Since it's now been more than a month since we returned to Seattle from our honeymoon I figure it is about time I put up a post. What follows is a brief account of the various "adventures" had on our Canadian Rockies Honeymoon.
6/30/14 - Seattle, WA -> Jasper, AB
We were wide awake early in the morning ready to get out of town and begin our adventure. After finishing up our packing and grabbing breakfast we were on the road heading north. The drive was absolutely gorgeous and other than the fact that our air conditioner cut out for about an hour (in 90 degree temps) it was a relatively painless drive. Additionally, after never seeing a bear in my life, I saw three by the side of the road (all alive) in this single day! After a brief stop at Mt. Robson and ~13 hours on the road we arrived at the Alpine Village in Jasper. We checked in and were excited to find maple cookies and chocolate waiting for us. We headed to the local brewery for dinner before sleeping for 12 hours. The combination of a wedding and a long drive certainly did us in.
7/1/14 - Jasper, AB
Canada Day! We were up late and enjoyed breakfast in bed (granola, yogurt, and maple syrup...because Canada). We headed to town to watch the parade, which consisted of children dressed like mounties, real horses, various local floats, firemen, wedding dresses, and national park rangers. It was all over in about 10 minutes. We then decided to get some "adventure" in, so we headed up to the Whistles and took a tram to the top of the mountain...because honeymoon. At the top we were treated to amazing views of Edith Cavell and Robson, as well as various other peaks.
Once we had had our fill we headed back to town, ordered a pizza, and ate dinner while enjoying a glass of wine by the river. After a brief dip in the hot tub and some history channel we headed to Old Fort Point to see the 11:30pm fireworks (the sun sets late in Canada in the summer).
7/2/14 - Jasper, AB
Today we went canoeing on Maligne Lake, had a picnic with a great view, took a nap, and had a fancy dinner where I decided to be old and have a dirty martini and a glass of merlot.
7/3/14 - Jasper, AB -> Banff, AB on the Icefields Parkway
While we were sad to leave the Alpine Village we were excited for some new views along the Icefields Parkway. When we made it to the Icefield itself, we decided to hike up to the base of the glacier and stretch our legs. Sights like these are always beautiful but sad when you realize where the glacier used to be just a few decades ago. After our brief pitstop we quickly headed to Banff and toured the town with an iced green tea in hand. We decided to check out the Fairmont and have a drink on the deck overlooking Mt. Rundle. After finishing up we realized the sky was turning so we quickly walked back to town and chose our dinner spot quickly to avoid getting wet. Overall a beautiful day.
7/4/14 - Banff, AB
Today we decided to up the "adventure" again and do a day hike around Mt. Edith via Cory pass. Ryan insisted on biking to the trailhead and after some convincing I agreed. At first the trail was very hot and strenuous but soon gave way to easier ground and great views. We made lots of noise to ensure we didn't have a bear encounter. We enjoyed a great lunch at the pass and began the descent around the other side. After a brief encounter with 4 goats we were on our way down the talus field back to the forest and done with the hike in 4 hours (not 7 like the ranger had said). We hopped back on our bikes and headed to dinner at The Bison, which had great food (for a steep price). Finally in bed by 11pm.
7/5/14 - Banff, AB
We headed to Moraine lake, mostly to drop off our nice wine at the Post Hotel (for climate control) before heading to the backcountry, but also because we had a small hike in mind before beginning to pack. Sadly, we needed four people by law to do the hike, and while we weren't worried about grizzlies eating us we were worried about the $5,000 fine if we got caught as a party of 2. We tried to convince people it would be the best hike ever but no luck. After walking around the lake instead we headed back to Banff and started the packing process and grocery shopping. We were so much more weight conscious than we have been on previous trips. Success! Headed to dinner at Coyotes, had wine by Vermillion lakes, and went to bed.
7/6/14 - Banff, AB -> Bugaboo Provincial Park, BC
Now it was finally time for the real adventure to begin! After a week of eating, drinking, and lounging, we were ready to rough it a bit (although we still did a lot of eating and lounging as you will see below...because again...honeymoon). We grabbed a breakfast burrito at Coyotes (because it was that tasty the night before) and headed off through Kootenay Park. It wasn't long before we reached the long dirt road that would take us to the Bugaboos. The first views were impressive and intimidating. Upon arrival Ryan jumped out of the car with excitement not realizing this allowed a swarm, like a legit swarm, of mosquitos to enter the car. Realizing his mistake, he jumped back in, killed a few, and we decided to eat our sandwiches in the car. Note to self...when going to a new place always keep the bug spray SUPER handy. After exiting the car we soon located the bug juice and sprayed it EVERYWHERE. On us, on the car, on our pack. We double wrapped the car in chicken wire to ward off the porcupines that are known to eat radiator hoses and began the slog to camp. The trail was steep and we died a little inside. Luckily the weather was mild and the sun stayed behind the clouds. We made it to Kain Hut in ~3 hours and decided to take the extra 30 minutes to make it to Applebee Camp finishing the hardest 3.5 mile hike ever. Not one minute after we had the tent set up the downpour began. Seeing no end in sight we cooked pasta alfredo in the tent and went to bed.
