Well my plans to blog post on a weekly basis this summer didn't exactly turn out, sorry Mom. So here I sit, back in 106* Phoenix, AZ looking back on 69 days, 12,219 miles driven, 8 US states, 3 Canadian Provences, 7,899 potholes avoided, and twice that many hit. Yes, Chicken and North Pole are both real city names.
Alberta & British Columbia
Traveling through Alberta and BC brought us upon two highly contrasting atmospheres. Our first few days were spent exploring Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Parks. Crowds galore! Almost every moment was spent rubbing shoulders with tourists. In an attempt for a bit of solitude we visited Moraine Lake at sunrise followed by a late evening hike at a lesser trafficked Emerald Lake.
Desperately feeling the need to escape the crowds we headed west out of the parks. Mount Robson Provincial Park contains the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies, Mt. Robson at 12,972'. It was rare that I paid for camping this trip, maybe 3 nights in total all trip. This night in Mount Robson was one of them but well worth it as we were tucked up against Yellowhead Lake, with a petrified tree acting as a dock to the lake.
Completely opposite from the packed National Parks, the Stewart-Cassiar Highway offered complete solitude, unless you include the bears. Stretching 541 miles through rugged mountains and zero cell service, the "Cassiar" is a must see for any road tripper through British Columbia. Our first 24 hours gave us encounters with 10 black bear and 1 grizzly. A 41 mile side trip through a lush canyon with countless waterfalls and the massive Bear Glacier put us in Hyder, AK, the southernmost town in Alaska. Once a booming town during the gold rush, Hyder now claims to be "the friendliest ghost town in Alaska".
Nearing the northern end of the Cassiar after a dozen more bear sightings, we had our eyes on Boya Lake Provincial Park to park it for the night. The lake provided turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and unlocked kayaks on an honor rental system. With the National Parks in southern BC charging up to 60 bucks an hour! for kayak rentals, the $20 a day at this far lesser used lake was a dream.
Our night at Boya Lake marked our last on the Cassiar Highway, and the drive the next day put us into Yukon Territory. One is more apt to run into a buffalo than another human in this rugged country. Kluane National Park lies in southwest Yukon, bordering Alaska, and is home to Canada's highest peak, Mt. Logan, it's largest ice field, and North America's most genetically diverse grizzly population. After a night at an unexpectedly amazing camping spot down a quad road we opted to climb King Throne's Peak, a hike that sent us high above beautiful Kathleen Lake and into the low hanging clouds.
ON TO ALASKA!! Stay tuned...