Banff, Jasper, Icefields Parkway, Alaskan Highway

Trip Start Jun 06, 2012
Trip End Aug 10, 2012

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Flag of Canada  , Yukon,
Saturday, June 23, 2012

Now that we've been gone for almost three weeks, the days are beginning to blur one into the next, and I find myself asking Scott "what day is it?" quite often. It’s a new sensation not having to adhere to a calendar, and I like it!  We’re finding that most places that we visit tempt us to stay awhile, but we are getting to the point now that we’re anxious to actually get to Alaska.  The last place that really charmed us was the Banff, Lake Louise area in the Canadian Rockies.  We actually knew ahead of time that we’d like to stay about a week, just based on what we’d heard about the area, and we certainly weren’t disappointed!  There are several national parks that are all next to each other in this part of Alberta & British Columbia, and we were able to see parts of several, including Banff, Jasper, and Yoho.  All of them are gorgeous and filled with beautiful lakes, majestic peaks, and all kinds of wildlife.  The city of Banff itself is pretty and reminds me of a Swiss alpine village.  Our son-in-law, Dave Schwartz, used to come to this area quite often as a child/teenager with his family, and his dad, Alec, was kind enough to recommend some places for us to see while we were there, many of which we took him up on; including the Tunnel Mountain Campground (where we stayed for two nights), the Stump & Magpie Restaurant, Lake Minnewanka, Lakes Louise and Moraine, and the Icefields Parkway, among others.  As you walk down the streets in Banff, it’s immediately evident that people from all over the world gather here, as you can hear lots of different languages being spoken – guess that’s because it’s considered one of the most beautiful areas in the world.

One of our first adventures was a walk to go visit the “Hoodoos”, which are unusual, jagged, spire-like mountain formations.  From that vantage point, we were able to see Randle Mountain, and several others in the area.  Many of them are still snow-capped at this time of year.  For those of you who have visited the area, you’re familiar with the Bow River Parkway, which runs adjacent to Highway 1.  The locals recommend that you drive on the Parkway, because it’s less traveled and wildlife is abundant.  We can attest to that, because almost immediately we saw some bighorn sheep, and then a huge elk with a giant rack.  You can always tell when wildlife is near the road because cars and campers pull over for pictures.  This elk got very close to us – close enough that the group that gathered was admonished by a bus driver in the area to “get back in your cars – that’s a wild animal!”  None of us felt threatened, but the advice was good as you never know when a wild animal will go, well, wild.  It was thrilling to see him up close, though.

The last day of our trip in the area was spent visiting Lake Louise and Lake Moraine.  These alpine lakes are fed by glaciers and they are crystal clear.  The aqua water actually reminded me of the Caribbean.  Lake Louise is without question the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen.  Picture this:  snow-capped mountains on all sides, with a glacier framing the back of the lake, the bluest sky you’ve ever seen, dark green pine trees framing bright, clear aqua waters.  Sublime.  Our pictures don’t do it justice, but we tried.  Moraine Lake, about 10 miles away, is similar, but wilder, with several sharp mountain peaks surrounding it.  To top off our great week, we traveled up the Icefields Parkway, which, according to the brochure, is “the most beautiful road in the world.”  I’d have a hard time arguing with that.  We drove through some of the highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies, most of them snow-capped at that elevation, and numerous icefields and glaciers, the biggest of which is the Columbia Icefield, with its Athabasca Glacier, that you can walk on if you’re so inclined.

The last several days have been mostly travel days.  We’re excited that we can finally use the Alaskan “Milepost” guidebook which starts around the area that we ended up in last night – Dawson Creek, British Columbia – Mile Zero of the Alaskan Highway!  I was excited to hear that, until I realized that we still have about two day’s worth of traveling before we actually get to the Alaska state line – but hey, we’re getting there! 

We met a great group of people that are going to be traveling together caravan-style throughout Alaska when we stayed at the “Northern Lights Campground” in Dawson Creek last night.  It’s fun to share stories and adventures with people from all over the place.

We took off from Dawson Creek around noon today, and have traveled as far as Summit Mountain, British Columbia – about a 350-mile drive.  We saw our first bear today!  Three black bears, one at a time, right along the highway.  Fun.  We’ve just stopped for the night.  We’ve pulled off the road near a little lake at the bottom of the mountain.  There is one other camper parked here, but their lights are off for the night.  It stays light here until about 11pm.  It’s 10:30 now, but we’re tired and ready for bed.  The p-mobile is back in good running order (knock on wood).  We hope to be in Alaska either tomorrow or the next day.  Good night.  Sleep tight.

Love, The Hamberg’s

P.S.  Update:  It is now the next day, and we're getting there.  Watson Lake is about 300 miles from Whitehorse, which is just a hop, skip and a jump to the Alaska border.  We'll be there sometime tomorrow!  Enjoy all the pictures below....

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Chelsea on

Your pictures are amazing!! It's fun reading about all your adventures, what a wonderful writer you are.

Katie on

Very pretty pictures! I can't believe all the wildlife you are seeing. I'm jealous, but I did see a squirrel the other day :)

Lynne on

Wow! Your photos and descriptions are wonderful! It is great to see Lake Louise and the chateau again. And, the wildlife! Wish Kathy and I had ventured off the main highway. Looks like you're having nice weather, too. Take care and I look forward to your first blog and photos from Alaska!

jean.hamberg on

Thanks, Lynne & Chelsea! Glad you're enjoying the blog. I hope you had a WONDERFUL week up at Chimney Corners!

Kate, you saw a squirrel? Great! See, there's even wildlife in Chicago....

Smitty and Laura on

We are enjoying your blog, and are disappointed when we get to the end of it, and the gorgeous photos --- and, I agree with Chels --- You are a great writer!!!! (Smitty is worried about your broken bed -- did you get it fixed?) Looking forward to the next chapter!

jean.hamberg on

Hi Laura! How are you and Smitty doing? I'm glad you're enjoying the blog...we're now in Alaska! I'll try and add another blog entry later today. Tell Smitty no worries - we got the bed fixed! Thanks for caring...hope to see you soon...

Mom & Mark on

Mom was over for dinner tonight (tues), we looked at your pictures. Looks like you are seeing alot of wildlife and some very cool scenery, Heard you made to Alaska now, have to send some pictures of the fish you catch, Everything is good here,, suppose to get in the upper 90;s on Thursday. Tell Jean the TIGERS are 2 games out of first place, Take care

Mom & Mark

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