Overlooking Osoyoos

Overlooking Osoyoos
Overlooking Osoyoos

Monday, 22 September 2014

Home again

Coming home at the end of an adventure is always fraught with mixed feelings, and given that I usually struggle to readjust to my weekday life after a weekend's hiking in the mountains, my first full day at home following 6 months of adventure is proving tricky.
I feel sad, lazy, relieved, exhausted, dispirited and selfish. The jetlag is giving me a horrible tiredness behind my eyes.
On my flight back, I was excited to get on with all kinds of things - I even made a big long list! But I can't really be bothered with any of it yet. I know I'm prone to wallowing in self-pity, but I also know that I'll come out the other side of my wallow with an abundance of enthusiasm for whatever it is I decide to do next.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few things I learned on my trip, in no particular order...

1. I keep waiting to grow up and become an adult. I have decided that my idea of an adult (someone who is in control of their own destiny, content with their choices and knows their purpose in life) is a child's idea of an adult, which is a lie. I have sort of known this for some time - I remember lamenting my failed entry to adulthood when I turned 21 - but now that I'm 26, I think I have to start accepting it. I'm not yet sure about how I feel about the fact that I'm never going to grow up.
Incidentally, my Dad has tried to impart his knowledge on the matter for some years, but I guess there are some things you need to find out the hard way.

2. Going on an adventure is a scary thought. Being on an adventure is not.

3. Whilst you're adventuring, the thought of coming home is scary. Being home is not scary.

4. There are a lot of problems with the world, which means there are too many good causes to fight for! How does one decide whether to be a philanthropist or environmentalist, whether to fight for social justice, human rights or prevention of animal cruelty, whether to join a cause or start one, whether to use your time or your money to do so? Objectively, I think that the choice of cause, the method and scale of impact are all irrelevant, as long as you're doing something to change the world for the better. Having said that, I know I'm probably going to spend a lifetime trying to chose the 'right' path for myself. Who knew that being a good person was such a selfish thing to do? (Probably Dawkins and a bunch of other philosophers.)

5. My experience has been that most people are good, caring, lovely people who will go out of their way to help you if they can. I think the reason that there are so many people in the world who need help but aren't getting it because there are so many of them! If you know that one person needs your help, you can give it; if there's a queue of a thousand on your doorstep, you are more likely to turn a blind eye because the scale of the problem is too overwhelming.

6. Travelling gives you perspective. The world is as big or as small as you make it for yourself and you can think of your own achievements and experiences as important or insignificant because they are both.

7. You don't realise that you've learned anything at all on your travels until your adventure is over. 

8. You can do whatever you want to do if you put your mind to it. And you definitely should!

9. I resisted the urge to stretch this list out to ten items but have yet to figure out the significance of that fact.

Thursday, 18 September 2014


We spent a fun evening in the lounge of our rental flat with beer and pizza in front of the live Canadian news coverage of the Scottish referendum. Thankfully the UK remains united! A yes vote would have guaranteed a fun shake-up of British politics, but hopefully there will still be some positive changes following the no vote...

Rockies to Calgary

Today we went for a short guided walk in the morning to see the Larch Valley near Moraine Lake. The larch trees are all a gorgeous vivid yellow - they're the only 'evergreen' tree to loose its leaves in winter. It was a bit drizzly but a lovely walk and our last look at the mountains before driving to Calgary for the last few days of the trip!

Waterfall day

On our last full day, we did a hike from Takakka Falls, not far from our cabin. The falls are the second highest in Canada and very impressive - a torrent of water tumbling down a barren rock face, fed from a glacier above.

After a good view of Takakka, we headed up the valley, following Yoho River upstream. It was a gorgeous woodland walk and we stopped at waterfall viewpoints along the way. In such a small valley, there was a lot of variety in the waterfalls! Some were spilling over rock faces, others carving gorges and one making a watery stairway.

Lake Louise

Canoe and hike

We thought we'd have an easy day to rest our legs, so went to Moraine Lake and borrowed canoes. It was 10am and the sun was still behind the mountains so it was freezing! We paddled to the other side of the lake to warm up, then the sun came up and it was gorgeous. There were incredible peaks all around and the lake was so blue! We stayed out for over an hour, looking at the views, enjoying the calm and occasionally arguing about how to steer.

Then we drove to Lake Louise, the most famous of the Rockies' lakes. Of course it was packed. There's a hideous monstrosity of a Fairmont hotel on the lakeshore, where we had a tasty lunch with a view. Then we decided to go for a walk.

We set off around the lake at 2.30pm with the sun beating down on us. The lake and surrounding mountains are amazing and we walked past gigantic fallen rocks and huge cliff faces, on a busy but not over-crowded path.

Then came the uphill section. It was mostly exposed all the way up and it was so hot in the sun! We could see glaciers and rocky mountains and lovely rivers from the trail, which were beautiful, but I was overheating a bit much to fully enjoy it. Eventually we made it to the tea house at the end of the valley and had lemonade and pie in the shade, ahhhh. Then it was after 4.30 and cooler and we had an enjoyable descent but were knackered again at the end! We definitely earned a beer over dinner. 

Rocky Mountain adventure

On our first full day, we drove to Emerald Lake for a walk. The weather was beautiful and the car park at the lake was busy. The start of the walk around the lake was full of fancy-clad bus tourists, but once we got off the paved section and onto the trail, there were only a few others around. At the far end of the lake, we headed up into one of the valleys - Emerald Basin. The trial went uphill alongside a river and ended where the river could be seen pouring down the rock faces of the mountain ahead. 

We were out of the trees in the sun and walked over the rocky moraines and dry river beds to the bottom of the falls. It was a spectacular sight but we were starting to bake in the afternoon heat so headed back down.

By the time we got back to the lake, we were pretty knackered and by the time we got back to the car, we were all staggering a little and Mum was in hobble mode! Back for showers, dinner and bed.