Camping & Hiking @ Banff & Jasper National Parks (Calgary, Canada)

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Hi.

This is a crazy idea.

I don't know if anybody will be serious about this.

If anyone has some vacation time with nowhere to go, or is looking for travel buddies, then how about going to beautiful Banff?

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For app users reading this on your phone - it's easier to view this on a larger screen and web browser via a computer / laptop / tablet -

https://www.meetup.com/OC_Camping/events/262009852

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Because sometimes people don’t read until the end, I’ll mention this now.

1) This trip is to Canada..which means each person needs a passport (not expired) and is responsible for his/her own flight to Calgary, Alberta - airport code YYC.

2) This trip is tentatively for one week. I suggest arriving on Friday or Saturday, Sept 6 or 7, and departing on Sunday or Monday, Sept 15 or 16.

3) This trip is for a maximum of 6 people. My expectations are very low. Due to the time and cost, my guess is maybe 1 - 2 might consider joining.

4) July & August typically are the busiest months for visiting the Canadian Rockies. September is a transition month and the weather should be okay, but some days might get cold, chilly, wet, inclement, etc...so this is important to keep in mind. I'll elaborate later.

5) I've planned over 25 camping trips, and typically the most I've ever asked for contributions is $40 or less.

Well, this is my first time doing a group trip to another country, and I still need to think about costs, but currently, if 1 - 2 people are committed to going, I'm thinking of asking for a deposit around $200 - $300, but if 3 - 4 people commit to going, then it'll be less, maybe like $150 - $200. Those are just general, approximate numbers. (Campsite, rental vehicle, gas, insurance, national park entry fee, misc camping gear, supplies, etc).

Anyhow, if that cost/price doesn't scare everyone away...feel free to continue reading.

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I'll abstain from saying much to "sell" or convince others to want to visit Banff.

Judge for yourself. Google, image search, or Youtube search any of the following:

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Banff National Park

Icefields Parkway

Jasper National Park

Kootenay National Park

Lake Louise

Lake Minnewanka

Moraine Lake

Peyto Lake

Two Jack Lake

Yoho National Park

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Plenty of websites, reviews, blogs, videos, and photos are available online to help you decide if you want to see/visit these places or not.

Time and money are valuable to each person...so it's up to each individual to think and choose whether or not s/he wants to go or not, and if this is worth your time/money.

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Since airfare can be pricey on various dates, offering flexibility on arrival and departure dates might benefit some.

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This is a preliminary itinerary:

Sept 6 or 7 - Friday or Saturday (your choice) - everyone should arrive to Calgary, Alberta and find their own lodging. Airbnb is fairly affordable, and some places have easy access to public transportation or ride sharing.

Each person can explore Calgary on Friday or Saturday on their own, or check with me if you want to tag along while I tour the city.

I plan on renting a vehicle in Calgary for transporting others to/from Banff, and I might be able to drive people to stores to buy items/supplies on Saturday (or Sunday morning) for the camping trip.

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Sept 8 - Sunday - Starting in the morning, leave Calgary and drive to Jasper National Park. Make stops at the scenic sites along Icefields Parkway and arrive at the campsite in Jasper by Sunday evening. The drive and frequent stops will take most of the day.

https://goo.gl/maps/XcyxVZbC3BD7JyVw8

Sept 9 & 10 - Monday & Tuesday - Explore Jasper National Park (sites/lakes and hiking).

Sept 11 - Wednesday - In the morning, leave Jasper and drive to Banff. Make stops at the scenic sites along the way and arrive at the campsite in Banff by Wednesday night.

Sept 12, 13, & 14 - Thursday, Friday, & Saturday - Explore Lake Louise area and Banff (sites/lakes & hiking).

Sept 15 - Sunday - Starting in the morning, leave Banff and drive to Calgary. Drop people off at the airport if leaving on Sunday or wherever if anyone wants to stay an extra day to explore Calgary and leave on Monday.

https://goo.gl/maps/JoffbnCLGBHNq3eLA

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Each person is responsible for their own flight.

Before purchasing a flight, please read this entire description.

In addition to checking directly with airline websites, some 3rd party sites include Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, Hotwire, Orbitz, etc...

...personally I suggest:

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https://www.kayak.com

and

https://www.google.com/flights

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With Kayak, you can search for surrounding airports and include different dates to find better flights/prices.

