Days 20 and 21 – Jasper National Park, Icefields Parkway ,Banff National Park and home

Leaving the campsite about 8am it is the final push to Jasper National Park. Stopping behind a long line of cars just minutes from the entry to the park it was discovered that a road closure was in effect from 9am till 11am. Wait it should only be 8:30am, no there was a time change yesterday that proved the undoing of this plan.

IT’S ACTUALLY 9:30

Oh well guess it’s time to climb out of the car and get some stretching done for the morning.

Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Finally right at 11am the line of cars starts to move and entering the park it is time to stop at the visitors center located in the town of Jasper.

Jasper National Park is Canada’s largest National Park with 4,200 sq. miles (11,000 sq. km) that lies just north and adjacent to Banff National Park. This beautiful Park consisting of glaciers, ice fields, hot springs, lakes, waterfalls and mountains was established in 1907 as a forest park and was provided full National Park status in 1930. Part of the Canadian Rocky’s National Park along with neighbor Banff and 2 other Parks it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

The resort town of Jasper is the headquarters for Jasper National Park with it’s Visitors Center. This year round resort is with complete facilities for it’s guests, a quaint walkable downtown featuring restaurants, hotels and shopping with nearby Marmot Basin Ski Resort. The town was quite crowded with other visitors this Friday so finding a parking spot proved a little challenging. Finally getting parked it was a medium length walk to the Visitors Center to get aquatinted with the park. Moving around inside was a little claustrophobic so the goal was quickly accomplished and then it is off  into the park.

Icefields Parkway

Rated as one of the top drives in the world, Canadian Highway 93, the Ice Fields Parkway, is a 144-mile  (232km) stretch of road winding its way through 2 National Parks with a beautiful landscape rich in history traversing subalpine forests and the Columbia Icefield.

Going south on the Icefields Parkway we come to Athabasca Falls. Flowing from the glaciers of the Columbia Icefield, the Athabasca River is the largest river system in Jasper and the 75 foot (23 m) Athabasca Falls. Although not very tall, it’s power comes from the flow of the river and the narrow canyon it traverses making for a spectacular view.

In the park is the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains of North America, the Columbia Icefield. It’s 125 sq. mile (325 sq. km) area is in both Banff National park and the adjoining Jasper National Park.

Just past the Athabasca Glacier on the Columbia Icefields is a small campsite for tents only. Pulling in there 2 spots available, so here is home for the night. 

After getting camp set up it was a short walk along the Parkway to the trail head for a 1.1 mile (1.8 k) moderately strenuous hike to the toe of the Athabasca Glacier. A fabulous walk to the base of the glacier and you can hike right onto it. If you do not feel like walking you can take a bus from the lodge to the glacier where you get onto a Tundra Bus for a drive out onto the glacier.

The next morning it was an early rise and quick breakfast to head south and hopefully get to a few places before the crowds start to gather.

Banff National Park, Alberta Canada

Established in 1885 this is Canada’s oldest national park. Located in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park encompasses 2,564 sq miles (6,641 sq km) of forested, alpine terrain consisting of hot springs, glaciers, ice fields, rivers and waterfalls in a subarctic ecosystem.

Bridal Veil Falls

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Weeping Wall showcases the melt-off from the snowfields emerging form fissures in the cliff face emerging as a series of waterfalls.

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Getting to Lake Louise it was a quick off ramp to see Moraine Lake. Well it was quite overrun with vehicles and people trying to get to the lake for the morning sunrise. It takes 45 minutes to get to the large parking lot which is overrun with cars. If the parking lot is this full the trail to the lake must be just as crowded. Turning around and getting back to the parkway it was discussed and with the final day of the trip being Sunday at Glacier NP along the popular Going to the Sun Highway it was decided to head out of the Banff early and head home as it was only a 10 hour drive. Glacier National Park is relatively close and can be left for another adventure.

Leaving the Icefields Parkway at Castle Junction it was time to head west along Highway 93 to the town of Radium Hot Springs where the highway turns south for the USA Border Crossing. Stopping in Cranbrook I pick up a quick lunch and then it’s off to the border.

It was a 45 minute wait at the border as it was quite crowded. Finally through It’s south on State 95 to Interstate 90, Highway 395 and finally onto Interstate 84 west to the coast and home.

Arriving home at about 10pm I take a quick shower to hose off the few days of grim due to no showers and fall into bed. Unpacking will be for tomorrow, sleep comes quickly as I am home in my bed after 21 days on the road.

