A Travellerspoint blog

Hinton to Toad River Lodge

Starting the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek


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After the long weekend ended the busy campground at Hinton suddenly became almost completely empty. We spent a day relaxing in the empty campground. A grey crane bird visited our campsite, Echo was in such a shock that he even forgot to bark.

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The next morning we left towards Dawson Creek where the World famous Alaska Highway starts with a Zero Mile Signpost. There are two main routes to Alaska from Canada, one of them is called Alcan. This is we use Northbound. The other one is called Cassiar, we plan to explore that Southbound in a few weeks. Now we enter the land of long drives in the remote Northern territories. No cell signal for hours, no townships for long miles. We fill fuel wherever it is available.

Our first stop after Hinton was a kind Harvesthosts couple near Grande Prairie where we did some shopping to refill our supplies. Then we stopped for a good midday rest at the Mile Zero signpost at Dawson Creek.

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Next day we have reached Pink Mountain which was a small and somewhat rundown campsite. They were out of gas (only diesel) and the electricity was quite unstable at the small site we stopped by. It was ok for one night but nothing more than that. The next morning we were able to fill up our car and left.

The scenery is very nice and a lots of hills are up and down which kills our fuel economy. We have seen a large black bear just next to the road for the first time! It was sitting in the grass peacefully and everyone was very happy in the car!
Later we have seen elks as well.

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The road condition was quite fine until then except one unfortunate accident (which happened a few days ago). A big truck hit the bridge and caught on fire at Sikanni Chief and the bridge was damaged. So there was single lane traffic and after we have stopped the traffic control guy came to our car and told us a wait time of about an hour to be expected. As he only talked to us I got out of the car and walked backwards to tell the news to fellow travellers behind our car. Right after us in a black unsigned car there was a law enforcement officer in a uniform and he was not so happy about the news. When I returned to our car he stepped out of his car, talked briefly to the guy managing the traffic lights and suddenly our one hour stop was gone! The control guy radioed the other end and a few cars (including us, the policeman and a few more) were let through. We could not be happier skipping the one hour stop.

Our next stop was Toad River Lodge. This was a much better location with nice views, free firewood and a nice steak in the evening crowned with the Georgian red wine we got from Kanadabanda's Lázadó.

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We press on to North to make sure we enjoy some time in Alaska before the snow arrives.

Posted by divatmotoros 13:05 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Columbia Icefield to Hinton: day of the waterfalls

Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls


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After our great overnight stopover at Athabasca Glacier we headed further NW to Hinton. We stopped at Sunwapta Falls first. We walked about 1,5kms to tge lower falls and enjoyed the forest and the river with relatively few other people despite the last summer long weekend.

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Then we continued our journey to Athabasca Falls which place was much more crowded. All RV parking spots were full (mostly with normal passenger cars which was a bumner) but we managed to stop at the side of the parking lot.
Then we walked to the falls in a queue of people (it was about 150m so no big deal), took some pics and quickly left. By now we all realised that the whole family enjoys less crowded or empty nature parks versus the highly frequented touristic places.

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Our last stop for the day was in Jasper where we filled our tanks and got icecream at a place where the owners are dog-buffs. Our friends had the photo of their previous dog eating icecream on the wall so the were happy to see that after 3 years. Their dog and ours as well were invited by the owners to a scoop of vanilla and pictures were taken! So next time you visit check our dogs photo on the wall at "Grandma's Icecream", Jasper.

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After leaving Jasper we have seen a huge wildfire on the left side of the road and firefighters were already working on it by planes and helicopters. The daylight was gone and visibility was down for about 5 kms, it was quite scary. We have seen a 45 minnplay at our Tunnel Mountain camping about the importance of wildfires. Our kids enjoyed a lot the play performed and it was also very informative how fire cleans a lot of illnesses and hiw it refreshes the forest making it a new beginning fir bears and trees. It was still very frightening to see how much damage is done for that kind of rebirth.

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Then we arrived to another KOA at Hinton with still a lot of smoke and debrish falling almost like snowing.

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We had a nice grill to finish off the weekend with our friends. Noe they are heading back to Calgary and we turn North towards Alaska.

