Well next up on the blogging chopping block is a wonderful side trip to Golden, BC.
We originally planned to go to to Golden so we could go white water rafting on the Kickinghorse River. I booked us a hotel, found out about Glamping, and then had a brain wave.
Post concussion Heather can’t go white water rafting. I was thinking about how Alex had never gone, and that we were so close…but I didn’t think about me.
So since we were going to be there i thought that I would do some research on what else we could do. I found a company that did Stand Up Paddleboard Tours, if they can take beginners paddle boarding it has got to be pretty tame right?
So that was our revised plan… we would drive up through Yoho, see a couple of beautiful things, and explore Golden….
It was probably my least planned part of the trip which is usually kind of stressful for me. But I had my walks and easy hikes book, a sore knee and a rainy day.
We started the day by grabbing hot chocolate at Second Cup in Banff, and heading up for a beautiful scenic drive. (ok we started off by me spilling hot chocolate ALLL over the car when I hit the side of the car with the cup when I got in!)
We decided to hike Wapta Falls, even in the rain it was a beautiful hike. I love how many tall trees there are in the Rockies! I have heard that there are places in Bridgewater and I am sure other places in the maritimes where you can find trees like this, and so I think this summer I am going to go on a hunt!
Wapta falls is not the prettiest waterfall I have ever seen. In fact when we finished the hike (also in the rain) people asked if it was worth it “is it pretty” and it was STUNNING and powerful. Definitely worth seeing, but it wasn’t pretty, definitely a different kind of waterfall with the big rock pile in front of it…but a good hike for us to do in the rain.
We wanted to check out Takkakaw Falls and Rainbow Falls beyond, however the road was closed *we later found out that there was a recent avalanche that was miles long* so we took a little spin up to Emerald Lake. My knee was feeling pretty sore at this point (I did something strange and twinged it at Lake Louise the day before) so we didn’t do anything too strenuous.
We got into Golden and pulled off to the information centre, we’re not usually big on information centres, but since there were a lot of places closed because of either bears, or avalanches, we thought we should check in.
Then we decided to head up to our kicking horse resort stay. Here’s the real deal, I don’t think I would personally recommend the Kickinghorse Resort as a great place to stay. I understand that it is ON the ski hill, so sure, in the winter I can see the appeal, and it is right at the “resort” so if you wanted to do the gondola or go see Po the bear, then you again, are right there. However, for us we were 15 minutes outside of the town (30 minutes if you get stuck on the wrong side of the train!) and there is really very little up there in this shoulder season. It was cloudy up the mountain so we decided not to pay the $80 to head up there, knowing we wouldn’t be able to see much. But then we walked around the resort area and at 5pm there was really nothing open except for the Kickinghorse Outfitters store we checked it out and chatted with the cashier who recommended the Wolf’s Den for dinner.
Funny story….we had stopped at the grocery store on the way up the mountain so we were going to have sausages and nachos for supper. Because our room had a “kitchenette” which was actually a microwave and mini fridge inside the shoe box of a room that we had going on….And because I am frugal I didn’t want to go out for dinner when we had bought things to make for dinner. So we sat on the bed and chatted about plans for the next day and Alex was getting hungry so kept asking if I had decided if we were going to go for burgers (which we had looked up online) or eat in the room. After much debating I simply said “those hamburgers sound better than microwaved hot dogs” and we laughed and then headed into the Wolf’s Den for dinner.
The Den was cute, it felt very woodsy and had some amazing details like huge solid raw wood tables and log cabin feel.
The burgers were very tasty…but the kicker for me was the onion ring that they put on top….to the point that frugal heather (that’s me!) HAD to order a basket of onion rings. They even tasted good cold in bed when Alex was asleep and I was watching Netflix.
We hung out in the outdoor hot tub with a guy who had no social awareness, and eventually decided that it was time to move on. It;s a bummer that the hot tub is enclosed so you can’t see the mountains.
Next day we got up, had some breakfast in bed…not on purpose…just nowhere else to sit in the room… seriously! So small! so yogurt granola and berries in bed and we were on our way.
We went and walked around town which was pretty small, Alex had wanted to check out a bike shop and then we went for a little hike at Canyon Creek. It was beautiful but we didn’t go our usual “beyond” type hikes. We went about 400 feet past the main overlook and I turned us around. The “tarantula mosquitos” were driving me bananas and the hike back down to creek level was INTENSE on the knees.