For example -

LAX - https://www.kayak.com/flights/LAX-YYC/2019-09-06-flexible-1day/2019-09-15-flexible-1day-after?sort=price_a&fs=legdur=-480

John Wayne - https://www.kayak.com/flights/SNA-YYC/2019-09-06-flexible-1day/2019-09-15-flexible-1day-after?sort=price_a&fs=legdur=-480

Burbank - https://www.kayak.com/flights/BUR-YYC/2019-09-06-flexible-1day/2019-09-15-flexible-1day-after?sort=price_a&fs=legdur=-480

Ontario - https://www.kayak.com/flights/ONT-YYC/2019-09-06-flexible-1day/2019-09-15-flexible-1day-after?sort=price_a&fs=legdur=-480

Long Beach - https://www.kayak.com/flights/LGB-YYC/2019-09-06-flexible-1day/2019-09-15-flexible-1day-after?sort=price_a&fs=legdur=-480

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Airports other than LAX might offer better deals...so consider checking BUR, ONT, and SNA if Burbank, Ontario, or Santa Ana are respectively closer to you.

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If using Google, in addition to searching for round-trip flights...also check for one-way flights on Google -

https://www.google.com/flights

Enter departure & arrival cities/airport codes, (Calgary is YYC) and click on the Calendar icon, and it'll show the lowest price for each date.

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To reiterate...I suggest looking for a flight that fits your budget & schedule/availability...

...so consider arriving on Friday or Saturday...and find your own place to sleep in Calgary, so that you're ready to go on Sunday morning.

...and look for return flights on Sunday, after late-morning. It'll take a little time to drive from Banff to Calgary airport on Sunday morning. If return flights on Sunday are sold-out or super expensive, if your schedule allows, maybe stay an extra day in Calgary and explore the city and find a cheap Airbnb that is nearby, and leave on Monday.

I arrive on Thursday night, so I might be able to pick anyone up on Friday or Saturday and drop them off at an Airbnb or other lodging (hotel/motel/hostel)...and then pick everyone up on Sunday morning to go to Banff.

I leave on Sunday late afternoon, so I can't drive anyone to the airport on Sunday night or Monday.

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If anyone is concerned about cold weather, rain, potential wild fires, etc...then either get a refundable plane ticket or WAIT until mid-to-late August or early September to look for flights.

Nobody is expected or required to purchase a flight now. You can wait until weather forecasts are more accurate to determine if you want to go or not.

I don't want anyone to lose $ from buying a plane ticket they won't use, so please feel free to wait and think about it some more if you want to join this trip.

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Hotels are pretty expensive in Banff, so camping is a frugal alternative.

According to Canada's Park website, the campground has a maximum limit of 6 people and 2 tents per campsite.

Not everybody has a backpacker's tent, and having multiple tents might be an issue if they are strict about that rule/policy, so I'm thinking of bringing a medium size tent for us to share.

Traveling light is helpful.

If we can minimize what everyone brings, that'll help...not only in regards to luggage for the flight, but also in the vehicle we drive in.

As of right now, I'm thinking of renting a mini-van, which isn't cheap, but c'est la vie.

If only 1 - 2 other people go, we should be able to fit everybody's stuff (backpacks, luggage, gear/stuff, etc.).

But if 3 - 5 people want to go, we'll need to pack light and squeeze everything in and pray all our stuff fits, and that people can sit comfortably for the drive.

btw, in addition to bringing a tent for everybody to share to free up space in everyone's luggage, if anyone doesn't have a compact sleeping mat/pad, I can bring extra for others to sleep on.

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Each person should bring the typical camping items like:

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Sleeping bag & pillow

Clothes (layers), socks, shoes

Backpack

Water bottles or hydration pack

Sweater, jacket, gloves, & beanie hat to stay warm at night

Toothbrush, toothpaste, & other hygiene items / toiletries

Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat or a bandana

Earplugs

Lip balm / chapstick

Hand sanitizer or baby wipes / wet naps

Sunglasses...maybe sunscreen or bug spray / insect repellent

Flashlight / Headlamp

Cell phone charger cable (car adapter) or portable charger

Towel, soap, & shampoo

Portable / backpacker camp stove (or I might bring one for us to share)

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We can buy miscellaneous items at a Walmart or another store in Calgary (fuel/propane, a cheap cooler, cheap disposable poncho, trash bags, food, water, cooking utensils, plates, paper towels, wet naps / baby wipes, flip flops, extra blanket, etc.).

And we can buy food, ice, water/drinks, and snacks at Calgary, Banff, or Jasper.

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Since we need to travel light and can't bring as much clothing compared to typical car camping trips, we can look for a laundry machine in Jasper / Banff to wash our clothes & socks during the week.

We should have access to showers everyday, so our bodies and clothes & socks shouldn't smell too bad throughout the week. :)

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The weather in September can be unpredictable and inclement.

