Canada Diary 2006

Diary of Roger and Linda's trip into Canada, August 2006

8/6/06 Day 40 summer trip. 186 miles today, total 2152 miles. Left Skookum RV Park at 8:30 a.m. after saying good bye to Scarlet, Joe, and Ellie. Drove about 60 miles to the border. The last 14 miles being a rough road under construction and we saw a huge panicky bull moose running down the road. He finally found a spot to exit after unsuccessfully trying to jump a fence and then going up a steep grade which he did not make. The moose made the one on Northern Exposure TV show look small. Got my case of wine into Canada without being it being confiscated, but they did take a bag of potatoes, apples, peaches, and bananas which irked Linda. Drove north over a 8% grade mountain pass and through some very beautiful wooded country. Arrived in Fort Steele about 3 p.m. and checked into the Original Fort Steel RV park about a ½ mile off the road into the forest. Had hamburgers for dinner and then walked Meghan on a beautiful wide gravel road to a ranch that was also beautiful and large. This open expansive country makes the Montana big country look small in comparison. Meghan went crazy treeing the squirrels, smelling the deer, elk, bear, etc. We were warned to watch out for a cub black bear in the area but did not see one.

8/7/06 Day 41 summer trip. 170 miles today, 2322total miles. I was really tired and did not leave until 10:00 a.m. for Banff NP. The drive was very beautiful. We entered the Canadian National Park system at Radium Hot Springs which is in Kootenay NP. The cost for an annual pass to all Canadian National Parks was $125 Canadian. We were on very scenic hwy 93 in the park which followed the Kootenay River most of the 132 km into Banff. About 20% of this park was burned in 2003 during a huge 500 – 1000 year big fire. The trees also suffered in some areas from the pine bark beetle, killing off large stands. We arrived at Banff around 2:30 p.m. and checked into a full hook up site at Tunnel Mountain RV Park at a cost of $33 per night. We had to share the site with a couple from Quebec, Canada. We have found the Canadian people to be very friendly and accommodating so far on our trip. We had a light lunch and then drove to Johnson Lake. This crystal clear small Alpine lake is very beautiful with the Rocky Mountain peaks in the back ground. Meghan, Linda, and I did a 3 mile hike around the lake. After about a ¼ mile in we had the trail to ourselves and let Meghan run off leash. Returned for a short rest and then went to a camp fire lecture about fire at 8:00 p.m. which was excellent. It was a serious lecture about natural and controlled burning in park along with the problems they are in encountering. The lecture was earmarked for adults, not kids; this doesn't happen in the US NP’s.

8/8/06 Day 42 summer trip. 0 miles today, total 2322 miles. Got up late again and had a packaged wheat waffle & bacon for breakfast. Linda, Meghan, and I drove the truck to downtown Banff. We toured the main street shops and then walked on a trail along the Bow River to the Falls. This falls looks to be a class 6 unrunable unless you are a brave expert hard shell very qualified kayaker. I for one would never dream of running this rapids. After walking about 4 miles we returned home; to eat lunch, rest, and do computer things. Went out for diesel gas and paid $1.05 per liter this time. After dinner we attended another ranger talk about the people who have habituated this park. Like the previous night it was an excellent presentation.

8/9/06 Day 43 summer trip. 37 miles today, total 2359 miles. Had tough day of 37 miles droving to Lake Louise <grin>. Checked into the Lake Louise campground, an electric only site at a cost of $30 per day. We actually got a site that had a partial opening to the south and were able to receive satellite 110 giving us a few TV stations. We went to the village to do some shopping and then drove to the Lake Louise chateau but could not find parking so we drove to Moraine Lake 12km away. We did a short 2 mile hike on the lake with Meghan on leash, to a beautiful creek and waterfall. There were several small receding glaciers in the mountains surrounding this very scenic lake that was mobbed by people at the parking lot. As usual however there were very few people after walking in a mile. Canoes were available for rent at $35 per hour and there were lots of them on the pretty turquoise colored lake. We went to a ranger camp fire program about interaction dependencies between the Clarks Nut Catcher and the White Bark Pine tree.

