Joffre Lakes (lower, middle and upper) Provincial Park

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Sunday 27th September)

As I mentioned in my previous post, before arriving in Whistler from Kamloops, I was advised to visit Joffre Lakes if time permitted and as I was told it would be worth the visit.  I was in two minds about stopping off to be honest as I was quite tired and there was this negative voice in my head saying ‘come on Mubeen, you have seen lots of lakes, it will just be like the rest’!

I ignored the negative voice and found the energy to take on an extra stop.  Although time was short, I reminded myself that although my genuine dream is to come back here one day with Nour (who I missed at every part of this trip), I had to make the most of every opportunity while it was there.  In fact, this is one thing I definitely learnt about life during this trip, if an opportunity is there, you need to grab it with both hands and live it, love it and learn from it…you don’t know what is around the corner!

There was one thing I did not realise about Joffre Lakes, one important thing, there were three lakes, all on different elevations…the photos below are all in order of the lakes that were visited, I did all three!  The sign in photo six shows the distance and time of this hike, as I was under the constraints of time, I did this in a much quicker time!

Spectacular walk, three tremndous colours in each of the three lakes, lovely scenery in the surrounding areas, growth on land and in water, paths dressed with fallen trees, mega sized rocks, waterfalls, different styles of bridges, various wildlife, tricky mud paths, huge tree trunks decorated different aspects of the trail, gorgeous inviting mountains, independent hanging glaciers…wow…again!






Drive from Kamloops to Whistler BC (be prepared, totally mind blowing!) – part 2

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Sunday 27th September)

Ok, so here is part 2 of this wonderful drive.  The first forest fire danger sign I saw when I arrived in Banff, and the several I saw after, the danger level was low, very reassuring let me tell you.  As you speak to people who have good local knowledge, you come to the realisation, very quickly, that forest fires are no joke, and as you may have seen on a previous post, can be truly and utterly destructive.  Anyway, on this particular drive, I saw the first sign where the danger level had moved low to moderate, a step in the wrong direction, I hope the danger level does not go any higher?

Lillooet was a very special place, beautiful mountain peaks, lovely, dramatic green coloured water and very interesting facts (see photo below).  The steep, rough and rugged mountains contrasted so beautifully with the mountains that were covered by pine and fir trees.  I love the fact that some rivers have a railway line running alongside them, makes the whole environment more dramatic.

I like the fact that some road signs instruct winter tyres between certain dates, it highlights the point that these roads can be dangerous, actually, the fact that some of these roads are closed from mid-October make it real.  The switch backs on the mountain pass were unbelievably exhilarating, on some of the bends, my heart was thumping as I was so close to the edge, and from the 12th and 13th photos below, you can get some idea of the drop!  It wasn’t the best way to conduct my thoughts while driving these mountain passes, but I could not help myself from thinking that if  I did make a small mistake, the car would plummet very, very quickly to the bottom, I thank the Lord above, with all sincerity, that all went well.

As I look back through these photos, I am reminded how lucky I was to take this trip and see such magnificence and mind blowing beauty.  The last nine photos are the photos I am most proud of, they are mega fantastic, I was so lucky to be there on that day, at that time of day, to capture such flawless and mind boggling scenery, so much so that you really cannot believe your eyes, it almost looks fake.  Its like a dream where reality is questioned with the sheer clinical imagery in front of you, I absolutely loved this place, the colours, the air, the contrast, the fallen trees that had gathered together, the sheer perfection and reflections that surrounded me.   I honestly found it very hard to leave, but time was of the essence, and I had to move on as I still had to get to Whistler and there was Joffre Lakes that I was told was worth visiting along the way…



Drive from Kamloops to Whistler BC (be prepared, totally mind blowing!) – part 1

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Sunday 27th September)

According to common opinion, the drive through the Canadian Rockies is one of the most amazingly scenic drives in the world, it is true, and I was still recovering from the spleandour and positive energy gained from such a fantastic drive so far during my road trip.  There are many beautiful things I saw along this drive from Kamloops to Whistler, I will show them in 2 different blogs, blew my mind, let me know if you agree?

The first photo shows my humble accommodation for the night in Kamloops where I arrived after sunset, the second photo shows  when I awoke in the morning,  the view is from outside the door that I was welcomed by, nice!  As I left Kamloops, I was greeted by two frozen lakes, at least that is what they looked like, very strange considering the surrounding landscape and the current weather, very beautiful nonetheless.

Kamloops is a city in south central British Columbia in Canada, located at the confluence of the two branches of the Thompson River near Kamloops Lake. It is ranked 37th on the list of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in Canada and represents the 44th largest census agglomeration nationwide, with 85,678 residents in 2011.

The Suede Hills were one my favourite things along this particular part of the road trip, it really is as if the hills have been covered with blankets of suede, really awesome sight and gave me a taste of how I was going to be blessed with some very different landscape along the way, quite different from the majestic and splendid Canadian Rockies.