7/7/14 - Bugaboos, BC - West Ridge, Pigeon Spire
Woke up at 5:30am ready to tackle our first objective. We were excited to be welcomed by great views and not a cloud in the sky. We were moving by 7 and made good time to the Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col where we got our first views of Pigeon Spire. Another 1.5 hours and we were to the base of the climb. We roped up and began simulclimbing with speed. It felt good to be moving fast on great rock. Sadly, close to the top we encountered some ice that slowed us down quite a bit. We debated for a long while about how to cross and if we should continue before finally committing. Of course, it wasn't as bad as our heads made us believe it would be. Soon after we were on the summit and pleased we did not decide to bail. We ate a leisurely lunch and rappelled twice before beginning the downclimbing. Although we were slower than we had hoped (mostly because of the ice) we still made it back to camp for Indian food with plenty of light.
7/8/14 - Bugaboos, BC - 1 pitch of McTech Direct and a glacier walk
We decided to go without an alarm and got another 11 hours of sleep, waking up at 8am. The sun was out and almost everyone else had already left camp. We arrived at the base of McTech with little trouble besides Ryan punching a hole in the ice and submerging his foot in icy waters. We roped up and Ryan grunted his way up the hard trad lead. Although we had high hopes for the day, the first pitch worked us and we just weren't feeling it. We decided to rappel and take the long way home. This time my foot got trapped in a big posthole requiring quite a bit of excavation. We were back to camp by 3:30 soaking in the sun and preparing ourselves for some actual adventure the next day.
7/9/14 - Bugaboos, BC - Northeast Buttress, Bugaboo Spire
The alarm went off at 3am as we were determined to make it back to camp before dark. We ate breakfast in under an hour (which is fast for us) and began the 2 hour hike to the Bugaboo-Cresent col. After a bit of debate we settled on the most obvious path of least resistance (not as obvious in the dark as the book made it sound) and began scrambling up sloping ramps and chossy corners. We simuled a small snow patch before reaching pitch 1 at the same time as a group of 3.
Luckily they let us go first and we quickly climbed the first 4 beautiful pitches of exposed 5.7. This was followed by 4-5 easy chimney pitches and a small and sketchy rappel before finally reaching the summit at ~2pm.
The summit was amazing and only about 4-5ft across with sheer drops on either side. The sketchy rappel (that was news to us) allowed the party of 3 to catch us, which came in handy since they had done the descent a few days prior. The Kain route descent was full of rappels in strange directions and difficult route finding. The guidebooks weren't kidding when they said the ascent was less than half the battle. After numerous rappels, downclimbing, and a bit of hiking we were back at the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col. The descent of the steep snow was as slow as it had been 2 days prior and despite my best efforts to face forward a small slip and slide on the upper col kept me with my face to the snow moving inch by inch. We made it back to camp by 10pm (with light to spare), made dinner, and passed out at 11:30pm. Although exhausted, it was great to finally get a real adventure in. The climb was truly a classic and one of my favorite ridge climbs to date.
7/10/14 - Bugaboos, BC - Eastpost Spire and Lounging
Today was another day for sleeping in and we woke up around 8:30am when the sun finally hit our tent and began to bake us. We slowly emerged and began making breakfast while chatting with our new neighbors from NC and our old neighbors Matt Segal and Will Stanhope.
The NC crowd was heading up Eastpost Spire (scramble) and we though that sounded like a great idea. They headed off and we ended up not leaving camp until noon. We were easily at the summit by 12:30, ate lunch, and scrambled back to camp by 1:30pm. Then lounging ensued and it was glorious.
First we were treated to freshly baked cookies and cheesy bread by Matt, we read, we journaled, played chess, and just soaked in the views. It was basically like an afternoon at the beach with better views and no naked people. Soon enough it was time for dinner, followed by a trip to a nearby rock, and bed by 9pm when it got too cold to be outside.
7/11/14 - Bugaboo Provincial Park, BC -> Lake Louise, AB
We woke up early and eager to return to the sweet taste of All Dressed chips. The Bugaboos had been great but it was time to honeymoon again. After a quick breakfast and offloading of some of our remaining food we were off. The descent was much more painless than the ascent and we were back to the car in 2 hours with only 2 breaks. All Dressed chips were waiting and we took the bag down as we began the drive back down the dirt road, Bugaboos fading from sight. Once back to civilization we made a stop at a great coffee shop (Spill Bean) and drove to Lake Louise through Yoho National Park. Finally, we were at the Post Hotel and after a long lecture about how to find our room it was time for a shower. We enjoyed a fondue dinner and watched XMen before falling asleep.
7/12/14 - Lake Louise, AB
Today was another lazy day and we woke up when we felt like it. We ate breakfast at the hotel before making the drive up to the Lake. Upon arrival we took about 5 minutes to check out the views before deciding we'd rather sit on our hotel porch with a bottle of wine. So, we went back to town, picked up some bread and cheese, and did just that. There was also a hot tub and a nap in there somewhere. Dinner was in the Post Hotel dining room and we made it a ~2.5 hour production. At the end of the meal we were also lucky enough to get a tour of the world famous wine cellar. Overall a great day and as Ryan says, "It's all about the dismount." We finished the night with a drink on the lawn as smoke clouds rolled in from the nearby forest fires. Looks like we timed leaving just perfectly.
All in all we had a great mix of relaxation (maybe a majority relaxation) and adventure with just the right level of planning. I know we will be back to the Bugaboos with a bit more of a game face but I could not have asked for a more perfect honeymoon.