Years ago when I went in mid-to-late September, it wasn't cold imo if I remember correctly...but when looking online at weather reports from recent years, September's weather can fluctuate easily and vary, day to day.

Maybe the weather this September will be warm and sunny, but it also might be grey/gloomy, wet/rainy, and cold/chilly.

We'll check weather forecasts in late August.

If anyone can't enjoy being outside, or hiking in cold/cool temperatures or possible wet weather, then this trip is NOT for you.

We can't control the weather, and we don't want anyone to get mad, disappointed, frustrated, or feel this trip is ruined if the weather is unlike Southern California weather in September.

Again, this is an important factor to take into consideration if anyone decides on going.

I'm not going to lie, sugar-coat, or mislead anyone...the weather might be great, but it also might be bad / cold / wet / etc.

You can also search online for "September Banff" or "September Jasper National Park" and read what other people have experienced in the past.

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I'm not a mind-reader, so if anyone is interested in attending, please contact me directly (message me on Meetup) with answers to the following questions:

(1) Do you have a valid/current passport?

(2) Do you understand the weather might be cold / wet on some days/nights?

(3) Do you understand you are responsible for getting your own flight to Calgary, Alberta, Canada?

Before purchasing any flight, can you please also lmk what dates & times you are thinking of arriving and leaving? I want to make sure I can drive you to Banff & Jasper on Sept 8 and return you to Calgary in time on Sept 15.

(4) Do you have a warm sleeping bag? If you can't fit it in your luggage/backpack, maybe you can buy a sleeping bag and blanket in Calgary or rent one in Banff.

(5) The campground has a limit to the # of tents, so are you okay with sleeping in a medium size tent that 2 - 4 people might share?

(6) Are you bringing a sleeping pad/mat ? If not, I might be able to bring extra if they fit in my luggage.

(7) Do you understand you are responsible for buying your own food, snacks, and drinks?

(8) Do you understand since we'll be traveling together in one vehicle, we'll have to stay together? I plan on checking out the various lakes and other scenic sites, and doing easy & moderate hikes. If anyone really wants to do/see something, feel free to lmk in advance and we can discuss. I'm fairly open-minded.

(9) If you are serious about attending, can you send me a photo of the backpack and/or luggage you plan on bringing? We need to make sure everything can fit in the vehicle.

(10) Do you understand we can't control things like weather, forest fires, air quality, smoke, rain, thunderstorms, snow, etc. ?

(11) If you have never met me before (past camping trip or volunteering), can you try to meet before September? I try to be friendly and get along with everyone, but honestly, we should talk and meet in person to make sure we'll get along for a week. :)

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If using Meetup via the phone app or a computer (e.g. web browser), look for my name/profile (wise|man) under Attendees, and then click a shortcut for messaging me (e.g. an envelope icon shortcut or "message").

Please message “wise|man” instead of using the comments section. Thank you.

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The campsite does NOT have heaters or electricity.

The campsite should have restrooms with toilets that flush, potable water, hot showers, fire ring, picnic table, etc.

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Photos: https://www.meetup.com/SoCalVolunteers/photos/all_photos/?photoAlbumId=26443869

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Photo Source/Credit: Banff Lake Louise Tourism, Gypsy Guide, Kate Goldie, Lonely Planet, & stmed.net, World Atlas

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If anyone has a question, try -

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g154911-i221-Banff_Banff_National_Park_Alberta.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g154917-i464-Jasper_National_Park_Alberta.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g154912-i569-Lake_Louise_Banff_National_Park_Alberta.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g154913-i285-Calgary_Alberta.html

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If anyone likes to plan / prepare / research...

...Plenty of resources are available online (websites, trip reports, Youtube videos, Instagram, etc.)...so feel free to search for hikes or things to do/see.

https://www.google.com/search?q=banff+hiking

https://www.google.com/search?q=visit+calgary

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One reason I prefer going in September is because of the cooler weather.

Last year (2018), areas in/near Mammoth, Yosemite, Bishop, and other parts of Eastern Sierra and High Sierra experienced bad wildfires, and the air quality was horrible.

Breathing smokey air is unhealthy and should be avoided.

Well, apparently Alberta, Canada has had wildfires in recent years too.

If anyone is worried that another fire may occur this year, my suggestion is to get a refundable flight in case you want to cancel.

I'm usually pretty cool about refunds. I've seen other groups/organizers say they don't refund, but I'm fairly lenient. Some people have even offered for me to keep their payment, but I still have refunded people, even those who cancel the day of the event.

