We have spent the last few days exploring the magnificent Canadian Rockies. All the Canadians we have met have said how fantastic they were and they are not wrong. We left our campsite near Jasper to drive the Icefields Parkway. Whilst the weather was not the best the views were still fantastic. We stopped at the Athabasca glacier for a closer look and also for the girls to do some schooling with a view.
After entering Banff National Park we camped at Lake Louise. We were lucky enough to see some wildlife along the way to camp.
The next morning we wereup early to drive to Lake Moraine to beat the crowds and were rewarded with some magnificent views.
We then went to Lake Louise itself.
Yet more fantastic views. We decided to trek up to Agnes Lake to a tea house they had up there. This was a 4km trek gaining 400m in altitude. To our surprise the girls flew up the mountainside chatting all the way. Perhaps it was the promise of scones for lunch at the top that propelled them along the way. As Alisha said “Grandpa would definitely walk up here for tea and scones”.
The next day we drove to Banff for lunch along the quiet back way and were rewarded with the below sighting.
Was it a wolf (they frequent the area) or a dog? We discussed this all the way into Banff. In the end we went into the Parks information centre and showed them the photo. They said it was definitely a wolf and how lucky we had been to see one.
We drove out of Banff to Peter Loughbrough Provincial Park along a very dusty gravel road to camp in a quiet spot for the night.
From there we headed to Waterton Lakes National Park. After been disappointed to not see any bears in Jasper or Banff National Parks we were delighted to see 3 grizzly bears on our drive to the campsite!
There was also bear droppings just near where we camped so clearly a lot around. The next morning we also sighted a Black Bear.
As we finish our time in Canada, the Rockies have been stunning and have been a great way to finish 6 weeks in Canada.
We were touched to hear from the truck’s “Daddy” Michael Bocklet while we were on the road. He has been making trucks like ours for 30 years and retired at Christmas. He is now travelling through Canada and Alaska with his wife Henny, handing the reins of his company over to Gabriel his son who we have been working with. They arrived in Halifax 2 months before us but have a different route, so we caught up with them in Edmonton. After our truck being such an unusual sight in Canada with lots of photos and questions about being asked, it was strange to see a very similar one in the campsite. We had a great evening of food, comparing routes, travels and “slowly relaxing” into retirement stories (both Michael and Steve were on the email to work that afternoon). We waved goodbye to them the follow morning to see the “sites” of Edmonton.
In front of Michael and Henny Bocklet’s truck
The girls and I had a interesting time at the Science Museum in Edmonton, while Steve stocked up for the mountains. We then decided on a different cultural experience compared with the last 5 weeks. We headed off to what was once the biggest mall in the world for a movie and supper.
After all the flat of the last week we were ready for some mountains, so we headed west for the Rockies. We could see them for miles away and were thrilled to see a flock of big horn sheep and a male elk with massive antlers in the first few kilometres.
Camping that night was beside a milky blue glacial river. We spent our time in Jasper hiking beside azure lakes, deep canyons, powerful waterfalls, milky rivers and Steve and Alisha trying for more fish. I spent my time simultaneously keeping my eyes out for bears (with excitement in the truck and trepidation when on foot) and the stunning mountain views.
While the girls and I were homeschooling in Lake Maligne’s car park Steve saw two graceful mule deer whilst on foot.
At the town of Jasper, Lucy was thrilled to spot a massive totem pole and learn of the story behind it. The national parks in Canada have great booklets for children explaining the wildlife and culture of the region, which the girls have been thoroughly enjoying. That night we made bannock, a bread much like trudilnik (for all you Czechs) cooked on a stick over a fire. They had learnt about it the previous evening at the fireside talk about bears.
We left the lakes and entered the Canadian plains as we entered Manitoba. We had heard a lot about the plains. How boring they were, how we would be excited when the road went round a corner etc etc. In some ways we were looking forward to them just to see what they were like. Whilst we have done some long driving days they have not been that bad. We spent a night in Winnipeg and the next morning went to the Museum of Manitoba which the kids loved.
After that we went to Riding Mountain National Park and camped on Lake Audy. We were hoping to see some wildlife and were rewarded with Bison. Also unfortunately after going for a paddle in the lake we also acquired some leeches. Alisha’s was the leech removal expert as she had read about it in her explorer guide.
As well as more lovely sunsets.
On our last morning we set off very early in the hope of seeing more wildlife on the road before any traffic. We saw more bison, some deer and some lovely morning mist but still no bear.
Disappointed we stopped for breakfast just before the park exit. Almost immediately after setting off a bear ran out into the road in front of us. It was a brief sighting ( sorry no photo) but it was great to see our first bear and from the safety of the truck. There had been a mother bear with 3 cubs in our camp the night before but we had not seen them.
We headed into Saskatchewan and onto Saskatoon. We have spent the day catching up on all the jobs that need doing. The biggest one has been sorting out the girls schooling. Before we left we bought for Alisha her literacy and Maths curriculum books with accompanying CD Roms. Steve also received as a kind leaving present a new computer. However we found out new computers no longer have CD Rom readers. Unperturbed we went to Apple in Winnipeg where they kindly loaded the CD Roms onto our computer. But the next problem was that the CD Rom materials were so old that the computer could not read them. Anyway we have half solved the problem by going to the public library in Saskatoon and printing the relevant pieces off. Where there is a will there is a way, so no escape from school for Alisha.
A few views of the plains, including the flies that splatter the windscreen.