This is the second article on Canada.
We entered Canada again on June 24th. Unfortunately, that was when some rather bad weather period began for us. We had rainly-cold weather for several days and our mood got worse each day.
Nelson, Highway 6 and Kootenay lake
We gave Nelson a visit, mostly for shopping - real sausage, proper bread, cheese! Awesome! And stayed near the city as a really friendly guy suggested. We were even able to have a short (cold, but worth it) swim there.
The day after we drove Highway 6 north to New Denver and then over to Kaslo. That was a really scenic route and we really glad we’ve taken it. Kaslo itself was a neat village and we were finally able to send our postcards to germany (which we’ve bought at Glacier NP in the States). We had a nice stay at Kootenay Lake.
The next day we drove further north and took the (free!) ferry from Galena Bay to Shelter Bay, where we even met a nice Germany man that emigratet from Germany to Canada and was really pleased to meet some german-speaking people!
Revelstoke and our first “real” hike
We spend the following two nights near Revelstoke. The city is really nice, although the traffic is noticable there, as the Trans-Canada Highway as well as the Railroad goes right through the city. Either way, we visited the Train-Museum and did our laundry at a family-laundromat where we even met more Germans.
As written before, hiking is a broad term. But luckily, we were able to do our first real hike in Canada near Revelstoke. The Mt. Revelstoke National Park. was not fully open just yet, the road was closed about 20km in. That did not hold us back to do a nice hike, though. The route we piked was advertised as 3.5 hrs one way. We did not give that too much thought, though, as some of the “hikes” we did before were also advertised as 2hrs walks and it was merely an hour for us.
Not with this hike, though. After we did 3.5 hrs uphill and even had to cross some small snow-fields, we were relieved to reach the lakes. But there was another problem now: We did not want to go the same route downhill, as it was rather steep. So we decided to walk down the road - which would’ve been about 20km back to where our car was parked. Fortunately, we met a nice couple from the Netherlands (?) and they gave us a lift after we had walked about 1/4rd of the remaining distance.
Finally we were able to do a proper hike!
Kootenay - Banff - Yoho - Jasper
We continued our trip into the direction of Banff NP - east! There are quite a few nice walks though the “Rain-Forest” near the Trans-Canada highway!
As the weather got worse, we stayed two nights at a nice spot near Golden: Cedar Lake. I will never forget that place, as it was the place where I took my first Lake-and-Moon-Picture ever. And it’s a rather good one, despite my little training on taking pictures in such a setting!
And I was even able to take a picture of a cute little bunny.
Now, the weekend was approaching. Because Sunday was “Canada Day”, we decided to stay two nights in a national forest near Kootenay National Park and Radium Hot Springs (where we didn’t visit the springs, as they were simply too crowded at that time). We met two fellow German travelers and had a really nice dinner together (I even made some potatoe-salad). The next three days, we stayed at the site just south of Kootenay National Park, as the weather didn’t get any better. One day we drove back to Radium and gave the Hot Springs a visit (14$ for two is really good) and to buy some things.
On the fourth day, the weather finally was okayish, so we started our drive to Banff. We visited the Marple Canyon (still in Kootenay NP) early in the morning, which was good because there were no people there. Awesome how deep this canyon is! After that we drove to Banff (City). We had lunch at Mc Donalds - the second time since the start of our journey actually! Visiting the City of Banff was nothing special for us. Too many people at way to much “Tourism” there. But anyways, the Tunnel Mountain Drive was really worth it.
After that we drove further north, as we wanted to visit Johnston Canyon. But we were shocked. Two kilometers before the official parking, cars were standing next to the road and people were walking next to the road. There were probably two thousand people in Johnston Canyon - so we simply skipped it. Instead, we did a really nice hike (Castle Lookout - 3.7 km long and 550m up) which took us 1:15h up. That’s really fast, IMO. We were able to take awesome pictures and even met a German couple with their boys at the top.
On the next day, we had a really nice hike in Lake Louise, which was around 13-15 km (?). Lake Louise itself was too crowded for us (we got one of the last parking spots at 8:30 AM!), but the trail itself was “okayish crowded”. Still too much compared to Europe, but not too bad. The view from the Teahouse point was really great and worth the 4:30h the trail took overall. At the end of the day we visited Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park, which are really impressive and even my favourite Waterfalls until today!