I drove past Okanagan Lake which seemed massive and just looked as if it was going to go on forever, very lovely scenery, gorgeous mountains and the railway along the lake was really cool, not to mention the green and brown fields which I had to adapt my senses too after seeing so many snowy white and grey mountains in the Rockies.

The mountain drive was truly, truly spectacular, as you can see from the photos below, at times, I was literally driving along the edge of the mountain roads, and to be honest, at times it was quite scary as it would have only taken one mistake and it could have been bad, real bad!  If you have time, look carefully at some of the mountain passes and you may see what I mean when you identify some of the awesome, windy roads.  I am totally aware of this as there were a few times when I was quite close to a mistake and my heart was literally in my mouth with a huge dose of adrenaline whizzing through my mind, body, and soul (which I think left my temporal existence a few times!).  This was not because of my lack of focus, just simply because there were certain parts of the drive that were a bit tricky and needed a lot of caution.

There was also something very, very special about the sky on this day, the beautiful blue was dazzling, at times mesmerising and hard to believe.  I was told about the vineyards, they were amazing and it was quite refreshing to see, not because I drank any wine, but because I was now driving on a much lower, safer level!  Apologies if I have said this before, for example, when I was driving through the Icefields Parkway, but this is one of the most fantastic and buzzing drives I have ever, ever experienced…and there is more to come in part 2…



The weather is changing…

Just a short note to say that the weather is changing in Toronto, it’s getting much colder now!  Prevention is better than cure they say, so some things just have to be covered, especially the outdoor swimming pool, and other things have to be put away.  We have had a tiny bit of snow, not very much really, but I think we are just being teased, the cold is coming, oh yes it is!  

Also below are some photos from my parents in laws apartment, they live in a penthouse apartment on the 30th floor, the views are fanatastic, and on top of that, there is a gym and swimming pool we have access to.  The trees are all changing and there are fantastic colours on display at the moment, I suppose it’s  natures way of telling us the cold is coming!  In a couple of the photos you can see downtown Toronto and just about make out the famous CN tower (in the night shot  it is difficult to make it out) and Ontario river in the background in the daytime photos, beautiful scenery to adorn the windows in your apartment!






St Lawrence Market, Downtown Toronto

This is a bit late, but we visited this market back in September, fantastic weather, awesome variety of food, beautiful architecture and not too far from downtown Toronto where I went to later on with Fatimah and Maryam, what joy!  Will hopefully be visiting some more markets during our stay, I believe Kensington Market is in the plans, at least that’s what the girls keep telling me!

St. Lawrence Market is one of two major public markets in Toronto, the other being Kensington Market. It was named the world’s best food market by National Geographic in April 2012



















British Colombia – River and Jeep Safari…Bears!

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Saturday 26th September)

I find it difficult to explain how I was feeling driving from Mount Robson to my first ever river and jeep safari where there was a very high chance of seeing bears.  My mind was totally preoccupied, I was nervous, excited, anxious and very focussed on getting to my destination as soon as I could.  Blue River is on Yellow Head Highway Five, halfway between Jasper and Kamloops, as well as halfway between Mt. Robson and Wells Grey Park.

An absolutely fascinating fact is that I was driving towards the only inland temperate rainforest on the planet!!  If time allowed, there was up to 12kms of bear territory to explore.  When turning off the main highway to enter the entrance, you follow a dirt track which crosses over a railway line where I just happened to be at the right time and place to witness a very loud train crossing, you then pass over a small bridge where only one car can pass at a time.  When I arrived at the main building, like a child in a sweet shop, I decided to upgrade my tour from just a river safari to include the jeep safari too after I was told that there was over a 90% chance of seeing bears.  For me this was worth it as it was highly unlikely I would return to this place for a long time, and even if I did, there would be no guarantee of experiencing this with such beautiful weather and with the likelihood so high of seeing bears.

It turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my life, without a doubt!  What I saw was much more than I expected…

We saw a large black male following a trail along the coast, popping in and out of the water as it sniffed its way along the trail.  It was quite a formidable sight to be honest.  It was very bothered by us as it was focussed on the trail it had found, not sure where it lead.

We then carried on our tour to a couple of different parts of the river but with no luck.  We then journeyed to another part of the river where we approached a large black female with three cubs (unfortunately I did not capture a photo of all three cubs together as one of them quickly climbed up a tree behind its mother, but in one of the photos, you can see the cub in the tree).  Our guide told us that this sight was quite rare.  The cubs were about nine months old and it was quite common that at least one of them would have died by now or the mother would have at least abandoned one of them.  It shows the resilience, love and care of an amazing mother.

Once the river safari was over, there was a short break before I commenced on the jeep safari.   Other than the river, there was a couple and one other guide.  I was given a choice as to where I would like to sit and I chose to stand at the back of the jeep and have a strap tied behind my back which was attached to the jeep railings. The jeep safari blessed me with the opportunity to see a young brown male, who at one point showed who was boss by standing high on its back legs, a beautiful sight. It seemed he could sense something we could not, it was going up and down the hill behind it, and then at one point crossed the road right behind me and very close to me!

