Banff Jasper 150 – Prologue

On Friday, August 3rd, 2017, myself and 27 students from across Canada came together in Calgary, Alberta. Many had already known one another, many more did not. But if the initial talks and impressions were any indication, we were all in for quite the week.

After hours of waiting at the airport for everyone, the vans were loaded up and we set out to stock up on provisions before heading to our campsite at Johnston Canyon. Once we purchased copious amounts of food, we were on our way west towards the beautiful Rocky Mountains. The sun was setting, quite late relative to Ontario, over Calgary’s sprawling suburbs. I was eager to get out of Calgary, having spent the previous day and a half there and getting tired of it.

Our behemoth of a vehicle carried an awesome crew – Pat, Kim, Hamsa, Kenny, Jenna, Natalie and myself. Stellar company for the road trip ahead. I had the fortune of sitting beside Hamsa, who would eventually go on to become my tent mate and a close friend as the week went on. Tunes were put on and conversations flowed as we drew closer to the once distant silhouetted peaks of Kananaskis Country and the front ranges.

Right around Dead Man’s Flats, 30km southeast of Banff, is where the peaks began to rise high above us. While it would have been nice to have seen these views with more light, there was something special about only being able to make out the outlines of the mountains and their ridges.

As we passed by the town of Banff, I saw Mount Rundle for the first time since April 2016 and the familiarity and nostalgia hit me, making me feel like I was home away from home. I was excited to tackle Rundle again once the Banff/Jasper 150 trek was done, but more on that in a subsequent post.

Nearing our campsite, doubts began to arise about whether we were on the right way or not, as the parkway seemed to go on forever, especially in the darkness. Much to our relief, however, we eventually reached our site.

Nestled on the banks of Johnston Creek, our site had ample room, a sheltered dining area and electricity which was much appreciated. As we arrived around midnight mountain time, our biggest priorities were setting up camp, eating, debriefing the plan for the next day and sleeping.

Johnston Creek by the campsite

I took a bit of time to try my hand at astrophotography, despite the smoke, the bright moon and streetlights. All things considered the pictures didn’t turn out too bad!

Starry sky over our campsite in Johnston Canyon Banff

When all was said and done, I eagerly crawled into my tent and eventually dozed off, excited for the morning to come so I could see the mountains unimpeded and in all their splendour yet again.

And when that morning light shone, I was the happiest guy in the world, knowing I was right where I belonged.

Up next: Day 1 – Lake Day

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