Monday, August 2, 2010

The Kootenays and Columbia Icefields Parkway

July 29 and 30

July 29
odometer 95579

A little dumbstruck by the bill for the trailer repairs - 1G in labour! That doesn't include the parts, which were shipped for free. The axle manufacturer better settle with us pronto!

After settling our account with the garage we stocked up on groceries and were on our way by 11 am.

Had a lunch stop at the Beaver Valley Day Use area. Fenten finally got to swim again in Connaught Creek - it was cold and fast but he did just fine.

We aren't due in Jasper until Friday, so we decided to take a detour down to Radium Hot Springs, then head up the Kootenays to Jasper. The drive to Radium is not within the national parks - it was pretty but nothing special so no pictures. We can see the Columbia mountains to the west and are still following the trains.

Camped at Redstreak in Kootenay National Park. The girls LOVED it because it had a dirt pit - it was as dry as sand so they enjoyed playing in it, throwing sand into the air and onto each other and Thomas. I have never seen my children so filthy - off to the showers!

Feels good to be camping again and have all of our stuff travelling with us. Just realized we left our rain jackets in Vancouver - maybe we can have them sent ahead to family in Thunder Bay?

July 30
odometer 95959

Everybody slept in this morning, even Thomas! What a great sleep, but it meant a late start. Took highway 3 through Kootenay National Park, and it was awesome. It was the first road built through the Rockies, built in the 1920s, and meant to connect the Canadian Rockies to the Western US National Park system. They really blasted this road through the Rockies!

We saw mule deer by the side of the road:

Stopped at the Kootenay Valley viewpoint for pictures:

Had lunch at the Paint Pots. The girls must be getting bored with meat and cheese or PB and J sandwiches, because they came up with a new taste sensation:

The Paint Pots is the site where natives from all over came to gather ochre, a yellow pigment used for dye and paint. We didn't make it all the way to the painted rocks, but did see the ochre flats:

It was a pretty hike to the ochre flats, including a suspension bridge over a small, fast running creek. Fenten tried to swim, but once it got deep enough the current was too strong.

We really enjoyed the drive through the Kootenays - it opened into a wide river valley and we had fun identifying the high peaks and sites of past forest fires. It was interesting to learn, from our Mountain Guide, that fire is an important part of the forest cycle. In cool dry mountains such as the Rockies, where microbial fauna is not as active on the forest floor as wet ranges, fire is responsible for cleaning out dense underbrush and allowing older established trees to thrive.

Kootenay National Park leads into Banff, and the Icefields Parkway starts just north of Lake Louise. We had already been as far as Saskatchewan Crossing when we were here a week or two ago, but enjoyed driving it again. After Saskatchewan Crossing the scenery became more spectacular and the road got kind of crazy coming up to Sunwapta Pass (elevation 2000 m). This picture was taken from a turn off along side the switchback:

We are pulling a 3000 lb trailer with our van, so coming up to the pass we could only go 30 km/h. Good thing the Parkway is a scenic drive and not a transportation route! At the Icefields Centre, we entered into Jasper National Park, and the scenery keeps getting better.
Lots of falls along this part of the Parkway, including Bridal Veil, Tangle, Sunwapta, and Athabasca. Here is a pic of Tangle falls.

It was getting late, so we decided to make a supper stop at Sunwapta Falls. That's the great thing about a travel trailer, its not problem to pull over and make a meal. We had pasta and meat sauce which DS obviously enjoyed very much!

The Sunwapta river is fed by the Athabasca glacier from the Columbia icefield. Sunwapta Falls is were it makes it descent to meet the mighty Athabasca river.
Made it into Wabasso campground, at the north end of Jasper, around 8. Bonus, the campsite as a sand pit (sand, not dirt this time) - the girls are in heaven! Looking forward to seeing DH's cousin, who lives about an hour a way, when he joins us at Jasper tomorrow.

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