***written at 3am when I got some down time on the night shift & downing some Cafe Bustello to stay awake ***
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Here it is. My Montana and Banff post. Honestly I didn’t know when I was going to find time to write this…work and life have gotten so crazy. I blink and a week has gone by. Now it’s been a month since I got back and I am just finding time to share my adventures. At least time is flying by. If you get nothing else from this post, know that Montana and Alberta, Canada are some of the most magical places on the planet and you should absolutely go in the winter to experience the magic yourself.
Why did we decide to go to Canada? Unsure. It was rainy season in Peru. Iceland wouldn’t have enough daylight. Chelsea lives in Kalispell…and could tour guide us up to Canada and we could knock out a location I’ve been drooling over on IG for years…it all worked out perfectly. So we bought tickets, Chelsea planned everything (all kickass adventures are attributed to her travel genius…Loren and I were too overwhelmed with work to plan…we just sent her money and she made magic happen) and we showed up. Barely. A HUGE snowstorm hit Montana and Canada was experiencing one of the coldest winters in forever. Loren and I met up in Salt Lake City. I got in trouble for sneaking Loren free wine when not sitting in first class. Delta messed around with putting passengers on and off the plane and we took off way late…which made us hot the blizzard as we were descending…and get diverted to Idaho (#thanksdelta). Eventually after hours of waiting and another failed pass, our amazing pilot got us on the ground (pretty sure we landed sideways). Chelsea somehow drove us to her house in a white out. And our plans to leave for Canada were pushed back…but at least we were together.
The first day was spent exploring Kalispell and Whitefish. Before we headed out, I went for a snowswim because Mama Jobe had been making fun of us for choosing such a cold vacation spot and tagged us in a snowswim video on fb (i.e. challenge accepted).
We grabbed brunch then headed to Glacier National Park. Everything was covered in the most magical layer of snow.
It was freezing. Even more so by Lake McDonald (I am sure this would have been more obvious to people who live in cold spaces).
Banff, Alberta, Canada
The next day it was clear enough for us to head to Canada. We drove through the gorgeous mountains of Kootenay National Park and somehow managed to not crashed admiring the gorgeous scenery. Seriously. Huge trees. Covered in snow. It was like a movie.
We made it to Banff (bamf…took me forever to learn how to pronounce it) and checked into Elk and Avenue and got more hotel space than three people could possibly need. We realized it was New Year’s Eve and walked around looking for something to eat and do. We had grand ideas of looking super cute, but it was freezing…so we packed a bunch of glittery things that would remain in the suitcase all trip. We discovered Canadian mexican food is super good and hung out at Magpie and Stump drinking margaritas. Eventually we decided to wander somewhere else for the countdown. We found some underground dingy bar that at least allowed us a place to sit for an hour (name at this point is unclear but I wouldn’t recommend you go there anyways). We made it out into the freezing cold for some kickass fireworks to kick off 2018.
Next day we welcomed in 2018 the best way possible…hiking. We strapped on our crampons (spikes to walk in the snow), busted out the hiking poles and braved the cold at Johnson Canyon Falls. There is nothing more magical than walking through the massive snow covered trees.
I am still in awe. We thought we were a little over prepared in our crampons and snowshoes…until people started falling all around us. We made it down to the falls and were greeted with a massive formation of ice. At this point, all my electronics had shut off in the cold….icicles started growing in my hair.
Totally worth it. I wanted to get closer, so we climbed down and I walked on my first nonmanmade ice and thankfully didn’t fall through (don’t worry I was studying for a while if it would be worth it as other people went first).
The drive back was out of this world. Banff is completely surrounded by the best of the Canadian Rockies….how Chelsea drove us back safely I will never know. We tried to go to Banff Upper Hot Springs to warm up…but ended up leaving the line because it was so crowded and reminded me of human soup.
Because there is never time to rest when you are adventuring, we headed to Lake Louise. We stayed at The Fairmont Chateau (i.e. dream spot) which is a gorgeous hotel surrounded by mountains and glaciers and is even a UNESCO site (thank you Chelsea for teaching me about such things) that is so magical Queen Elizabeth visited. We checked in and immediately went outside to go ice skating….which is way harder on a lake without a perfectly even surface. It was like being in a dream.
The next day we went dog sledding. Loren was super worried that the dogs were going to be mistreated and later admitted to us that she teared up as we were taking off. She thought the dogs being loud meant they were miserable. Turns out, they were singing with excitement.
Alaskan huskies were bred to run and pull things. It was so peaceful riding silently though the trees up the the Continently Divide.
I even got to try driving. One driver gets 12 dogs all year and gets to know them like people. My guy named them all of and was able to identify when they needed to wear boots, who was shy, who was the leader etc. sSo freaking cool (literally too, my toes went slightly numb).
That afternoon we went crosscountry skiing across the lake to check out the glacier. Loren only ate shit once.
There were frozen waterfalls and we got to see an avalanche from a safe distance.
On the way back we were blazing our own trail when our feet started the feel heavy. We thought it was because we were going through fresh snow. Turns out it was slush freezing to our skis. Loren discovered this right as we were getting to safety…which made it less scary since it was over with.
Eventually we had to leave. We decided to take the scenic route back through Yoho and Kootenay National parks….and stop off at the Kootenay hot springs (risking driving in the dark for adventure). They were much better than the human soup we had seen before and were nestled at the base of the frozen mountain and got us some really cool pictures.
We made it across the border in one piece, although there was a misunderstanding with what the red light meant and we got yelled at.
We got into our last stop ten minutes before the front desk closed…the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex, MT.
It is an active railroad stop and famous for its cross country skiing.
Loren stayed in to work on school work (not even the highest level of harassment and peer pressure would get her out) while Chels and I went out crosscountry skiing in search of a famous bridge. This required us to go on some blue courses. I learned there is not a good way to stop on crosscountry skis and wiped out several times. But we found the bridge and it was awesome.
The way down was super smooth and I was able to glide down for a solid two min without stopping (which is also terrifying when you do not know how to stop).
We finished the trip off with some sushi in Whitefish and before we knew it, were back on the plane to reality.
Bottom line: Go to Montana. Go to Canada. You will not be disappointed. I cannot wait to go see these places in the summer time.
Adventure on my friends.