Moraine Lake Hikes : Intermediate

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery – air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy”

If you have a couple of hours and the easy hikes around Moraine are not enough for you then it might be your lucky day because there are some intermediate hikes that take you a couple of hours to complete.

Larch Valley : This trail is a very popular one. Starting point is at the canoe docks. The trail basically consists out of a bunch of nasty switchbacks that take you all the way to Larch Valley. But the view is fantastic, especially if you come in September when the larch trees turn golden, a must see but make sure you come early. There are special buses that run between Moraine Lake and the Lake Louise Overflow parking (Highway 1) during those few weeks in September.

Sentinel Pass : If you want to continue on this trail you will hike all the way to Sentinel Pass. From here you have a beautiful view over Larch Valley on the one side and Paradise Valley on the other side. Definitely worth the stretch if you ask me.

The Tower of Babel : This is one is a little tricky. The trail for the Tower of Babel isn’t really the greatest one because there is no actual trail. You start at the parking lot and start on the rock pile trail, then take a left to continue on the Consolation Lake Trail and once you crossed the rocks that washed out the path take a right through the trees. There you will encounter more rocks and the start of your scramble all the way up to the Tower of Babel. It is an intense scramble but the view over Moraine Lake is just breathtaking.


Moraine Lake Hikes : Beginner

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.¬†¬†

If you choose Moraine Lake as your starting point of a hike, you are a in for a treat.

There is a hike for every kind of hiker.

These hikes only accessible during the summer season (June-October).

If you don’t have a lot of time or if you don’t like to hike all that much than you can hike the rock pile or do the lakeshore trail.

Lakeshore Trail : a nice flat trail along the lake with nice views of the ten peaks and people enjoying their canoe ride. The trail start next to the canoe docks.

Rock pile : The classic stroll. The trail starts on the parking lot next to the public toilets. Make your way up and take that money shot that used to be on the back of a Canadian 20 dollar bill

Consolation Lake : A nice and easy hike that leads you to quiet spot in between the mountains. Please make sure you are traveling in a group of four as there might be a bear warning in this area. This trail starts at the parking lot where the Rock pile trail starts. A little further down the trail there will be a trail continuing on the left. Follow that trail over the rocks that washed out the trail. A little further you’ll find a path again.

Moraine Lake, Alberta

If you’re lucky enough to live in the mountains… you’re lucky enough.

After the few initial days in Calgary I collected three facts.

The first fact : Belgium (my home country) was still in the World Cup and had to play against the United States. I was thrilled to see the game but haven’t met any fellow Belgians so far. I ended up in a pub downtown Calgary where a bunch of people were watching the game Belgium – USA. It was only when Belgium scored the first goal that I realised I was the only one cheering in the crowd. Well me and two Canadian girls next to me at the bar who rooted for Belgium because they abominated the USA for reasons unknown. Fact one, Belgium won that game, but I could not fully celebrate the victory like I did last week in Belgium. I missed my friends.

The second fact : I emailed a friend who was working up in the mountains. I told her I arrived in Calgary and we could meet up whenever she had the time. Maybe she had an idea where I could find a job or give me some good tips. A couple hours later she already replied with the news they were looking for an extra employee at their lodge. The only thing was, I had to get there as soon as possible. I immediately checked buses and rental cars but the Calgary Stampede had officially started and the cowboys and cowgirls no longer use their horses to make their way to Calgary anymore. All transportation was sold out. Fact two, I was screwed.

The third fact : There was one last option… hitchhiking. I tried my luck the next morning and after walking for two hours I got my first ride… for the full five minutes and got dropped off in the middle of nowhere. Luckily a second ride followed not that long after and a third one brought me all the way up to a breathtaking location, Moraine Lake. I met my friend, talked to the manager and got the job. Fact three, Where’s a will is a way. I got a job and the location was awesome.

Sasha the Raven Travel Tips : Moraine Lake is a must see during your visit in Western Canada. Although it is less busy than its big sister Lake Louise it does get busier every year. Your best bet is to come as early as possible (before 9 AM) to visit the lake to avoid the crowds and to have decent parking.

Canoe rentals are cheaper at Moraine Lake ( $ 50 CAD/hour (2014 season) than at Lake Louise.

If Moraine Lake is a quick stop on your travel itinerary then… shame on you. If you don’t have a lot of time make sure you have half an hour to climb to the rock pile (there is an easy trail that takes you there so no need to climb the rocks and get yourself wet and injured).

The (only) road to Moraine Lake is generally open from early June until mid October.