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My visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park on a trip south to visit family.

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I left Vancouver for southern California and my first overnight stop was Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California. As the name implies it’s major features are volcanic in origin. Being the southern most volcano of the Cascade Range the prominent features of the park are the largest plug volcano in the world, Lassen Peak and it’s sulfur – thermal hot springs.

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Originally two separate National Monuments dedicated in 1907 by Theodore Roosevelt, Cinder Cone and Lassen Peak National Monuments were declared Lassen Volcanic National Park in 1916.

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I arrived late in the afternoon after an 8 1/2 hour drive and set up camp at Manzanita Lake Campground located in the northern section of the park. Then I proceeded to walk the loop trail around Manzanita Lake, ate dinner and enjoyed a nice campfire before retiring to my tent to read and fall asleep.

 

Accessible by five vehicle entrances the majority of visitors enter either from the north or south along State Route 89, named the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway or Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway, off State route 44 in the north and 89 from the south. Three unpaved roads enter the park but do not connect with the main road through the park, Highway 89.

The north-south 29-mile (46.6k) road, Highway 89, was constructed between 1925 and 1931. The road summit is the highest in the Cascades topping at 8,512 feet (2,594 m). This road is closed in the winter months due to snow, which can reach 40 feet (12.2m) deep.

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Early morning along the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway

 

I got up early, had a quick breakfast and packed up to head south along Route 89 to visit the sites of the park. It was very interesting stopping at the many informative signs along the road to read the history of the park.

 

The last minor to major eruption started in 1914 and lasted until 1921 creating a new crater on Lassen Peak. Releasing ash and lava it fortunately did not kill anyone. This eruption covered many miles of forestlands with landslides and the new growth forest today stands many feet above the old forest floor. These landslides also created Manzanita Lake as it damned Manzanita Creek.

The first blast was on May 19, 1915 and was said to be a night to remember with it’s steam explosion and subsequent mudflows. Had it not been for Elmer Sorahan many people might have died but he ran 3 miles (4.8k) to warn others after escaping the explosion.

 

Three days later on May 22, 1915 another explosion on Lassen Peak threw ash, pumice, rock and gas into the air that was more devastating to the area than the first. The pressure in the mountain built up like a lid on a boiling pot of water and finally blew. You can now explore this area on a ½ mile (0.8k) loop trail or take the strenuous 2,000 foot (609.6m) 5 mile (8k) round trip hike to the top of 10,457 foot (3,187m) Lassen Peak. Many other hiking opportunities exist in the park along with backpacking, auto-touring, bird watching, camping skiing, skiing, snow play, and snowshoeing.

There are 5 hydrothermal areas to explore within the park. Sulphur Works, Bumpass Hell, Devils Kitchen, Boiling Springs Lake and Thermal Geyser. I am limiting myself to 2 for this trip.

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My first hydrothermal area would have been the hike out to Bumpass Hell Hydrothermal Area, a moderate 3 mile (4.8k) round trip hike. This is the largest hydrothermal area of the park with temperatures of up to 322 degrees F (161 degrees C). I had done this hike with my kids back in the early 1990’s although I found the trail closed this season for maintenance of the trail and boardwalk through the 2018 season.

My next stop was Sulphur Works, a formation of mudpots, steam vents and boiling springs located right off the main road. This hydrothermal area in near the center of a massive composite volcano that collapsed many thousands of years ago. Mount Tehama or Brokeoff Mountain was estimated to be 1,000 feet (304m) higher than Lassen Peak. Active 400,000 to 600,000 years ago it is estimated to be nearly 11 miles (17.7k) across and had towered to 11,500 feet (3,505k).

 

My final stop was the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at the south entry of the park to visit the small museum learning the history of the park, peoples and area and had a nice talk with the Rangers.

Now for the long 8 hour drive down the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains along State highway 395 to the BLM area of Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, CA.

FORT VANCOUVER NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

This National Historic Site has a long history on the north bank of the Columbia River, starting as a Hudson Bay fur trading post. The Park is a collection of 4 distinct sites, Old Fort Vancouver, The Village, Pearson Air Field and Vancouver Barracks, each having a history of transition, settlement, manufacturing and conflict.

“Old Fort Vancouver”, visited before (LINK) which I will discussed more in a future post, was established around 1825 by the Hudson Bay Company. Serving as the main headquarters of the Company’s interior fur trade from Russian Alaska to Mexican California and everything west of the Rocky Mountains.

