The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada Day 14: Lady Macdonald

After years spent dreaming of the Rocky Mountains, Ben Collins' journey across Canada finally reaches the town of Canmore

I began the day with no plan. Yes, that's right... no plan...

...Friends and family will realise how uncharacteristic this is of me but it is indeed true... as I stood there on the side of the highway waiting for a ride, I did so in the knowledge that my itinerary was effectively empty for two whole weeks with nowhere to go, nothing to do and nowhere to sleep.

- - - Thumb's Up in Calgary at 09:55 - - -

As I waited for a ride I pondered:

"What will I do today?"     "Where will I go?"     "Where will I sleep?"

It is hard to describe how I felt asking myself these questions but whilst there was a large part of me that felt unsettled, I was I think mostly excited. You see, I may have stood there knowing I knew nothing about what comes next but I also knew that this presented me with more opportunity than I have perhaps ever been exposed. I was in a nutshell - terrifyingly excited.

Ride 024: Mike. 105km from Calgary, Alberta to Canmore, Alberta 
After spending fifteen minutes trying to take the photo that you see at the top of this post I was picked up by Mike, a young guy in his mid-twenties who originally from Poland moved out here a few years ago for both the sport and the mountains.

Picking me up after seeing the Union Jack I had on display, Mike proceeded to tell me a little about what he does for a living before politely enquiring as to where I was headed. Casually, I explained that I had little idea and that I was simply waiting to see what would happen.

In response, Mike smiled and looking at me with a sense of compassion he said I would be more than welcome to spend a night or two at his place in Canmore.

I was simply blown away.

- - - Pack Down in  Canmore at 11:15 - - -

Canmore, Alberta
I dumped my rucksack off at Mike's and heading straight back out to begin exploring, I left with only my water bottle, my wallet and some suncream. I had arrived in a small mountain town that was surrounded by breath-taking vistas and knew from the offset I would spend the day hiking. First though was lunch, during which I took the following note:
"You know this is why I love my life right now... 
...I left Calgary this morning with no plans to speak of except for trying to reach the Rocky's. Three hours later I'm eating a prime Alberta beef burger in the town of Calmore surrounded by 3,000m high mountains, a place to stay and a new friend in the form of Mike. 
Seriously, how does life get better than this?" 
Whilst this was supposed to be a self-rhetorical question, the answer it turned out lay just a few short hours away, for after arming myself with a trail map and some bear spray I eventually hiked up to this point where in that moment - everything was perfect.

Revelling in the breath-taking views from way above Canmore

What struck me more than anything was knowing that this was only the very beginning of the mountain range I have forever dreamed about and with a hope of heading up to Jasper, some 300km to the North, I made the descent knowing that this next week or so would be both mesmorising and life changing.

Today at a Glance
Awoke in: Calgary, Alberta
Sleeping in: Canmore, Alberta

Time travelling: 01hr 20mins
Distance traveled today: 105km
Rides today: 1

Planned arrival time: N/A
Actual arrival time: N/A

Highlight: Meeting Mike / hiking up the Lady Macdonald trail
Lowlight: Beginning the day feeling so tired

Total time travelling: 51hrs 29mins
Total distance covered: 3,501km