Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Rocky Mountain Road trip days 12, 13 & 14

Monday Sept 22

It got pretty cold out last night so I didn't want to get up and leave my warm sleeping bag, so it was a little bit of slow morning. I drove back in to Glacier NP and did some hiking around Medicine Lake. I had a break at Aster Falls, I found some nice rocks to sit on right next to the falls and overlooking the mountains.

I spend about 2 hours there and since I had brought my Ipad, I was able to type some blog posts. The weather was sunny once again and by 10am it had already gotten warm enough to only wear a t-shirt. I had lunch at the lake and spend the afternoon exploring the 'many glacier" area of the park.

Some clouds had stated to move in by the afternoon so I was able to do some timelapse photography. I spend the night in East Glacier at the Brownies hostel. It was nice to take a shower again!

Tuesday Sept 23

I woke up early and checked out of the hostel. It was only $17.50 to stay in the dorm thanks to my Hosteling International membership, making it the cheapest hostel so far. I mainly did a lot of driving today to get to Yellowstone National Park. Most of Montana is hills with grass so it was kind of a boring drive. The speed limit is really high here though, even on winding roads with potholes and cows on them, it was still 70mph. You have to be really careful, twice I got stuck in a herd of 100+ cows that ranchers where trying to move through the road. 

I stopped on my way for lunch and supplies in Helena and made it to Yellowstone late afternoon. Almost right after entering the park I spotted some Elk walking in the river. I stopped and took some pictures and then drove to the Grand Prismatic Spring. I got there just in time to catch the last of the sunset. 

I took some pictures and did a quick timelapse. It was super beautiful! I found a good spot to car camp and shortly after it had gotten completely dark I could hear the Wolf's howl. It was a great sound to fall asleep to!

Wednesday Sept 24

I woke up at sunrise but it was very foggy out so you could't even see the sun. The cool thing about the fog though was that I was able to take pictures of the Bizon with nothing but fog around them. 

It took about 3 hours to clear up and the rest of the day was sunny. I spend the morning exploring more of Yellowstone but since I had been here before and only driven through the Grand Tetons, I decided to drive there in the afternoon so I could spend one more day exploring Grand Teton National Park. 

I got there in the late afternoon and was able to watch the sunset and take some nighttime pictures from the top of Signal Mountain, where I also camped. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

My Rocky Mountain Road Trip - Days 9, 10 & 11

Friday Sept 19

I woke up at 8am, the dorm that I stayed in had only one other guest, an older guy, but for some reason he got up every 1-2 hours and was wearing sandals which made a loud clicking noise on the floors. Needles to say I didn't sleep very well. The hostel was otherwise really awesome, very clean and at a beautiful location. I checked out and made a quick stop in town at the visitor center to use their wifi and post some updates to my blog, I bought some groceries and breakfast at Safeway and hit the road. I took HWY 1 East and then HWY 40 South through Kananaskis Country which was beautiful. 

The fall colors where amazing and I made lots of stops to take pictures and do some timelapse photography. There where lots of clouds out but it was otherwise sunny, which made for great pictures. 

Once I got in to eastern Alberta the landscape changed a lot. Just before dark I arrived in Waterton Lakes National Park. I was lucky to be able to find a good spot to car camp before it got dark.

Saturday Sept 20 (day 10)

I woke up right at sunrise. When I was just about to step outside my car, I spotted a black bear only about 20ft away, so I waited a little longer before getting out. When I got out I could see that some people where camped nearby and had left all sorts of stuff laying outside on the picnic table and around their tent, including a cooler with food in it. The bear was now at their campsite and going though all the stuff they left out. Fortunately it wasn't able to open the cooler and got scared when a bunch of people showed up along the road trying to take pictures. The bear took off in the woods a little ways but still stayed close by, presumably waiting for the people to leave. It really pisses me off when people are so dumb and careless to leave food and other thing laying outside. Bears are normally not dangerous and usually scared of humans but when things like this happen they start to associate people with food and they will become problem bears that could be aggressive and even attack humans. When this happens they have to kill the bear. I really wanted to give these people a speech about bear safety but they where either still sleeping in their tent or they weren't around. The bear stayed around though and now a whole group of people had gathered to take pictures. I left and luckily not much  later I saw a Park Warden driving by, so I flagged him down and informed him of the situation. He thanked me and took off with his emergency lights on. I kinda wanted to go back and see what was going to happen but instead I choose to spend the morning exploring Waterton Lakes National Park. 

