way to the first, we saw Adam's only bear of the trip (I was feeling anxious we still hadn't spotted one ten days in), a black bear munching happily by the side of the road.

Our first stop was the very remote Brazeau Lake loop, although a flooded bridge meant it wasn't quite a loop, but three days hiking through some of the most remote and lonely lands which we had encountered. In almost two months we had barely encountered a shower, but we had a good twelve hours of heavy rain on the final evening - necessitating a very early night sitting it out (we're still arguing over what Adam said in the tent that night...).

The next morning we realised how early winter can come in the Rockies; the rain at our campsite had been snow on the hills. It made for a beautiful final day's walking. 

Mark did a great job hitchhiking to collect the car and before we knew it, we were enjoying burgers and beers in Jasper, the northern gateway to the Canadian Rockies.
Not a bad view from our tent

Then on to our second adventure; hurriedly planned in the admin gap whilst in Canmore but to a mountain we had long coveted; Mt Robson. A huge glacier covered massif standing relatively isolated to the western edge of the mountain chain. 

An easy day's walk led to the campground with one of the most spectacular views from any tent spot so far; pine trees framing the glacier tumbling down to the turquoise waters. As it was such an easy walk, we didn't neglect to bring red wine, cheese and biscuits for our evening sit.
The final piccie

We returned the following day and spent the night at the provincial park campground, before starting the final drive west back to Vancouver. 

If you're travelling from Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies, you should definitely take our route (captured here for ease: which takes you past Mt Robson, the huge Wells Gray Provincial Park and then past the beautiful Marble Range Canyon and Joffre Lakes to Pemberton.

Pemberton is the scruffier, friendlier, nicer cousin of the prestigious Whistler ski resort to the South. Its local park, Nairn Falls, was our final night under canvas. 

The following day, the boys climbed whilst I got ready for my return to civilisation, a rather uncharacteristic day of manicure, pedicure and hair cut. It felt strange worrying about whether my nails were dry after so many weeks of washing in water from the kettle from the fire. 

And then the final day, driving down the single best road in the world: the Sea to Sky highway past Whistler, the unbelievably beautiful Howe Sound and finally into North Vancouver. 

Our brilliant and kind friends Dan and Cazz Grima put us up for our final two days, which we mainly spent sorting the huge amount of kit into many different piles. 

And then we flew home.

Looking back almost three years since we left; it was a totally brilliant two years. We learnt so much about ourselves and each other. We saw some of the most beautiful places that the continent has to offer, made great friends, pushed ourselves to run harder, ski faster, drive longer to make the most of every minute.

So if you're wondering whether you should pack up your lives and emigrate, or take that long road trip you've always planned, or, really, do anything that you think you'll regret if you don't: then do it. Don't hesitate. You'll never look back and wished you worked a bit harder or earned a bit more. 

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