The next day we would be starting out on the Alaska Highway!!! Whoop Whoop!!
Rochelle & Will
After leaving the Emond's we grabbed a few groceries and topped off the gas tank before heading north past a gigantic beaver. After a photo with the beaver we turned west at Dawson Creek towards Powder King. Emotions were running high as there hadn't been any new snow and after being so spoilt for pow in southern BC we weren't really sure how keen we were to ski icy conditions like we had done at Revelstoke. We arrived at dusk and it was mighty cold outside, we hummed and harred in the Dodge for a while about what to do before deciding to go inside and see what the deal was with the hostel and bar. It turned out that the bar was about to close and that the hostel was pricy even just to sleep in the car but use the hostel facilities. We decided to sleep in the car and use our own facilities by heating up some curry in the car park. This meant our accommodation was now free!
In the morning there was almost no one else in the car park and the glistening freshly groomed empty trails lured us in. We attempted to make a cool little film of me getting out of bed all ready to go with my ski boots and helmet already on. The idea was I'd ‘wake up’ then get out and clip my skis on and ski off. It worked in theory but I'd forgotten to do my pants up and you can see that they are undone and hear Will crack up when we both realise.
After our movie making and breakfast we forked out $58 each for the day passes and headed up the chairlift. At the top we took in the view then raced down the main run. With no line we were back at the top again in no time. After several runs we had even managed to find a few pockets of powder and filmed a few runs. We then hit the T-bar for a few shorter runs before stopping off for lunch.
Over lunch I had this great idea to film me taking off then throwing my tatty old pink bra into a pine tree that was filled with bras thrown by others as they passed it on the chairlift. Will agreed to film me but it was almost a disaster as it looked like I'd timed it wrong and the bra would fall to the ground. But at the last moment it landed on a branch and stuck in place! I was stoked that's one way to get rid of an old bra! Bra throwing over, we did a few more runs and they called last lift just as the groomed trails and slight slopes were starting to get boring. But overall we had had an awesome day and were very glad we had decided to ski.
That evening I drove us back to Dawson Creek. As the sun was setting I saw a large animal run across the road about 200m in front of us it freaked me out a bit as our headlights weren’t exactly the best so I opted to drive slower. We could not afford to hit anything like a moose. This combined with the rutted road and our terrible suspension meant the Dodge was lurching all over the place. So when a SUV caught up to me I slowed down even more to let it pass but to my surprise it didn’t pass so I thought I had better speed up again and drive closer to the speed limit. As soon as I didn’t this the SUV lit up with blue and red flashing lights and of course pulled me over sighting erratic driving! I was worried because we didn’t have any insurance but the cops were lovely and said they couldn’t understand our Chilean registration but that it seemed all in order and after checking our licences they just wanted to hear all about our trip. It was a big relief but quite strange, all they did was ask me if I had been drinking to which I said no and explained about the animal I saw. In New Zealand I would have for sure been breath tested to confirm that.
Finally back in Dawson Creek we went for a swim and shower at the Rec Centre and then found some dinner. I had a pulled pork Subway sandwich for while Will had his all-time favourite from Pizza Hutt being Hawaiian pizza. We camped at the local Walmart that evening and other than me finding out that Will had ordered $700 worth of gun accessories and a the arguing that ensued we had a quiet night.
The next day we would be starting out on the Alaska Highway!!! Whoop Whoop!!
Rochelle & Will
It was in the negatives outside when we arrived at the lovely warm house of Brad and Julie’s in Grande Prairie, Alberta. They had a room all set up for us and welcomed Will, Scout and I to stay for a few days. This was the first time in a long time that we had seen the same people three times on our trip and it was great to have that level of familiarity with them already. Even if Julie was still teasing me about my distaste for curling. We settled in over a hearty lunch of our favourite pulled pork and coleslaw on fresh buns and discussed some of the things we hoped to do in Grande Prairie. Julie already had a bit of an itinerary for us starting the next day so there was no time like the present to give the Dodge interior a much needed clean.