8/10/06 Day 44 summer trip. 0 miles today, total 2359 miles. We woke up to a very cloudy intermittent rainy cold 48 F. morning. Had a very light breakfast toast and coffee. Drove up the Lake Louise Hotel toured the hotel, grounds, and viewed the beautiful lake with glacier covered mountain backdrops. Got a few good photos as the thunderstorms passed through. The four diamond Fairmont restaurant was closed for lunch. Linda was too cheap to spring for dinner at this restaurant, so we opted for the lunch buffet in the Victoria Room. The room was very beautiful with a full view of the lakes. The service and food was outstanding. I especially enjoyed the salad and seafood bars. I visited both twice. The smoked salmon lox was the best I have ever had. I had several portions with fresh croissants. For desert the fresh fruit and a wide variety of French cheeses ware really a treat. I also liked the lemon tart allot. I had two glasses of house Chardonnay which was very drinkable. The total bill with a 10% tip was $101 Canadian. I really enjoyed it and even Linda tried about 5 deserts and was impressed. It was raining very hard, so we went to the village to go grocery shopping. The prices in the store for food and other staples were a little less than 4 times US prices. Linda hated to pay these prices but reluctantly upchucked the credit card to the clerk. My advice to campers visiting Lake Louise, is to stock up on food in Banff before going. The rain stopped around 5:00 p.m. so we took Meghan for a hike along the Bow River next to our camp ground. Meghan had a great time romping through the wet vegetation and running along the shores of the Bow. Had left over fried rice for dinner.

8/11/06 Day 45 summer trip. 80 miles today, total 2439 miles. We got up about 9:00 a.m. had breakfast and went to the sewer dump to drain our gray and black water tanks. Filled up our 50 gal fresh water tank as the next camp ground does not have water hook ups. Drove 80 miles through the Columbia Ice Field Park to Wilcox Camp Ground just before the Columbia Ice Field Information Center. This is considered by many with good reason to be one of the most beautiful 80 miles stretch of road in North America. The rain along with added water falls made it even more beautiful and lush. Checked into Wilcox Campground, site 2 with a $300 per night view of the Athabasca and Dome glaciers and several mountains for $13 per night. Linda really whined about the 41 F. temperature and rain as we got the 5th wheel leveled and position into the very tight sight. After getting set up we drove the short distance to the Columbia Ice Fields Visitor center and toured the exhibits. As it was raining we decided to do the large ice vehicles to the glaciers tomorrow, Came home and did a very strenuous short 2 mile hike with Meghan on a trail out of our camp ground. It was very slippery and steep in the rain. We had Costco Lime sauce Shrimp and a nice Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc wine for dinner. Cranked up the 5th wheel heater to 69 F. as it was 46 F. outside. Hope those batteries and propane hold out tonight.

8/12/06 Day 46 summer trip. 0 miles today, total 2439 miles. The temperature dropped to 35 F. last night, but we kept the heater set to 55 F. We awoke to broken clouds and sun which was a welcome site being the first time we saw the snow and glacier capped mountains clearly. Warmed the trailer up to 69 F. and cooked French Toast with fresh blue berries and maple syrup. We then drove to the Ice Fields and purchased our $33 tickets to ride unto the Athabasca Glacier. The machines are 6 wheel drive and cost ¾ million dollars each. We rode in two buses and eventually got up to the first level of the Athabasca field where the ice was 1,000’ thick. We were allowed to get out of the vehicle for 15 minutes to take pictures and walk around. This is a huge operation run by the Brewster concession. I wonder how much money they make and how their contract works. People on our bus where from all over the world about 6 countries, many Japanese, Germans, and Chinese most of whom spoke English. It was lots of fun, but I think the 4 hour guided hiking tour would be more fun. There is actually one huge ice field on top of the Mt Columbia 12,000’ tall that feeds 6 other glaciers below it, one of them being the Athabasca. The following data is all about the Athabasca Glacier. The average snow fall at the top is 23 foot per year. The largest depth is 1200 feet. The surface speed of the Athabasca glacier is 400’ per year. The elevation at the icefall was 8900 ft. It was 7000 ft high where the ice vehicle turn around was and 6300 ft at the toe. Our tour took about 2 hours total. The weather continues to suck with intermittent rain showers, but somewhat warmer at 57 F. high today.

