I headed west last week for an early arrival to Alberta in anticipation of Tuesday's ACTA golf tournament in Ponoka, which meant spending some quality time with my Calgary-resident sister.
Traditionally, a visit to there also means a day trip to Banff, and when you're with us, we'd likely venture on to Moraine Lake as well. But recently we decided to expand our horizons a bit and explore lesser-known gems; for example, we once made our way to Drumheller (home of the dinosaurs), which is so vastly different in climate and landscape from the Rocky Mountains that it's hard to believe the close proximity of the two.
Last Friday, our destinations were Canmore & Kaninaskis to explore hiking trails recommended by a friend. Driving towards the mountains, we passed by rivers and lakes that were the most unbelievable blue-green, reminiscent of the Caribbean Sea but probably not quite so nice to dive into. I was blown away by the beauty and determined that I liked this place a little bit more each trip.
We spent the better part of the morning hiking in the Troll Falls area, which is not necessarily a tourist hotspot but that's part of the appeal. The trails are well-groomed, not to mention that coming upon the falls feels like finding a really special, secret place (I'm thinking of the spring in Tuck Everlasting...).
From there, it was on to Canmore where we stopped for lunch at Crazyweed. To be honest, this was the central reason for our day trip as I had seen the well-reviewed restaurant on You Gotta Eat Here and decided that we really did gotta eat there. We dined on the patio with the mountains behind us and had an incredible meal of a confit duck sandwich with duckfat baby potato skin poutine on the side. That alone was worth the four-hour flight.
What better way to follow-up a good meal with some good beer. The next stop was Grizzly Paw Brewing Company for an afternoon tour, taste-testing the product and getting an education along the way. (For those driving or children: they also make great sodas, so you can enjoy the tour as much as those of us with the "good stuff.")
The day was really a reminder of the awesome country that we live in, which is something we often take for granted while we plan exotic vacations anywhere but here. Alberta is home to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Banff & Jasper National Parks, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, Wood Buffalo National Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump), the world’s two largest Dark Sky Preserves (Wood Buffalo National Park and Jasper National Park), North America’s largest indoor shopping and entertainment complex (West Edmonton Mall), more than 300 golf courses, and so much more.
Special thanks to ACTA & WestJet for providing transportation from YYZ