We put on some warm clothes and pulled everything out of the Dodge, it defiantly needed it there were dog biscuits, dog hair, food crumbs, mud, ice and road grit all through the car. Will vacuumed while I attempted to wipe it out with hot water that was rapidly going cold. I was also on a new found film everything mission so I was filming Will doing the cleaning as well as everything else. We then organised all the food and rearranged a few things before putting it all back in. We were just complaining to Brad about how uncomfortable our mattress had been getting when he busts out this memory foam and says we can have it! It was a bit small to fully replace the current mattress so we just doubled it up by putting it underneath the old one. We would now be super close to hitting the shelf with our hips but at least our other hip and shoulder could rest in soft heavenly comfort. Back inside we put on a few loads of washing and gave our waterproof jackets and pants a rinse in the bath. Then hung them in the garage to dry. Funny right, it was about -7 degrees celsius in the garage so they just froze solid, better to hang them in the heated basement we decided. Will also asked Julie if she had a heater that we could put in the Dodge for a few hours to help dry it out a bit, she didn’t have one but within minutes she had organised to borrow one from a friend! Ideal. That evening we were treated to some famous Alberta steaks seared on the outside grill with salad and other tasty delights. If you recall the last time we tried to cook steak was on the cooker in the aluminium pan and they were basically raw so this was a huge improvement. You can’t beat a good steak!
The next morning we were up early because Julie had organised for us to go Natural Luging!!!! We would be joining a bunch of high school kids in a Natural Luge lesson for the morning. We weren’t really sure what to expect as Brad and Julie told us all about a famous local named Jonny Luge and drew us a map to the Night Hawk ski hill (http://gonitehawk.com) then waved us on our way. Jonny Luge was awesome and proved he knew his stuff as he glided down the gentle slope in total control. The ski hill manager that Julie had contacted even organised one of their New Zealand ski instructors to join us so there was, quote “someone who could understand us” haha. But it was a great fun family atmosphere all round.
We took a few runs to get the hang of stopping then a few more to get the hang of turning, but really I couldn’t believe they were letting us go down the same slope as the kids on the snowboard lessons, I came pretty close to hitting a few of them. I was still struggling with the turning when Jonny took us over to the beginner luge track through the trees. We all had a run down and it was loads of fun I couldn’t wait to try it again after lunch and get my turning down packed.
For lunch we joined the kids in the cafe for a burger before getting back out there by ourselves. We had one awesome fast and in control run then another in which I had to dive off in order to avoid colliding with a tree. After a few more runs the learner track was getting lame and the full track wasn’t in a usable condition so they let us go down the actual ski run. It was the most exhilarating thing we had done in ages we were both absolutely flying and then giggling like loonies at the bottom full of adrenalin. We both had really good control of the luges too, though thankfully there weren’t many other people around. At the bottom the lifties all knew who we were, everyone seemed to know us as 'The New Zealanders’. It was like we were famous thanks to Julie putting out the word! But to our devastation the lifties explained that they were about to close the lift. We pleaded with them for one more run, we even said we would walk back up. They debated the idea over their walkie talkies until it was decided they would let us do one more run and we would come back up on the back of a snowmobile, perfect! So we zoomed down the empty slopes again feeling like we were breaking the sound barrier with the GoPro on on Wills helmet. Then returned one at a time on the back of the snowmobile. It was only later back at the Dodge we realised the GoPro wasn’t on video mode and had instead been taking photos. That made us a little sad but we were excited to drive back to Brad and Julie’s and tell them all about our awesome day! The day was topped of by the fact that we had put a curry on in the slow cooker that morning and it had been slowly cooking away all day with no effort. When dinner time came around we cooked some rice, made up some mango lassis and browned up some nan bread on the hotplate of the grill before tucking into our feast. There was heaps of food so luckily Sean Julie’s nephew was there to share as well.
