After our full day exploring Calgary (and eating our way through it), it was finally time to bid the city farewell and head out into the Canadian Rocky Mountains of Alberta.
Canadian cities are great fun (especially if you know the best places to eat, drink and dance) but the great outdoors is without a doubt of my favourite reasons to visit Canada!
The natural beauty here is just next level.
The mountains back home in the UK are nowhere nearly as towering as they are in Canada and we certainly get nowhere near as much snow. (The combination of which can make for quite some jaw-droppingly gorgeous views!)
The Canadian Rockies, in particular, are just such a special and rather dramatic part of the world, so much so that despite having seen them quite a few times now, I still always have “pinch me” moments when we head out that way.
We wasted no time in getting stuck into things, heading straight over to Yamnuska Adventures in Canmore, to meet Derek, our guide for the day as we traversed the beauty that is Grotto Canyon.
Grotto Canyon isn’t the hardest hike to do (it’s fairly flat the entire way) which for me added an extra spring in my step.
Getting to explore this beauty at a leisurely pace makes it all the more fun. 😀 Hehehe! (Clearly, I’m not the biggest fan of uphill hikes).
Running right through the canyon runs a frozen river which, you’ll probably find you need crampons and some pretty decent winter shoes to walk on.
The latter we had but the former we didn’t. Thankfully, Derek (our guide from Yamnuska Adventures) came prepared with everything we needed (including lunch –which for some reason, we didn’t even think to prepare for, like it just totally skipped our minds).
The entire canyon is such a beauty to walk through!
Again, rivers don’t freeze like this back home in the UK so walking through a canyon like this isn’t even an option – especially so coming from London. 😄
As you go through the canyon, look out for the centuries-old paintings from the First Nations people on the walls of the canyon. (Another handy bit about having Derek show us around cos I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even have noticed where they were without him).
Eventually, you get to what I reckon is the main part of the Canyon, where it opens up really wide.
When you’re here though, and this is the part where you really need those crampons, there’s a waterfall to the right of it that’s absolutely stunning to see in winter as it becomes this beautifully frozen masterpiece.
(I saw some people before trying to do this without crampons and it was the funniest thing watching make it just a few steps up, slip and come sliding right back down).
If you are into (or indeed, intrigued by ice climbing), this canyon is also a pretty great spot to head to. 😀
You could always end your hike through Grotto Canyon here but the canyon carries on for a little bit before it opens up again into the mountains and so we figured we might as well carry on through…
Arriving at the other to the other end of the canyon, we made a pit-stop for hot chocolates (another surprise find in Derek’s backpack – he really thought of everything) and lunch.
Eventually, it was time to bid Grotto canyon farewell and head off to our next stop, one that had intrigued me for days now!
See, the thing is, we were going to the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary and I had no idea at this point what a ‘wolfdog’ was. Was it a wolf that looked like a dog? A dog that looked like a wolf? A dog with the attitude of a wolf? I had no idea!
^ As per the sign on the left, that’s not a wolfdog above – that’s a regular ginormous dog – an Alaskan Malamute, to be more precise.
Well, as it turns out, a wolfdog is exactly what the name sounds like – it’s a dog bred with a wolf. Wolves mate for life and tend to steer clear of humans while dogs don’t have the same mating loyalty as wolves and love human companionship so for the most part – this pairing would never really have happened on it own.
Wolfdogs essentially exist for the most part because human beings made that happen. Humans bred wolves with dogs to create a ‘super breed’ of some sort except these contrasting characteristics make wolfdogs pretty hard pets to look after.
Wolfdogs need a lot more space, they don’t really handle well with large, loud crowds and generally don’t as well with strangers as ‘regular dogs’.
As a rule of thumb, the more dog DNA the wolfdog has, the more it looks and acts like a dog and the more wolf DNA it has, the more wolf-like it looks and acts.
The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary exists to help re-home wolfdogs whose owners have realised that can’t take of them. It’s not that it’s impossible to, it’s just that you need to know what you’re doing and also have the facilities to do so.
Most people just get these adorable puppies who for all intents and purposes look and act like other puppies, only to realise as they get older that their needs and behaviours are different.
When these owners can’t cope, the sanctuary steps in to take care of them and on occasion, re-home them with new owners.
We spent all afternoon getting to know so much more about them, how to take care of them, what they needed to thrive and even got to feed them (though they’re not nearly as motivated by food as ‘regular dogs’ are – though this might also be largely because they’re so well fed and taken care of here.)
After a little wander around (and with a newfound appreciation for the difference between wolves, dogs and wolfdogs), it was finally time to call it day and head to our hotel for the night – the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge.
Let me show you around our new digs. 😀
We were welcomed with a charcuterie platter which disappeared in record-speed…
… before heading down to one of the restaurants for dinner and then calling it a night.
There’s just something so re-invigorating about being out in the mountains all day.
Even though we technically didn’t get up to too much physically demanding exercise, that jetlag hit swift and hard immediately we were done with dinner and with that, we decided to call it a night.
There was much exploring of the mountains yet to do and after today, I couldn’t wait to explore even more of Alberta over the coming days.