On our third day we drove Emerald Lake to take some pictures and then went back to Banff. No hiking on this day, as we did hikes for the three days before and needed some rest. We met a nice couple which apparently lived only one town away from our own hometown. We had a really nice conversation, good coffee and even some baked goods - awesome! In the evening, we met a really nice couple from Switzerland (chrigikoelbi.ch) as we drove out of Banff and stood at a nice free camping spot. Unfortunately, the weather got rainy again. Because of this we only had a brief conversation and went back inside rather soon. The fire we managed to set off slowly died in the rain. On the next day, after we said goodbye to Chrigi and Koelbi, we drove further east because we wanted to go shopping for some food. After not even 15km we saw a really nice place next to Abraham Lake. As we drove down to the lake, we met Chrigi and Koelbi again. Soon after that we had allocated a nice spot above the lake with them. Despite the very little distance we made on that day, it was awesome. Chrigi and Koelbi are really friendly people and we had a really nice day, a nice dinner and very nice entertainment with them. Entertainment, because Canadians pushed (or rather tried to push) their rights through the more shallow parts of the lake. The later the day, the more got stuck. It was really funny to watch because their “big rigs” (some not even equipped with 4x4 drive) didn’t seem to be so great anymore after they got stuck in (only) 10cm of water and mud.
After that day, which was essentially a “break day”, we drove north through Jasper and then towards Edmonton. After one more day of driving we visited friends in Spruce Grove and had a nice BBQ and conversation. They Germans emigrated to Canada about ten years ago. They told us some nice stories about life and especially about winter in Canada.
After Edmonton (or rather Spruce Grove, as we didn’t drive into Edmonton City), we started heading further north. On 2018-07-13, we arrived at Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway.
The Alaska Highway was rather uneventful until we arrived in Fort Nelson, the first “big city” on the AH for us. We gave the amazingly empty and really nice pool a visit (Showers - oh yeah) and also used the internet at the local Tim Hortons for a good bit. On the next day, the drive got more scenic, not only because the weather got better but also because the landscape changed from “only forest” to mountains. The hot springs in Liard River were worth a visit, despite we visited the pool a day before.
On the next day we arrived in Watson Lake. The “Sign Post Forest” as it is called was awesome to explore! We found so much road signs from Germany, also one which is from a town not even 10km from our own hometown and of course a lot of signs from big cities like Hamburg, Berlin, etc. Of course we also added our own sign which we brought over from Germany.
We stayed two nights in Watson Lake near the Airport, which was a really nice spot. We met a couple from Switzerland (really there are a lot of people from Germany and Switzerland on the road in Canada these days) and traveled with them for four days straight.
We did not drive Alaska Highway, though, but the Clondike Highway. After 380 km of gravel road, forest, mountains, loneliness, some bears and even more forest (but nonetheless a beautiful drive), we arrived at the town of Faro, where we stayed for two nights, had showers, did the laundry and enjoyed some sun (finally!) near the campground. Because we had a comparatively good internet connection there - or rather: the best internet connection since we started our trip in Halifax - we did a lot of oneline “work”, like writing replies for emails, phoning home and I even had an interview on the third day we stayed there (it went really well IMO). The lady at the Interpretive Center of Faro was from Bavaria originally and we had a good conversation. On the last day we also met a really nice guy from Austria. Both of them came to Yukon about twenty years ago, though the lady from the Interpretive Center lives here permanently, the Austrian Guy only during summertime. They shared nice stories about live in Yukon, wildfires, bear encounters and even a story about wolves.
The two days after that we drove to the Five Finger Rapids in Carmacks and stayed there on a free spot near the Yukon River and then further to Mayo where we also had a nice free spot directly next to the Mayo River (near the Steward River). We visited the Mayo Interpretive Center where a really nice lady from Australia told us about the history of the area. Later that day we drove to Keno, which is really a beautiful drive, and visited the Museum in Keno. We stayed at the same spot near Mayo for the next night.
Dawson City and Top of the World Highway
After Keno, we drove to Dawson. The last few (tens) of kilometers before Dawson were rather uneventful and almost boring. But then, oh boy! Dawson City! The place to be during the gold rush and a really nice place to be today as well. We felt like beeing in the Wild West - and of course, it is the wild west… of Canada! The people, the streets, the houses, the Yukon River, the feeling - that’s Wild West (at least for me)!
We visited the Casino where, in the evening, a really nice show took place and entertained us a lot. Because sunlight is almost a 24-hour thing here, we stayed up early (until 1 AM) at the campground accross the river. The next moring, we took the ferry back to Dawson and simply walked around and enjoyed the area. Weather was perfect, people were nice and internet at the Visitors Information Center was rather good.
On our third day we visited the Dredge No 4 which produced up to 23 kg of Gold every 3-4 days up until 1966! After that, we drove to Alaska!
But first, the Top of the World Highway. That Highway was named because you have the feeling that you’re driving on the top of the world. And indeed they got the name right! I cannot even say how awesome that drive was! The pure nature, the endless wilderness… absolutely amazing!
We entered Alaska at the most northern US-American port on the Top of the World Highway.