2017 marks 150 years of Confederation in Canada – Canada’s sesquicentennial anniversary. This year, Parks Canada provided free entrance to all National Parks, and many events are taking place across the country to celebrate. I decided that in 2017, I wanted to see more of Canada so that I can better appreciate the country and the people who live here. On July 1st, I left Toronto to begin driving across Canada with Matt, with plans to camp and visit friends and family along the way.
We spent our first night camping along the shores of Lake Superior, in Pukaskwa National Park. The terrain in northwestern Ontario is rugged and we were treated to a beautiful sunset.
By the third day, I began to realize just how giant Canada really is. While there are certainly stretches of road that aren’t particularly interesting, the majority of the drive out to British Columbia was very scenic. Along the way, we saw things I didn’t even know existed in Canada. Take a look at the badlands of Drumheller, Alberta for example! I had no idea that this kind of landscape existed in Canada, but a bit of hiking through Horsethief Canyon, pictured here, was amazing.
A trip out west would not be complete without hiking in the Rockies – so we did just that. We spent a week between Banff and Jasper National Park, exploring different areas of each park every day. After spending a noisy night at a campsite right next to train tracks, we tackled the Plain of Six Glaciers hike near Lake Louise. The hike ends on rocky moraines in the mountains, in an area where six glaciers come together. On our way up, we saw large chunks of snow and ice breaking off and falling hundreds of feet, and the sound was unlike anything I’ve heard.
About a kilometre before the end of the trail, there is a Teahouse, built in 1924 by Swiss guides working for Canadian Pacific Railway. In the teahouse, hikers can enjoy lunch, small snacks, and tea made from the leaves and flowers found on the surrounding mountain. This was one of the most scenic meals I have ever had the opportunity to enjoy, and was a welcome break before the descent.
After enjoying a week in the Rockies, we continued westward to Vancouver. On our first night in the city, we decided to tackle the Grouse Grind. I can assure you that it is indeed a grind, but emerging from the trees at the top (with a climb time below average!) was one of the best feelings. We then got to enjoy the view as the sun set over the city, and take the cable car back down.
From Vancouver, we took the ferry to Victoria to meet up with a classmate and spend a weekend camping in Tofino. I don’t think the fog ever clears in Tofino, but the waves make for great surf. We spent a day with rented surfboards trying to catch some waves. I think I consumed enough salt for the year with all the salt water I swallowed. We then returned to Victoria, to enjoy an envening by the lovely Victoria Harbour. Much like the night we set out, we watched a gorgeous sunset over the mountains.
Over the course of this trip, we collected data – from gas prices in every province to elevation gain on every hike. I plan on compiling this data into an awesome Canada 150 graphic. Stay tuned!