Field & Forest is a travel and adventure blog by Emanuel Smedbøl and Megan McLellan out of Vancouver, BC. To see more photos and adventures check out their website or find them on Instagram or Facebook.

We’ve always been fascinated by Canadian winters. The deep piles of snow, the frozen lakes and sculpted solid waterfalls, the sharp biting cold. Living on the wet west coast we rarely get a chance to experience something the rest of our country takes for granted—for us winter is all grey weather and endless dark rainy days. We were past due for a real winter.

So it was with some excitement when a couple friends invited us out to Banff to be action models for a national car campaign they were shooting. Without a second thought we said yes ok yes, stuffed a duffel bag full of wool socks, and headed east.

Cool air in the morning by Megan McLellan on

First light hitting the trees by Emanuel Smedbøl on

At the Storm Mountain Lodge by Emanuel Smedbøl on

Spray Lakes by Emanuel Smedbøl on

Road trips are such a satisfying way to experience the countryside. You get to experience slow changes in the landscape as you move through one climatic region to another, from a wet tangle to dry sparse scrub, from giant firs and ancient cedars to stoic pine. And heading east to the Rockies you see a whole new sort of mountain.

Ragged, layered, crumbling bare rock, these mountains rise from the earth in a sort of haggard violence, wild and powerful and impossibly grand.

First morning light on Castle Mountain by Emanuel Smedbøl on

We spent a couple days in Banff running around in the snow posing next to expensive cars, for the most part leaving our cameras in our bags. But soon enough the shoot wrapped up and we headed north: to Lake Louise and Jasper via the Icefields Parkway.

Waiting for the sun to crest over Lake Louise by Emanuel Smedbøl on

On the road by Emanuel Smedbøl on

One of the continent’s most scenic and stunning highways, come winter the Icefields Parkway is a bleak and barren marvel. Thick snow blankets the landscape, muting the lakes and forests, and throwing the craggy mountains into full rugged relief. The air is so clear and crisp that the mountains look like they are popping out at you, every crag and crevasse startling in its clarity. But all that glaring white can also make it hard to get a good even exposure, and white balance can get wonky. Things we never had to learn on the West Coast!

The Icefields Parkway is supposed to be about a 4 hr drive from Lake Louise to Jasper. Not surprisingly, it took us a full 8 hrs… and once we reached Jasper we crashed for the night then turned right back around again to see all the things we missed on the first go. It’s the kind of place you could spend weeks. In the summer anyway. In the winter most of the trails and pullouts are closed and snowed-over.

Road trip through Alberta on the Icefields Parkway by Megan McLellan on

Thin evening mist by Emanuel Smedbøl on

On a road trip through Alberta, BC by Megan McLellan on

Steaming rivers by Emanuel Smedbøl on

Exploring the Icefields Parkway, Alberta by Megan McLellan on

On any road trip there are preplanned stops, sights you’re craving to see and in your own small way capture. For us the big one was the exposed toe of the Athabasca Glacier. A deep dazzling blue slab of age-old ice, the glacier beckons from the highway like a blue beacon. There was no resisting.

Approaching the toe of the Athabasca Glacier by Emanuel Smedbøl on

Emanuel checking out Athabasca Glacier by Megan McLellan on

Approaching the toe of the Athabasca Glacier by Emanuel Smedbøl on

Standing in awe of Athabasca Glacier by Megan McLellan on

Arriving back in Lake Louise after dark, we ordered a suite of hot soups and hot drinks to force out the winter chills. After one last sunrise in the Rockies it was time to head back home. But not without a few more stops along the way…

Morning on Lake Louise by Emanuel Smedbøl on

Emerald Lake Lodge by Emanuel Smedbøl on

Leaving Yoho by Emanuel Smedbøl on

For more stories and photos from the trip, visit Field & Forest.