On Saturday morning we woke to smells of crisping bacon, french toast, fresh fruit and cheese mmmmmmmmmm. Brad and Julie were having a brunch with their friends and we were luckily invited to join in their meal. If they kept feeding us like this we would never leave we warned them as we blobbed out on the couch afterwards. While relaxing we did a few jobs like booking in Scout with the pet exporter and I started writing another blog. That afternoon as our tummies returned to their normal size we went down to the pool where Emily, Brad and Julie’s daughter works to have a go on the FlowRider. One of those giant wave simulators that you can surf or body board on. We were excited to have a go as well as a little nervous as some of the brunch guests said they would come and watch as well. However as we arrived a sign was being put up saying the pools were getting evacuated as a pipe had burst. We snuck inside anyway and watched a few people have a go on the FlowRider before being told we had to leave. Instead we returned back to the house to blob some more; it was a nice afternoon.
On Sunday I continued to blob/blog while Will filled out some paper work and made some phone calls about Scouts export. He needed a printer for the paper work and Julie was onto it quick smart and got it printed for him in town. Julie was so good to us every time we needed something as well as getting all of these goodies out for us for lunch each day.
Later that afternoon we went out with Brad to buy our fishing licences and some bait and what not, because we were going ice fishing the next day! I think Will was just as interested in using the auger to drill the hole in the ice and use the quad bike as he was the actual fishing but I was excited and certain that I was going to catch something! Getting the licences was a bit of a hassle because of a new system and us being from overseas but we got it sorted eventually and found everything else we needed. Determined Brad must of had about ten different types of bait in the end and Will was more than happy to look around yet another outdoors store.
That evening after what I’m sure was a lovely dinner even though I don’t remember what it was, we were watching TV in the lounge when Brad decided to put on an old DVD called Alone in the Wilderness. It turned out to be amazing footage of Dick Proenneke as he builds himself a long cabin on the shore of Twin Lakes, Alaska. The clips are narrated through readings from his diary throughout the film. It’s old time footage from an old time man but everything he dose is meticulous. He even builds his own wooden hinges for his door and ends up living in the cabin for over thirty years. Will and I were utterly captivated and wanted to know more. We Googled him and found out that Dick had since passed away but there was a book and another DVD available that we would have to get one day! Brad did his best to top the first DVD by putting on another classic called '50 outdoor skills everyone needs to know to survive’ and despite making us watch for 20 minutes to see the guy accidentally mix a bug into his quinoa porridge we failed to see any point in watching it further, the female host was terrible. Emily thought it was all quite funny but sorry Brad I think we liked the first one better.
On Monday the 24th the alarm woke us up nice an early to a chilly but clear -10 degree day. We wrapped up warm then armed with three full thermoses and some sandwiches we began packing Brads pick up. Actually I should say the men packed while I filmed them. The boys organised and tied down the quad bike, a sled, the fishing lines, the bait, the chairs and our ice auger.
We arrived at Swan Lake 40 minutes later and the boys attempted to get the quad bike started but the cold weather meant it wasn’t quite cranking over. So we clipped the sled onto Scout instead and had him drag it to a spot near the lake shore. Next we needed the fishing holes drilled with the auger. The boys fafed around with it and eventually got it started despite the cold. Then Brad was away drilling holes. He drilled them in a row about 6m apart leading towards the middle of the lake. We baited up the hooks of the Tip Ups (little wooden things Brad had brought but apparently weren’t the ones he’d wanted) with colourful imitation bait. Everything looked set for us to start catching fish but not a lot happened not even a bite so Brad left to try and get the quad bike started and when he returned with it running Will decided to take it for a spin. Meanwhile Brad and I sat there for the next hour possibly getting a bite or too but nothing more. We sipped our hot drinks then started to wonder where Will was he didn’t give the impression that we would be gone for so long…. Another thirty minutes later Will still wasn’t back and I was starting to wonder if he was stuck somewhere or something. I decided to go for a walk to see where the tracks lead but they lead off the end of the lake and I didn’t want to disappear to far and have Brad worrying about me as well so I returned. Back at the fishing spot Brad and I mulled over what to do while eating our sandwiches and changing our untouched baits.