Around 1;30pm I drove across the border in to the USA. I stopped for groceries in St Mary, Montana and then went to Glacier National Park. The sign at the entrance said that they where closing the going to the sun road on Monday morning, so I was happy to get there just in time to still experience this iconic drive. I didn't have much time left so I drove across Logan Pass with a few photo stops here and there. 

I found a beautiful camping spot right on Lake McDonald, where I watched the sunset and spend the night.

Sunday Sept 21

I had set my alarm early and woke up just before sunrise. I packed up my stuff, had breakfast and right when it started to get light out, I drove to Logan Pass to do some hiking. The sun was just coming across the mountain tops when I got there, the perfect time to start my hike to Hidden Lake. 

I hiked a little ways beyond the overlook and found a ledge overlooking the lake below. It was the perfect spot for a break. 

I was enjoying the sunshine and beautiful mountain views when all the sudden I hear something behind me. I looked over and there was a Mountain Goat standing about 10-15ft from me, looking right at me. 

I didn't even have my camera ready but I was bale to snap a few pictures with my phone. The Mountain Goat walked a little further away from me and then laid down on the same ledge as me. It stayed there for about 15 minutes and then about 7 other Mountain Goats showed up. I now had my camera ready and spend the next hour taking pictures of all the goats. A bunch of other people had showed up to and where doing the same thing. The goats where not scared at all and let us come within about 30-40ft. I got some really amazing pictures and I would say this was definitely one of the best days of my trip, at least so far. Most of the goats had radio or GPS collars on and I read later that they are doing a study in this particular area. I hiked back down with some other photographers and we chatted along the way.

I spend the afternoon driving the rest of the Going To The Sun Road and exploring some more of the park, it was beautiful and the fall colors where amazing although nothing could top my goat encounter that morning. 

Towards the afternoon I drove to Kalispell and got some groceries and dinner.
I spend the night at one of the Forest Service Campgrounds along HWY 2, just outside the National Park.

Friday, September 19, 2014

My last days in the Canadian Rockies, days 7 & 8

Wednesday Sept 17

I slept in a little today since I was pretty tired. After having breakfast and a quick stop at Safeway and the visitor center, I drove to Lake Louise. Both parking lots where filled with cars and it was super busy at the lake. I got my hiking gear and camera out and started hiking up the Plain of Six Glaciers trail. It starts right out at Lake Louise, in front of the hotel. The first 2km follows along the lake, then the trail starts going up towards the glaciers for about 4km until you reach the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. 

There is another short 1km trail to a view point closer to the glaciers but what I didn't know was that the climbing route starts of the view point trail just past the tea house.

I walked of the trail a little ways to get some better pictures of the Larch trees and then I noticed another trail, going right up through all the Larches. It was not marked and barely even visible from the main trail but I decided to go up it and check it out. It soon got steeper and steeper but with each switchback the views got better, so I kept on going. After about 2km I reached a meadow with incredible views in all directions. You could see the tea house and Lake Louise way below and I was surrounded by snow covered mountains and Glaciers. I could hear small waterfalls coming down the mountains and the occasional rumbling of an avalanche. There where a few lonely Larch trees which had turned a beautiful golden. I felt like I was in paradise! Also I had the whole place to myself as all the tourists only went as far as the tea house. It felt incredible to be up here all by myself enjoying amazing views in all directions.

I was a little disappointed I had only brought one of my cameras though and no tripod, so I couldn't do any time-lapse photography, but non the less this was one of the most incredible places I have ever been and I hadn't felt this alive and overcome with joy in quite some time.