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Reconstructed Old Fort Vancouver

“The Village” provided the area for housing the workers and their families who supported Fort Vancouver. Established in 1829 it had a population exceeding 600 and was one of the largest settlements in the west at that time.

“Pearson Air Field” first used the Polo Field of the Vancouver Barracks as a site for aviation enthusiasts to gather and show off their aerobatic skills in the early years of the 20th century. During World War I a Spruce Production Mill was built on the Polo Field to supply aviation grade lumber in the manufacturing of war planes. After the war the Spruce Mill was removed and “Vancouver Barracks Aerodrome” was built, in 1925 it was christened “Pearson Air Field,” after Lt. Alexander Pearson. I will go into more detail of this part of the Park in a future post.

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2017 in review quite a better year

2016 was just a total joke of a year and I was glad it was over, 2017 has been much better and full of adventures.

January started off recuperating from an sudden illness that happened in mid-December and during this time I started planning a trip up to Vancouver, WA the end of February to visit family and purchase my new adventure vehicle, a 2017 Subaru Outback.

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Canada PLANNING PART 2 – Onward to Jasper and Dawson, Yukon, Canada

Lets go on an Adventure

ADVENTURE – An exciting, daring, bold, risky or very unusual experience or undertaking fraught with physical, financial or psychological risks.

Any ideas of what to visit in the areas I am traveling would be appreciated, not all sites are noted somewhere, secret spots abound. And if you share these secret spots with me to enjoy I will not post where they are but will relish in the beauty around me and be grateful you trust me with this shared this information.

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The Canada adventure is in planning

ADVENTURE – An exciting, daring, bold, risky or very unusual experience or undertaking fraught with physical, financial or psychological risks.

Lets go on an Adventure

What does this mean? It can be different for everyone; skydiving, mountain climbing, scuba diving, river rafting, caving (spelunking) traveling, exploring…… anything that is outside the ordinary for that individual is an adventure. Many make their adventures a way of life and never stop. For some it is just a day, weekend or short trip. Does it need to involve speed, height, a high level of physical exertion or highly specialized gear, some would say yes. I do not think that at all, it is up to the individual the extent of the adventure to be accomplished.

Next August my ADVENTURE will involve a 45 drive from Southern California to Dawson, Yukon Territories in Canada, up the Dawson highway to the Arctic Ocean and back in my 2017 Subaru Outback. It is something I have never done and it has always been on my bucket list. I have taken 2 cruises to Alaska and have loved the experiences. I now want to experience the lands of Canada and Alaska from the ground driving through the countryside.

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·      Will it be scary? …..Probably as I will be doing it alone.

·      Will it be exhilarating? …..Yes.

·      Will it be fun and exciting? …..Definitely.

·      Am I excited to plan and start this adventure? …..OH YES.

The trip will leave Southern California and head up east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains then I will cut over to Vancouver, WA to visit my son and his family for a few days.

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The Adventure really begins after this visit as I head to Glacier National Park, Montana; Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. Continuing north to Banff and Jasper National Parks, Alberta, Canada. Then going north into the Yukon Territory, the smallest and least populated province in Canada to the small town of Dawson. From Dawson I will head up the Dawson Highway to Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada and then continue the final 130 km on the new all season road to Tukoyakuk, Northwest Territories, Canada. Returning to Dawson I will then head east to Chicken, Alaska turning south for Haines to cross on the ferry to Skagway, Alaska. It will then be time to head south after a few days rest in Skagway. Stopping again in Vancouver, WA I will hopefully finish with a camping trip in the Sierras with a group of Overland Bound friends to end this adventure. That is the rough itinerary at this time.

·      Adventure? …..I think so.

·      Something out of my ordinary routine? …..DEFINITELY for me.

So what does this involve? A lot of investigation on the Internet, reviewing maps and with the help from individuals who kindly share their knowledge of the areas I am visiting. I will be camping along the way when possible and staying at motels, hotels or lodges as needed. Road conditions, places to stay, services (food and gas), places to visit all need to be investigated.

·      Will schedules change?

·      Will additional sites present themselves?

·      Will destinations be revised?

All a YES to me, it is still being planned so anything is all possible.

