I LOVE THE MOUNTAINS!!!
In June of 2016, my Mom, my niece and I set out on the road trip of a lifetime...
My mom has been slowly loosing her sight for as long as I can remember - myopic degeneration. 5 years ago she became legally blind.
The way she describes her vision is that it is like looking through a piece of Swiss cheese and depending on the lighting it is better or worse. Knowing that likely her vision will keep getting worse I had asked her if she could take a vacation and see something she has always wanted to see what would it be? Her answer - Banff.
One might say this seems like an odd choice for someone who is legally blind - but you don't know my mom. Somehow I can talk her into just about anything, and she trusts that I won't lead her off a cliff... So of course I planned the vacation and booked a White Water Rafting tour.
Then she throws me a curve ball - let's bring your niece along as well... WAIT - you want me to plan: A) My first trip out of the country and B) you want me to bring along an 8-year-old and a legally blind woman on a hiking trip... IN THE MOUNTAINS - this seems to have disaster written all over it, but I like challenges.
From my front door to Jasper, Alberta, Canada is a 33 hour drive and I am our only driver.
I've always liked a good road trip - there is so much you miss when you fly.The journey is half the fun!
Saskatchewan is pretty in it's own right but let's face it, it's pretty flat - nothing compares to driving and catching your first glimpse of the Mountains in a distance.
I think my soul lives in the Mountains. I am much happier hiking around glacial lakes than I am sitting on the beach.
We drove into Jasper National Park on the Northern end of the famed Icefields Parkway - the road that leads from Jasper to Banff connecting both Jasper and Banff National Parks. National Geographic lists this drive as one of their top 15 Roadtrips in the world.
There are points of interest, glaciers, waterfalls and thousands of miles of hiking trails along the route. We stopped at a few, summited one mountain, hiked many miles, saw a lot of wildlife and we stood on a glacier.
For the most part we averted the disasters that could happen with a mostly blind person and an 8-year old all being led by one person through the mountains. The 8-year old came out unscathed but there was a little bit of a scary incident while whitewater rafting when my Mom and the instructor fell out of the raft in the worst set of rapids - but in the end everyone had a great time and it is just a story to laugh about now.
I could write so much about this trip but here were some of the highlights for me:
• Moraine Lake (so much prettier than the far more popular Lake Louise)
• Peyto Lake (we did a 7 mile hike to the top of a mountain here with spectacular views of Bow lake)
• Athabasca Glacier (everyone should stand on a glacier and drink glacial water at least once in their lifetime)
• Seeing a hoary Marmot and an Elk up close in the wild
• Summiting our first Mountain (even though we took a sky tram most of the way up)
• Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls - when I go back to Banff someday I want to do more hiking around these 2 places.
• Whitewater rafting the Kananaskis River (Chinook Rafting - the team was the best)
• The Icefields Parkway is truly spectacular - drive it, it's worth it!
Active vacations are by far my favorite vacations. I like going to bed every night knowing I saw as much as I could see. And for this vacation even knowing that I did isn't enough - I need to go back.
• If you want to stay outside of their busy season go in June or October - in those months you run the risk of snow but the prices are better and the crowds are down.
•If you take 2 steps away from the main attractions you will be by yourself - do it sometimes the views are better.
• If you go in June it is light outside until past 11pm - if you hike enough you will still be able to sleep just fine.
Where is your soul the happiest - the mountains, the beach, home?