On the way down I met a Canadian couple who asked me how far it was to the tea house. They still had to go about 4km and it was getting dark soon so they decided to turn around. We talked the whole way back and I found out that they just came from Glacier National Park, where I am going next. They showed me pictures on their phone and I showed them a few pictures of the hike I just did and told them about my travels. We said our final goodbye back at the trail head. I drove back to Canmore to get dinner and find a campsite. It got dark before I got there which made it a little harder to find a spot to camp so I ended up just car camping at a trailhead. It also started to get really clouded out and looked like it might rain, so it tuned out to be a good decision. Best day of the trip so far!

Thursday Sept 18

I woke up to another car parking next to me at the trail head. It was still really early and just starting to get light out. Lots of clouds had moved in overnight and more where coming my way but there where still a couple clear spots in the sky which made a good time lapse photography opportunity, so I quickly got out my camera and tripod and set it up. I had breakfast while I let my camera do the work. The clouds where moving really fast and about an hour later it was completely clouded.

I drove to town and stopped at the visitor center to use their wifi and update my blog.  After I was all done it was almost noon so I bought lunch and headed out to drive the more scenic HWY 1A towards Lake Louise. The clouds got more and more grey and soon it started raining. It didn't stop me from still taking some cool pictures of the fall colors but I decided not to go hiking today. 

Instead I kinda took the day off and just relaxed for the afternoon. I stopped in Banff to buy some postcards but everything was so expensive that I only bought one really nice one to send out. I found out that my favorite restaurant in Banff was no longer there so I had dinner in Canmore instead and then went to the Hosteling International just outside of Canmore. The building is shared with the Alpine Club of Canada and it looks more like a resort than a hostel. 

Definitely the nicest hostel I have ever stayed at! It was still early and although it had stopped raining it was still completely clouded out so I didn't expect to be able to do any sunset photography and instead enjoyed sitting on the deck at the hostel, catching up on my blog for the last 2 days. There where some German guys behind me, so I tried to understand some of what they where saying. My German is definitely not what it used to be but I was still able to sort of follow along.
I took a nice hot shower and went to bed early to get some good sleep before the long drive to Waterton Lakes and Glacier NP, the next day.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

30 Day Road trip to the Rockies, days 5 & 6

Monday Sept 15

I started my day with a drive down the Icefields parkway. I did the HWY 93 and 93A loop and stopped at Anthabasca Falls. The Falls are a must see if you ever come up to Jasper! It is a major tourist attraction though, so if you want any sort of solitude, you should go super early. I got there just after 9am and there where already about a hundred others there. The weather was absolutely gorgeous all day long, although no clouds meant that I couldn't do any timelapse photography.

I drove back to Hinton in the afternoon to get some more food and fuel and once again took the long drive down to Maligne Lake. This time the skies where clear and I was rewarded with a beautiful view of the lake and surrounding mountains. I stayed to watch the sunset and take pictures. When it got dark I went back to my car and had some Chinese food for dinner that I had bought in Hinton. I got caught up on my blog and by the time I was all done it was dark enough to go back to the lake for some night time photography. It was midnight by the time I got back to the Hostel.

Tuesday Sept 16

I got up early and checked out of the Jasper Hostel. I am a little disappointed I didn't get to hang out at the hostel and only spend the nights there. It seems like they had all sorts of cool activities during the evening and a large fire pit outside, plus so many people from all across the world stayed there. Hopefully I will have a chance to come back here sometime. 

I took HWY 93 South from Jasper to Lake Louise. It was the most scenic drive of my road trip so far, Fall colors where out everywhere along the road. 

I stopped at Sunwapta Falls and of-course the Anthabasca Glacier. 

It stayed sunny out all day and I found a free campsite near Canmore where I spend the night. It was another great day in the Canadian Rockies!

Monday, September 15, 2014

30 Day Road Trip to the Rockies, Days 3 & 4

Saturday Sept 13

When I woke up at Kinbasket Lake it was really foggy and all the mountains surrounding me where no longer visible.  I packed up my stuff and had some granola for breakfast. When I left the sun was coming out and I could finally see some of the mountain peaks across the lake. 

I got back on the road and made a quick stop in Valemount. The town's slogan is "let the mountains move you", which I quite liked. 

About an hour later I entered Mount Robson Provincial Park and by noon I had crossed the border in to Alberta and arrived in Jasper. 