Posted by divatmotoros 14:58 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Lake Louise to Columbia lcefield


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We quickly completed our breakfast and attachment procedure and headed to North. Our first stop was at Bow Lake. The road is still scenic and very dear to our mountain loving eyes.

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Then we stopped at Peyto Lake. No, it is not photoshopped. Amazingly blue colors again!

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We also stopped at Waterfront Lake for a quick photo

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Then continued to the Columbia Icefield (Athabasca Glacier) where we stopped for the night. After setting up the trailers Zsuzsa went to the visitor center with the kids while I took a nap.

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Afterwards we all climbed to the glacier which is an alerting and unforgettable place. Similar to European glaciers I have visited there are signs of the earlier places of the ice and the rate it melts is frightening. We climbed rigth up to the icefield and while it was a nice 20 degrees at the camping lot it was almost freezing cold at the glacier, despite the sun. It looks like the moon with the rocks and the gray colors everywhere.

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The blue stripe where the ice melts resembles the vibrant blue of the glacier fed lakes.

Posted by divatmotoros 14:06 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Lake Louise Ski Area


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The coming weekend was a perfect opportunity to meet our Calgary friends again (after the fantastic Queensland weekend). We agreed earlier to meet Friday evening at Lake Louise and explore further North towards Columbia Icefield and Jasper. In the morning we did our routine of dumping our black and grey tanks, filling the freshwater tank and visited a petrol station in Banff to fill up Fordy as well. By 2pm we stopped at the agreed spot, dropped off the trailer and drove to the base station of the Lake Lousie Ski Resort. There we took the gondola to the "Top of the World" which is a bit of an overstatement while the views are very dramatic and breathtaking.

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We hiked the Pika Trail further up an additional 200m elevation gain in just 1 km. We had to push the kids a bit but afterwards they were very proud of their performance (just like us). The view from the top was worth the effort and Lake Louise showed us a very different face compared to our lucky kayak session earlier.

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We got back to the parking spot which was filling up for the evening and around 21:00 our friends arrived. After a quick chat we agreed the strategy for the next day and went for the well deserved rest.

Posted by divatmotoros 13:43 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Healthcare in Banff and Canmore, Grotto Canyon trail


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We have tested the healthcare system in Canada (at least a very specific part of it). If you are travelling with small kids you might find this information useful. Our smallest became one year old during our travel and we spend the next months travelling. He needed vaccinations, some at the first time and some repeating earlier received vaccines. So we started to phone the healthcare providers in Calgary. It was an automated system and very difficult to get information without the local SSN. In Cochrane we went to a Public Health Center and in person it was working out fine. I talked to a very kind doctor who said that they have no empty appointment slots in the next two weeks but they could do the vaccination. We did not plan to stay so long in the area but she advised that in Banff there might be more free slots. So after arriving to Banff we went to the Community Healthcare Center and talked to the very kind receptionist if it was possible to get the required shots for our son. They had to make a few phone calls to get approval for the out-of-country patient but a day later we got a positive phone call with an appointment booked for the next day.

Then we went again at the agreed time and the very kind nurse did all the routine examinations, checked the height, weight and mood of our son and gave him three vaccines in line with his earlier vaccine records. We were very happy and grateful that this step was possible despite our travels far away from home.

We planned a shorter hike for the afternoon but finally it was an exceptionally nice walk at the Grotto Canyon near Canmore. The canyon was much less crowded than our previously visited places and we had to walk in a riverbed which was rocky and sometimes steep. On the sides there were huge rock walls and the width was once tighter and then wider as we walked.

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We passed a nice waterfall which had little water flowing at the time of our visit, it might be very different at springtime when s now melts or during winter when it freezes.

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Then we arrived to an Inikshuk Garden with plenty of smaller and larger rock towers. Inukshuks are manmade stone landmarks built by the Inuit, Iñupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America.

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Afterwards we arrived to a cave a bit higher up on a steep hill and there we had our sandwiches and turned back to complete our way back to our car in the magnificent canyon. Perfect weather and perfect landscape made our son and us quickly forget the pain of the vaccination.

Posted by divatmotoros 13:21 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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