Toward Alaska via Banff and Jasper

Trip Start Apr 10, 2005
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Trip End Dec 20, 2005


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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Tuesday, August 9, 2005

(this entry from Karin)

We left the Hyatt farm in Winlaw and started heading north through the Slocan Valley. This part of the province is really quite beautiful. One of our fellow WWOOFers, Steve, had told us about some undeveloped hot springs down a logging road near Nakusp, so we decided to try and find them. It was a little bit of poke-and-hope, but we tried one route, asked some passersby for directions, and so on until we found it, approx 10 km down another logging road at halfway river (of course we picked the wrong one). The hike down was a little hairy, and I wiped out and twisted my knee, but it truly was worth it. Although it started to rain, Traic and I soaked in these natural hotsprings for about an hour, which were about the temperature of a nice hot bath - a little hotter where the water was bubbling up through the rocks. There's a couple pictures to give you an idea of the spot.

We left Nakusp the same day, crossed at the Galena Bay Ferry and made our way to the big town of Revelstoke. It's a railway intersection and a hotbed of heli-skiing and other treacherous sporting activities along the boundary of Mount Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park (not the one in Montana, the Canadian one). Some administration chores kept us in Revelstoke for a few days, getting the car serviced, our photos uploaded, groceries, etc.

I think this area is the most dense for national and provincial parks in all of Canada. After Mount Revelstoke and Glacier parks comes Yoho and Kootenay parks, and then of course there's Banff and Jasper. We stopped in Yoho for a night, and visited Emerald lake...a good decision. The colour of the lake was just stunning. We also visited Takakaw Falls (say it...it's fun), one of the highest waterfalls in Canada (the highest is also in BC, Della Falls, but we haven't seen it...yet). After Yoho we moved on to Lake Louise in Banff Park. The campground here has an electric fence installed around it - apparently bear visits used to be common, so they had to add this extra security(?) measure. If you visit Banff, I definitely reccomend Lake Louise. It's not as developed as the Banff Townsite (58 km south), but there's still plenty of amenities. Lake Louise is most like Yellowstone Park in terms of its setup. Banff is more like Whistler...or, combine Huntsville and Mont Tremblant (if you haven't been to Whistler). Of course we took advantage of the very recognizable photo spot of Lake Louise from the Fairmont Hotel (I'm sure you'll pick it out from the photo lineup). We also hiked up to Lake Agnes, a 3 km hike with a 385m elevation gain. The views from here were quite amazing. As an added treat there's a teahouse when you get to the top where you can buy tea, of course, or water for $4 per little bottle. We were so thirsty by then, we gave in and paid the price.

We did visit Canmore, briefly, and Banff the following day. We hiked by the Cave and Basin area along Sundance Canyon. We started to drive through the downtown area, but we got stuck in traffic and decided to get back on the highway to Lake Louise.

The following day we headed out to drive the Icefields Parkway through to Jasper. We were thrilled to unexpectedly run into our former WWOOF partner Steve, hitchhiking along the same highway, so we picked him up and figured out how to squish his stuff in our car too. Now what are the chances, I wonder...He's been with us ever since, and will probably come up to the Yukon with us! It is really nice having him along, although Sam may not be as happy, sharing the space in the backseat :)

After setting foot on the Athabasca Glacier and spotting a few other wonders of nature along the Icefields highway, we spent the night in Jasper. We caught a glimpse of Mount Robson the following day, a clear view of the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Our refuelling destination, and the place where we would have our wheels aligned was Prince George. I wouldn't recommend the place to anyone...it smells like a pulpmill (sorta like an outhouse) all day long. However, if you are looking for a large Value Village or Salvation Army, or perhaps a Wallmart or Canadian Tire, then this is your place. We spent two nights prepping for the drive northward. Finally, we made our way west from Prince George, to take the scenic highway 37 north to the Yukon.
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