I spend some time exploring the city of Jasper and had lunch there. It was the first time on my trip I was able to find wifi and check in with the rest of the world. I had planned on staying at the Hosteling International in Jasper, but once I arrived there, I was told that they where already booked full for the night. Jasper only has a small overpriced grocery store, so I decided to drive to Hinton to buy some groceries for the next few days I was going to be in Jasper. The drive to Hinton was beautiful! Since it was getting close to dinner time, I decided to stay there for a little while and ordered a pizza. The pizza place had free wifi so I was finally able to update my blog and catch up on some emails. When I was about to leave the restaurant I was asked by two nice ladies how tall I am. I get asked this question almost every day but they this time it turned in to a much longer conversation about religion and my travels. At the end we both exchanged business cards and I promised one of the ladies, that the next time I was in the Netherlands again, I would send her a post card.

I drove back towards Jasper and decided to spend the night near Maligne Lake. It is advertised as the must visit and most scenic lake in the area, so it was high on my list of places to go near Jasper. The lake was beautiful but it had became completely clouded. I still decided to go for a short hike near the lake, hoping it would clear up a little and I could take some night time photos. I stayed out till 10pm, at which time it had became completely dark, but still the sky didn't clear up. I hiked back with my headlamp on and quickly set up to go to sleep.

Sunday Sept 14

I had set my alarm early, hoping to catch the sunrise but when I got up it was still completely clouded, so I slept in a little longer. I drove to Maligne Canyon where I had breakfast. I had granola with some yogurt ad chocolate milk. that I had bought the previous day. It was the breakfast of champions considering I was camping and it always tastes extra good when your view is better than the one on the package. Nothing to complain so far. 

I went back to Jasper and attended Church at "the little white church in the rockies" also know as the Jasper Baptist Church. Everyone there was very friendly, the pastor personally introduced himself to me and I was later invited to come join them for a baptizing and a bible study the next day. I actually thought it be cool to go to the baptizing and there was also a BBQ shortly following, so I asked for directions to the lake. I made it up to Pyramid Lake and it was so beautiful that by the time I was there I didn't pay very much attention and I must have missed the spot they where meeting at since I didn't find them. 

None the less I enjoyed the Lake and shot a short time-lapse video. The sky had now cleared up and it was sunny and starting to get nice and warm. I still had some pizza left over, which I had for lunch while at the lake. 

After lunch I went back to Maligne Canyon for some hiking and exploring. The Canyon was cool to see but a little to much of a tourist attraction for my liking, although I did meet a nice couple from the Netherlands who lived close to where I grew up and one of them even had a friend who worked at the hospital where my dad's wife works, so they probably even knew each other. Such a big world, yet so small! To escape all the tourists, I wondered of on one of the side trails that went up a really steep hill. At the top I had a beautiful view of the Rockies all to myself, as apparently the short climb was to much for all the tourists. I shot another short time-lapse before returning to Jasper.

I drove around town for a while hoping to find wifi somewhere but even the library didn't have wifi as it was closed for remodeling work. I gave up and stopped at the visitor center to get some info and make plans for my next 2 days here. To my surprise they had wifi at the visitor center so I was able to post some pictures from earlier in the day to my Facebook and check a few things. After that I went to the hostel to check in for the next 2 days and luckily this time they still had plenty of room since the weekend was now over. 

I went back to Pyramid lake to watch the sunset and do some more (time-lapse) photography. The sunset was not much to write home about since there are large mountains everywhere surrounding the lake but it was mostly clear so I decided to stay and wait for it to get dark so I could do some nighttime photography. As soon as the sun disappeared behind the mountains, it started to get really cold out, so I decided to wait in the car until it was dark enough and in the meantime I was able to catch up on my blog.

Jasper National Park is the world's second largest dark sky preserve. The skies stayed clear and by 10pm it was dark enough to see the Milky Way! I stayed out for about an hour, taking pictures and enjoying the clear skies. After that I went to the hostel. It was nice to sleep on a real bed and take a shower.

More to follow....

