I went to Banff for one week and obviously that is my new identity. I’m like the girl who studied abroad and transformed into that caprese salad her host mom made that one time. Okay… also me but in my defense that balsamic glaze would make anyone weep tears of joy.
Anyway… back to my point of this post. My brother and I hopped on plane and headed over to the beautiful land of Alberta. I attempted to make one post summing it up like I did for the Porter Maine Trip but I realized quickly I had way too much to say. As a result, let’s start with day one: Johnston Canyon and Moraine Lake.
Flying To Canada During a Pandemic
Okay first thing is first: how the heck do you get to and from Canada right now? When I went, it was the second week of October and it required a whole lot of patience and perseverance. Now depending on when you’re reading this, things may have ~hopefully~ changed for the better. However, when we went… there were a few hoops:
- PCR Test (to go): Before you go, you have to have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of your flight. I was so nervous about my test results not coming back in time so I actually scheduled an appointment at CVS and at Walgreens. The CVS test was much quicker but in reality I would have been fine just getting one test. Better safe than sorry! On one of my flights they wouldn’t let someone on because her PCR test results weren’t back in time.
- ArriveCan App: 72 hours before your flight, you’ll be able to upload all of your information on the ArriveCan app. This is super easy and self explanatory. Customs will make sure you have this filled out when you arrive.
- Vaccination: Must be fully vaccinated in order to go over to Canada. You will have to show this card everywhere.
- Rapid Test (to get home): To go back to the states, we were required to take a rapid test 72 hours before our flight home. I went to a pharmacy in Banff, paid $40 CAD, and was on my merry way.
For more information on how this is changing make sure you visit Canada’s Website. But back to the good stuff…
Johnston Canyon: Start Off Easy
Day one started out with beautiful clear skies and a whole lot of will power to get everything done. Before Andrew flew in, I decided to get a quick hike in. I headed about 30 minutes north to tackle Johnston Canyon. This is a very simple hike that has these fun walkways that scale the outer rocks. There are two big falls that most people go to – Upper Falls and Lower Falls. When you walk the trail, you’ll see Lower Falls first and get to go through a cave to see the opening. If you keep going, you’ll not only see prettier views but you’ll end up at Upper Falls.
If you want to see a big, freestanding bolder (you’ll see many pictures of this on Pinterest) you actually need to trespass an area between the two falls. Since it was day one, I wasn’t willing to get in trouble. Regardless, Johnston Canyon is definitely worth seeing. I recommend putting this at the start or end of your trip because it can be either an easy warm up or a perfect closer.
Moraine Lake: A Stick Saved Our Life
After Johnston Canyon I drove the hour to pick up Andrew and then headed right back to Moraine Lake. While I was at Johnston Canyon, I met a man who told me Moraine Lake closed early. For some insane reasoning, Andrew and I shrugged our shoulders and went anyway. It was around 4pm when we got there and the road was closed… but that didn’t stop us. We parked in another hiking trail spot just up the road and started hiking. At first we thought it was just a couple miles… and then that couple miles turned into a 16 mile loop. We ended up getting to Moraine Lake just as the sun was setting.
The coolest part? Andrew and I were the only ones there (well… us and a guy getting ready to take pictures of the northern lights). Mind you this is an extremely popular lake, if not the most popular lake in the area. It was extremely cool to see her in all her glory all by ourselves. Honestly, the pictures really do not to it justice.
After we took in the beauty we had to walk… 3 hours in the dark (I can see my dad shaking his head as I type this). It was scary to say the least. We hadn’t bought bear mace yet (mistake one) and we were starving (mistake two). Andrew ended up finding a stick and dragged it on the ground to scare away any animal that might be near. We were also shouting and joking the whole three hours – just trying to make as much noise as possible. Andrew allegedly saw a mountain lion when we were walking back. Let’s just say… we’re extremely lucky we didn’t come across anything.
When we finally got back to our rental car, we drove an hour to the Banff Springs Fairmont. We then shoved food down our throats and were lucky enough to see the northern lights. Stay tuned for day two…
A Few Things I Wish I Knew From Day One:
- Buy bear mace first thing
- Add +3 miles for every hike you think you’re going to do
- If Moraine lake is closed and you still want to hike it, go as early as possible so you don’t have to walk in the dark.
- If you do Moraine Lake or Lake Louise book the hotel at the Deer Lodge or in Lake Louise instead of going back to Banff. You’ll save yourself a ton of time.
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