You might think making holidays for 14 days in western Canada is nothing that special. Well, it depends on how you spent those days, especially in winter time. After driving 3000 km and shooting 4000 images and videos, spending nights camping in the car down to minus 33°C and being stuck in avalanche country a several times, are just a few clues to a very extraordinary journey!
The decision why “Canada” was easy; though I´ve been to Canada two times before, I´ve only seen Toronto and Vancouver and not to much of the landscape. I also have a friend who now lives in Okotoks/Calgary. I tried to meet him in 1992 while I was in Vancouver, and I also wanted to travel to Canada in 2002, but that didn´t happen unfortunately. Since I got time now (after quitting my old job), I decided to go to Canada. But the main reason actually has been that I had signed up on a photo tour led by Darwin Wiggett, a well known photographer of western Canada. That is what I really like to do, travelling and photography! The decision was made and I had the OK of my family, especially of my wife Sandra, who encouraged me a lot to do this.
Meeting my old mate Kent after 20 years, I´ve spent the first night in Canada at his place in Okotoks. Providing me with the two most essential tools when you are going on a trip in winter time, a sleeping bag down to minus 30°C and a cooking stove, I set of for “into the wild”. Heading down on HWY 22 and 6 led me to Waterton Lakes NP, the first great scenery on my way. Frank Slide and Crowsnest followed the next day, with a long drive up to Columbia Lake, where I camped for the night. The drive from Radium Hot Springs through Kootenay NP gave me the first foretaste of what to come. The quiet Bow Valley Parkway led me to Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway, one of the 10 greatest drives of the world. Though it has been cloudy and foggy, you could see and feel the great scenery. At Saskatchewan Crossing, HWY 11 have brought me to the Aurum Lodge at Abraham Lake, my main destination and home for the next 5 days, while being on the photo tour. Meeting Darwin, Madleine, Alan, Mike, Sonja, Roy, Eric, Dan and Sergeij has been great-all people with the same kind of interest. The tour showed us great places like Abraham Lake, Mistaya Canyon, the Weeping Wall, Nordegg old townsite, the Galleria at Cline River, Reflecting Pools, Forest Burns, Whirlpool Point and Siffleur River! I can´t tell how often I just stood there in complete awe and humbleness about the sheer abundance and beauty of mother nature! Back on my own after 5 days with the photo tour, I made my way up to Jasper NP, including Maligne Canyon, Jasper, Talbot, Medicine and Maligne Lake, and of course an outstanding drive on the Icefields Parkway on a sunny morning, though it had minus 33°C. On my way on HWY 16 and 5 down to Wells Grey PP, I´ve seen many wildlife as well, as are moose, bald eagle, a wolf(?), deer and elk. Again so many outstanding sights and “photo locations”, that its been pretty hard for me to keep on my time schedule. Driving HWY 1 from Kamloops to Revelstoke by night has been pretty though, even standing in line for around two hours while waiting for the roads to be cleared after a controlled avalanche blasting. At Revelstoke, Glacier and Yoho NP´s, the most places have been closed due to the lots of snow in the parks. But a nice ranger told me a place at the Asulkan river, where I could find the old cedar trees I was looking for so badly. Right in avalanche area, I´ve heard the blastings they do all the time. Finally I was lucky to get out and made my way down to Golden, where hundreds of trucks were waiting to get through to the west. Coming back to Lake Louise via Yoho NP and driving again on the Bow Valley Parkway was some sort of “coming home”. The Johnston Canyon is a beautiful place for photography, though there have been the most people I´ve seen on a location so far. Arriving at 6:30 pm in Banff, I pulled out of the commercial capital of Banff NP as fast as I came in-and almost hit a coyote! Staying the last night of my journey at the Cascade Ponds, it gave me some melancholy about leaving, but on the other side I was so overwhelmed by the thought of seeing my beloved family again! On my way down to my friends place via HWY 1 and 22, I have seen a few coyotes and of course thousands of cattle, which are obligatory for this area. After unpacking my rental car, (a 4WD, which served me so well), and getting a shower at Kent´s house, I said farewell to this great country, which has shown/given me so much! “Expect nothing and you will be given”! Cheers to Canada!!