Saturday, September 13, 2014

30 Day Road Trip to the Rockies, Days 1 & 2

Thursday Sept 11

I still had to finish up some work and pack all my stuff before I could leave. By the time I was finally able to leave my house it was 3pm already. But I was still determined to make it as far as I could. I made it to somewhere between Chelan and Okanogen when it started to get dark, so I found a camping spot just of one of the small dirt roads. It was nice and warm during the day but it got really cold that night. I din't sleep very well since I was so cold.

Friday Sept 12

I couldn't sleep much due to the cold so I got up at 5am and started driving again. I noticed frost on the ground when I left, so it got pretty cold indeed. I was already behind schedule so I figured I would get as much driving done today as I could. I stopped to get fuel and eat some breakfast in Omak and was able to cross the border at 7am. There was no one else at the small border crossing near Ossoyoos and the Canadian Customs Officer found it very strange that I was there so early. He kept asking me more questions and only got more suspicious when I told him I didn't know exactly where I camped the night before and that I had a month off work and was on a road trip. They decided to search my car which took about 30 minutes. The worst part was not that I had to wait but that they messed up everything I had packed and just randomly threw it all back in the car. So later that day I had to spend another 30 minutes trying to repack and reorganize my car. I got to Kelowna around 11am, which was just in time for one of my favorite restaurants ever, Lake Tai, to open. I ordered an extra portion to take which me for dinner later and was soon on the road again.

It turned out to become another beautiful sunny day and the scenery along the whole drive was gorgeous. Somewhere north of Kamloops I passed a young man with a large backpack trying to hitch a ride so I decided to stop. His name was Fred, he was probably about 20 years old and he told me he was from Quebec, which explained his strong French accent. We chatted for a while and I found out he just spend a few weeks at some sort of hippy  gathering on Vancouver Island but was now on his way to visit a friend in Edmonton and work there for a temp agency to get some money again since he was broke. I asked him if he was hungry and he said yes, so I stopped at the next little town we passed and bought him a couple burgers. He was much appreciative and from the little time it took him to eat, I could tell that he probably hadn't eaten in awhile. He asked that I drop him off around 5:30 so he would still have enough time to set up his and tent before it started to get dark. When it was 5:20 he noticed a good camping spot so I dropped him off there and we said goodbye. I saw a black bear near the road about 5 miles from where I dropped him off, so I hope he stayed safe.

I still had about an hour of daylight left so I decided to make the most of it and keep driving. I made it to Valemount and found an mazing camping spot, right on Kinbasket Lake. Beautiful mountain views surrounded me in every direction and best of all, I had the whole place to myself and it was free! It was much less cold than the previous night and and I had prepared a little better by dressing warmer.

Next update to follow whenever I find wifi again...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Leaving for a month long road trip to the Rockies!

Vacation is almost here! Only 2 more days and I will be leaving on a 30 day road trip to the US and Canadian Rocky Mountains :)

Besides having a great time, taking lots of pictures and making a movie, I hope to also use this road trip as a time for me to reflect on my life and think of my future. I don't want to work at my current job for much longer. I really wan to travel more and see as much of the world as possible. I hope to soon start renting out my house and start/expand my own photography company, going beyond the landscape photography I currently do. So if you live in the Seattle area and need a photographer for anything, please see the contact me section on this site and get in touch with me.

I just discovered this site called and it has volunteer opportunities all across the world. You get free room and board in exchange for usually about 5 hours of work per day. This sounds like an amazing way to travel on a tight budget and also really get to know the country, the people and the local culture. So perhaps next summer I will be working in Iceland for a small B&B and spend the winter in Norway volunteering for a dog sledding company... I just found both those opportunities on this site.
There is still a lot to decide and figure out though so hopefully when I come back I will have a better idea of exactly what I want to do next and how to accomplish this.

As for right now, I will be going to Canada first to visit Banff and Jasper National Park and stop by Waterton lakes National Park just before heading back to the US. Then I will be stopping in Glacier NP, Yellowstone NP, Grand Teton NP and Rocky Mountain NP and spend some additional time in Colorado to attend the Telluride Photo Festival.

I plan on documenting my journey on this blog so make sure to follow along or like my Facebook page to stay up to date.