There were surprisingly numerous opportunities to visit a variety of Canadian regions already in our first Summer in Halifax. The first opportunity was my dad’s visit in June, when we went for a weekend canoeing/kayaking trip in Kejimkujik Nationalpark, a magnificently beautiful lake area in Nova Scotia with turtles, forests and incredibly quiet and pretty lakes…
Canoeing in Kejimkujik National Park (Nova Scotia)
After our return from Keji, we took a rental car up to Cape Breton, a big peninsula in the North of Nova Scotia. From its capital town Sydney, we switched our mode of transportation to bicycles: I used my new Surly Troll, which I had purchased a few months previously and my dad used a rental bike. Ahead of us lay about 400 km along the famous Cabot Trail – my first multi-day cycling tour since my arrival in Hanoi over a year before!
430 km in five days around the Cabot Trail (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia)
The pictures above might give the impression that we had mixed weather, but really most of the time the weather was just plain horrible: gray, rainy and cool. We did have one real day of sunshine in the end and two very beautiful sunsets, where the clouds subsided just in time for the sun to touch the horizon over the Atlantic Ocean. And even in bad weather there was some pretty good wild camping on beaches, Minke Whales, remote roads and beautiful scenery which must be magnificent in good weather.
In late June, I went on another two weeks of vacation. This time on foot and with Tatjana. We took a flight to Calgary from where we bussed and hitchhiked into the Canadian Rocky Mountains in and around Banff National Park. Along the worldclass mountain, lake and glacier scenery of the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper, hitchhiking was not exactly fast and easy, with hundreds of tourist cars and caravans passing by before a Chinese family stopped and took us to the trailhead of the Brazeau Loop.
Four days of hiking around the Brazeau Loop (Southern Jasper NP, Alberta)
For four days we followed the 80km Brazeau Trail through the wilderness of southern Jasper National Park, encountering but one group of two people on the second and third days combined, when we were over a day’s hike from the next road. After three hot and sunny days, the weather turned on the morning of the fourth day, and we struggled back over the pass towards the highway in strong wind, rain and distant thunderstrikes.
Two cheerful young women from Calgary took us back to the village of Lake Louise, where we ate pizza and renewed our supplies for our second tour. The next morning, some relatively swift hitchhiking brought us to Kootenay National Park, where we started out on the Rockwall Trail, a four-day hike along a roughly 30km long, almost uninterrupted limestone wall, with one of Canada’s highest waterfalls on one end, and one of its most beautiful alpine lakes on the other end.
The Rockwall (Kootenay NP, British Columbia)
After reaching the end of the Rockwall at Floe Lake and descending down to the floor of the Kootenay valley, we decided to add an extra two days of hiking to cross the Ball Pass into Banff National Park and reach back to the Icefields Parkway. These final two days of hiking took us through an area affected by a big forest fire several years ago, another high pass and a beautiful wild, forested valley in Banff National Park.
Into Banff National Park (Alberta)
A short lift brought us back to Banff, where we camped on one of the huge tourist campgrounds and feasted on some blueberries, yoghurt and beer. The next morning we took the bus back to Calgary.
A day in Calgary (Alberta)
Yet another opportunity to explore parts of Canada presented itself later this summer. After a sampling expedition on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, I spent a few days with an old friend who coincidentally had just arrived in Vancouver to do his Master’s thesis at the University of British Columbia. We went on a two-day hike at Indian Arm Provincial Park, which was a forested area inbetween two fjords – close to the city but perfectly beautiful and quiet. We hiked through the amazingly green and moist jungle, which is the coastal rainforest of British Columbia, camped high above the Indian Arm with a view on the big city near the horizon and climbed up a small, overgrown path from sealevel to a peak of 1,250m altitude.
Hiking at Indian Arm (close to Vancouver, British Columbia)