They’ve got trees and mooses and sled dogs, lots of lumber and lumber jacks and logs!

Our adventure in the maple-leaf state began with a grizzly bear soon after the border. Aaron could have leaned out the passenger window and pet it, but he didn’t.

We got to Calgary and had some Canadian-Thai fusion cuisine: poutine with massaman sauce.

Our Airbnb was a wonderful, dry room and gave us a fantastic break from the elements. Our sleeping bags had a chance to dry out after the previous rain storm.

For breakfast we went to the Canada-famous Tim Hortons and had delicious donuts and terrible coffee. 15% of Canadians get coffee here every day so they will be ecstatic when Starbucks moves in. We also got Canadian whiskey with Canada Dry Gingerale so I think we are hitting our targets. On the way out we will look for maple syrup and milk in a bag.

The Rocky Mountains filled the horizon as we approached the park. A ranger told us that it had snowed the previous night, but when I asked if the roads had been cleared, she looked at me like I was from southern California. She explained that it had melted and the roads were fine.

We stayed at Two Jack Campground near Lake Minnewanka and began our stay with a hike around the lake. We saw three mountain goats and a fox nearly nipped our ankles.

Day two we drove to Lake Louise to see the famous lake. Its fame made it crowded, so we took the overflow shuttle to the main site 12 kilometers away. As soon as we started, a bear sign told us the area was closed. We conferred with some other hikers and decided to look for an alternate path a bit down the trail. We easily found our original trail and began the hike. We chatted with the other two hikers and quickly became friends, and we decided to spend the next six hours hiking together. It’s so much fun to meet people like that and to immediately bond over faith, books and travel. I’m really glad we met Jamie and Erin. If our paths don’t cross again, I hope we meet friends just like them in the future.

We hiked a few different branching trails, but the early season made some quite risky. Avalanches, washed out trails and waste-high snow made it a bit dangerous to pass. I think we made wise decisions about which trails to pursue and which to abandon. Our final stop was a teahouse near Six Glaciers and it reminded us of the Nepalese teahouses. The staff told us that their supplies were delivered by helicopter.

After coffee we looked at the time and the distance back. There was no way we would catch the final shuttle. I love trail running, so I volunteered to run back and catch the shuttle and be our own shuttle to the distant parking lot. I haven’t run since Switzerland, but my paranoia of letting down the team and stranding us pushed me on. I made it to the final shuttle with ten minutes to spare.

The sun didn’t come out much for the next two days, but we still got in a decent amount of hiking. Our final day we desperately needed a shower so we went to the Banff pool to swim and shower. The sun came out in glory for our final drive through the park. If the winters weren’t so scary, I might move here. This is the most beautiful place I have ever seen.

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