West Coast and Rocky Mountain Tour

Hi again,

This blog is seriously delayed. Apologies. And it’s really long – enjoy!

After landing in Regina, I moved in to my home for the next 7 months. I’m living in an apartment which is located in downtown Regina about a 5 minute drive from the university campus.

I only spent a week here before I packed my bag once again and headed off on my tour of the West Coast of Canada with a tour company called Moose Travel Network. I chose a tour called the Pacific which is the most extensive tour they offer in the west.

Moose Bus

My tour began in Vancouver, this is where I met my guide and the people I would spend the next 15 days with. Day one was a journey from Vancouver to Tofino, which is a small fishing town located on Vancouver Island. Along the way, we all began to get to know each other, and I quickly found out I was traveling with another Australian. As well as two Brits, who were brother and sister and two Dutch guys. This leg of the trip involved viewing a couple of waterfalls as well as jumping in a very cold lake. A BBQ steak dinner, and some drinks on a rock wall right by the ocean topped off the day.

Sunset in Tofino

The following day whale watching and a relaxing dip in some hot springs were on the cards. Grey whales were spotted and bodies were soaked before the 2 hour boat ride back to Tofino once again.

Hot Springs in Tofino

Our journey to Victoria began bright and early with a stroll through an old growth forest and then along Long Beach. The bus ride continued through some very scenic areas with stops at more lakes and old growth forests. Just before arriving in Victoria out guide made a stop at a glacier fed waterfall. She assured us that all of her tour groups jumped in. A few of us stepped up to the challenge and jumped into the 6 degree plunge pool at the base of the waterfall. Needless to say, the jump was breath taking- not the good kind either. After we all scrambled out and attempted to regain feeling, we found out that only one other person had ever jumped in. And I can understand why!

The night in Victoria involved many different things including but not limited to dinner at the Sticky Wicket, drinks at Big Bad Johns, dancing the night away in club 9one9 finishing with, of course, a stop at McDonalds.
Victoria is the capital of British Columbia, and has a very big British influence. I spent my free afternoon wandering the streets, exploring the bug zoo and talking a walk around the harbor to a place called Fisherman’s Wharf, where there is a population on harbor seals that take advantage of the fact that people can buy a plate of herring and feed them. It shows in the seals waterline how much they enjoy those herring!

That afternoon we jumped back on the bus and began our journey back to Vancouver. The only way from the British Columbia mainland to Vancouver island is via boat. We caught the ferry and it takes about an hour and a half. We had a quite night in Vancouver enjoying the sunset whilst sitting on a beach with the Vancouver skyline in the distance.

Our next day involved jumping back on the Moose bus and heading off alone the Sea to Sky highway to Whistler. Whistler is where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held, so the Sea to Sky highway was upgraded only 2 years ago. Along the way we stopped at another gorgeous waterfall, had a glimpse of the golf course where Happy Gilmore was filmed and passed what is known as the Stawamus Chief. The Chief as it is affectionately know is the second largest granite monolith in the world and also a very popular hiking and rock climbing location.
As it was another hot day the group has the option of going to a lake in the area for lunch and a swim or going for a flight in a small plane. I took option b along with three others, flying over The Chief, Howe Sound and Shannon Falls was breathtaking and to top it off the pilot let me fly the plane for a short while whilst we were heading back to the aerodrome.
After arriving in Whistler that evening and taking a dip in a lake and eating supper it was time for another night on the town.

Shannon Falls from the Air

We had a free day in Whistler the next day so I chose to take the Gondola to the peak of Whistler mountain, which proved to be a beautiful view. This is where Iseen my first bear ever! It was a mummy black bear with a cub, scary and exciting at the same time!

Black Bear

That afternoon I decided to go Bungee Jumping! I had never bungee jumped before, so to say I was a little nervous was certainly an understatement. I’d kept my intentions of bungee jumping secret from my family as I knees they would freak out! The jump I did was about 50m over a river about 15 minutes out of Whistler, and was the most exhilarating thing I’ve done in my life so far. It’s such a weird thing to just jump off a bridge, but just incredible!
We stayed in Vancouver once again and had another quite night.

Inukshuk in Whistler

On the edge of the Bungee Bridge

The next two days were filled with travels as we were en route to the Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately about 2 hours out of Vancouver the bus broke down. This left us stranded on the side of the highway about 3 kilometers from a town called Hope – kinda ironic really. It was a super hot day, and after multiple attempts to get the bus going with no success, most of the group decided that they would bite the bullet and pay for taxis into Hope to get lunch and a drink. After what felt like an extremely long three hours, a new bus arrived and we were back on the road.
Due to our delay we unfortunately missed out on the houseboat ride that was planned for us. Instead we went bowling, which turned out to be quite fun! The next day involved nothing but a very long and hot drive to Banff.

The next leg of our trip involved two nights in wilderness hostels. Rampart Creek was out next destination, on the way we stopped at Moraine lake and Lake Louise, two of the most beautiful lakes you may ever set eyes on. They have striking blue/green color due to the rock flour suspended in the water. The rock flour comes from the rock beds of glaciers, the glaciers grind down the rock bed with their movement and deposit the rock flour in the lake at the bottom.

Moraine Lake

Due to the remoteness of these hostels there is no running water or electricity. Also being this far into the mountains the risk of crossing paths with bears, this meant no deodorant, hair washing and no toothpaste near the sleeping quarters.

Mumma and Baby Grizzly Bears

The hostel in Rampart Creek had a sauna which provided the entertainment for the evening. Running from the steaming sauna and then jumping in the glacier fed creek was certainly a shock to the system, but so fun!
Edith Cavell was our next destination, we drove along the Icefields Parkway, which is up there with one of the most beautiful drives in the world. The Columbia Icefield is located about halfway between Banff and Jasper and is big enough that everyone in North America can stand on it with one square meter each!

Athabasca Glacier

On the Athabasca Glacier

Ice Explorer

The bus stopped at the Athabasca Glacier, where we boarded Ice Explorers which drove out to the middle of the glacier, you can really begin to appreciate the incredible size of not only the Icefields but the glacier itself whilst you are out there. It was a breathtaking experience, and you stand on 400 year old ice when you are in the middle!
For lunch, our tour guide let us climb a waterfall and look over the ice fields and the mountains. It was amazing to just have the sound of the water and nothing else, such a relaxing peaceful experience.

Waterfall where we ate Lunch

Edith Cavell is a mountain that the Native American people called ‘White Ghost’, this is because of its eerie appearance at sunset and into the night. The snow capped mountain almost glows. The hostel once once again a wilderness hostel with limited power and no flushing toilets. After a BBQ Dinner it was bed time because the mozzies were just so bad! The following day we spent the night in Jasper, and then we were back to Banff. A couple of my tour mates and I decided to go white water rafting on the Kicking Horse River. Another great experience!

Angel Glacier at Edith Cavell

Mt Edith Cavell

White Water Rafting

The last three days of our tour involved a lot of traveling all the way back to Vancouver. It was really sad to say goodbye to the people that I bonded with over the two weeks, but it’s a bonus that now I have friends in more countries around the world, and an excuse to travel there!

I apologies for how long winded and overdue this is, I promise I’ll get better at this!

Sarah

Ps: All the photos on this page are all photos I took whilst on the tour

About sarahvda
I'm a second year Environmental Science student studying at CSU Albury Wodonga. I'm on exchange in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

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