Soon after, it became clear what was bothering the young brown male.  A huge black male came around the corner, totally and utterly awesome and exhilarating!!! A truly fantastic few hours of my life which I will cherish forever and not forget!




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British Colombia – Mount Robson

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Saturday 26th September)

It was time to leave Jasper and head towards my next destination, Kamloops (over 4 hours away), I would be entering British Colombia, which I will tell you know, I have fallen in love with, breath taking landscape and nature.  Along my way I was to pass by the most prominent mountain in the Rocky Mountain range in North America, Mount Robson, it also happens to be the highest point in the Canadian Rockies at 3,954m (12,972ft) wow!  Along this route, it is apparently the most photographed feature and it is the second highest peak in the whole of British Colombia.

I was happy to have been able to visit and see this place as it closes in mid October.  The mountain is ridiculously huge, so huge in fact that you have to be quite fortunate to see it in all it’s glory and majesty…I was not fortunate as the weather was a little overcast and the clouds were veiling its beauty.  However, I saw some sun sneaking through the clouds and decided to be patient and wait.  I waited an hour and the wind picked up and some clouds gave way to offer a glimpse of this truly gorgeous mountain, you can see through the photos how it became slightly visible just after an hour.  There are two photos I took from within the information centre as it shows it in all it’s splendour.  The last photo is just a real cool trailer, maybe one day?

I found out at the information centre that along my way to Kamloops was a bear safari in a place called Blue River and the chance of seeing bears today was over 85%!  This was not part of the plan but I decided to buy the tickets and take this opportunity to see bears…it was bit of a risk as I did not want to drive on any mountain ranges towards Kamloops after sunset, not sure if I was going to be let down, I suppose we will wait and see…






Jasper National Park: Downtown Jasper

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Friday 25th September)

Jasper downtown was nice but did not have the character I loved in Banff, much more happening and much more vibrant.  However, there was a different type of character in Jasper, more rugged, more rural, more isolated, more connected with nature.

This is true as far as the wildlife is concerned.  In the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, it is no wonder you will find elk, caribou, moose, mule deer, white-tailed deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, black bears, coyotes, beavers, Rocky Mountain pikas, hoary marmots, grey wolves, mountain lions, and wolverines!!!  I know I had already seen Elks, but to see some fighting got my adrenaline going, the sound which I could not capture  (as I did not have enough time when I sawe them) was a bit scary but truly wonderful!

My favourite part of  Jasper downtown without a doubt were the trees, they were so amazing, different colour trees side by side on a day where the weather was wet, miserable and overcast made the trees splendour stand out more…

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Jasper National Park: Spectacular Maligne Canyon

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Friday 25th September)

Oh my word, what a stunning place this was, the trip continues to amaze my senses in so many ways and this was no exception, the way it is likely to have been created over time by the melt water is incredible, I mean this dates back to the Ice Age!!  If you have time to read the information posters I took photos of below, you will surely appreciate how fantastic this place is.

It is always exciting to visit a place that is a Heritage site, something that has been deemed so amazing and special that it is protected.  There were six bridges to explore which took you beauty to beauty.  I wasn’t actually planning to spend very long here, the day was already getting tiring, but I ended up doing the longer walk as I was awe inspired by every aspect of this place, as soon as I visited one area, I longed to moved to the next to see what lay in store for me, and every time, I had no words to explain what I was seeing, remember, this is natures art work where you could say the tree trunks are the paint brushes and the water is the paint!

One of my favourite aspects of this canyon were the log jams which you can see in a couple of the photos below, it is so cool that they are submerged under water when the water level rises so cannot be seen, and when the water level drops, the log jams are revealed once again!

After this spectacular place, I drove back towards Jasper downtown where I was staying the night.  I saw more Elks on a a small hill, there were quite a few of them and lots of people stopped on the roadside to take photos, some people with humongous camouflaged lenses!  There was a ranger in his jeep carefully watching the Elks and the public, who after a short while came out with a gun, he basically went up the hill and started shooting in the direction of the Elks which sure enough scared them away.  This really upset so many people who had stopped to see the Elks and take photos and videos of them, apparently he did this to scare them away from the road side and keep the public safe.









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Jasper National Park: Maligne Lake

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Friday 25th September)

Although the sun was not out and it was quite overcast, the magnificence of Maligne Lake was quite obvious, a lovely water colour nonetheless, stunning peaks surounding it, low set clouds, there was still some reflections and a lovely setting with the chalet and boat house nearby.  One of the first things I was greeted with was the warning sign about Moose, I would have liked to have seen some, but today was not going to be that day…maybe next time?

I went for a short walk which was pleasant, I was glad I came but it left me wandering how stunning this place would have been if the weather was clearer and if the sun had blessed us with it’s presence, some of the links provided below show this…if the conditions were better, I would have definitely gone on one of the many hikes that are advised around and beyond this lovely lake.