Calgary, Alberta

Maybe something in his dream chased him

We all have this kind of voice within us. This dream we want to make come true. Some of us have the deepest desire to build a house, have a family, have a successful business. Others among us dream of leaving everything behind and explore new horizons. Whatever your calling may be in life, stop dreaming. Chase your dream instead.

My Canadian Adventure started in Calgary last June, right before the Calgary Stampede. Little did I know that I was at the start of an awesome journey that would bring me from the plain landscapes of Calgary to the majestic Rocky Mountains to end up on the beautiful west coast where I would spend my winter.

If you are traveling to Calgary begin July make sure you have accommodation and mode of transportation booked before you arrive here because everything gets really expensive and sells out quickly.

Cheap Bastard Travel Tip : The first thing people would go to for a great view of the city would the Calgary Tower but if you would like to save those $ 18 CAD for a good view of¬†the city I would recommend to go to Crescent Heights. It is a bit of a walk but it takes you through the Prince’s Island Park and over the Bow River. Climb the long staircase and enjoy the view while¬†you catch your breath. Okay, okay – it’s not the same panorama view but definitely satisfied my hunger. Also a great viewpoint for whenever there are fireworks in the city (like Canada Day).

Where to stay ? HI Hostel is recently renovated (June 2014) and has all the things you need for a comfortable stay as a backpacker.

Moving (on)

Last night I spent my first night at my new place here in Ghent.

When I drove to my new apartment, which I will be sharing with my longtime friend Claire, I was accompanied by a bunch of boxes. I wondered how I was able to gather so much stuff since I am used to travel with only my backpack for the last year now. How did I go from the necessary stuff to ten boxes of unessential crap ?

I should unpack today but I refuse. The weather is great outside and I need a loaf of bread. I forgot how hard it is to find a store that is open on a holiday in Belgium. I luck out, there is a little store in the city that is saving the Easter dinners of a lot of households. Or maybe it is just my dinner and everyone else is prepared for these kind of situations. No bread left in the store but some rolls will do the trick. Mission partly successful.

I return home and start planning on my adventure for this fall, Australia. I received my work holiday permit yesterday. I was amazed how fast my application got approved. The whole experience is happening in a fast pace this time. But I have a ‘expiry date’ on my adventures Down Under because I am turning 31 in January 2016 so this is my last year I can apply for the Work Holiday Visa Program.

I already made the decision to go abroad again when I was still on my last adventure in Canada.

Making the decision is always considered the most difficult part of the adventure. You have a dream to travel and live abroad but don’t know if it is something for you, if you are strong enough, if you will find your way. I can assure you that you will and the adventure will be worth the risk. All you have to do is take that first step. Make that decision. Once you applied online for the visa or you booked your flight there is no way back. I always kind of trap myself into the situation.

One certain moment I feel like I should just do it. Then I run to my computer as fast as I can and go online and apply or book that ticket. After I paid I am in that ‘hesitation zone’ where I am thinking about my sudden decision but soon after I realise I made the right one and get all excited.

So the excitement is here. And I can’t wait to embark onto a new adventure this summer. In the meantime I will post some of my previous travels on my blog while I keep you updated about the process of my Australian Adventure.

Alright, better unpack all my stuff now.

Home Again (for a little while)

Brussels, March 25th 2015

And then my plane touches down in Brussels.

A whirlwind of emotions are rushing through my body.

Happy to see my friends and family back,

Sad because my adventure is over

Scared of what’s next,

Relieved because I have a plan in mind (more news about this coming soon),

Hopeful to find a job in Belgium soon,

Realistic enough to know returning to the place you came from is not an easy process.

Everyone I know who went abroad can relate with the typical withdrawal process.

You come home from an adventure that changed you for life. Although you left your life behind in a foreign country you are thrilled to see your family and friends back in your home country.

The Fantastic First Week(s)

The first week(s) are awesome ! You see all your loved ones back and you are overwhelmed with people who are thrilled to have you back. Everyone is curious about your travels and your days are filled with the one meet up after the other. Your mom is making your favourite meal, you enjoy the food you’ve missed abroad. All these good times prevent you from thinking too much about how much you miss your other friends on the other side of the world. Another beer ? Yes Please¬†!

The Black Hole 

After an overload of intense hugs, smiles and alcohol things suddenly start to change. People stop smiling, hugs feel casual and the alcohol just gives you a nasty hangover…

I am not talking about the black hole the alcohol left you last night. Always awkward to run into people you think you never saw in your life but they claim that you two had the deepest conversation last Saturday night at the bar. Or when you are tagged in a photo with complete strangers that look like your long time best friends. No, not that kind of black hole.

The black hole you are facing once your homecoming prom is over. The clock struck twelve and everything turns back to the daily routine life. And then you realise NOTHING has changed except you. And soon enough the warm glow changes into a cold shiver.