But I have no control over weather, fires, air quality, and plane tickets; so if anyone does book a flight, you are ultimately responsible for airfare, and I cannot reimburse/compensate anyone for their plane ticket if they decide to cancel. Sorry.

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https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g154911-i221-k11862941-o100-Wild_fires_2018-Banff_Banff_National_Park_Alberta.html

https://www.banfflakelouise.com/park-webcams

https://www.banfflakelouise.com/fairmont-chateau-lake-louise-webcam

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The following is just filler that I need to add b/c Meetup has some weird character limit, and I might need to add to this description later...so the following is just a short story that you can ignore...it's seriously just filler.

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Genesis and Catastrophe
Roald Dahl

“Everything is normal,” the doctor was saying. “Just lie back and relax.” His voice was miles away in the distance and he seemed to be shouting at her.

“You have a son.”

“What?”

“You have a fine son. You understand that, don’t you? A fine son. Did you hear him crying?”

“Is he all right, Doctor?”

“Of course he is all right,”

“Please let me see him.”

“You’ll see him in a moment.”

“You are certain he is all right?”

“I am quite certain.”

“Is he still crying?”

“Try to rest. There is nothing to worry about.”

“Why has he stopped crying, Doctor? What happened?”

“Don’t excite yourself, please. Everything is normal.” “I want to see him. Please let me see him.”

“Dear lady,” the doctor said, patting her hand. “You have a fine strong healthy child. Don’t you believe me when I tell you that?”

“What is the woman over there doing to him?”

“Your baby is being made to look pretty for you,” the doctor said. “We are giving him a little wash, that is all. You must spare us a moment or two for that.”

“You swear he is all right?”

“I swear it. Now lie back and relax. Close your eyes. Go on, close your eyes. That’s right. That’s better. Good girl… ”

“I have prayed and prayed that he will live, Doctor.”

Of course he will live. What are you talking about?”

“The others didn’t.”

“What?”

“None of my other ones lived, Doctor.”

The doctor stood beside the bed looking down at the pale exhausted face of the young woman. He had never seen her before today. She and her husband were new people in the town. The innkeeper’s wife, who had come up to assist in the delivery, had told him that the husband worked at the local customs-house on the border and that the two of them had arrived quite suddenly at the inn with one trunk and one suitcase about three months ago. The husband was a drunkard, the innkeeper’s wife had said, an arrogant, overbearing, bullying little drunkard, but the young woman was gentle and religious. And she was very sad. She never smiled. In the few weeks that she had been here, the innkeeper’s wife had never once seen her smile. Also there was a rumor that this was the husband’s third marriage, that one wife had died and that the other had divorced him or unsavory reasons. But that was only a rumor.

The doctor bent down and pulled the sheet up a little higher over the patient’s chest. “You have nothing to worry about,” he said gently. “This is a perfectly normal baby.”

“That’s exactly what they told me about the others. But I lost them all, Doctor. In the last eighteen months I have lost all three of my children, so you mustn’t blame me for being anxious.”

“Three?”

“This is my fourth… in four years.”

The doctor shifted his feet uneasily on the bare floor.

“I don’t think you know what it means, Doctor, to lose them all, all three of them, slowly, separately, one by one. I keep seeing them. I can see Gustav’s lace now as clearly as if he were lying here beside me in the bed. Gustav was a lovely boy, Doctor. But he was always ill. It is terrible when they are always ill and there is nothing you can do to help them.”

“I know.”

The woman opened her eyes, stared up at the doctor for a few seconds, then closed them again.

“My little girl was called Ida. She died a few days before Christmas. That is only four months ago. I just wish you could have seen Ida, Doctor.”

“You have a new one now.”

“But Ida was so beautiful.”

“Yes,” the doctor said. “I know.”

“How can you know?” she cried.

“I am sure that she was a lovely child. But this new one is also like that.” The doctor turned away from the bed and walked over to the window and stood there looking out. It was a wet grey April afternoon, and across the street he could see the red roofs of the houses and the huge raindrops splashing on the tiles.

“Ida was two years old, Doctor… and she was so beautiful I was never able to take my eyes off her from the time I dressed her in the morning until she was safe in bed again at night. I used to live in holy terror of something happening to that child. Gustav had gone and my little Otto had also gone and she was all I had left. Sometimes I used to get up in the night and creep over to the cradle and put my ear close to her mouth just to make sure that she was breathing.

“Try to rest,” the doctor said, going back to the bed. “Please try to rest.” The woman’s face was white and bloodless, and there was a slight bluish-grey tinge around the nostrils and the mouth. A few strands of damp hair hung down over her forehead, sticking to the skin.

“When she died. . . I was already pregnant again when that happened, Doctor.