8/13/06 Day 47 summer trip. 80 miles today, total 2519 miles. To my relief the large slide retracted OK on this cold 48 F. morning. It was a sunny beautiful morning, what a relief from those clouds and rain. Got on our way to Jasper at 9:00 a.m. Stopped at Sunwapta Falls to take a look at an incredible rapid that looks totally unrunable in a raft. The final descent through a very narrow perhaps two foot wide crevasse – chute and then spilling out into a huge turbulent hole with a large under cut at a 90 degree turn. We then stopped a majestic lookout of slopes on the Athabasca River and views of several snow capped mountains. A close by slope had lots of snowy white mountain goats, one of them within 15 meters of me. I got some great photos. There are so many photo opportunities on this drive, perhaps the most beautiful 80 miles in the world. Next we stopped for photos of many water falls in view on the side of a green mountain called the weeping wall. We arrived at Whistler camp ground (near the ski slope and gondola) around 2:30 p.m. The camp ground has 781 sites and 77 with hook ups. Apparently the only way to get a hook up site is to reserve way in advance. We settled for no hook ups at a cost of $23 per night. We dumped and filled with water at the campground community site. Our site was in a loop with aspen, lodgepole pine, fir, spruce, a meadow, and views of snow capped mountains. The site was to die for, We met two people next to us from northern Wisconsin who were on their way back from Alaska. They related to us some of their adventures and told us that highway 2 from Glacier NP is good scenic route to Wisconsin. Had grilled hamburgers for dinner and then went to a camp fire program about famous men in Jasper's history. The program was too kid oriented to suit me.

8/14/06 Day 48 summer trip. 0 miles today, total 2519 miles. Rooted Linda out of bed early 7:45 a.m. Had to heat the trailer bedroom up to 68 F. from the low morning temperature of 39 F. before she would get up, Had strong coffee and bagels with cream cheese for breakfast. Warmed up the diesel truck for 15 minutes and we were on our way by 8:30 a.m. to hike and see some sites. We headed for the famous Maligne Canyon where we did a 3.5 mile round trip hike up and back through a sandstone canyon that got so narrow and deep that we couldn’t see the bottom. Of course the raging Maligne river flowed through it. At the top of this area the river was basically subterranean fed from the Medicine lake about 8 miles away. The water falls, flora, fauna, and mossy scenery along the way was beautiful. The trail was quite safe for humans with railings at some of the really high steep lookouts. Meghan made us nervous but she had enough sense or self preservation instinct to stay back from the drop offs she could not climb. We got there early enough to have the heavily used trail all to ourselves. Meghan went crazy smelling all the animal trails. This is one of the most beautiful short hikes I have ever done. Next we drove up the valley to Medicine lake viewing it as we drove past on our way to Maligne Lake 24 miles total up the valley. The shear mountains and forest along the way presented breath taking scenery. Arrived at the lake and checked out the 1.5 hour boat tours for $41 each but decided to walk a mile down the east shore instead. The mountains in the backdrop of this 20 mile long lake are comparable to Lake Louise in beauty. The lake is less commercial than Lake Louise as it only has day operations with no overnight facilities. We had a delicious stew and cheese croissant for lunch at the Maligne Lodge while watching the view on their wood deck outside patio. Got back around 2:00 p.m. after stopping at the IGA store and information building in Jasper. I spent a couple hours resting up for dinner.