With still no sign of Will Brad gave me some binoculars and a knife and I set out to follow the tracks further. I felt like Bear Grylls and after following the tyre tracks a further ten minutes past the far lake edge I spotted a golden dot jumping around in the binoculars. The golden dot was Scout and eventually I came across Will with the quad bike stuck in some soft deep snow. Surprise surprise… He looked pretty happy to see me after already trying several different times to dig himself out. He had even attached the winch to a buried log and tried to winch out but every time he got it going it would again crack through the top layer into the soft sand like snow underneath. With my help the plan was to dig it out again then for Will to push the rear while I accelerated then jumped on at the last moment so we would hopefully have enough momentum to prevent breaking through the crust again. It worked (just) and I sped away to a more firm spot. Will picked up his gear and rewound the winch before I accelerated again and he ran beside me then jumped on as I got it going. Scout ran behind us as we sped along hoping the speed would prevent us getting stuck again. As we came into view of Brad Scout had fallen behind and Brad thought that we had lost Scout. But no all was well other than the lack of fish! Note to self, if Will doesn't come back when you expect him too take a shovel he's probably stuck...
We tried drilling a few more holes in a new spot while Will ate his lunch but still had no luck so we decided to go to another lake named Surgent Lake. We saw some locals fishing about 1km away and a few of them had driven their pick ups (utes) onto the ice but Brads huge dually was to big to go on the late winter ice. Instead Brad and Will went on the quad while I sat in the plastic sled with the auger and felt every little bump in the ice through my butt as we went along. Some guys told us a spot to try so we drilled a few more holes and set up once again. I took the quad for a spin and Scout found an old deer leg to play with to help the time pass. It had warmed up during the day to a level where we could comfortably sit and fish but now it was starting to get cold again and we'd had not a single bite so we called it quits and returned to the truck. Will had a bit of trouble getting the quad onto the tray and needed a few goes at it before getting it right. In the warmth of the pickup we looked at the time and couldn't believe it was 6pm, we had been out all day and were defiantly looking forward to dinner even if it wasn’t fish. So yes to recap we had spent all day fishing and not caught one single fish…. Dinner that evening was a warming hearty ham and lentil soup luckily made as a backup by Julie just incase.
The next day we just chilled out at the house and finished off a few more rudimentary jobs. Brad and Julie had other plans for dinner so Julie being the awesome mother hen that she is roused us up a lasagne from the freezer and put it in the oven. If that wasn’t good enough already she then made up an amazing broccoli salad and some garlic bread. How lucky were we! We completed our day by watching what turned out to be possibly the worlds worst movie called ’The Grey’ about a group of oil rig workers who’s plane crashes in Alaska and then they’re attacked and followed by some very fake wolves on steroids as they attempt to walk out. For a Liam Neeson movie this really disappoints.
On Wednesday the 26th of March we packed up the Dodge ready to leave. It was really sad saying good bye to the Emond family after they had been so welcoming to us. We can only hope that some of them come and visit us in New Zealand one day so that we can show them the same hospitality. We seriously hope they do heck we even drew Emily this map of NZ with all the must see and do’s on it as she was planning to come to NZ in the near future. Maybe visit once we have settled in a bit though and have a place of our own ok.
Just as we were leaving and Will was setting up for a final photo together Julie produced a bag full of easter goodies that we weren’t to open until easter on the 20th of April. This was on top of loading us up with a heap of frozen pulled pork and curry. The only way our time there could have gotten any better was if Will and I or Brad and Julie or Sean had won it big on the lottery ticket we had each brought the day before. That didn’t happen but we had an unforgettable time all the same. We just hope we can be as giving to others as you were to us. Thank-you.
See you again one day B&J.
