You know how there are some stereotypes that you cannot be bothered to argue against, you just accept them…like in my case;
Black people can’t swim, skate.. and so much more. Well, I cannot even argue. While there might be a lot of blacks who can, I (Aby) cannot do these things.
This is why traveling to the mountains solo in -22 weather was way out of my comfort zone. I legitimately had friends ask if I was alright, after-all ”no black African girl” in her right mind would go to the mountain in the winter. But my mindset was .. if somebody can do it (insert name of “light” skinned friends), then so can I.
Now, I have been there and done that (minus skiing, snowboarding, and any snow/ice-related activity)… basically, I went hiking in the cold. If that doesn’t make me 100% Canadian, I don’t know what will.
My new reality of living in a country with harsh winters have reinforced the importance of preparation and making do with what Mother Nature gives me. The difference between mildly cold and frostbitten is preparation and layering ;).
I armed myself with my snow boots, 4 layers of clothing, earmuffs, gloves, and 2 jackets. One Milwaukee M12 jacket which is battery powered to emit heat and another Arctic Expedition jacket. I also got some crampons (basically spikes to give your shoes traction when walking on ice).
Now, there are tons of things to do in Banff/Lake Louise in the winter, but as a solo black girl, I was not risking anything. Even though I had done a bit of research and knew the hikes and trails I wanted to go on, I went straight to the visitor center to confirm that those were indeed easy hikes and that the weather conditions were amenable.
Enjoy some highlights from my 2 days in the freezer aka Alberta mountains.
I also figured out that Yoho National Park, BC is about 30 minutes from Lake Louise. Ignorance is indeed ignorant. So I am looking forward to next summer and fall when I actually get to go explore all of the goodness that is the Canadian Rockies.
My Tips for visiting the mountains in winter
- If there is any chance of snow, get winter tires
- When driving observe the most used lane on the road (it is often the right/slower lane), stay on that lane and drive super carefully. The left/faster lane might seem attractive, but the snow there has most likely turned to ice due to less use, and there’s a higher chance of losing control and skidding on that side of the road.
- Also if using a rental car, get the extended roadside assistance. During my drive back home several cars had slid into the ditches. Tow trucks are pricey. Extended roadside assistance is not.
- Get a collision/damage waiver. The best way is through a credit card that offers it as an add on, but if you don’t have it make sure you are covered somehow.
- No matter how sure you are of your plans, always ask the local visitor/information center or park attendant as they would have the most current information on the weather conditions.