8/15/06 Day 49 summer trip. 0 miles today, total 2519 miles. Got up early again to broken sun and clouds. We were on our way at 9:00 a.m. to Mt. Edith Cavell, another must see recommended tourist spot. It was a very slow rough and curvy rode to the mountain. Stopped at many locations to photograph the mountain, streams, and numerous aqua colored lakes. Parking lot was almost full when we arrived. Dogs were not allowed on the meadows trail so we did a glacier loop trail. It was very steep but worth the climb. We came right up to the lake that the glacier was creating. Meghan drank from it which is suppose to give eternal health, why didn’t I have a drink? Numerous small glacier fed waterfalls poured into the small lake. The lake was full of large chunks of glacier blue aqua ice. The short hike took us about 2 hours. We then headed back down the mountain on hwy 93A for Athabasca Falls. Stopped at another pristine lake along the way and had a picnic lunch. Just down stream of the falls we discovered several rafting companies putting into the Athabasca river for 7 mile run toward Jasper. This is only class 2 + and would be very suitable for my boats. If I ever come here again with someone who likes to raft, I am definitely going to do this beautiful run. Wet suits may be advisable as the river is mostly glacier fed. We viewed the impressive falls from above. The drop is so steep with so much water and swirling hydraulics that I doubt if even expert kayakers would try this falls. Drove home to our trailer and found 5 elk grazing in our meadows. I got within 5’ to photograph them. This campground and in particular this beautiful large site is in the top 5 places I have ever stayed. Linda and I spent the rest of the afternoon in our trailer watching the elk graze, reading, and really feeling retired now. We had grilled chicken, fresh pasta with sautéed garlic, onion, cabbage, and KJ Chardonnay for dinner. Yum yum. Life is good. Did the ranger talk at 9:00 pm.

8/16/06 Day 50 summer trip. 0 miles today, total 2519 miles. Wow, it was cold last night down to 32 F. It took 1.5 hours for the trailer heater running to get up to a living temperature of 70 F. Wanted to wait for the US to buy propane but may run out if I wait. In Canada propane is $1.04 per liter / that’s about $4 + per gallon US. We only paid $2.00 per gallon in Idaho. The first day without a cloud in the sky for two weeks. Stayed around Jasper resting up and doing some shopping. Tried to have lunch at the Jasper Inn but could find no parking. The golf course at this resort looks world glass. My Red Devil barbecue broke after 6 years of great service. The fire started shooting down the tube to the gas line, so I threw it in the trash bin. Finished up those hamburgers in the frying pan on the stove. Watched a Canada’s Parks DVD tonight, which I purchased as a souvenir today.

8/17/06 Day 51 summer trip. 180 miles today, total 2699 miles. Got up at 7:30 a.m. and was on the road for Banff at 8:30 a.m. The scenery on this Ice Fields Parkway again amazed us. It is one the prettiest 180 mile drives in the world. Arrived in Banff about 2:30 p.m. and checked into Tunnel Mountain RV park for the 2nd time on this trip to Canada. Finally we got satellite TV as we are getting close to the border this time. I met a charming retired couple from Holland . Drank wine with them for a couple of hours. They were doing a 4,500 mile RV trip around Canada and gave me several ideas for future travel in Canada. As I had no barbecue for the chicken, I decided to do a Wienersnitzel rendition of it and to my surprise Linda liked it, served with Fettuccini noodles & cabbage. We went to the ranger talk about animal migration across the main freeway hwy1 via animal over and under passes.

8/18/06 Day 52 summer trip. 260 miles today, total 2959 miles. Drove from Banff to St Maries, Montana via hwy 1 and hwy 2 near the North East entrance to Glacier NP. The city of Calgary was huge and it took us for ever drive through the city on surface roads. After finally getting through the city and heading south the mountains disappeared and became mostly flat huge ranches and huge farms. The two crops appeared to be hay and wheat. All of Alberta that we traveled through appeared to be very prosperous. Made it through customs at the border without loosing any produce or wine. Arrived in the very small town of Saint Maries, Montana around 4:00 p.m. Checked into Johnson’s RV Park with full hookups at $35 per night. We smelled smoke but saw none as the recent rain appeared to completely extinguish the fire. We had sautéed shrimp in garlic butter, green peas, steamed white rice, and KJ Chardonnay for dinner.

Last updated on February 6, 2019