We are on the road, the adventure really begins now!
Day 1 from CALGARY to LAKE LOUISE (185 km)
It will be almost ten thousand kilometres, Blue and I aboard this newly finished van, comfortable and beautiful, “very girl” for its finishes in fabrics of flowers and plants on the walls. So we really are three living beings here, a human, a dog and some plants.
I left Calgary at almost 9 p.m., much later than planned, and although I don’t like traveling at night, between last-minute purchases, the baptism of the Van, filling up the deposit Gasoline, my son Daniel’s last instructions on the electrical system and all that little things, I have been late, really late, but I was determined to start this trip on July 1.
When I have started and headed to Lake Louise, the first jewel of the Rockies, right at the first traffic light, has begun to sound “Tajebone”that wonderful song by Ismael Lö and some sweet and liberating tears have swept me away … for leaving my son, whom I have seen only a week, for the adventure itself, for the tension of the last days preparing the van for the race, because I am crazy, absolutely and irresponsibly crazy to start this trip at night, raining and with a car that I barely control, but I wanted to wake up in the Rockies.
It rains heavy through the highway, I am not yet familiar with the wiper controls, there are hardly any cars on the road and although it is almost eleven at night and there should be a pale sun still in the sky, it is closed night.
My plan was to sleep at Mosquito Creek, the first place I slept two years ago in the Rockies. When I turn the detour to the Icefield Parkway, which is already a two-way road, narrow and dark, I am about to turn around; The night is difficult and it seems that there is mud on all the detours, even so I continue walking a few more kilometers, until finally, in a stretch without curves, I decide to go around and return.
I recognize the fear, I assume it and put “wheels in dusty” towards Lake Louise, to spend this first night of flood to a somewhat more civilized place.
There is a shopping center right at the entrance, quite a few cars parked and all businesses already closed, so I settle in and get ready to spend my first night alone. As the nerves and anguish of these first kilometers have left me exhausted, I take a huge bowl of hot milk with cereals and sleep in this very comfortable bed.
Blue stands at my feet and falls asleep, I guess he also accuses the nerves of the day.
Day 2 from LAKE LOUISE to MOUNT ROBSON (258 Km)
¡We are on the Rocky!
A shy sunny day dawns, small drops of dew cover the branches of the nearby trees, the grass of a rabid green shines in the morning light, smells like forest, a pair of squirrels rise and fall down the trunks of the pines and a soft haze covers the top of the mountains. Breakfast in front of this landscape is a gift. The entrance to the Rockies, one of the most beautiful places in the world, says good morning.
Blue is a happy puppy, he shoots out of the van, the squirrels seem to play to provoke him, they descend, run around in front of him and when he approaches, they climb with that enviable agility to the highest branches. From the way he sniffs the air and looks at me, I understand that he is enjoying our first day of adventure.
It’s already ten o’clock in the morning, the mist has dissipated and above, over the valley, the imposing mountain peaks are cut against the sky. I had already travelled these places, even so, so much beauty overwhelms me.
We started on the way to the Bow Lake, that beautiful lake, which forms the Bow River, which I already know well and that I have sailed in Calgary. There are hundreds of tourists, mostly Asian and Pakistani. The car parks that line the lake are full of cars, the edges of the lake scalloped in deep pink by the flowers of the fireweed, the mountains look proud in the transparent waters of the lake, and the world seems a better place … Although too inhabited.
These three hundred kilometers, where it seems to have concentrated all the beauty that fits in the world, are also the most visited, the most tourist, but if you get away just three hundred meters from the car, if you walk more than ten minutes, you leave behind the agglomeration of tourists. I read an article about the behavior of tourists in the Rockies where it was indicated that 90% do not move away from their car beyond 100 meters. They arrive at the place, get off, take some pictures and continue on their way.
I, today, have acted as that 90% of tourists. Son paisajes que ya conozco y me abruma tanta gente. Incredible in someone who comes from a city like Madrid, who lives in Lavapies, and yet I come looking for just that: loneliness and clean landscapes.
