Canoeing time: 5-6hrs round-trip
Entrance: Achray Campground
Before I undertook my solo road trip across Canada, we went on a long week-end canoe-camping trip to Algonquin Park. We had wanted to do this for a while, but winter obliged, we had to wait until I was done with work to get the time off and head for our luxury camping adventure.
We booked the canoe from Algonquin Outfitters and strapped it on top of our small car, then drove all the way to the Achray Campground in the park. From there, we were able to start paddling on Grand Lake and head to Stratton Lake in the evening to find our camping spot. There is a short, 50m, portage on this route, so make sure that you are aware of this before overloading your canoe. We did a few roundtrips in order to portage all our luxury gear for the weekend, which wasn’t a big deal considering the shortness of the portage.
Elevation gain: 50m
Emerald Lake is a beautiful glacier lake in Yoho National Park. It is located West of Field, BC, at the end of a road coming off the Trans-Canada Highway. Make sure you get there early, as the parking lot fills up very quickly. I arrived around 930am and was already parked on the side of the road.
There is actually a lodge on the side of the lake that seems very pleasant to stay at… Cabins and rooms can be rent and you can enjoy a stay in this amazing setting. You can also rent canoes or bring your own paddle, kayak, etc. I was just passing by and decided to walk around the lake to do the full loop and enjoy the views.
Along my cross-Canada moving roadtrip, I needed to find a few places to stay overnight while still trying to enjoy the scenery and the time I spent in the mountains. I was able to get a spot at the Whiskey Jack Wilderness Hostel in Yoho National Park for one night. The dorms were very clean and comfortable, and we had access to a shower, water and a large kitchen in the common area. The vibe is really quiet and calm, as most travellers here are hikers getting ready to hit the trail early in the morning. The hostel is closed from 10am-5pm, when the doors get locked as everyone goes on with their day. The hostel is very conveniently located right at the trailhead of some large hikes in Yoho, and right in front of the Takakkaw Falls. Plan your food well, because the closest grocery store is located in Golden BC, or back in Lake Louise, AB. I would definitely recommend to stay here if you need a base camp for your hiking!
3hrs, 7km round-trip
Elevation gain: 520m
The trailhead for Padget Lookout is in front of Wapta Lake, on the Trans-Canada Highway in BC. It is located between Lake Louise, AB and Field, BC. This was my first mountain hike in over a year and I must say it gets your heart pumping!
The first 1.4km of the trail goes slightly uphill until you reach a large tree with massive roots, and the sign for the junction to Sherbrooke Lake or Padget Lookout. I did not have the time to do both, but was told that doing both trails in one day should take more or less 4hrs round-trip.
It has been a big year, and I haven’t had the change to get outdoors as much (or to the extend) that I would have liked. Good thing is – my favorite season is on the way, and I am prepping to move (yet again) to settle on Vancouver Island this summer.
Before that, I have tried to explore as much as I possibly could the Ottawa Valley for what it has to offer (a big difficult for me in the winter, considering the weather wasn’t particularly exciting this year… forgot how I did not enjoy -30C snowstorms!).
To end our trip on a high note, we kept the surf town for the last 3 days of our vacations. We left towards San Juan del Sur from Ometepe taking a taxi from the ferry terminal in San Jorge. The drive was about 45min and cost 20US$ total. One of the best part of our stay in San Juan del Sur (SJDS) was the hostel – we scored big with this one, and stayed at Buena Onda Backpackers in a private double room for 3 nights. The hostel is a few minutes walk out of town (so you can actually get a quiet night) with an amazing view of the bay and downtown area. It is the cleanest place we have seen so far in Nicaragua and although I wouldn’t recommend it for solo travelers looking to meet other people (only private rooms, feels more like an airbnb with other guests sharing the common areas), it was just exactly what we were looking for.