Rochelle & Will
Banff was everything you'd expect of a world famous tourist town, full of people, a little pricey but jaw droppingly beautiful. We experienced this in its full glory on our first evening in Banff as the sun set throwing orange hues across the Vermilion Lakes and mountains behind them. The deal with Banff is that its such a beautiful spot that everyone wants to live there but its in a National Park so they can’t just keep expanding the village. In order to live in Banff you must be working there or own a business or be the family of someone who does. This means accommodation of any sort is expensive even the campgrounds, so we opted to hide in plain sight by sleeping in the Dodge parked on a residential street. We asked about camping up at the Banff Upper Hot Springs but they said security comes every night to kick out any free campers. The pools were nice though and we went to them several times during our stay in Banff mainly for a shower after a quick soak. They had this strange heated tunnel thing that you walked down from the changing rooms that leads right into the pool so you don't have to get cold at all.
The following day we set out to do one of the many hikes on offer around Banff. We had found the hike the day before when we stopped at a rest stop to use the bathroom but we didn't dare camp there judging by the huge no over-night parking signs all over the place. The 7.5km hike to Lake Bourgeau sounded nice and I didn't bother hiring any snow shoes as no new snow had fallen and the trail appeared hard packed by others. This turned out to be a big mistake as about 3km in the hard packed trail abruptly stopped and changed to deep fluffy snow. There were a few avalanche paths that had crashed through so maybe others had decided to turn back early but we continued. Will simply put on his snow shoes and carried on, meanwhile I fell up to my thighs every few steps and was puffing hard to keep up.
It was with much perseverance (I don’t say that lightly!) and a little ingenuity that we kept going well into the afternoon. In the end I fashioned my own ‘snow shoe’ by putting on both mine and then Wills crampons at right angles to each other to give be some more surface area. This helped a bit but the going was still tough. On one avalanche path we crossed Scout went bounding away and Will discovered he had found a large Rams head. Will wanted it for the front of the Dodge but I wasn't having it so he had to settle for photos. At 4pm we finally made it to what appeared to be the top; but where Lake Bourgeau actually was we will never know as we couldn't find it. We could have been standing on it and not noticed because it was frozen and snow covered just like everything else. Being close to physically spent it was time to trudge back down before it started getting dark.
The following day after taking a shower at the hot pools we hit all the tourist spots. First up was Cave and Basin; a historical thermal spring that Native Americans first discovered 10 thousand years ago as a natural cavern. In 1914 the spring was used to fill a commercial pool and bath facilities before being closed in 1994 and turned into a National Historical Site. That afternoon we checked out the Fairmont Hotel which first opened in 1888 but has since undergone many reconstructions to bring it to its current state. The place oozes exuberant old time luxury and would be fit for a king, needless to say we felt a little out of place with our duct taped jackets and my gumboots. They allow visitors though and they even had a tour that sounded like it would have been worth going to only we had other plans already. The recent lack of Dodge break downs meant we had enough left in the budget for a real dinner out and we chose the the Grizzly House Restaurant. Advertised as a having a traditional Swiss fondue we couldn't resist and both ordered the three course fondue meals. I went for beef and chicken while Will was having bison, elk and wild pork. We started with bread dipped in a warm cheesy garlic sauce before the meats came out to cook in the piping hot oil or on a heated stone. Unfortunately by the time we got to the chocolate fondue we were both feeling pretty bad about how much this was costing and how hungry we still felt. Imagine how much food we could have brought from the supermarket we were both thinking as we paid the bill and of course the tip. Then after brushing our teeth in the restaurant car park it was back to our favourite residential parking spot for the night.
On Friday the 14th of March we visited the popular Johnstone Canyon; being so popular we set out early with Scout, a packed lunch and our crampons. We planed to hike beyond the canyon and onto the famed Ink Pots making the hike 5.8km in total. The first part through Johnstone Canyon was loads of fun as long as you held onto the handrails to prevent slipping over on the compacted icy snowy surface that also included some narrow steel board walks inside the canyon. The board walks with their rather large drops didn't appeal much to Scout who we had to encourage along as he wined loudly. Both the lower and upper falls were frozen solid but we watched some ice climbers making their way up the frozen mass of the larger Upper Falls. Later we reached the Ink Pots and were glad to find that they weren't completely frozen over so we could enjoy the different colours of the small lakes over lunch before making our way back to the Dodge. I was quite amazed that you were allowed dogs on this walk but we still got in trouble from a tour leader on the way down for having Scout off the lead. How we were meant to have him on the lead with the slippery conditions is anyones guess.
