Banff with my 48L pack

It started off with a flight to Calgary with my 48 Liter hiking pack. I met Krista at the arrivals section of the airport and off we went to get the rental car. It was a 2-hour drive to get to the Canadian Rockies. The scenery was beautiful, to say the least, and it got better and better the more we got enveloped by the mountain ranges.

We spent our first night in an established campground. I was never a fan of camping right next to a ton of other people. I felt like I was just in the suburbs where I have tons of neighbors all around. It never was quite my definition of camping growing up. We opted for a quick drive to a lookout point and took some quick shots of the Milky Way. 

The day after we went to see the must-see sights, Lake Louise, and the downtown area, we hiked point of six glaciers and soaked in all the sights along the way. We went to the ranger station and confirmed the directions for our backcountry campsite where we would be spending the rest of the stay. With the directions in hand, offline GPS downloaded, and bear spray rented, we went off on the Ice fields Parkway. It was my first time hiking/camping in Grizzly territory.

It was a short mile and a half to 2-mile hike to get to the campsite. We were going at a fast pace as the sun was actually about to set and we were trying to catch the golden hour hopefully at the lake by the campsite. One of the neat features of the hike was having to wade through a river which was about ankle to knee-deep at most during the time we were there. The water was ice cold and the rocks were slippery, decided to do it barefoot as we didn’t wanna get the hiking boots wet for the upcoming hikes. Krista, of course, took a dive during the last 10 steps or so from the opposing bank which I have to say, was pretty funny for me! She wasn’t quite as amused understandably so.

As we were going through the trail, there wasn’t anyone else in sight. I was concerned about stumbling into Grizzlies and startling them and being attacked, so of course, I did my duty. I was singing my heart out on the trail while playing music on my phone. It probably sounded bad but it felt like singing when you’re driving in your car and no one else can hear you but in this case, the whole landscape is your car and actually whoever is within maybe 200 meters from me could hear my high pitched whines. We didn’t stumble onto any bears though so I have to say, my tactic was pretty effective!

Once we got to the campsite proper, you go down a little trail to the lakeside and once you go past the treeline, the lake shore with the mountains in the background just left us awestruck. It was hard to believe that we had the whole place to ourselves pretty much as there were only 3 other pairs of campers for the whole huge lake. We set up camp and decided right then and there that we really didn’t have to explore elsewhere, we’d totally have been content just staying there and not going elsewhere.

After the campsite was all set up, we went off to find the bear lines. It was our first time using them and I was pretty amused using it, to be honest! So basically the premise is you hang all your food in a little bag and you raise it way up in the air through a pulley system so that way if a bear comes around they won’t have access to your food. The bear lines are also obviously far away from your actual campsite as you wouldn’t wanna be anywhere near food when you’re sleeping just in case a bear does come around.

The day after consisted of just lazing around the campsite, having breakfast, napping again after, taking a quick dip in the cold water, then hiking out to go see Moraine Lake during sunset. After dinner in town we headed back to our campsite, I took some star trail shots and then Krista decided to take like a 10-second dip at night. I was definitely not doing that without the sun to warm me up.

The day after we woke up before sunrise, packed up camp, took photos as the sun was rising and then hiked back out to the car. We ended up driving back all the way to Calgary so I could pick up my cousin, Julian, and his friend CJ. We took them back up to Banff and we took them around to our campsite as it was nice and quiet and devoid of tourist hordes. We went canoeing around the lake for a bit and just talked about anything and everything. We headed to Moraine Lake next and caught the sunset there.

While we were there, I decided I would go for a swim since I didn’t wanna simply just see Moraine, I wanted to actually have been able to swim in it. So off went the clothes aside from my shorts which were totally not trunks, and into the water, I went. The water was so cold as your whole body feels like it’s being stabbed cold and your all tingly all of a sudden and it sort of feels like you’re on fire. You stick around in the water anyway and keep swimming around and then it actually weirdly feels refreshing. I stayed in for probably 3 minutes tops though and we dried off. Really glad that we did that though as it definitely is memorable, to say the least.

Afterwards, we drove back down to Calgary, had dinner with them in town before dropping them off at CJ’s place. It was nice to have seen them and spent time with them even if it was just for a day. It was perfect how our vacation time in Calgary of all places synced up without any prior planning.

Krista and I then went to drive off to Kananaskis, not quite all the way back to Calgary but pretty much in the opposite direction again since that’s where our Tipi accommodation for the night was. We got there past midnight, we were both tired but the Tipi was really cozy and cute! I took like 5 photos of it tops when I got something I was happy with it was pretty much sack out time. We had to figure out how to work the old style gas heater inside the Tipi; I don’t think either of our brains was functioning properly and I was already grumpy. After a few minutes of fiddling around with that we sacked out in our warm Tipi. Before we knew it our alarms were blaring, it was time to pack up and head on back to the airport to catch our respective flights. Until the next adventure!

Story and photos by Paolo Nacpil

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