My vehicle is still getting prepared for the adventure with items to makes it’s life and mine more enjoyable. Better suspension, all-terrain tires, roof rack, navigation equipment, full size spare tire, tow strap, tools, tire gauge, tire repair (plug) kit, gloves, fire extinguisher, shovel, axe, extra gas can, repair parts, extra power outlets added for charging all the electronic gear that we all carry now, tint for the rear windows, communications, boost jump starter battery charger and jumper cables, and a portable air compressor for a start.

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My clothing and toiletries will be my normal travel items (see previous post) modified for the weather. I will possibly be adding a Go Pro video camera to my photographic equipment for additional documentation of the adventure.

Then I must go through the camping gear to pare down to the basics on what I really need to take along. It will include tent, tent ground cloth (footprint), sleeping bag and pad, stove, pots, fry pan, plates, cooking and eating utensils, dishpan, dish soap (Dawn), camp chair and table, tarp, mosquito repellant and head netting, camp lights and batteries, propane, lighter and matches, trash bags, cleaning bucket, 5 gallon drinking water container, a cooler and food storage containers.

Additional gear will include a hand held GPS, first aid kit, whistle, cordage (para-cord), knife, bear spray, maps, compass and possibly a small backpacking hammock.

Now what am I visiting along the way.

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The real start of my trip will be when I leave Vancouver, WA for Glacier National Park in Montana where I will be overnighting at the Apgar, Sprague Creek or Fish Creek Campgrounds depending on availability in the south end of the park.

 

From there I will head over “Going to the Sun Highway” to see the sights and stop as needed for the night.

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The next day I will enter Canada and stop for a few days to explore the area of and around Waterton Lakes National Park.

After Waterton, I will head to Banff to stay for about 5-6 days in a condo (timeshare exchange) to explore the surrounding area. Along the way to Banff I will stop at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site to look around.

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The fist day I will wander around the town of Banff getting current information at the Visitor Center and the Banff Park Museum, visit the Whyte Art Museum of the Canadian Rockies, the Natural History Museum and the Buffalo Nations Museum. Just outside of town I will visit Cave and Basin National Historic Site and the Upper Hot Springs.

In my remaining days in Banff I will explore up Highways 1 and 1A as far as Lake Louise visiting locations and scenic overlooks such as Backswamp, Muleshoe, Sawback, Hillsdale Meadows, Johnson Canyon, Moose Meadows, Silver City, Rock Lake, Castle Cliffs, Storm Mountain, Castle Lookout, Protection Mountain, Baer Creek, Outlet Creek, Corral Creek, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Returning at the end of the each days adventure to sleep in a nice bed with kitchen area. If the condo idea falls through I will just head north along those highways stopping at campgrounds along the way to Jasper, Alberta, Canada.

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Now, how have I found this information? From maps; computer mapping programs; books, searching the specific areas I wish to visit on the Internet (Google is my friend); country, territory and city visitor information sites; and information from other travel bloggers. I have gone to my local bookstore to wander and peruse the shelves looking for interesting travel books of these areas. I will go to my local Automobile Association to find out what information they might have available there. A travel book, map and your time searching are well spent in preparing for a trip. Information gained ahead of the trip will help insure you plan the time to see the sites most important to you.

I will continue with the planning of this adventure in additional posts so please stay tuned.

Any ideas of what to visit in the areas I am traveling would be appreciated, not all sites are noted somewhere, secret spots abound. And if you share these secret spots with me to enjoy I will not post where they are but will relish in the beauty around me and be grateful you trust me with this information.

Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks trip, August 2017 Days 6 & 7

The Beartooth Highway is said to be one of the most scenic drives in the United States. Featuring breathtaking views of the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains, high alpine plateaus, glacial lakes, forested valleys, waterfalls and wildlife.

Abutting Yellowstone National Park it sits in a 1,000,000 acre (404,686 hc) wilderness. Being one of the highest and most rugged areas in the lower 48 states, it contains 20 peaks reaching over 12,000 feet (3,657 m) in elevation. Surrounding mountain glaciers are found on the north-facing slope of nearly every mountain peak over 11,500 feet (3,505 m) high. The Road itself is the highest elevation highway in Wyoming and the Northern Rockies at (10,947 feet; 3,336 m) and in Montana at (10,350 feet; 3,154 m).

Breathtakingly beautiful this drive takes your breath away with the vistas and the driving along the curving mountainous roads. This road is not for the faint of heart as the steepness at the edges can be overwhelming for people who do not like heights. This is a road for driving, exploring and for taking your time to see all the sights and paths along the way.

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