That afternoon we left the National Park and drove over to the nearby town of Canmore. We had planned to go to the huge indoor climbing wall there but then we discovered Canmore is also home to the Canmore Nordic Centre. The Canmore Nordic Centre held part of the 1988 Winter Olympics so we decided what better place to try nordic skiing. We had never done it before so that afternoon we got the low down and booked into a lesson for the following morning. Again we camped in a residential street and then drove back up to the Nordic Centre after a quick breakfast at the dog park so Scout could have a big run around.
It was super exciting getting all the gear and wondering if we would actually be able to stand up and move on these tiny skinny skis. I was just glad the boots were comfortable. The lesson involved a few falls and like any good lesson a few exercises that made you feel ridiculous. You know what I mean? When everyone else is speeding past and your going along the flat with one ski on and doing some squatting thing while trying desperately to keep balanced. After the lesson we cruised along the main 11km green trail and really started to get the hang of it. We had also just discovered the slow motion movie function on the iPhone so we were playing around with that trying to get some good shots. Then we started to get a little over confident and got up some speed on a down hill section, Will lost his balance and tumbled over. On the verge of control myself I did my best to avoid him but in the end I crashed into him and we both ended up in a snowy heap with poles and skies everywhere! Unhurt we went back to the Dodge for a late lunch and to let Scout out for a bit. We were both feeling a bit tired but it was so much fun and we didn't know when or if we’d ever do it again so we hit the trails again, this time the 6km easy loop. We made it about half way before decided we were too stuffed to keep going so turned back with time for a shower at the day lodge on our way out.
That evening we were stoked to be going to a screening of some films from the Banff Film Festival back in Banff. Before the screening we blew the budget on what was easily the most expensive Dominos pizza in the world using the justification that we would have enough left overs for lunch the next day. They did taste amazing and it had been ages since I’d had a real Dominos BBQ chicken and bacon pizza mmmmm. We then left the pizzas on the dash in the boxes and went into the theatre.
The films we saw were all awesome, though we had actually seen part of ‘Cold Warriors’ about the Bison and Wolves at Wood Buffalo National Park already. If my memory serves right we saw it on TV at the Motel 6 in Vegas while we were getting ready to go out. We found the film ‘The Sensei’, with Daniel Woods and Yuji Hirayam about rock climbing in Borneo really funny and the New Zealand based ‘Notbad’ mountain biking film really showed off our New Zealand landscape as well as what you can do with a serious slow motion camera. There were many other honourable mentions but our favourite film and the supreme winner was ‘North of the Sun’. A tale of two young Norwegian guys who built themselves a cabin from rubbish on a remote beach in Norway then spent a year surfing and collecting rubbish in the endless darkness of the Arctic winter.
Will and I were felling elated after seeing all of the amazing films and more motivated to make one of our own. We were just discussing some ideas when we opened the car doors to find Scout had eaten every single ounce of pizza that we had left in the boxes on the dash and yet somehow the empty boxes will still sitting just how we’d left them! So what did we do, we filmed it haha. Still not sure if we have enough footage for a film but time will tell. Will having left more of his pizza for lunch than I had was devastated while Scout seemed very content! Shot Scout. After taking a few night photos of the Fairmont Hotel we discreetly pulled back into our regular overnight camping spot.
