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Headed North | Canadian Vacation

This is a big-ass post.  Just to forewarn you.  Below are 130 or so images from our vacation.  Yea I know, I went a little overboard but hey, go big or go home, right?

Just as a quick preface before we delve into all the photos and details.  You should go to Canada, I am not going to list off all the reasons as to why you need to head north for vacation vs south, but trust me.  Vacation in Canada.  A big thank you to Rich Freeda for letting me borrow a lens for our travels, it came in handy on several occasions.  Also, the American dollar is terrible.

Lets Begin!

The only time I’ve set foot in Canada was when I visited Niagara Falls.  Blinded by raging hormones, an embarrassingly  low appreciation for family vacations and just normal adolescence  nonsense I don’t remember too much of the trip and I know I certainly didn’t appreciate the time and effort that went into planning the vacation.  Needless to say it was time to revamp my Canadian recollection.  I’ve heard stories of Banff, how beautiful it was and how ‘you need to visit’ and so, I came home and announced to Victoria that we are going to Banff.  Her response was per usual, ‘Ok!’  with no hesitation.

To Canada we went.

Oh and her constant reminder was ‘Remember this is a vacation not a job, you don’t need to shoot everything’.  Ha!, telling a photographer not to shoot everything.

 Crazy.

calgary canada

Headed north on Hwy 1 toward Banff.  Calgary was a gorgeous city. Clean, quite, no traffic and thought out.  We could learn a thing or two,

calgary canada
calgary canada
calgary canada

Views from the passenger seat.  We hadn’t even gotten to Banff yet and this is some of the eye candy.  Jealousy isn’t quite strong enough a word.

banff, alberta

This clear beauty ran through the back of our campground.  Our skydive instructor told us that the majority of the water in these rivers are glacial fed and the water is less than 12 hours old.  Poland Springs’ got nothing on this!

johnston canyon, alberta canada

Once we settled our tent situation, we headed over to Johnston Canyon.  Here you can check out the lower and upper waterfalls and then head further up the trail to check out the ink pots.  Deciding to turn around at the upper falls and not head further to the ink pots will be a huge mistake on your part if you ever take this trip.  Trust.  Check out the ink pots.

johnston canyon, alberta canada
johnston canyon, alberta canada
johnston canyon, alberta canada

The lower falls.

johnston canyon, alberta canada

The upper falls

johnston canyon, alberta canada

Trail opening up into the ink pots.

johnston canyon, alberta canada
johnston canyon, alberta canada

The ink pots form by little springs in the pools.  Each pool is a slightly different color ranging from blue to green.  The color is determined by how quickly the pool fills from the spring.

johnston canyon, alberta canada

The meadow in which the ink pots live.  Doesn’t get much better than this.

johnston canyon, alberta canada
johnston canyon, alberta canada

This cat walk is cemented into the rock.  Some spots have some gnarly rapids underneath.

johnston canyon, alberta canada
johnston canyon, alberta canada
moraine lake

Yea, I know.  It’s awesome.

johnston canyon, alberta canada

I had to grab some shots of this rig.  My Dad has literally built an identical contraption at their house to keep The Herd from running out the garage door.  It’s a coffee container with a wire clothes hanger bent in half stuck into either side of the container to form a a handle.  Then a string is tied from the center of the clothes hanger and runs through a series of hooks and eye bolts and connected to the door.  Inside the coffee container is the perfect amount of pennies to counter weight the door.

Naturally when I saw this, I had to grab a picture of it.

johnston canyon, alberta canada
johnston canyon, alberta canada
moraine lake

Next up is Moraine Lake.  A little science lesson.  A moraine is a pile of glacial unconsolidated debris and where I am standing is on top of a massive rock pile, aptly named ‘The Rockpile’.  When this lake was discovered they assumed the rock pile was a moraine and thus ‘Lake Moraine’.  However later it was concluded that the rock pile wasn’t a moraine and thus the lake’s name was incorrect. Mind blown!  Either way this lake was gorgeous.

Another bit of trivia, though no photos were taken of me in the Banff walk in clinic.  I was on all kinds of antibiotics and medicine while taking this shot.  I had a fever, shakes, sinus infection and felt like dump.  But Canadian healthcare though expensive, was a delight.

moraine lake

More Moraine Lake delightfulness.

moraine lake

I took off my socks and shoes to walk into the lake a bit to grab this shot.  Cold is an understatement, it was painful standing in that water.

moraine lake

I love this shot.  Simple.

lake louise

Lake Louise time!

lake louise

If you look at the right side of the image and you see that rounded hill.  That’s the big beehive. . . . . foreshadowing?

lake louise
lake louise

Headed up the trail to Lake Agnes Tea House.  Oh and on a side note, saturation was not touched in any of these images.  That’s the color of the lake and the trees.  I bumped up the blacks a bit on these images but other than that very little post processing was done.  This is just how everything looked.

