A Travellerspoint blog

Our First Day at Jasper National Park

Monday, August 6, 2007

semi-overcast 0 °F

Beautiful morning so I walk over to the Mt Robson café for some cinnamon buns and to get some pictures of Mt Robson with blue skies and very few clouds. A gorgeous mountain and the tallest one in the Canadian Rockies.
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After breakfast we pack up and head to Jasper National Park. Our first stop is about a mile down the road at the Overlander Waterfalls. It’s a short ½ mile walk to the falls—beautiful morning for a walk.
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One other stop along the way:
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Then we’re back on the road for the Whistler Campground in Jasper National Park. We wait in line for our campsite. We think it’s a long wait, but later in the day we will see that this is a short wait (around 3pm, the line consists of 50+ campers waiting to get a campsite). There are around 700 campsites here.
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It takes us an hour to unhitch our 5th wheel! We had this problem the other day also, where we couldn’t get the hitch to open. Today we realize that the one leg of the 5th wheel is not working correctly, which is causing the 5th wheel to be slanted and then the hitch gets bound up. So we figure out how to fix the 5th wheel leg and then the hitch easily disconnects. We’re just really glad that we could fix the 5th wheel leg with the tools we have on hand.
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After having a quick lunch we head out to see the area. Our first stop is at the Jasper National Park visitor center in the town of Jasper. As we pull into town we spot a herd of elk in the park beside the road. So we pull into the parking lot to take pictures and the herd decides to move down the street—right down the center of the main street! What a sight.
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After a quick stop at the visitor center to get a map and list of trails
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we head back to the campground to grab a snack before our hike back to Angel Glacier. When we get to the road that leads to the campground, we cannot get through. Both lanes of the road into the campground are packed solid with campers to the intersection. There must be about 50 campers waiting to get in. We end up driving up the road and park at the edge of the campground so Joe & I can walk back to the trailer to grab some food for our picnic.

We drive the old Jasper highway towards Angel Glacier.
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Our major stop this afternoon is at the Angel Glacier. We have a picnic dinner and then do the 2-mile loop to see the three glaciers in the area. The biggest glacier is the Angel Glacier, but there is also a glacier at the base of the mountain that calves icebergs into the lake. Very nice hike. Great scenery.
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We pass a beautiful blue glacial lake on the road to/from Angel Glacier, but there aren't any pulloffs to get a good pic, but here is a partial view of the lake:
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Our other major stop is at the Athabasca Waterfalls. We take the walk around the waterfall area. The area is pretty much empty since it's getting late. No tourist buses or crowds in the evening.
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We drive back to the campsite and relax for the remainder of the evening. The campsite is really nice—large with lots of trees and very private.

Posted by jengelman 13:37 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Mt Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia

Sunday, August 5, 2007

semi-overcast 0 °F

We spend most of the day in the car driving to Mt Robson Provincial Park, which is about an hour west of Jasper National Park. The campgrounds in Jasper fill up early in the day, so we decide to stop at Mt Robson for the night. This campground is huge, but has also been filling up the last few nights. Apparently the first weekend in August is the most popular weekend of the summer for camping in Canada since it's the last 3-day weekend before school starts.

The scenery is okay but nothing special today,
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until we get close to Mt Robson, the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies.
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We’re at Mt Robson Meadows Campground, a very nice provincial park. The campsites are large and lots of trees between campsites. Quite different from many of the parking lot RV parks that we’ve been staying at recently.

We set up camp and walk over to the visitor center. Mt Robson’s top is covered with clouds, but it is still picturesque.
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Then we have dinner and spend the rest of the evening relaxing around the campfire. Of course if there’s a campfire at the Engelman campsite, there are always s’mores :-)
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Posted by jengelman 13:37 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Yellowhead Highway through British Columbia

Saturday, August 4, 2007

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We found out yesterday that it is a 3-day holiday weekend in Canada. We have asked several people what holiday it is and finally someone today tells us that it is a civic holiday with no reason except to have a holiday. Odd, but having a civic holiday simply to have a 3-day weekend in August sounds like a good idea to me :-) Maybe we'll find out Monday if there is a different reason for the holiday weekend, but considering the number of people who responded 'I don't know' when we asked what holiday Monday is, I think it is simply an excuse to have a holiday in August--great idea, Canada!

