Rocky Mountain Trip 2004

For a small holiday in the summer of 2004, I signed up for a 10 day tour of the Rocky Mountains with True North Tours, their 'Rocky Experience' package. With transport, park fees, accomodation and most food the total came to $580.00, which was very reasonable for this student's budget.

Actually a combination of two tours, first one that went for six days in Banff and Jasper national parks, linking to a second one that spent the remaining time in the much lesser known Waterton.

The first tour picked me up in Calgary on the morning of August 4th. After picking up the rest of the people (backpackers from Holland, Switzerland, Japan, Taiwan, England, Scotland and Los Angeles)  and getting groceries in Banff, we headed straight to Lake Louise...

...which was as beautiful as ever. We split into two groups to hike.

The 'hard group' was rewarded for the tough slog up Mt Fairview by getting caught in a nasty storm and getting soaked, while the 'easy group' relaxed in the tea house on the top of their mountain, ate pie and drank hot chocolate until the rain quit.

Weather was destined to be not so good for this week. A Goretex jacket and shoes with good grip are handy for this type of thing.

Anyway, typically after a day of hiking or whatever we arrived at a new hostel where we unloaded the van and hauled our stuff in.

Bunk beds at Athabasca hostel. Think of it like luxurious camping instead of an extremely cheap hotel room you share with 20 other people, some of which snore (like me).

Supper was made for us by our guides Karen and Owen (who appreciated some help), and was always very good.

Afterwards, depending on the hostel, there could be a hot tub, sauna, drinking, visiting, playing cards, etc. The wilderness hostels tend to be very social. Accomodations varied from extremely modern and nice (Lake Louise) to very rustic (Rampart Creek, Athabasca).

The next few days we kept busy with a variety of things as we moved around the parks. Including river rafting on the Kicking horse....

....hiking up Coliseum  mountain in Nordegg...

...and a guided hike on the Columbia glacier.

It paid to be careful when taking photos....

...something that numerous signs on the way up made abundantly clear.

Starting from the back left: Fabian (Switzerland), Leila (England), Me (Canada!), Tim and Leia (Scotland/England), Laura and Elwin (Netherlands)
From the front left: Yu-chun Chien (Taiwan), Yukie (Japan), Aafke and Marian (Netherlands), Satomi (Japan), and Adriana (Italy/US)

Other things we did included a look around Morraine lake, soaking in Miette hotsprings, a short hike around Maligne lake, and going out for supper in Jasper.
The tour ended with a variety show that was put on thanks to the energy of  Adriana, and after a long night ended by drinking games and shooting stars that tour was over.


So the three of us that were continuing said goodbye to our mates and headed off on to Waterton with Viviana our new driver/guide and more backpackers from assorted places. This time Singapore, Japan, Spain, and Switzerland.

En, Yong hui, and Adrienne from Singapore smiled a lot... we killed them (kidding, I kid, I kid)

The drive down to Waterton was broken up by stops for groceries at Okotoks, lunch at High River, and a tour of the site at  Head Smashed In buffalo jump. Otherwise uneventful and we slept in the van : )

 Our tour leader was a little intimidating....(Oh alright, I'll stop)

Fixing the 'bear warning' tape on the way. Day-oh!

Once there we entered the park town that time forgot, like a Banff from the 60's. Cars are rare and people and wildlife walk everywhere on the streets. Everyone is eating icecream.

Somehow I ended up with hard climbing crowd again, specifically Sonja who had just finished three weeks of back country hiking.

Agonizing pain or not, I managed to keep up and was rewarded by spectacular views as the trail climbed out of the treeline. In the distance you can see the prairies stretching out beyond the mountains.

Fantastic colors, from the usual grey to red and a golden green.

Flowers were everywhere, and many of the plants here are particular to the park itself

Inbetween hikes Libretto to relax, not! Women are much better at multi-tasking games like this.

The next day on a new trail, this time climbing up to Mt Lineham. Not a bad photo for holding the camera at arms length!

The trails in the Rockies really change depending on if you go past the tree line or not. The view for the first couple hours is not so exciting...

Then a hard hike up in the rocks....

And the views all open up.

One line of ranges after another, off into the distance.

And up closer impressive too.

Then that was that, after a tour of the Bar U ranch (very good) on the way back and another short hike.

From back left: Sonja (Switzerland), Me again, Spanish dude I didn't get to know, Yonghui (Singapore), En (Singapore)
From front left: Yu-chun Chien (Taiwan), another Spanish dude, Adriana (Italy/US), Yuko (Japan), and Adrienne (Singapore)


It was a fun and cheap way to spend ten days.


Any questions you can give me a shout, but for proper information (and very friendly they are, too) see....

 The True North Tours website

 Back to Other Trips