People don’t want to hear another story about your mountain adventures or that time you encountered a shark while diving. You feel left out for a bit. You feel alone. You want to just leave again.

The Refusal of Unpacking 

And it gets worse. That suitcase you brought home two weeks ago is still in the corner of your room. The souvenirs and some clothes you have been wearing have been taken out of your bag but what is left in the bag is the worst, your momentos. Polaroid photos from a crazy beach party, cards, letters,…You reminisce¬†about that time you went surfing in Australia or that summer fling you had. Damn, she was cute.

You refuse to unpack, you refuse to move on.

The Turning Point

You will start to realise that all this pouting and mourning is getting you nowhere and all of a sudden you will have this small moment that strikes you. It could be having a drink with a friend, a good talk with your sibling, even reading a blog on the internet. You are no longer feeling lost and alone and accept the changes. Slowly the new you starts to blend into society again. The bags are unpacked, the job interviews are lining up, you start to feel good and you are ready to conquer the world again. Your derailed life gets back on track again and soon enough the adventure abroad is an awesome memory you will cherish for the rest of your life.

The Unusual Spin

Then every now and then… there are those few that don’t find their way into society anymore after being abroad. They keep wandering. Their hunger for more adventures doesn’t stop. It is a blessing as well as a curse. A blessing because you keep pushing yourself to grow, to explore the world, to keep discovering new horizons and new cultures. But at the same time you keep searching for this wholeness. You want to belong at some point, you want to settle but you can’t just yet. You feel like there is more in life than this.

If this is you, I would say, keep searching for what you want in life. Stay hungry. Put your teeth in every adventure you can grab. Life tastes good ! Embrace every opportunity. Start living and keep going.

After being home for nearly two weeks I have decided to sign myself up for another adventure. I am stoked already !

You can read all about it in my upcoming blogs. I will also post blogs of my past travel adventures filled with travel tips.

In Transit

Toronto Pearson International Airport, March 24th, 2015

In transit…

That is what I am right now between Vancouver and Brussels.

But in general, my life will probably always be in transit.

I think it all got out of hand during my childhood.

A¬†little beach village¬†at our Belgian Coast was the favourite spot of my mother to go for a little getaway with the family. When I think of that place I reminisce about the times we got ice cream, played¬†pit pat, went go-carting and… that time I ran away to seek new horizons as a four¬†year old. I guess I was ready for an adventure. My mother allowed me to go play in the sand but I had to stay within eye sight. That rule was easy to obey… for a minute. After that I set course and ran where the wind blew. Half an hour later I realised my mistake¬†and how I threw my one rule overboard. I turned around and returned to find my sister running towards me. I smiled and she rolled her eyes. We still do this nowadays.

When I was seven, our class had to perform the play of the Parable of the Lost Son. Of all the kids my teacher chose me to play the Lost Son. I still remember how I had to walk around in church and return to my father (actor) who embraced me upon arrival. My real father still does.  

And that time I went to the playground with the family when I was eight. My parents told me the playground was my arena to play on. I crossed boundaries within minutes and retrieved my concerned mother a little later talking to a lady which I thought was the Queen of Belgium (Queen Fabiola). My mother was upset and I felt a bit guilty for leaving her. That hasn’t changed much now. ¬†

A group of friends bring me back to the present when they throw their bags on the tables in front of me. They are waiting for their connection to Vienna. I ask myself what their story is.

What about my story ?

I am a 30 year old restless soul who is looking for adventures. Always and everywhere. I have lived abroad a couple of times in my young life and I have created this blog to share my past and future experiences with you with the inevitable clumsy edge.

Where I am now ?

I just packed up my life in Vancouver¬†where I was traveling and working for the last six months. Not an easy task but I guess you get used to it after a couple of times. I have traveled this way for a while now. Get a foreign temporary work permit and build myself a life abroad. Even if it is for a little while. A home away from home, if you can call it that…

I check the time. 6.15 PM. I still have 30 minutes until boarding starts. I decide to slowly make my way to the gate. Once I arrive at the gate I notice there is practically no one there. I glance at the gate¬†screen and see ‘FINAL CALL’. My heart skips a beat¬†… ¬†I run to the gate and luckily I can still get on board. When did that happen¬†? Probably between my daydreaming and future planning while I was listening to Ben Howard. But I am not the only one to arrive late.

I have a window seat (always a win if you ask me) and no one in the seat next to me (double win for an overnight flight). Always fun to see the world from outside your window.

This journey has come to a close. Jet Airways, bring me back to Belgium !

Time for a new adventure.