Written by Jerrica
We hit up Banff starting on August 16th. Unfortunately it wasn’t a great time to be there because it was so dang smokey from the wildfires in BC. The first thing we did was Johnston Canyon Falls. It was crowded, but beautiful. We practically walked in a line until we got past the falls, then the crowd thinned out and we were able to run up to the Ink Pots. It was worth the little jaunt up there away from the crowds and the Ink Pots were pretty cool.
The camped at the Lake Louise overflow parking for $10 CAD, first time we've paid for camping so far. We cooked a good meal for ourselves in a parking lot of RVs and vans. The shuttle to Lake Louise picks up at the parking lot, so we hopped on the first shuttle the next morning and hit Lake Louise early, trying to beat the crowds. We did the hike up to Plain of Six Glaciers. We got a decent view out from Lake Louise before we headed out on our hike, but it got more and more smokey as the day went on. By the time we were at the top, visibility was poor and we really couldn’t see much of anything. We hit up Agnes Lake on the way back to the bottom.
After Lake Louise we headed for Takakkaw Falls. The falls leads into the Yoho River and Kevin got the idea in his head that we should roll out our duckie and hit the river. I was nervous because the river was pretty wild, and because I didn’t want to break any rules. I am truly annoying when it comes to rule-following. We drove downriver looking for places safe enough to put on, and after much back and forth, I finally caved. We found a reasonably wild section to raft. It was short, but we definitely had a good ride. I road in front and I felt like I could barely take a breath for the full 1.5/2 ish miles of the river because the rapids were so continuous.
That night we found an awesome camp spot on the Kicking Horse River. I think we were technically in Yoho National Park at this point.
The next day we took our duckie down the Kicking Horse. This stretch of river was also awesome. We were told by a local to look out for Portage Shotgun rapid and scout it before running it. The guy gave us a description of how to find the rapid but his description wasn’t really matching up with the features on the river. Long story short, we ran the rapid without scouting it. No matter because it was awesome. We actually tipped and swam the rapid before Portage Shotgun which, again, was no big deal. We have dry suits so we are prepared for cold water. Portage Shotgun came up pretty fast and Kev navigated us through it like a champ. I think we were both pretty amazed that we stayed upright through the whole thing.
We actually didn’t hang out in Banff/Jasper as long as we would have liked. We were only there a few days and we realize we could have spend a ton of time there. It’s frustrating not being able to see everything we want to see. Sometimes we need to get real with ourselves and realize that a year really isn’t that long of a time if we are trying to make it all the way to South America. It was also incredibly smoky throughout Banff and Jasper which was putting a damper on a lot of the big things we wanted to see.