Today is another beautiful, sunny day. We pack up, drive a few miles and then stop to take pictures of the suspension bridge that we drove across yesterday and today to get to & from Ksan Campground.
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It is a one-lane suspension bridge that was built in 1931. It traverses a very deep canyon. We were a little nervous yesterday when we first saw the bridge, especially when we saw the sign that said "One Truck at a Time".
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I have no idea how many feet deep the canyon is and the pictures can't really show the depth, but it is definately a long way down from the bridge to the river below.
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We take lots of pictures of the bridge and the old church on the other side of the road. Then we're on our way down the Yellowhead Highway (Hwy 16).
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We're less than an hour down the road when we see a lot of people stopped at a roadside rest with cameras and binoculars. So of course we stop. There is a narrowing of the river here and there are rapids (Moricetown Canyon), but I can't figure out why everyone is here.
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So I ask someone and they explain that the local tribe fishes for salmon here using their old methods of nets and harpoons.
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A few minutes later we watch one of the natives use his 20 feet long harpoon/pole to catch a large salmon.
It was so interesting! We watched two fishermen catch several fish this way. They lift up their 20 ft pole that has a large hook on the end, place it down into the water, lift it up and down several times, and in a surprisingly short time they snag a fish on the hook. We watch them for about 30 minutes. A great stop!
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We continue our scenic drive through British Columbia til we get to Smithers. We stop for diesel and Joe somehow talks us into stopping at McDonalds for lunch. After lunch we continue driving til our next stop, Houston. Houston's claim to fame is the world's largest flycasting fishing rod. We take a few pics, talk to some locals and look at the stuffed grizzly at the visitors' center.
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The ride between Houston and Vinderhoof, where we stop for the night, is okay, but not as scenic as this morning. We stop at Dave's Campground for the night. This is a nice park. Not only does it have cable TV and wifi, but a miniature golf course with real grass and a gigantic checker board.
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The park has a lot of RVs by evening; many of us heading south after visiting Alaska.

Posted by jengelman 13:46 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Back in British Columbia, Canada

Friday, August 3, 2007

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We sleep well on the ferry, but not long enough. It’s only a 6.5 hour ride from Ketchikan to Prince Rupert.
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So we’re up at 6am, drive off the ferry, and wait in line to get through customs.
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Customs goes well, except the agent spends a lot of time looking at Rosdale’s (our cat) vaccination papers and I start to get worried that something is wrong. Still not sure why he took so long examining the paper, but he handed it back and said we were free to go.

The day starts out somewhat overcast and the tops of the mountains are in the clouds. By lunchtime the clouds lift and we can see the top of the mountains. Very pretty scenery.
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We stop at Terrance, British Columbia for lunch. Plus we get some groceries, fill up with diesel, and exchange some travelers’ checks for Canadian currency. We’re in Canada, but the towns are still few and far between for the next few days.

We notice that everyone is wearing shorts except us. It feels like it might be close to 80 degrees here and we are not used to the heat. We haven’t worn shorts for weeks. The warmth feels good and we’ll change into shorts later today.

We’re tired, so around 3:30 we pull into the Ksan Campground near Old Hazleton, BC.
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The Ksan campsite is a very nice campground by the river. I was concerned that we would have problems finding a campsite on a (Canadian) holiday weekend, but lots of empty sites here. We relax in the afternoon (I take a nap). Then after dinner we walk around the Ksan historical village (First Nation village)
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and then through Old Hazleton. Old Hazleton has many restored old buildings and turns out to be more interesting than we expected.
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We walk back to the campground and watch a videotape from the History Channel and then have an early bedtime.

Posted by jengelman 15:26 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Our Last Day in Alaska AND BLUE SKIES!!!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

sunny 0 °F

We cannot believe it—the skies are blue again today in Ketchikan. It is one of the nicest days weather-wise we’ve had in Alaska. Three days of blue skies in Ketchikan, the rainiest city in Alaska. The one town in Alaska we expected rain. The temperature actually gets above 70 degrees today. We have had very few days in the last month where we’ve reached 60 degrees! So, great weather for our last day in Alaska.
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We’re going to be driving a lot the next few days after we get off the ferry at Prince Rupert tomorrow, so we take a day to basically relax. We do some chores in the morning, have lunch and then head out to the state park north of us (Settlers Cove) for a walk through the beach and rain forest. We spend time on the beach just looking around (and watching 2 harbor seals in the water)
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and then walk the 1-mile loop through the temperate rain forest.
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We drive back to the trailer to grab a few folding chairs and then head to Refuge Cove State Park to sit on the shore for the rest of the afternoon. There are several families swimming in the water, but we didn’t come prepared to swim. Joe rolls up his jeans and goes in the water but Jere and I sit on the shore and read.
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Around 6:30 we decide to go get the trailer and drive to the ferry dock. Our ferry doesn’t leave til 12:30am and we don't need to be there til 10:30pm, but we're anxious to leave and we want to get to the dock in the daylight.

We arrive at the dock and make dinner. There are already at least a half dozen other RVs waiting in the parking lot.

After dinner we walk over to the dock and watch a sternwheeler go by the dock
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We then take a short walk to the small boat harbor near the ferry and then sit around the trailer relaxing and waiting for the ferry.
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Around midnight we start loading onto the ferry. This is the third time we’re traveling on the Taku so the attendant recognizes us, “You again?” The other two times we traveled on the Taku we had to back on the ferry, so Jere asks if we’ll have to back on this time? We’re told not only can we drive on this time, but we can drive off at Prince Rupert. No backing up in the ferry? Yea!!! We're also not the longest rig on the ferry this time--there's a motorhome pulling a boat that is 56' (we're 52').

We’re one of the first ones on the ferry. We get the keys to our cabin, drop off our backpacks and go up to watch the ferry leave. Our last ride on Alaska's ferries. It's been an adventure driving on/off the ferries. Some people would even say that it is part of the Alaska RV Trip experience :-) I really enjoyed visiting the small fishing towns in southeast Alaska, but I'm glad we're done with getting on/off the ferries.

Posted by jengelman 15:34 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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