A Week in Canada. Awesome scenery, wildlife, people, and adventures.
A lot has happened in the last week. Canada was phenomenal, in so many ways. Saw an abundance of wildlife, met some cool people, and had some unexpected adventures. BC and the Yukon are absolutely beautiful. “Beautiful British Columbia” is a severe understatement. AK has a lot to compete with, but I have faith it’ll deliver.
Upon entering the Kootenay I saw a “Watch for bears in road” sign. I thought, great, maybe I will finally see my first bear. Oh boy, that I did. There were more than 10 within a mile. They were just moseying around, grubbing, just being bears. Just after that I found a sweet riverside campsite inside the park. The following days we had adventures all over Banff, Jasper, and northern Alberta, where the wildlife is abundant and the national parks FAR surpass those in America. It’s a completely different experience. Lake Louise was on my agenda. It’s a tourist hot spot, which I want to avoid, but local insight said if I got there early it would be a much more enjoyable experience.
Arriving at 10AM, which was later than I hoped, it wasn’t too crowded. So I snapped some pictures and took a stroll around the lake, where I met my Brazilian like-minded traveling friend, Rosangela. As a plethora of tour buses and tourists arrived, the lake quickly started to turn into a scene similar to a theme park. Thankfully, this was the first, and only, time the experience at a Canadian National Park was anything reminiscent of what I experienced at the USA parks.
After leaving the lake, I filled up at the local gas station, and then proceeded in dealing with them after they pulled $100 from my account for a $37 fill up. Long story short, Americans, don’t pay at the pump when using Petro-Canada, but you generally don’t have to anywhere in Canada. Not being in the best mood I just wanted to hit the road, but life had other plans.
Right outside the gas station I saw a couple hitching hiking with a sign for Peyto Lake. With a car jam packed with no room for passengers, no rear seat, so surely no room for two, and no idea where this lake was, I pulled over. Turned out to be just two Canadian college students working at Lake Louise for the Summer. After some rearranging of supplies, and the puppies getting a passenger in their puppy palace, we were off to Peyto Lake, which they said fellow workers, who already scored rides to the lake, told them was nicer than Lake Louise, and they weren’t wrong.
After getting to the lake and meeting with their friends, a short scenic viewing turned into a daring adventure. As we stood on the viewing platform, amazing at the lakes beauty, the idea to go down to the water was born. Guaranteed to be a long, steep, trek with no trail in sight, and being parked in a location intended for a short outing, I was in. We jumped the fence, headed towards the woods and the steep treacherous climb down. We tried to follow game trails, which weren’t too abundant. Talk of bears brought forth the realization I had left my bear spray in the car, so we just talked appropriate tactics, kept our senses aware for signs of bear, and hoped for the best. After around an hour or two we finally hit the water, but the adventure was far from over.
After basking in the beauty, which far surpasses that of Lake Louise we realized we had to plan an escape route and going back the way we came wasn’t an option. Needless to say, after we reached the shoreline and saw other people across the lake we realized there was in fact a trail down to the lake. Alas, it’s a guarantee their trip down wasn’t as fun as ours, but we weren’t planning to head back up that way. So we just had to follow the shores to where the other sightseers were and take the trail out, much easier said than done. The shore line quickly gave away to very steep slippery rock faces offering a nice deep in the beautiful, very cold, waters of the lake. The puppies took a few trips into the water. Not having brought any water with me, and the waters being so beautiful, I tempted fate and took a very small sip from the waters. Even at such a small quantity, it turned out to be a bad idea for the following day. After the slippery slope proved for slow travels, swimming out, although guaranteed to provide a burst to your senses, seemed like a great option. Having my camera on me this desire to dive into the beautiful blue slushy like, in temperature and color, waters quickly faded.
After spending a good amount of time traversing the shores we came to the glacier feeding the lake. The shore ended and so dwindled our options. Trekking back up the treacherous mountain side was our only option, but it was now covered in slippery small pebbles trying to send you sliding into the waters. Planning, execution, and sheer determination lead us up the slope, connected us to the trail, which provided a much easier exit. Not easy, covered in steep grades and switchbacks, but much more pleasant than the alternatives.
