My former host family from my exchange year to Canada in 2004/05 lives about three hours east of Edmonton in the Prairies. I had told them that I was coming to Canada, but not when I would be visiting them. So I decided to surprise them for my host mom’s birthday just before Easter. I still had a bit more than a week until then, so I decided to go to Calgary for that time.
I hopped on the “Greyhound”, pretty much the only major bus company in Canada, and got off about four hours later. On the road I noticed how old and outdated the busses are, compared to most of the busses in South America with the exception of Bolivia. Here, the busses may have WiFi and power outlets, but the seats are old and uncomfortable, they don’t have seat belts and the leg room is not very large on most seats. Maybe they should order some new vehicles from “Cruz del Sur”.
In Calgary I checked into the hostel – surprisingly there are only two hostels in this city with more than 1.2 million inhabitants. Here I met Raghu from India, who had been living in the US for the past twelve years, but decided that he’d rather have a Canadian citizenship than from the US. He was living at the hostel while looking for an apartment and getting everything organized. When he was not busy, we explored the city or cooked something together.
Another day I met up with Brendan, whom I had met back in Namibia on the Sossusvlei trip. He lives here in Calgary and took some time off at his job, as the oil and gas industry is still not back on track here in Alberta. We drove about one hour west and were suddenly surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. Here, winter was still omnipresent: Everything was white, covered in snow from the last few months and from last night.
The plan was to go cross country skiing, which I had never done before. Brendan had picked an easy trail to “Chester Lake”, south of Canmore. We arrived at the parking lot as one of the first ones, put on the ski and set off into the woods. After a while we started sweating, as we were constantly gaining altitude along the way. For it being my first time, I thought I did quite well. The moving joint on the ski and the scaled bottom of the ski helped quite a bit.
As we had reached the lake, we enjoyed a short lunch break in the snow. However, we did not have the typical turquoise lake in front of us – instead, we were looking at a wide open area, covered in snow. Only the fact that it was flat reminded us of the lake. On our way back it was mostly going downhill. What was supposed to be an easy ride back turned out to be quite difficult, as the trail was much narrower and bumpier than what we remembered from the way up. The thin, long ski added to the difficulty, as they were more difficult in handling.
I ended up taking off my ski on the steepest parts, but I still managed to get a good ride for a long part of the trail. It was a good experience, but we agreed that snowshoes would have been the better choice for this trail. On our way back to Calgary we stopped in Canmore, where we caught the last rays of warm sunshine, before it disappeared behind big dark clouds, which would eventually bring more snow.