Here we are, not yet arrived and already packing again. We are always on the move.
We are just arrived at our new home and get used to the new jet lag and we are ready to leave again, but this time we will not go too far, the Rockies are waiting for us, the canadian rocky mountains, a long week of camping and trekking is in just to begin.
Yesterday we picked Luca up, an old school mate of mine, casually in Calgary too, and we began to prepare our car for the camping: a car so full of stuff. Here in Canada camping culture is totally different, a whole different world, everybody goes camping during the weekend and they are even really well equipped: the family give us a whole bunch of stuff, pots and pans, double camping stove – being given stuff from a big family is a great thing, they have everything – hatchel, tarp, sleeping bags and fleeces, camping mattresses…whatever.
The day before yesterday we had made a little shopping too, only some essential stuff: bear bell, a little bell which you hang to your backpack and rings at every step, so you don’t just walk in front of a bear who, for whatsoever reason, didn’t heard you arriving, and a slinghshot – this has been a little present to myself, I have always wanted a professional one! 😉
We are finally ready, our usual single backpack has switched to a car full of stuff, but the car is full of happiness to and we leave while all the family is out in the garden cheering us and saying hello, after the warm hugs of the kids.
We head south, our final destination is the Waterton Lakes National Park, a smaller park then Banff – that will be the last stop during our roadtrip – on the border with the US – and we still don’t have a visa to enter the US and so we have to be very careful not to enter – but not less interesting though.
We enter highway number 2 towards south, overpass Calgary and decide to make our first change of course: we got some advices about places we must visit, really interesting ones, and the first is just on the route, the Smashed-Head-In Buffalo Jump, a really particular place. In this place, buffalos really jumped headlong down the cliff, pushed by the indians to jump in order not to have to hunt them. This is a place in which the hill one walks on, is made of bones and fallen rocks – we actually talk about meters and meters of material – left here after the hunt.
This is a peculiar place, just near the endless flat, in which one has the feeling of being so small compared to the endless fields and lawns.
We go back to the car and start again, this time we are going directly in the Waterton National Park, we will just have a little stop in one village chose by chance to do our grocery.
We decide, after a Walmart sign is shown – Walmart is a pretty known cheap supermarket chain, really famous in the US and here – to stop in Pincher Creek, a little town built in an old valley carved by a river, really a nice one.
Once we buy food for this night and tomorrow night, just some more hours of driving are awaiting for us.
Once we are almost at the entrance of the par, in the valley of the Waterton National Park, we have to have stop: the landscape is so stunning.
It is now time to enter in the valley, after hours and hours of straight driving we are happy to finally see a changing in the landscape; we moved from the flat yellow prairies to the green fields and now, finally, the mountains are sourrounding us and a green big vallye is opening in front of us, a valley which will lead us to our final destination, the park entrance.
We drive the last kilometers almost in perfect silence, captivated by the magic show that changes meter after meter, when, after the nth turn, we are in front of the entrance of the park: it really is american moie style – as everything actually is – and a cheerful Parks Canada employee – which is the society that manages all canadian national parks and main museums – cheer us in her perfect dark green uniform. She introduces us to the parks and shows us all the different types of tickets to the park: we end up buying a family pass for 136 CAN$ – more or less 100 € – so we will have access granted to all of the parks and some museums.
This one is a pass which give access to a car and up to 7 people inside it and since the single daily ticket costs almost 10CAN$ each, we will pay it off in less than a week, perfect investment!
After the first two turns of this really well mainteined inner road, we can resist to stop in the first park to admire the amazing lake and the Prince of Wales hotel, a really beautiful building in swiss style built on a hill which divides the Middle Lake from the Upper lake.
We stay a lot on this little beach, to take photos and shot with the slingshot – yes, finally! – and just enjoy this amazing place.
Then we head towards the visitors center, from which we would like to have some informations about the campings and the park, but it is already too late, it is closed – it has the usual office working hours, 9 to 5 – and, just while we are parking, a big horn sheep comes up the road, slowly walking in the middle of it and creating a long line of really calm cars behind it.
The guide at the park that was given us when we entered the park is enough to get to the campings and after just passing by the really crowded one in the little townsite of Waterton, we decide to go to the Crandell Campground, a camping plunged in the forest along a river, in the Red Rock Canyon valley, an amazing red canyon, as the name says.
We drive on a mountain road on the bottom of the canyon and we pass on a little bridge made out of wood, so we arrive at the campng entrance….and it is empty.
We are not really sure about what to do, so we just go to the campsites and we just drive in to search for somebody to ask. We find a nice man grilling on the bed of his huge truck near another huge RV. He explains us, while we watch him totally speachless, that here everything is self made: we will find some numbered envelopes and a price list at the entrance and we will just have to take one, write how many we are and our car plate, the campsite number and just close it with the amount due or the credit cards and put it in the postbox at the entrance.
And it is the same for the fire permit, which also includes two bags of wood – all the bags are out in the open, just to be taken from whoever pass by. After paying and taking our wood, we just have to stick the two labels on the pole in front of our campsite and eventually take the credit card back the day after during opening hours. So, you just have complete faith in the other people, I cannot even imagine something similar in Italy…no comment!
We chose our campsite and begin to pitch our tent, the tarp up above to cover us from the rain – the weather is not really good – and we get prepared for our first night and dinner, fried sausages. We better decide not to have our barbecue tonight and do that tomorrow, we are too tired tonight and it is also quite cold, we would not enjoy it fully, so we decide for a beer and a hot chocolate in the city.
We go back to Waterton town while driving really carefully, dusk and night are animals preferred times to suddenly jump out of the forest and we would really like not to ruin our first camping night hitting one of them right head-on, maybe a deer or a bear.
We cheer to us in one of the rare pubs still open at this time, beers for the guys and a hot watery chocolate for me, to celebrate our first camping day.
We are really happy but so tired, so we head on to camping and, almost running to it, we jump head-first in the tent while it begins raining. It will rain almost the whole night, but it doesn’t matter, we are really well equipped and being three in the same tent warm us up.
So goodnight, tomorrow we will have our first canadian treking and we are fairly excited.