Upon again reaching the viewing platform, our safe haven which had previously been our limiting factor, we were very relieved, felt very accomplished, and I even ran into my friend from Lake Louise, Rosangela. After our short celebration and goodbyes the pups and I were off again!
I wanted to venture Canadian dirt roads and I had one on my atlas picked out. Long story short, after making the long detour, with its accompanied endeavors, the dirt road was a bust. It quickly turned into a sight riddled with the landscape raped and pillaged by logging and oil companies. It was so depressing that I turned around after 20 miles or so. I needed to get back to the beauty of the National Parks, and out of the slums of the Canadian wilderness, where I felt so bad for the wildlife.
After another night in Jasper we did a scenic drive through Northern Alberta, Hwy 40 to be exact. This is a nice drive, nothing spectacular, but a nice view of the land. It was very out of my way due to my planned route into Alaska, but I wanted to see Alberta outside of the parks. This detour passed us through Dawson Creek, not the home of the 90’s T.V. show, but the start of the Alaska Highway. Since my plans involved another route North we passed the highway’s start and endured the very unpleasant drive to Prince George, a rather large metropolis compared to what I had seen in weeks. While there I am certain I saw the not so smooth endings of a prostitute deal at the gas station, a truck surrounded by cops being searched, and an abundance of bad drivers. I had to get back into the wilderness, so we headed West towards Stewart, BC.
Arriving at Stewart around 10PM, with the sun still shining like a Georgia mid afternoon, wildlife was amuc, but little movement in the small town. After passing through and into Hyder, AK (my first official crossing into AK, even though it’s a secluded port community, it still counts) we camped in the local forest. The next morning we climbed the 17 mile dirt road to the top of Salmon Glacier, wow, what a sight. This came with meeting other travelers and finding evidence of potential poaching, which lead to a meeting with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Unfortunately they weren’t sporting the infamous red suit, but looked like normal cops. Hopefully my efforts help save some bear.
The following days were spent traveling the Stewart-Cassiar highway, highway 37. Which is far easier to drive than a lot of internet myths would have you believe, but is the roughest when you hit the Yukon. Although traveling at highway speeds and hitting a 100ft gravel patch may seem unpleasant to some, it was very enjoyable to me. I pictured the Rav as a WRC champion and slid through the curves, which wasn’t nearly as climactic in real life as it was in my head. I’m having a major craving for adrenaline, can you tell? I need a motorcycle or parachute in a bad way.
During these travels I met a cool BC couple, with a nice expedition rig/set up, in route to get married at Whitehorse, YK and they informed me of a music festival in Dawson City, YK in July. Such music festivals aren’t something I generally strive to attend, as folk music isn’t really my thing, but who knows, it may happen.
Passing through the YK, we stopped at Whitehorse to restock, where I was scorned by a local, which actually made me like the city more. Just what little I experienced there, and the YK in general, the city and area is definitely a place with a vast amount of potential. Being solstice there were festivities in the city, but I wanted to reach AK.
After exactly one week in Canada, to the hour, we reached the Alaskan border. It was a relief, especially in regards to gas prices, and after covering over 6,000 miles in three weeks, what I usually drive in a year, we had finally made it. A quick camping just across the border, a celebration breakfast, and we headed into the state.
Reaching the first town, Tok, I finally had internet, and turning my cell phone back on (which is a love/hate deal). After contacting some locals that wanted to meet during my travels, last night I ended up just past Eielson AFB in North Pole at a very generous and accommodating fellow Expedition Portal member’s house. After a very nice cooked meal, an extremely pleasant hot shower, crashing in a cab-over camper (luxury living), and having a stable Wifi connection I am very well rested, set on figuring out some mission objectives, and able to finally update this deal.
Enjoy reading the novel. I am going to figure out the logistics with giving the Rav some maintenance attention, research some AK plans, and maybe even relax a little.
Having well over 500 pictures from Canada, tired of sitting at the computer already (especially after writing this with a faulty “o” key that requires persuasion to work), and not wanting to destroy my very nice hosts bandwidth, you’ll get a taste of the adventures.
Whelp, change of plans. WordPress doesn’t want to upload, so pictures will have to wait.
Trusty ole Lowes FTW!
I showed this guy my blog, so he did an impression of me testing the waters at the Wyoming waterfall.
I watched these two play around on the glacier for about 10 minutes.