We looked for a nice spot to make lunch and hang a hammock on our decent but we didn’t find anywhere we really liked. Just before we went uphill I had spotted a little trail creekside, so we followed that a little ways and picked a perfect hammock spot. It was spectacular. The sun was shining and the cool aqua coloured water was rushing by. I actually sat still for over an hour and dozed off. We made KD and the sausages that we had decided not to microwave the night before. And we didn’t rush. I think that it was the most relaxed part of our entire trip….or at least I thought that it would be until we checked into our Glamping set up with Love + Lantern.
Our glamping tent was all set up at the Eco Adventure Ranch when we arrived. Alysia had it set up so sweetly with everything that you need. Towels, cooler, lanterns, flashlight, a beautifully made and super comfortable bed, extra blankets, everything you would need to cook… stove, pots and pans, plates glasses etc.
It was more spacious than our hotel the night before and so much more up our alley. The views from the campground were beautiful and it was quiet. We lied (lay? layed??? this is one of the grammar things that I never remember! ) in bed and read books, and I did a little watercolour painting, we made supper on the stove Alex rocked and a campfire and we fell asleep at something like 8:30pm. I wanted to see the tent lit up at night so I set an alarm for 11pm, but it still wasn’t really dark out!!
There is something relaxing about the simplicity of cooking outside. We almost always make camping spaghetti and we pre cook the ground beef ahead of time so that it’s quick and easy on the camp stove. If you haven’t cooked with a camp stove before it’s actually pretty easy!
Alysia (of Love & Lantern) had told us about a swimming hole and a little hike nearby, but we just wanted to chill. We had kind of been doing our version of “relaxing” on “vacation” up until this day, but between hammocking by the water and relaxing in our glamping tent, this day just turned into the most relaxing of our trip.
It was almost zero earlier in the week so we were a little bit concerned about being cold and we were really happy to see the extra blankets, and there was even a little heater….but we didn’t need any of it! Just the better-than-most-hotels-I have-ever-stayed-in quality duvet! And the bed was made out of memory foam or something, but it was glorious! I am ruined for camping!
We went back and forth and contacted Glacier Raf Company (after having tried to call, leaving emails and voicemails for the other company that we had originally chatted with about the stand up paddle board tours…but they weren’t doing those because of the water.) Glacier was FABULOUS to chat with and helped us have a better idea of what the tours they offered would look like. We decided on the “family paddle” where we would just do the first part of the river that is more of a float, but you get to be on the water and stop at a small waterfall and walk right up it. Since we had come to Golden to get ON the water we figured the family paddle would be better than nothing, and it was really great.
When you arrive at the Glacier headquarters just out of town they have a nice fire outside and a beautiful office building where you check in, sign your waivers and hang out until its go time. They have a great sense of humour in getting you ready, but they are definitely still professional and focused on your comfort and safety. You could have as many or as few layers as you wanted. Wet suits, neoprene booties and socks, gloves, neoprene jackets, fleeces and waterproof windbreaking jackets before helmets and life jackets. These guys have the gear and have a system for gearing you up quickly. Then you get on the bus, head up river and start your rafting. Everyone with Glacier starts at the same spot and stops at the same spot for lunch, the bus just picks up those of us who aren’t continuing on. Because we were on the family float boat, we had a little girl who was hilarious and kept yelling at her father when he was just chatting instead of paddling. In fact, I think our team may go down in the history as the least coordinated paddlers of all time. I would love to say it didn’t bother me, but oh, it did! I actually think my favorite part was walking up the small brook to the crashing waterfall and drinking the water from it. It was beautiful and refreshing and if I ever go back I will be finding a way to spend the afternoon back there!
Glacier also has a professional photographer who comes to the best view point on the upper (as in it looks like we actually hit rapids, when we were only in that type of water for a few minutes!) and you can purchase the photos at the end of the trip. It’s a great option because for the real white water rafting you wouldn’t want to take a camera with you!
Lunch WAS SO GOOD! Honestly I did not expect to have the option of 4 meats (you selected ahead of time) three different salads, dips, veggies, chips fruit and cookies. There was also a variety of hot and cold drinks depending on if you needed to get warm or cool down!
I was for sure disappointed that we “couldn’t” (aka shouldn’t) do the rest of the water, but I was glad that we got out there! Such an amazing perspective to be on the river after driving by it for the entire week.
We took a leisurely drive back through Yoho to Banff and would definitely visit Golden again, I would just do a bit more research ahead of time