mirror lake, alberta canada

Mirror Lake with the Big Beehive looming.

waterfalls, lake agnes

Waterfalls everywhere, also lucky enough to capture to elusive wild Victoria in her natural habitat.

lake agnes alberta canada

Skirting around Lake Agnes to head up to the top of the Big Beehive.

lake agnes alberta canada

The weather passes so quickly here.  This is facing toward the Tea house where you can just make it out on the horizon.

lake agnes alberta canada

This is directly behind me.  Completely different.  So cool.

lake agnes alberta canada

This is a view on top of the Big Beehive.  Lake Louise is this crazy opaque blue.   Science is awesome.

lake agnes alberta canada

Now this guy.  Tech could learn a thing or two about begging from this bird.  This guy begged just as severe as Tech(without the drool) but then stole food too!  He didn’t grab any of ours, but I watched his snag a few pieces from other unsuspecting hikers.

beehives, alberta canada

Sweet building adorning the top of Big Beehive.

beehives, alberta canada
beehives, alberta canada

A view hiking down the switchbacks.  That’s the Tea House!

beehives, alberta canada
lake agnes, alberta canada

lake agnes, alberta canada

Evasive Victoria

lake agnes, alberta canada

Hogan would be proud.

lake agnes, alberta canada

Yup. . . . . this happened.

lake agnes tea house
lake agnes tea house
lake agnes tea house

Porch life.  
Lake Agnes Tea House is a small, rustic tea house situated on the eastern shores off Lake Agnes in Alberta at an elevation of 2135 meters (7005 ft.). The tea house was originally built in 1901 by the Canadian Pacific Railroad as an added attraction for guests of the Chateau Lake Louise and began serving tea in 1905. The tea house was expanded over the years to accommodate an increase in demand. In 1981 the tea house was completely rebuilt in a final expansion as the building seen today. The original red door, windows, tables and chairs were preserved and included in the new design.  There is no electricity and the majority of the food and supplies are flown up once a year by helicopter.

lake agnes tea house

Legit furniture.

lake agnes tea house
lake agnes tea house
lake agnes tea house

A porch with a view.

lake agnes tea house

Can you spot the mountains and the cloud?

lake agnes tea house

Hand rolled tea.  living life like a boss.

lake agnes tea house

We packed up and headed to Golden, BC.  Country side splendor.

Victoria spotted this town name.  It’s officially the coolest town name ever.  You can’t disagree even if you wanted to.  Go ahead.. . . try.

SPILLIMACHEEN!  Just say it outloud.  I know you want to.

white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia

Rafting time.  Thank god for GoPros

white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia
white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia
white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia
white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia
white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia
white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia
white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia
white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia
white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia
white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia
white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia

The reason why all the rafts travel together is for safety.  With the kicking horse in particular there are rocks falling into the river from the cliffs and changing the river from week to week or even day to day.  This changes the flow of the river and if someone falls out of the raft and is unable to get back to their raft or if an entire raft capsizes the other rafts can assist.  Teamwork at it’s best.

white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia

This is where our guide said to us ‘there are a few rapids coming up but it then flattens out, this will be one of your few opportunities to ride some rapids’.  As soon as we all slide in he added, ‘oh we call this the drowning simulator’.

white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia

The heads of us floating in comparison to the bottom of the raft should give you some perspective.

white water rafting, kicking horse river golden british columbia

The rafting company we went with was Alpine Rafting.  Yes we were satisfied, these guys were awesome.  One aspect that no one that day took advantage of was the camping.  If you book a whitewater trip with these guys they also throw in two free nights of camping.  The campsite was phenomenal.  It was literally right next to the river in a wide open meadow.  It was our favorite campsite hands down.

camping, golden BC

Victoria’s pleased stance.

Again science kicks ass.  The Palgene lantern.  Just strap your Petzel headlamp to the bottom of a nalgene.  BAM!

FYI, I was killin it, in Rummy 500

2:30am view from our campsite.

Next morning we woke up and headed here.  Yeti Skydive.

I won’t spend too much time trying to convince you to go sky diving but I will spend some time answering some common responses.

What if your shoot doesn’t open?! 

You drive in a car with one airbag.  You sky dive with two parachutes.   I am no math expect but I am sure Einstein agrees that you are 2x as likely to have a shoot open then your airbag go off.

I am scared of heights

Man was scared to sail over the horizon and look how that turned out.

Why would you jump out of a perfectly good plane?

Because I’ve landed in a perfectly good plane way too may times already

What if the harness breaks?

