Canada is awesome. Jasper National Park is awesome. The Icefields are awesome. I cannot believe that I get to live here, it is incredible and an absolute adventure playground. There is so much to do and see at my door step.
For example, Tuesday 15th May was my birthday and I really wanted to climb a certain place that I had been eyeing off since I got here. It's called "Pride Rock" - for those of you who follow my Instagram, you will have already seen pictures and heard a little bit about this. (if you don't follow me...@benwaugh)
Pride Rock is the mountain that perfectly overlooks the Ice Palace where we live, and it has an amazing viewing point over the Sunwapta Valley. Everyday at breakfast when I look out the window this is the hike I see and now I can finally say I've done it!
So on Tuesday morning at 7:30am the hike began, it was too early for lots of people, so only two people and one beautiful dog came along for the hike. Sometimes a small group is great to hike with though, it's quieter so you get to enjoy the peace and quiet, the mountains and the view more. The climb wasn't too difficult and produced some gorgeous views, and we were super lucky and mother nature provided us with the most amazing weather.
Around half way up we were greeted by a large group of Big Horn Sheep who were very inquisitive. While they were a little scared of us, especially having a dog, they did cautiously creep up on us and follow us up the hill a little. But they stayed still long enough for me to get some photos, which they usually don't do.
As we approached the top, Ness (who owns the beautiful Labrador, Ted) waited with Ted at the base of the final climb because coming back down a steep slope made of loose rock and shale with an excited dog isn't the safest descent. Tim (my roommate) proceeded to climb higher with me before deciding that my method of climbing and the route I chose to take was stupid and decided to watch me from a safe distance.
Me being me, decided that instead of going up the steep slope of snow, I would climb straight up the rock face with my 7kg backpack full of camera gear, hiking supplies and......coffee. (I know the coffee seems unnecessary but it's one of the most crucial parts) But I am always up for a challenge, and getting to the top was the entire goal for the morning. So I climbed up, it wasn't as sketchy as I was expecting which was a pleasant surprise, not too much loose rock or dirt. The climb up was just under 2hrs, which I am planning to beat next time...
Once I was at the top, I was blown away by the beauty of the area, the peace and silence of the mountains and it was simply amazing. I took off my backpack, sat down on the edge of the cliff, dangled my legs over the edge. As I sat there, I pulled out my coffee and poured myself a cup and took in the view.
After a while of chilling out, taking some photos and just enjoying my time up there, I decided to make my descent. The climb down was much shorter, only around an hour and a half to get back down to the bottom (there was a lot of sliding and getting pulled down the slope by Ted).
After our hike, we all chilled out for a few hours before all of us got sick on wasting the day inside. So we decided to go on another hike!
This time we got in the car and drove around 1 hour down the road to begin out hike for "Siffleur Falls". This was a pretty flat hike, just under 10kms return through a forest area with a few river crossings. It was a beautiful warm afternoon, and hiking through the forest was a really nice change to hiking mountains in the snow. At the end of the trail we were greeted by a fast flowing waterfall that rushed loudly through the stone valley. The water temperature was perfect, but the water was flowing a little too strong and fast to be able to swim in it safely.
Afterwards we made our way back to the "Palace" enjoyed a well earned dinner and then absolutely crashed for the night. After all the hiking, walking and sunshine, we all needed a good sleep! I somehow managed to not get burnt at all that day which I was super thankful for.
All in all, an awesome birthday, great company, and epic views.