Ten days in the Cana­dian Rock­ies, one less line on a fam­ily’s bucket list.

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - Travel@wash­post.com

Our read­ers share tales of their ram­blings around the world.

Who: Brit­tany Sper­beck (the au­thor); her par­ents, David and Brenda Sper­beck; and her sis­ter, Cara Sper­beck, all of Gaithers­burg, Md.

Where, when, why: Trav­el­ing ap­prox­i­mately 2,500 miles from the District, my fam­ily and I ex­plored the vast peaks and gor­geous lakes of the Cana­dian Rock­ies for 10 days. From the unique, turquoise-colored Lake Louise, to Banff and Jasper na­tional parks, the Cana­dian Rock­ies have been on my fam­ily’s bucket list for years. In Au­gust, we fi­nally crossed it off as we em­barked on an ad­ven­ture that led us to dis­cover Mother Na­ture’s amaz­ing gifts, in­clud­ing deep canyons and high moun­tains, cold glaciers and hot springs.

High­lights and high points: At an el­e­va­tion of 7,486 feet, Sul­phur Moun­tain was the lit­eral high point of our va­ca­tion. As we soared above the clouds in the Banff Gon­dola, which car­ried us to the top of the moun­tain, we were greeted with spec­tac­u­lar panoramic views that made us feel like we were step­ping into a post­card. Fol­low­ing the board­walk to the peak, we got a bird’s-eye view of a few places we had vis­ited up close, in­clud­ing the beau­ti­ful Bow River, the renowned, palace-like Fair­mont Banff Springs ho­tel and the quaint town of Banff.

An­other high point was Takakkaw Falls, Canada’s third­high­est wa­ter­fall. The word takakkaw means “it is mag­nif­i­cent” in the Cree lan­guage, and that pretty much sums up the ex­pe­ri­ence of vis­it­ing this fa­mous site, where we man­aged to see and stand un­der a dou­ble rain­bow. How­ever, I would rec­om­mend bring­ing an um­brella, as we got quite wet from the wa­ter­fall’s mist!

Cul­tural con­nec­tion or dis­con­nect: It only got up to 27 de­grees while we were there. Br­rrr!! Just kid­ding! It was 27 de­grees, but in Cel­sius, which means it was about 80 de­grees Fahren­heit. Since our neigh­bors to the north use the met­ric sys­tem, it was dif­fi­cult at times to know the ex­act tem­per­a­ture or even how fast we were driv­ing. All of the hik­ing trails were la­beled in kilo­me­ters, so we had to use our ba­sic knowl­edge of con­ver­sion and math to fig­ure out trail lengths. Also, be­cause the cur­rency is dif­fer­ent, it was a nice sur­prise to fig­ure out that my $10 bag of maple-fla­vored cof­fee was ac­tu­ally just $7 in U.S. cur­rency.

Be­fore leav­ing, we also had the chance to try some Cana­dian cui­sine, in­clud­ing the coun­try’s most fa­mous dish, pou­tine. This tasty side con­sists of french fries topped with cheese curds and light brown gravy. It tasted just like it sounds — de­li­cious! We also couldn’t leave Canada with­out try­ing Tim Hor­tons, a Cana­dian chain that is fa­mous for its scrump­tious dough­nuts and cof­fee.

Big­gest laugh or cry: Dur­ing an eight-hour scenic drive from Jasper to Banff on the fa­mous Ice­fields Park­way, we took a de­tour to see the an­cient Athabasca Glacier and the Glacier Sky­walk. Not only did we get to ride in a mas­sive ve­hi­cle with huge tires up to the glacier, we also got to walk on this enor­mous, 1,200-foot-thick piece of ice. Af­ter walk­ing on the glacier, we faced our fears and walked onto the Glacier Sky­walk, where all that sep­a­rated us from a 918-foot drop was a piece of glass. I will never for­get the feel­ing of sheer ter­ror, com­bined with ab­so­lute amaze­ment and a sprin­kle of won­der, that we ex­pe­ri­enced with the wa­ter­falls and val­leys be­low us and the clouds right above us.

How un­ex­pected: It was def­i­nitely wed­ding sea­son in the Cana­dian Rock­ies: We were able to wit­ness two elope­ments, a bride rush­ing to her wed­ding and two wed­ding par­ties pos­ing for pic­tures with the fa­mous re­flect­ing Vermilion Lakes as a back­drop.

Fon­d­est me­mento or mem­ory: My fam­ily and I left Canada with a new fa­vorite color: the rich, deep blue of Mo­raine Lake. As in some of the other lakes we vis­ited (among them Lake Louise, Emer­ald Lake, Peyto Lake and Maligne Lake), the un­be­liev­able blue is caused by “rock silt” that comes from melt­ing glaciers that run into the lakes. The silt then re­flects both blue and green col­ors. Some may say this is just sim­ple physics, but I think it’s mag­i­cal, just like all of the peaks and val­leys we saw dur­ing our trip.

To tell us about your own trip, go to wash­ing­ton­post.com/travel and fill out the What a Trip form with your fon­d­est mem­o­ries, finest mo­ments and fa­vorite pho­tos.


The Sper­beck fam­ily, from left, Cara, Brenda, David and Brit­tany, are treated to a panoramic view af­ter rid­ing the Banff Gon­dola to the top of the 7,486-foot Sul­phur Moun­tain in Al­berta.

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