After a busy few months we had an opening in our schedules to take a personal trip in late July, so we jumped on it. With little deliberation, we packed up the Toyota and began the journey west with the Canadian Rockies in mind as our final destination. With a solid 4 weeks to explore, we knew we would want to devote most of that to the West, so we booked it out to Montana in just two days. Just when all seemed to be going smoothly, we noticed the transmission was leaking oil from the bellhousing just outside of Billings, MT. Of course it wouldn’t be a real adventure without some sort of vehicular obstacles to get through!  After running around to every transmission shop in town with one rejection after another, we were just about ready to give up and limp the truck to Bozeman in hopes of finding someone who would work on a Toyota with a manual transmission. As luck would have it, one last attempt and the super heroes at ABC Advanced Automotive came to our rescue. We were able to drop the truck for the night, pitch up in a hotel across the street and pick up where we left off on our journey north the very next day. Sometimes, those moments of despair really help you realize just how good things can really be…once you’re back on the road anyway.

Thanks to a tip from our friends at the shop, we headed south along the Beartooth Highway into Northern Wyoming to stretch our legs hiking and skateboarding along one of the most beautiful stretches of road we’ve seen in the USA. Maybe the best part was that, eventually, the winding road lead us to Yellowstone National Park. We had been there before, but took the opportunity to pass through on our way up to Bozeman. After a day or two we made our way through the most extreme hale storm in Bozeman, and a delicious dinner at Blackbird Kitchen. From there we were on our way north through the golden fields and turquoise rivers of Northwestern Montana. In search of a place to swim in the blazing heat, we came across the stunning Dickey Lake. Exploring the backroads for the perfect place to fish and take a dip we also found a secluded place to camp for the night with the turquoise waters lapping just below the tailgate of the truck. 

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We had planned to visit Glacier National Park before crossing the border into Canada, but news of a nasty wild fire forced us to reconsider. We decided to head north from Dickey Lake, straight into British Columbia hoping we might have the chance to see Glacier on our route back home. Our first destination in Canada was Kananaskis Country, just south of Banff. Eager to get to know the area, we jumped right in with a grueling 16km hike in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. We hadn’t planned on such an intense start but it was well worth it when we reached the summit. We found a beautiful spot alongside a river to spend the night fishing and cooking but after a quick shower, we noticed a ranger approaching. Quickly throwing clothes on, we were able to dress in time to have a very friendly chat with the local ranger who told us that we weren’t allowed to stay. Luckily he was the nicest person ever (a common trend in Canada) and let us go with a warning. Desperate to find a place to sleep, we ended up at a local campground. We spent the next day stocking up on groceries and exploring the area before heading towards Banff. 

We had heard both good and bad things about Banff. We were expecting slews of tourists and crowded hiking trails, but also the most epic lakes and mountains. Both delivered, especially since, unbeknownst to us, we arrived on a Canadian Holiday weekend. We quickly figured out that trying to do anything midday was a waste of time, but we were able to avoid the issue by getting up before the sun and beating the crowds. Our first morning there we were up by 5am, standing at the foot of Lake Louise with coffees and cameras in hand. We watched the early birds set out in their canoes onto the perfectly glassy, turquoise blue lake. We snapped a few shots and made our way to the trail head for an all day hike to Lake Agnes Tea House and the Beehives with snacks packed. The remaining days we stuck to our early morning plans and explored Lake Moraine, watched the grazing mountain goats on the shores of Lake Minnewanka, hiked our legs off, and even took a weekend trip to Yolo National Park to see Emerald Lake and the towering Takakkaw Falls.

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After about a week getting to know Banff, we continued north along the Columbia Icefields Parkway to Jasper National Park. We took the opportunity to dip in every lake we could find on our way and spent our first night under the stars with no one in sight on Medicine Lake. Just one month prior, wild fires had ripped through the park wiping out hundreds of acres of trees. The devastation of the wild fire was surreal to see, especially since it had occurred so recently. After a few more days spent fishing, hiking and camping out of the truck, we made the decision to do a helicopter tour with Rockies Heli on the way back to Banff. What better way to get a fresh perspective on such a geographically impressive place than from the air!

There is no way to explain the experience of flying over the mountain peaks and green valleys divided by winding rivers. Water falling hundreds of feet into massive glacial crevasses. Mountain peaks, green valleys divided by winding rivers. It was unlike anything we had ever seen before. Days before we had only seen the receding toe of Athabasca Glacier so it was very reassuring to fly over the park and see more glacier than we ever knew existed! After our mind blowing flight we decided to continue east on the David Thompson Highway. We passed by yet another saturated turquoise lake and with one turn off road found ourselves in a different world. We were completely surrounded by a maze of dirt bike trails and rivers, an entire community of vacationers pitched up for weeks at a time. After a night well spent on the banks of the river it was time to head south, back to the US.

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We were happy to hear Glacier National Park had reopened after the fire. Although it wasn’t how we had intended to see it, it was well worth the trip. Coming out the east entrance we made our way through Browning and back down south towards Idaho, passing golden fields, wild horses and rainbows along the way. We had one pit stop in Idaho before heading back home, but, since we were in serious need of doing some laundry and having a proper roof over our heads, we treated ourselves to an airbnb for the night first. The following morning we were on our way to some hidden hot springs that we had heard about just outside of Salmon, Idaho. A steep 2 mile hike brought us to a cascading waterfall leading to multiple hot springs. There were varying temperatures to choose from as you moved downstream and cooler water was introduced. We jumped from pool to pool watching the sun make its way over the ridge. We soaked for hours, and just as a group of people arrived we were packing up to make our way back down. Perfect timing. Feeling complete in every way, it was time to head back east for some lazy end-of-the-summer days on Block Island.

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