INTO THE CANADIAN ROCKIES
ROAD TRIP – WEEK 2: September 20-26, 2016
VANCOUVER – WHISTLER- WELLS GREY PROVINCIAL PARK – JASPER NP -BANFF NP – CALGARY -BANFF NP
Tuesday, September 20, 2016:
Goodby Vancouver, its been nice to see a different side to the city. We drove through Stanley Park in brilliant sunshine before heading northside.
Next stop was one of our favourite towns from a previous visit. Squamish is located on the stunning Sea to Sky Highway on the way to Whistler. We had originally intended on staying in Squamish for a few weeks to recover from the trail but our plans changed after my injury. We had such fond memories from our previous visit when we came here to race the Squamish 50 mile trail run in 2010. Being the end of summer, Squamish is a lot quiter then on our last visit. But it is still a beautiful town.
Wednesday September 21, 2016
From Alice Lake we stopped at Whistler Village early in the morning. We seem to bump into quite a few Aussies. Later we learnt that Whistler is sometimed referred to as Whistralia.
It was wonderful to see the landscape in its autumn colours.
Another favourite from our last visit was the hike up to Wedgemount glacier. The trailhead is located a few miles out of Whistler. When we got there we found that the trail was recently rerouted and it is now nothing more then a goat track. We started up the trail and after about 45 minutes of muddy, tree root tangled vertical hiking decided to turn back. It was just too much of a risk for my recovering ankle. So instead of a sketchy hike we headed to Pemberton for a truly good hamburger at the Pony Express. Not surprisingly, the pounds lost on the PCT are creeping back on.
In the evening we camped at Nairn Falls camp ground and fell asleep to the sounds of flowing water and the crackling fire from the nearby camp sites.
Thursday September 22, 2016
It was a cold night camping at Nairn Falls. So it was treat to jump into a warm car and head to lovely Lillooet for breakfast. We passed by the huge Duffey Lake the surrounds of which were covered in frost.
By the afternoon it was getting overcast and rain threatened. We headed to Wells Grey Provincial Park to visit the stunning Helmcken Falls. We camped in Pyramid Mountain camp ground. Being so late in the season a lot of campgrounds have already closed and the ones that are still open are not overly busy. Here for the first time ever we had an encounter with vermin. Some smart animal managed to make it into the cabin of our car and chew through a bag of roast almonds. No trace of it in the morning.
Friday September 23, 2016
We spent a couple of hours visiting Helmcken Falls, the abandoned Rays Farm and Clearwater Lake. We were the only car on the dirt road and were so lucky to come across a black bear casually sauntering along the road and stopping to feed on the berries growing by the roadside. Hard to believe that Hammer spent 5 months and I 3 months wondering the wild and only had one direct bear encounter. And here we were on a road in a car and there it was, a black bear right in front of us.
Late afternoon the sky turned grey as we headed into Jasper National Park. We had thoughts of visiting Mt Robson beforehand but the sky had turned inky blue obscuring the mountain almost completely.
We spent the night in Jasper, staying at the cozy Bear Lodge.
Saturday September 24, 2016
We spent the day visiting the sights of Jasper NP. We had intentions of hiking the Edith Cavell trail but the road to the trailhead was closed. So we visited Mangay Lake stoping at Medice Lake along the way. From here we gave a ride to a lovely girl Vanessa , who is a special education teacher from Calgary but is originally from Quebec. She gave us lots of tips on places to visit. From Mangay Lake we headed south towards the Columbia Icefield where we camped for the night. It should not have been a surprise that it was freezing in the tent overnight.
Overnight we had another visitor to the car. This time the wily critter got into the food stored in the boot of the car. We are beginning to think that we may have a stowaway traveling with us.
Sunday September 25, 2016
The blasting cold wind this morning made me wonder why we had not headed to warmer climates sooner. We braved the cold wind to visit the Athabasca glacier in the Columbia Icefield. It was still early in the morning and we were the only ones in the huge carpark. Walking up to the toe of the glacier we got absolutely blasted by the icy cold wind. So sad to see it so shrunked, there does not appear to be much of it left.
After a warm coffee at the Icefield visitors centre we drove south to Banff. The drive to Lake Louise from the Columbia Icefield is one of the best drives in the world. It is such a stunning drive, one wow moment after another. I took hundreds of photos, making it so hard to edit.
From Lake Louise south to Banff we took the quiter Bow Valley Parkway. There was very little wildlife along here except at the very end where we saw a herd of big horn sheep.
We had plans to stop by Johnson Canyon but could not get anywhere near it to park. The same with Lake Louise. We had forgotten it was Sunday, so we gave both a miss and headed to Banff deciding to come back tomorrow to visit.
Not being able to find accomodation in Banff we drove to the nearby town of Canmore where we had a most comfortable night at the Days Inn.
Monday September 26, 2016Plans for today were put aside as Hammer had developed a health problem which required medical attention. We tried to get a doctors appointment in both Banff and Canmore without much success. We ended up driving to Southwest Calgary where an appointment with a doctor produced much needed answers and a piece of mind. The doctor assured us that Hammer is OK and our trip can continue safely. So relieved, we drove back to Banff where we camped at the beautiful Two Jack Lakeside campground. It was considerably warmer than the Columbia Icefield camp.