A long stop in front of the Athabasca Glacierthat glacier that I have already traveled and that gives me an ambiguous feeling: on the one hand it is of immense beauty and observing the retreat of the glacier in recent years (marking on the edges the place that occupied the ice) is worrying, but on the other side, it is a “prostituted” glacier: there are caterpillar vehicles, the Ice Explorer that take tourists to the middle of the glacier, which means enormous pressure on the natural environment, which leads to deterioration of the place. Being able to step on a glacier is something we all dream of, doing it half an hour walking from the parking lot, a luxury. If you already pay the $ 103 of the Ice Explorer, you just have to walk directly on the ice.
I was preparing a salad when Blue started playing with a girl who was in the near van. Some Brazilians who were touring the Rockies, lovely people, prepared a marinated chicken on a portable barbecue. They invited me to eat with them, we talked, we drank coffee, we commented on the wonderful landscape that surrounded us, we talked about Brazil and its forests deforested by greed, the enormous tourist pressure of this glacier, how beautiful it is to travel like this, in a van, stop where you want, sleep next to transparent streams, enchanted forests …
I continue on my way to Saskatchewan River Crossing, known as “The Crossing”, at the confluence of the Saskatchewan, Howse and Mistaya rivers, the only crossing point of these immense rivers, used by travellers and fur traders, aided by the knowledge of the indigenous people of the region. In a beautiful viewpoint over the river, with explanatory posters about the past of this area, you can easily imagine those caravans of carts of the adventurers who crossed the region. Imagine crossing them in summer, despite the riverbed, is already a feat. Throughout the winter, with a sea of ice around, although perhaps it was an easier company, without the clothes, the coats, the current mountain equipment, it seems to me of immense heroism.
It is almost impossible to drive on this road without finding a traffic jam. Jam is always the same as bear. The cars stop on the shoulder, the buses directly stop in the middle of the road, the hundreds of clicks of the cameras on a bear, almost always black, that quietly runs through “its” forest. The Rangers of Banff National Park do not take long to appear, deter people from getting out of the car and approaching the bear, it is still a wild animal that can attack at any time, and of course so many people really disturb that being free. Gradually the jam dissolves. Till the next bear
Stop in Jasper to buy a plug converter, I had forgotten that I also have to charge the camera and I don’t have a converter. This small town is a beautiful place, wooden houses surrounded by flowers, a huge train station, restaurants, shops and supermarkets, and lots of tourists. It is the “end” of the impressive Rockies, and a must-stop place.
I do not want to spend the night in a city, so as there are still a few hours of sun, after a while walking through the civilized lakes Anette and Edith, where they force me to take Blue on a leash and it is forbidden for dogs to walk the sand on the edge of the lake, we continue on my way.
At dusk, after some beautiful kilometres of immense forests, we reach the immediate vicinity of Mount Robson. A soft rain has begun to fall, the clouds have taken over the sky and it is cool. I pause for a while at the entrance of the National Park, while consulting the map. Blue runs around the huge almost empty parking lot. A boy approaches me and asks me if I have something to do with poetry, which has been following me for a long time to see if I stop, because the sticker that covers my “travellingpoems” van has caught my attention. He is also a Brazilian, a poet and a Northern Lights hunter, he works in a very luxurious private campsite a couple of minutes from here. He offers me to spend the night at the campsite, for free, of course.
I prepare a rice and chicken soup for dinner, a glass of wine and see how the night is taking over this beautiful place while Blue sniffs and runs around. After a while the boy, Cristiano, appears and we talk during hours of poetry, of Northern Lights, of the magic of these mountains. Here, he tells me, there are not so many tourists, there are many mountaineers and spectacular hiking trails. I take good note of your kind directions, on the way back to Calgary, I will spend a couple of days here.
I’m getting acquainted with the van, I’m putting things in a more orderly way, I feel comfortable in this, my little house for two months.
I’m out of Alberta and now I’m at Beautiful British Columbia.
How beautiful everything is, for the goddesses!