I have been travelling the Rockies with my son and his girlfriend in recent days, fulfilling my dad’s dream of touring the Canadian Rockies. I must have been about ten years old when he shared this dream with me, and it was a big dream. Living in the UK and venturing as far as Cornwall from London was a huge deal back then so the idea of actually going ‘overseas’ thrilled me. Little did I know that it would be my move to Canada that would see the dream come to fruition, but not for him. I’ve sent my dad photos and video of our trip but nothing does it justice, and sadly, he’ll never do the trip now.
There have been a thousand ‘wow’ moments. Every bend in the road offered up a new and more amazing sight, immense mountains, fantastic cloud formations, pristine glacial lakes and waterfalls, brilliant flora and fauna, and incredible wildlife. The Rockies truly are awe-inspiring. It is more than a little humbling to remember that the mountain range is a ‘wilderness’ and that there are many things that can kill you – and I’m not just talking about the cougars and the grizzlies or the elk, caribou, deer and moose that threaten to leap across the road at any given moment.
The landscape is both breathtaking and unforgiving. It is majestic and should be respected and you have to be prepared for changes in the weather, wildlife traffic crossing the highway and slowing down a gear or two in general.
A story in the local newspaper reminded us of the wildness of this region - a young man fell in Bow Valley, near Banff, a few days before we arrived, climbing the scree – as other hikers went to his aid rocks fell striking them and him, and he died of his injuries. A few days later, along the Icefield Parkway to Jasper we stood looking out toward the Columbia Icefield Glacier wondering if it was right to run tourist buses over it. Arriving in Jasper we heard that the off-road tour vehicle taking sightseers across the glacier had lost control and rolled down the mountain killing 3 and injuring many of the other passengers.
Whilst some sightseeing destinations like Lake Louise appear to be all ice cream and flip-flops – the car park was jammed full even during the pandemic, and, yes, people really were in heels – The Rockies remain in charge.