Waterfall and Lake Moraine | Banff

Friday, October 31, 2014

Since this was our first time in Banff, we wanted to see all the classic lakes and views. I would highly recommend all the places we went, starting with the Tunnel Mountain Hike in the last post, Moraine Lake and Johnston Canyon in this post, and Lake Louise and my favorite, the Lake Agnes hike in a coming post. I have no doubt that when we return, we'll have a slew of new hikes and lakes to see, but this is a good starting point.

We did a quick side trip to Johnston Canyon, which was a beautiful hike, or more like a walk, along a river. The rushing water has carved deeply into the rock around it over time. There are stunning foot bridges that hug the rocks and take you high above the river at points. When you get to the falls, you can go inside a cave that has a second opening to the falls. You are so close at that point, that you'll definitely feel the spray of the falls. So much so, that it's hard to take a photo because you'll instantly get water droplets on your lens. It's extremely loud and wet and awesome. Our photos don't do it justice. Also, it's worth mentioning that this is one of the most popular "hikes" in Banff so it's not very private, but it's pretty quick and worth a trip if you are passing by.

Moraine Lake was nuts. I think the most rewarding views are the ones you have to work for, at the top of a mountain, for example. At Moraine Lake, you can pretty much drive up to the view, but it's still nuts. I wish we had time to rent those colorful canoes and explore the lake more. We really enjoyed just being still on the dock and watching chipmunks race around on the piles of logs stacked up along the shore.

On the way to these spots, we took a scenic route along Bow Valley Parkway instead of staying on the main highway. This is where we saw our first elk in an open meadow with a stunning mountain backdrop. Scenic routes are the best.

Driving back to camp that night, we saw our second grizzly bear! Perfect way to conclude a really good day.

- Julia

Johnston Canyon Hike (source)

Time: 1 hour round trip (lower falls... what we did), 2 hours round trips (upper falls)
Distance: 2.2 km (1.4 miles) round trip to lower falls, 5.2 km (3.2 miles) one way to upper falls
Level of Difficulty: Easy/moderate
Elevation Gain: 30 meters (lower falls), 120 meters (upper falls)

Johnston Canyon Hike

Johnston Canyon Waterfall

First elk spotted along Bow Valley Parkway.

Moraine Lake

Camping Made Easy for Girls

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Here's a look inside my toiletries bag for 2 weeks of camping and life on the road. I know a lot of girls don't like camping, and I bet this has a lot to do with it. These little luxuries help me feel clean and comfortable and it's worth putting a little time into packing the right stuff. I try to put products into smaller repurposed containers if I can, usually from beauty samples I have used up (the face lotion, the toner, and I now have a smaller spray bottle for the sea salt spray that's pictured).

I hope this is helpful!


- dry shampoo - because you can't shower everyday and your greasy hair will thank you
- homemade sea salt spray - no need for a blow drier, curling iron, or even a brush... just a spray of sea salt
- facial cleansing wipes - for easy washing up before bed in the woods without a sink + soap + water
- personal wipes (not pictured, but they look the same) - for staying clean between showers and hikes
- toothbrush - to remain somewhat civilized
- toothpaste - unless you can grind your own from plants 
- cotton swabs - because earwax
- rosebud salve - for dry spots, blemishes, rough cuticles, lips, etc—so many uses in one tiny tin
- deodorant - so you have no excuse not to hike (not pictured... it was hanging around in the car somewhere) 


- razor - still can't decide if this is a must have or not in the wild (depends how long you're going?)
- toner - helps get leftover dirt/makeup off + leaves your face feeling fresh 
- cotton rounds - to use with toner
- shampoo - if you're lucky enough for a hot shower
- conditioner - ditto
- face lotion - to keep your face happy and moist

*roll over image to see items labeled*

Tunnel Mountain Hike | Banff

Thursday, October 23, 2014

After spending several days driving in a car, it felt really good to pump that blood around and do a hike.

If you have time for just one quickie hike while in Banff, or you're not crazy about climbing mountains, this one's for you. We walked to the trailhead of the Tunnel Mountain Hike from the center of downtown Banff. There are some pretty steep switchbacks for a bit, but it just means you'll get high up faster. From the top, you'll get to look out on both sides of the mountain ridge, see a great perspective of the town of Banff happily tucked in a valley, and a view of the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel surrounded by endless woods.

Our reward at the end of the day—hotdogs and tomato soup for dinner. Nothing better than a warm bowl of soup as daylight slips away.

- Julia

Tunnel Mountain Hike (source)

Time: 2-3 hours 
Distance: 4.3 km (2.7 miles) round-trip 
Level of Difficulty: Easy/moderate
Elevation Gain: 300 m (948 feet) 
Starting Point: In downtown Banff, from the southern end of Banff Ave., turn east on Buffalo St. (turns into Wolverine) to St. Julien Rd. Trailhead begins on north side of St. Julien Rd.