For years, we had been drooling over the beauty of Banff and Jasper National Park. As we grew into more avid hikers in recent years, the Canadian Rockies calling became too strong to ignore any longer. Finally in June 2019, we answered the calling by indulging ourselves in these two spectacular national parks for eight days.
The majestic mountains, the mesmerising lakes, the roaring waterfalls and canyons, and the curious wildlife all made our heart sing!
We hiked every day, rain or shine or snow. Here are the trails we hiked and loved:
* Johnson Canyon
* Park Ridge
* Mistaya Canyon
* Tea House Challenge (we combined two trails with one tea house each: Lake Angnes Tea House and the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House)
* Sulphur Skyline Trail
* Hoodoos Trail
In addition, we hiked around all the iconic lakes such as Lake Moraine, Lake Louise, Maligne Lake and Bow Lake.
Tea House Challenge is probably the most memorable hike for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it started at the base of famous Lake Louise and had various stunning views of the iconic lake throughout the hike. Secondly, it championed in distance. Because we combined two trails, it became a 14.6km loop, plus a further 6km due to parking difficulty at Lake Louise. Thirdly, during the five hour hike, the nature displayed dramatic changes of rain, snow and sunshine, keeping us on our toes, literally!
The biggest challenge of hiking in bear season is the potential encounter with bears. We came across a bear frolicking in a meadow at the Sulphur Skyline Trail car park, but never saw any on the trails. I guess our constant bad singing and clapping really paid off. We passed some lone female hikers on the more off-the-beaten trails. I felt great admiration for their courage to hike alone.
When not hiking, we deliberately went seeking bears and other wildlife. Dusk is the most likely time to encounter wild animals. One day when driving along a quiet meadow, we saw a big black bear busily munching on dandelion flowers, totally ignoring onlookers in their parked cars. On another day, a mama bear followed by three cubs crossed the road in front of our car. We also saw a big caribou with beautiful antlers, a mama moose with her calf hiding behind bushes observing people, a happy and hungry alpine marmot foraging for food, and a tribe of mountain goats licking salt off the gaps of a concrete road.
One more sweet memory was relaxing in the hot spring at Miette Hot Springs after coping with the soggy weather and dicy condition on the Sulphur Skyline Trail. Cool rain drops on our face felt amazingly calming while we were floating in the hot pool. It was a luxurious treat well deserved!