Wild in Whistler, Blisters in Banff

Trip Start Jun 01, 2002
Trip End Sep 11, 2007

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Flag of Canada  ,
Monday, May 19, 2003

Travel Tip 143: Before attempting to complete a 14 hour bus trip from Vancouver to Bannf, ensure you complete a 2 year advance course in YOGA - you will then be able to manipulate yourself into a postion to ensure some sleep is achieved!!

Afternoon all

Well here I am in old land of Banff after an amazing day hiking up through Spray River with the emerald green waters beside you pretty amazing!! But before I get into story time can someone tell me why someone put the word Bliss in Blister because when you have two the size of 50 cent pieces it ain't BLISS!!

So with a sad farewell from Vancouver, the boys decided that a trip to Whistler was in call and being only 2 hours away quite achievable. The goal was to hook up with a bus tour that heads east the next day, but we later found out that it was booked full for the next 4 days - so independant travel was in call.

With a very smooth trip up the mountain we arrive at Whistler and decided on lodgings at the Shoestring Hostel which as a bar beside it (which apparently turns into a strip joint mid week)!! So once we worked out where it was we walk towards it and you would not believe who is on the side of the road looking for something to eat but Mr Baby Black Bear!!

How is that for wildlife at your doorstop, so we drop our gear and take a couple of shots of Mr Bear, who is completely oblivioious to the crowd that has gathered now... This leads me onto telling you that this country is Bear Crazy, there are protective rubbish bins so they cannot get in, there is Bear Spray, Bear Bells, Bear everything to ensure that you are protected... it is a different way of life.. But I just need to laugh, you think you have it tough Mr Canadians, we (Australia) have 10 most deadlist things in the world and one of them will bite you while you are sitting on the toilet - now that is something to worry about.

Next day I decide to go for a hike and cannot interest anyone else to accompany me, so I pack my pack which contains 2 litres of water, 2 mars bars, apple, pocket knife and camera equipment and I am off. Off to where not really sure, so a quick call into the Visitor info office where I am given a map of the area (the map turns out to be absoultely useless when you want to get off-road and go walking).

I decide on my desination and jump on the bus and ask him if he goes to Function Junction - "take you nearly there you can walk the rest if you are up for it" - up for it, do you think I walk around like this all the time - of course I am. So pay my buck fifty and i am on my way.

As I am the only person on the bus, the driver tells me of bear stories (of course) for the next 20 mins. "They can smell fear" he says, I am thinking if I see a bear the only thing they will be smelling will be me shitting my pants...!

"Here we are" he states as I look around and have no frickn idea where we are. Follow the train tracks down for about 2 mile and you will come to a village where you will see the trial start - he says with a smile. Oh by the way the train tracks are active.... be a bit careful. He drives off!

Images of the movie "Stand By Me" are going through my brain, the kids on the train tracks who have to run away as the train comes... anyway I get freaked out and climb down to an accompaning path - that is better! 5 minutes later a train zooms past and I breath a sigh of relief...

I find the town and eventually find the trial - look at more of the signs stressing that this is bear country etc etc.. Ahh who cares I have my pocket knife on me.. ;-) I take a depth breath and walk into the forest. Absoutley amazing, with the sun shut out and streaks of light hitting the path and moss covered rocks it is absoulte bliss (not blister yet).

I had been hiking for about 2 hours and had not seen a single sole, this is great I think as I unpack my gear for another photo opportunity. All of sudden I hear something to my right, was that footsteps in the bush, I look around a full 360 and cannot see anything? Ah just my imagination I think.. being in bear country is starting to get too me... I continue to setup up my tripod etc when I hear rustling coming from the bushes across from me - Oh Shit!! I look back (are you ready for it).....

Out of the bushes this animal comes out - is it black or brown fur or both - not sure, I can't tell because the blood is being drained out of my head at a rate of 100 litres a second, it is bigger than me as I am sitting on the ground - I freeze not sure what to do and then it comes clear I am being attacked/licked by a big frickn St Bearnard dog for Christ Sake. "Max - Max get off him" yells the owner.... "Sorry mate he says and carries on with his beast beside him" - SORRY, I will give you sorry as the colour comes back into my face - oh to be a fly on the wall at the moment, I must have looked very stupid...

Once my legs are back I soldier on and do not see the beast again! The weather is perfect out here and as I am walking alone you do a lot of thinking - you know think of home, friends, family etc and then once you finish the logicial thinking you start thinking weird things - What would I do if I saw a bear now? Do you think I could attack it with my pocket knife? Would I take a photo of it? Do you think it would not eat me if I offered it my apple and mars bar...

As my brain goes to never never land, out of nowhere there is a suspension bridge (one of those ones that sway in the wind) and the best thing is that there is no one around! So i get the bridge all to myself, I sit on it, run over it take photos of me on the bridge (self timers are cool things) and just hang there - me and the bridge - Indiana Jones style. I get bored and move on.

I decide to head back on the east side of the river for something different (bad move) I walk and walk and walk, nothing looks familar, I get to areas where the trial forks off into different areas - do I flip a coin or go with gut? Go with gut. It is getting late and still nothing looks familar!! Perhaps I should have told someone where I was going I think?

Then the familar "Bear Warning" sign come in sight and once again my confidence hits the roof. Hah that was easy....

Now this is where the story gets weird, because where I was about 8 km out of the villiage I would put my thumb out and get a ride. 5 cars past, 10 cars past and then one stops... bingo! I run up the and open the door and in front of me is this woman wearing hotpants, singet and a Kangol hat thing she looked like something out of a madonna film clip!! Whistler I say - sure she says.

I jump in and she turns the volume of the music down to a level that we can hear each other. She askes me if I know an address and shows me "Shoestring Lodge" I look at her then look at the paper and then remember the thing about the bar and realise I have been picked up by a STRIPPER. The boys will not beleive this!! So what do you talk about to a stripper - do you need to polish the pole before you go on? How many hours a week do you practise, how much money do you make (that was a question to find out if I should start a new carrer)...

We end up having a few beers at the pub and when Chris walks in and see's the flyer on the table and then looks up and sees her - the look on his face is priceless. We part and she says something along the lines of "catch you later tonight...... hmmmm not sure about that one!

So after visiting my friend that night (had to be done) I decide that it is time to move on and head up towards Banff and that means 14 hours on a bus. A sad farewell from the boys (not really) and I am on the bus as sunset falls. The ride up is amazing and even though it is quite uncomfortable - well depends, if you compare it to the 13 hours in Egypt on a broken school bus this is like riding in a limo.

Scenery is breathing taking and with stops every couple of hours it is not too bad. I think I mastered about 2 hours sleep for the journey and the most amazing thing was seeing the sun come up over ther rockies - quite impressive.

The rockies itself are stunning, personally they are nothing like the Himalayas but they are different (if you know what I mean) they are more personal and they just hug the roads - hard to put in words and I am sure I will bore you to death when I return about it. As I arrive into Banff at 7am and my check in is not until 3pm, I walk into the hostel and ask for shower. For anyone (male and female) who has had the unfortunate opportunity to wake up next to me in bed will know that I am not the best person in the world in the morning!! But after a long shower I am off to explore and drink 3 litires of coffee to stay awake.

After wondering the strets for a couple of hours all I can say is Banff is very cute and I look forward to exploring this little town and hopefully share a story or two with you!

Until then enjoy!!

Jay xx
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