I just came back from a two-week tour around the Western Canadian Rockies. It is 5am and I am still awake. Jet lag is a bitch.
So what do I do? I write. I write every detail of the trip (well, not every detail….). Some of it you might find interesting. Some of it you might find boring. But I’ll cut the boring bits out in the morning.
Anyway, my story begins in Seattle. I arrived three days before the Trek America tour started, and had arranged to stay at a local’s house, via couchsurfing.org.
Matt, my couchsurfing host, Matt, was brilliant – he lent me his bike, let me walk his dog (below), and even gave me a lift to the airport at 6.30am for the Trek America pick-up. And I only got myself into trouble a couple of times. Once when I lost Matt’s spare keys and blamed it on the dog and then when I chased a bus down the freeway on the bike because it was better than being murdered by a sketchy character on the dark streets of downtown.
Anyway, after a few days of biking round the city, eating deep-fried peanut butter and jam sandwiches and rocking out at Bumbershoot Festival, the morning of the Trek America tour came, and I met all 19 of the other people on the tour. Standing in the dated, musty lobby of the Clarion hotel, we were split into two groups by Charlie and Adam – the tour leaders “not tour guides. We don’t guide. We lead“.
In my group there was a fellow Brit, Grant, who is a car designer living in Milton Keynes; Thomas the Dutch web developer who likes checked shirts and looks like Bambi when he rollerskates; Erin and Kathryn, chalk-and-cheese Aussie sisters who bickered all the time, which I found most entertaining; Tristan, one of my favourite people in the world, a Welsh farm boy who had an amusing eight-year-old persona that only showed up in restaurants; Aisling, an Irish girl who valiantly got by on a two-week trek with no luggage; Sabrine and Kenneth, a Danish couple – she had such gorgeous hair I just wanted to stroke it all the time (and did) and he was very shy except when drunk, when he danced with all the girls; and Julia, a German nurse and my awesome tent-mate. Oh and I can’t forget Charlie, our Trek America tour leader. He also liked checked shirts, but the same one. Every day. We liked Charlie a lot.
So back in the hotel lobby, Charlie talked us through what to expect on the trip. “Um so we’re in two groups cos there are so many of us and we’ll be doing everything in parallel. But you’re my group. And um, yeah, so we’re gonna be camping every night apart from Vancouver, when we’ll stay in a hostel, cos, like, there aren’t really campgrounds in the city. What else? So we’ll be cooking at the campsites and getting our food every couple of days from a local supermarket. You’ll be in three teams: cooking, cleaning, and erm, other cleaning. Um, that’s about it.”
So we piled into our van, cranked up the music and hit the road. A quick stop for the customs limit of cheap booze just before the border, and we were soon in Canada, home of maple syrup, moose and expensive booze. Here we are, all very excited. Well, Thomas is. (See, I wasn’t lying about the checked shirts.)
We finally arrived at our first campsite, in the nothing town of Kamloops, just in time to take a dip in the arctic lake, have a beer and cook a Thai curry before the sun went down.
Yep, here I am cooking Thai curry. So anyway, we went to bed, and it was my second night to ever sleep in a tent. I loved it. On the first morning I got up super early and photographed the sunrise (I actually got up to pee but don’t tell the others that). I told everyone proudly that I’d be getting up to see the sunrise every morning. I didn’t. Not once.
That day, we drove into Yoho National Park, where we were told we’d be staying at the most scenic campground of the whole trip, Beaverfoot Lodge, in Golden BC. It was gorgeous, but being told “this is as good as it’s gonna get” doesn’t really get you all excited about the next place, does it? We were eaten alive by mozzies there too, and that doesn’t sound all that great, does it? It was beautiful, to be fair. In fact, here’s a photo:
That night, four Trek America groups on different tours happened to be staying at the same place. Three of the groups partied and played beer pong. We were all way too mature for all that, so ate our bodyweights in toasted marshmallows. Like adults.
We also ate like flipping kings. The cooking group made lasagne and moussaka – all on the barbecue. Oh, and sweet potatoes. Charlie kept stressing out about us overspending the food kitty ($10 each per day) because we were buying SO much. In the end, after 14 days, we had $6 left in the kitty. Not too bad…
So that’s the first couple of days – pretty exciting stuff, I know. Don’t worry, it gets better than: we stood in a hotel/we drove in a van/I woke up in the morning. I promise.