Trips like this don't come along often. We've been talking to our friends at Treeline Outdoors via email for a year or so, and Andy Best and Ryan Abernathy only through Instagram. When we reached out to plan a trip to Canada, we couldn't imagine what was to come.
We all dream. And the dream of traveling to Alberta had been festering for quite some time. In the summer of 2014 it was decided that we would make something happen, somehow. We would go to Alberta, even if it meant sleeping in a rental car for just a weekend. We reached out to our friends Chad, Andy, and Ryan to see if anyone was up for a trip to Alberta in September. All three said yes.
Then, a couple weeks later Craig Hensel (@thecraighensel) got in touch about having Overland Empire put together an adventure. An Instagram Influencers kind of trip. Since we already had something in the works, we figured we could try to blow it out a little more. That's when we reached out to Travel Alberta (@travelalberta). Before we go any further, it must be told that we're not afraid to get in touch with people. 99% of the emails we send aren't returned, but the few that are have resulted in some pretty special relationships. Travel Alberta absolutely fell within that 1%. Special people indeed.
After we worked out the details and set the date, we gathered our crew and made the plans. Chad and Erin from Treeline (@treelineoutdoors) were an incredible help, arranging our rental car (a tricked out Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with a Treeline rooftop tent), arranging our camp location, cooking food, and so much more. Truly couldn't have done it without those guys, and we'll be forever grateful.
The week before we left, Canada got hit with a major snowstorm. In early September. It was a whiteout, with inches upon inches of snow. And we were supposed to be sleeping in tents. We got a call from our friend at Travel Alberta, worried about us Florida boys freezing in the Alberta snow. We said that was part of the adventure. We were bound to visit Canada, come hell or high water. Or a few inches of snow. So we moved forward.
We arrived in Calgary on a balmy Thursday afternoon, met up with Craig, then made a stop at the camera store and MEC to gear up. Then it was out for dinner and beers at Craft Beer Market before a night in a hotel prior to setting off for the outdoors. We woke up way before sunrise to make the drive out to Turner Valley to meet up with Chad, Erin, and Andy Best (@andy_best). There's always a bit of nervousness when meeting up with new people for the first time. Especially people you'll be spending a few days with in close quarters. However as soon as we walked in Chad's house we knew this would be awesome. We hit it off right away, and felt like we'd known each other forever. What an amazing feeling and a great start to the weekend. We didn't know it, but that moment set the tone for what was to come the rest of the week.
We loaded up the Jeeps and left Chad and Erin's house still before sunrise, en route to Waterton Lakes National Park. A few miles down the road the sun popped above the horizon and painted the mountains pink, a welcome to Alberta like no other.
After stopping to marvel at the sunrise, we kept driving. We had a three-hour drive to Waterton to make the 10am ferry to hike the Crypt Lake Trail. On the drive we saw a giant moose jump a fence a few yard from us, a coyote run across the road, and endless miles of fields and mountains. Beautiful countryside. We stopped a few miles outside Waterton to stretch our legs and take a break, and spent the time talking about fishing and whatever else.
From there we made it into Waterton, changed and packed our hiking bags, then met up with Ryan Abernathy (@cruiserlifestyle) and Jeffrey Spackman (@namkcaps). We boarded the boat that would shuttle us across Waterton Lake to the trailhead, where we would embark on our 10.8 miles hike to Crypt Lake and back. Getting off that boat and stepping into the evergreen forest at the start of the trail is like being transported into another world. Especially if you're from Florida. Or plenty of other places, no doubt. The smell of the evergreens, the different flora and fauna, it's so much to take in at once, and it's almost overwhelming how you can travel to somewhere like this in a day and feel completely new.
We hiked along the trail, shifting places and talking to new people within our group, each getting to know each other along the hike. 5.4 miles one way, the trail takes you from evergreen forests through deciduous trees then out into fairly open land between mountains, with the ground underfoot changing from hardpack dirt to stone to gravely rock. It's rad how much the landscape can change along the hike, giving you new vistas to see along the way. So we hiked, and talked, and made friends.
One of the highlights of the hike is the cave towards the end—it's a tight cave you have to climb a small iron ladder to enter, and then when you exit you're on the side of the cliff with the most amazing mountain views.
That's all for now. Part 2 to come.