During our dinner on our last night in Slocan, Heather’s brother and I sat down with my map and driving directions. Turns out the route that I planned to take to Banff was a long one, and an alternative route was available that included a free ferry ride. What can I say, I’m not from these parts.
We woke pretty early, packed up Barbara (who had begun to smell like a musty closet by this point, despite our air freshener vent clip), and continued north along Highway 6. We drove through quaint mountain towns like New Denver and Nakusp, then joined Highway 23 to reach the ferry which crosses Upper Arrow Lake. It was the first time I had to drive a car onto a ferry, but we did it without a hitch (except maybe getting stuck beside two morons in what appeared to be their daddy’s Mustang for the entire ride).
Once we were back on dry land we continued along Highway 23, all the way north to Revelstoke — our first pit stop and finally a place with reception (the guy at the A&W also gave us our drinks for free for some reason, so yay Revelstoke!).
From Revelstoke we caught the Trans-Canada Highway, made a quick stop in Golden for a breather, then kept driving all the way to Banff. We even saw some mountain sheep on route. They came out of nowhere and I have to admit my exit off the highway to pull over was less than graceful. But at least Shannon was able to snap this photo of them.
Thankfully I was able to make it back onto the Trans-Canada without a problem. We picked up where we left off, drove through mountain passes…
…watched in awe as we navigated through the ancient, towering rocks…
Aside from the beautiful scenery, this day of driving was shadowed by some personal stuff going on at home. If I had to pick one place to be to try to calm myself at that very moment, it would have been right where I ended up. Lake Louise always, always, always has an effect on my soul (ignoring the hordes of tourists and the crammed parking lots). I don’t know what it is, or how to explain it, but I’ve been here three times now and each and every time I’ve felt a soothing calm wash over me as I sit on the lake’s edge and just gaze off. I’m thankful for this lake and the perfect timing we had.
After spending some time taking in the scenery and trying to escape the crowds, we made our way back to the highway in order to finally reach Banff.
Banff was going to be our home for only one night, but I wanted to make sure that Shannon got to see the town and its surrounding mountains. I’m glad to report that she liked it 🙂 I even got her to try an Agwa Bomb at the hostel.
Because of the stuff that I was dealing with this day, Shannon and I ended up grabbing a coffee (the first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season!), found a bench, and chilled and chatted for a few hours. I can’t even remember if we got dinner now that I think about it. We did have to move locations at one point though because an impromptu drum circle had formed DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF US. Honestly people, you see two girls chatting on a bench, clearly in deep conversation, and you bring drums?! Nonsense.
By the end of the night I was emotionally and physically exhausted. Thankfully the stuff from back home got sorted out so I was able to get some sleep. That is until one of the girls in our dorm room brushed her teeth and somehow left the tap running at three in the morning. Really? Who does that?! To quote the great Empire Records, “What’s with today today?”. Except I would have added a few more “?!?!” afterwards…
I woke up in a better mood than the one I fell asleep in, thank goodness. Two days of shitty driving would have done me in for sure. We said goodbye to Banff, got back onto the Trans-Canada and made our way back west towards Golden.
Not long afterwards we passed a highway sign that I recognized from my Moose tour: Emerald Lake and Natural Bridge. I quickly asked Shannon if she wanted to see something, and without really waiting for her to answer I took the off-ramp towards the two sites. I didn’t want Shannon to miss them, and frankly I wanted to see it all again.
Emerald Lake is absolutely stunning. The mountains are always perfectly mirrored in the still, teal water. You get the same serene affect you’d feel from Lake Louise, but you don’t have to deal with the tourists (except for yourselves, of course).
We followed up the lake with a visit to the natural bridge over Kicking Horse River.
Being here reminded me my first visit with my Moose Mates, and especially of a picture I had captured of a few of them standing on the edge of the river:
Oh, memories 😉
We still had a lot of driving ahead of us before the day was done (Kelowna would be our final stop for the night), but first we were going to visit a place that we’d been gushing over for months — Northern Lights Wolf Centre, just outside of Golden.