The next morning we woke up to find it had snowed a few inches and all the roads were considered hazardous. We took this in our stride as we left Banff and headed north along first the Bow Valley Parkway then the Icefields Parkway. In Fact it was really fun without much other traffic and stunning blue skies. We made the most of it by driving the Dodge through some deep snow and taking a few more slow motion clips of the snow flying everywhere. We stopped and attempted to look at a few of the recommend attractions but most things were closed or cut off by snow. By lunch time we had made it to Lake Louise, however there was no lake as it was frozen and covered in snow just like everything else and we didn't have any lunch thanks to Scout. A bit sad about everything we went for a walk around and relaxed in the warm hotel for a while; basically it was just nice to sit somewhere that we could stretch out for a bit. And with the hoards of other tourists around many of whom were getting stuck in the car park as well as the news of a double avalanche fatality right in Lake Louise we didn't feel like doing much else so returned to the Dodge. As we sat in the Dodge we listened to all of the conspiracy theories about what had happened to the missing Malaysian Airlines 777 with 239 people on board and ate our lacklustre salami sandwiches. We didn't know what had happened to the plane but we did know it was time to look for a camp spot. The village was far to small for residential camping so we bulldozed through the snow up a hill to an unploughed car park at the back of the hotel. Will put the pedal down and attempted to turn around and he somewhat managed a sideways slide but got stuck halfway round. It was fine though, and out of the way so we resigned to digging ourselves out in the morning.
Again in snowed another three inches overnight so we had to do plenty of digging to get ourselves out in the morning, which we again filmed. We then dropped by the village afterwards to buy a well deserved breakfast from a bakery. As we walked back to the Dodge we noticed a parks ranger pull someone over and give them a grilling about something. We were lucky not to have been kicked out during the night and decided to get a move on. After a while we pulled over to look at one vast frozen lake and left Scout off leash for a bit. We start taking some selfies before we realised Scout was way out on the lake hopping through the snow like a giant ginger rabbit. This is when the same park ranger from the village car park drives past and stops… Eyes like an eagle he wasn't happy about Scout being off the lead so we had to kiss ass for the next twenty minutes and act like we really wanted a photo with him to get him off our backs. It worked though.
We then drove past a frozen ‘Weeping Wall’ before arriving at the closed Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre. Across the road we could see the Athabasca Glacier in the distance so drove over for a look. With only one set of snow shoes there was no way we were walking to the face so we made some noodles while watching a pair of climbers skinning their way towards us. It turned out the climbers were two hard-core Norwegian guys who had brought an old Chevy camper and spent the last few months skiing and climbing their way around Canada. We had a look inside their camper and were envious of the massive amount of space they had inside it. We even found out that Harold and Emil knew the guys from the ‘North of the Sun’ film that we had just seen. They looked like they could do with a rest though after four days on the glacier in terrible conditions; Emil had even fallen into a crevasse and totally smashed up his helmet so we left them to it after swapping emails.
As we continued further north along the Ice Fields Parkway the snow covered road changed to clear road and before long we were in Jasper. The first thing we did in Jasper was go to the Recreation Centre for a soak in the hot tub and a shower. We then went to a pub for dinner and ordered cheap burgers and green coloured beers, it was St Patricks day after all.
We wanted to see Jasper and what it had to offer but our motivation wasn't there, we were missing home and wanting some home comforts. Lucky we would be getting those soon with Brad and Julie in Grande Prairie. Instead of touristing around Jasper we spent the day in the Library sorting out some of our thousands of photos, stopping only to walk to the bakery for lunch. That evening we went out to a frozen lake looking for a better camp spot and so Scout could have some time outside. We found a spot and cooked instant mash potatoes with gravy and baked beans. It was a bit eerie in the trees and Will spent plenty of time scanning the pitch darkness with the spotlight. But after all the police we had seen around town we decided not to risk getting caught out there and went back and camped on a side street innocently blending in with the residents cars.
On Wednesday the 19th of March we went for a wander down the icy paths of Maligne Canyon just outside of Jasper. It was similar to Johnstone Canyon though so we left after a short time and started making our way to Grande Prairie. On the way we saw a few Dal Sheep then stopped in the town of Hinton to buy some groceries for Brad and Julie’s. At the Walmart we were surprised to see signs that read “Over night parking is welcome” good on the Walmart for making the most of their location night next to the National Park and pity we didn't need a place to camp. Here we come Brad, Julie and the Emond family.
Rochelle & Will