It’s connected at 4 points, two which are rated for 1500lbs and the other 2 for 750lbs.  (or thereabouts).  If all of those break, I am plummeting at 115mph.  A) There isn’t anything I am going to do about it and B) It’s clearly my time to go if all 4 break.

skydiving, golden british columbia

Tools of the trade.

skydiving, golden british columbia

A little disclaimer.  I took none of the following images.  We did purchase these outright.  I post-processed them and edited them but they were not captured or caught by me.

skydiving, golden british columbia

Take off time!  Victoria is clearly upset.


skydiving, golden british columbia
skydiving, golden british columbia

5,000 feet up.  This is where you will pull your shoot.  Another 5,000 is when you jump!

skydiving, golden british columbia
skydiving, golden british columbia
skydiving, golden british columbia

Go Time!

skydiving, golden british columbia

That little ledge, go ahead and slide out and put both feet on it.

skydiving, golden british columbia
skydiving, golden british columbia

WOOOOO!!!!!!!

skydiving, golden british columbia

The free fall.

skydiving, golden british columbia
skydiving, golden british columbia

Shoots open and we are floating down.

skydiving, golden british columbia
skydiving, golden british columbia

. . and here I come down!

On the way back from Golden we stopped in this town called Field.  Technically I think it’s a village but it’s super cool.  Definitely stop by.  Outside one of the buildings these two guys were hanging out.  No leash or tied up.  Just keeping guard and looking damn cool doing it.

Native animals.  Talk about some urban camo.

Just a few buildings in Field.  I love the second one, that’s my kind of dwelling.

The next day we hiked up to Paget lookout which used to be an old wildfire lookout.  Nothing like hiking out on the west coast where it’s super dry air.  Just writing all of this is making me wish I was back there.

Here is the old lookout.

Keeping the adrenaline pumping, we stopped by Horseshoe lake on our way up to Jasper.  For the most part all around the lake it’s straight cliff right into the water.  A lot of the locals go cliff jumping so there was no doubt in our minds that we were going to go as well.  It was cold.  Surprise, surprise.

Elk!  Just hanging out.  Now, if there was a game where they played an animal sound and listed four different kinds of animals and you needed to match the correct animal to the sound and the animal sound they played was an Elk.  We would all fail.  They don’t make the sound you think they would.  Now play this clip and look at this picture; your mind will be blown.

Early morning cruise to the glacier.  Man it’s beautiful.

Yay! More science lessons.  So look at this image above.  You can sort of see distinct levels of where the Athabasca used to be.  A interesting point that our guide mentioned to us was that people think of glacial retreat and melt as just the length of the glacier, what needs to be taken into account as well is that not only is the glacier retreating but it’s also getting less dense.  The top of some of those first ridges in this above image is about 600 feet high.

This is the foot of the glacier.  Off to the left you can see a big hunk of white snow and it looks like it’s sort of hanging in between those two peaks.  Well they call that a hanging glacier.  It’s called that because it used to be apart of the Athabasca glacier but broke off when the glacier began to decrease in depth.

athabasca glacier alberta canada
athabasca glacier alberta canada

Another sign of glacial decay is if you look at this pole.  The one in the foreground that is still stuck in the ice, follow that up.  There is a piece of tape on the pole.  Now look at the pole on the ground.  That pole on the ground used to be attached to the pole in the ice and the both poles used to be covered in ice.  Then the first pole fell off and they taped the second one where the ice line was.  That was at the beginning of the season.  Another sign that glaciers are quickly melting.

athabasca glacier alberta canada

The hanging glacier I was talking about before, it’s now in the center of this image.  They used to be one piece.

athabasca glacier alberta canada

Yea, you don’t want to go in there, or fall in there, or pretty much have anything to do with this.  This is how people don’t exist anymore.

water flowing on athabasca glacier
athabasca glacier alberta canada

Hanging glacier, being lonely all by itself.

V was drinking some of the glacier melt.  What’s interesting is there is close to no animal life above the glacier because above this glacier is the Columbia icefield which is just a massive area that looks like a lake with more ice than you can shake a stick at.  When the Columbia icefield fills it starts to overflow and that’s where the Athabasca glacier is formed from  The icefiled is responsible for feeding 8 other glaciers as well(including that Athabsaca).  The water V was drinking was less than a few hours old.

Just too the left of V’s head is the top of the glacier.  If you climb over those falls(which are massive, don’t let this image fool you) you will be on the icefield.

athabasca glacier alberta canada
athabasca glacier alberta canada
athabasca glacier alberta canada
athabasca glacier alberta canada

The glacier used to be here.

All along the path to the glacier they had these markers.  I don’t think I need to say much more.

Carnage from the past ice age.

After the glacier we headed back to banff, perused the town and checked out the hotsprings.  I didn’t take any pictures of the hotsprings because well, I didn’t want to be the creepy guy with the camera.  We spent the next day (Saturday) in Calgary had an awesome dinner checked out the city a little bit and then headed home.

Stormy, McStormysons over yonder.

Overall, it was a pretty damn good vacation!

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