This post should really be titled "Photos of me wishing I'd never got on the bloody boat"
More on that in a minute.
After climbing the Athabasca glacier, we wrapped up warm and huddled close in the van. In that cosy cocoon, we drifted into exhausted slumbers, roused every now and then by the van pulling over to take in some of the viewpoints of Yoho.
We were on our way to Banff National Park via Golden so we were expecting to see sights like this a little later in the trip at Lake Louise. At first glance, the blue astounds. It's a result of all the minerals filtering down from the glaciers and into the many waterways winding through these infinite mountains. There were lots of people jostling for a view (this was taken just a few metres from a viewpoint carpark) so we took a quick selfie and headed back up to the van.
Our next quick stop was at the Natural Bridge over the Kicking Horse River, a river we would be getting to know on a very close and personal basis the very next day.
Again, the carpark sat adjacent to the viewpoint so whilst you don't have to do any hardcore hiking to get to the good views, you might want to take a little walk if you want to feel the serenity of the place.
The river rushed and coursed past us, dipping below the bridge it was slowly eating away at, its waters that delicious pale colour that reminded me of spas and bubble baths once again.
Although as it turned out, it was most definitely not delicious and bubbly and cosy.
And so about that boat I referred to earlier.
The next day, was white water rafting day. We were driven round to the base of Glacier Raft Company who operate trips on the Kicking Horse River. There, we were quite literally suited and booted in the weak sunshine, that teased us for a moment or two before fading behind the clouds. A little bus ride later and we had been dropped in a field beside the riverbank where we were handed helmets and life jackets.
Our group took hold of the (surprisingly heavy) raft and began carrying it down to the river. That beautiful cool water shimmered past.
"Who wants to go in the front then?"
I heard myself volunteer along with Michele. Being at the front would be the best place to sit, right?
I'll let the next sequence of pictures do the talking.
And that was pretty much my face for the whole rest of the ride!!
Within the first 10 minutes, I'd taken jets of freezing water to the face and arse repeatedly, mainly due to us being so far away from the guy yelling instructions at the back (white water has a fairly hefty roar) so that when we needed to duck down into the raft, I was still paddling away, happy as anything. There were a few times when we needed to drop down and hold onto the safety ropes in the raft and at times it really felt like we would be thrown into the river! I tried to sing "Just Around the Riverbend" but I just got mouthfuls of river so I gave up.
It was great fun, of course. But that river was SO DAMN COLD OH MY GOODNESS I HAVE NEVER KNOWN A COLD LIKE IT.
Pretty much as soon as we clambered awkwardly into the raft and pushed off from the shore, we hit a little wave and what felt like shards of ice shot up my legs and into my crotch from the drainage holes at the front of the raft.
This was going to be fffffuuuunnnn!!!!
I have to say, despite being an absolute water baby and adoring the sea and going swimming and all that, water that has just melted off a glacier is not my calling. It was extremely fun though, especially when we all piled up on top of each other to form a pyramid at the front of the raft to go through some rapids (yes really!)
I did however genuinely believe I was drowning when we all jumped in the river to go through some of the smaller waves on our backs and I got hit in the face by four consecutive waves just as my body was doing that "holy crap this is fucking cold water I'm going to take a huge breath in" thing. So you know, genuine drowning could have occurred. I felt like I was under the water for about 5 minutes when really it must have been 10 seconds max. But still!
Despite that, Claire and I decided to stay in the water as long as possible but were finally pulled back in as we approached base again (not before I managed to moor my arse on a rock though, it should be said).
I had never been so cold in my life! My circulation fails me at the best of times (and you can see my particularly pearly hand in the photo above) and it would not kickstart for love nor money. Luckily the clever chaps at Glacier have a campfire going and a rather abundant supply of beer which I knocked back like there were no tomorrow.
Meaning that the drive to Banff was a little uncomfortable because I have a bladder the size of a pea and in the end I had to jump out of the van as soon as we joined the queue for the campsite and run through the bushes towards the toilets (probably frightening some campers in the process, it's not every day you see a bedraggled girl burst through the bushes behind your tent and hurtle towards the shower block).
Would I do it again? Yes absolutely! Would I jump in the water again? Um, well, probably just because everyone else would do it again and I don't want to look like a loser. But if someone else were to stay in the raft I would absolutely stay for them just to keep them company...
We finished our evening off with s'mores around the campfire and copious layers of knitwear.
Canada, you are heavenly.