Location: Elk Island Provincial Park, Canada
The day began early as we all wished to get out and explore the regions around Edmonton. We had been told by a number of people to visit Elk Island Provincial Park and today was our day for it. It as sunny and warm and early in the season a great day for hiking.
The park was just a short drive east of Edmonton and we were there in no time. The only proble; the park office was not open. This proved not too much trouble as we were able to locate some maps and an information poster for the park. After a short look at the map we continued on along the road, stopping often for the buffalo that roamed freely all around us. Many of them even posed for us to take some pictures. They all seemed so calm and relaxed with our presence but to be on the safe side we stayed in the car.
We drove to the other park entrance and paid park fees at their self registration site and then headed back to explore some of the trails within the park.
The park proved to be a great place for wildlife sightings and we saw many animals from beavers, to geese and even a moose, sorry no picture!
We enjoyed watching and listening to a family of baby beavers along a bridge on one trail and all tried for that perfect shot. WE then continued on watching and listening for more animals. We found a great campground and even a sandy beachfront.
The park was full of breathtaking scenery and there are still a number of trails left for us to explore on a later visit.
Location: Jasper, Canada
We arose early again and packed everything back into the van to head to our final destination, Edmonton. We were a little disappointed in not spending the time we had wanted in the mountains but knew that we would be back to explore them more later.
On the highway on the way out of Jasper, we stopped along with many other tourists to take a few pictures of the elk relaxing in the ditch on the side of the road. There were two of them and not at all bothered by the numerous people snapping picture after picture of them.
Once back in the van we pushed on and out of the mountains. The mountains became smaller as we entered the foothills and then returned to the flat land of the prairies as we entered Edmonton. This was to be the end of our adventure for this season but it opened a whole world of curiosity and wonder within us as we discussed plans to return to the mountains once we had upgraded our gear.
After a very short, cold and uncomfortable sleep we arose and decided we were unprepared with our gear for the climate in the mountains and deciced to head back. We would make the best of what was left of our trip.
After a very hot and brutal hike out, we headed out of the village and out the the Icefields Parkway stopping at each of the sightings along the way to Jasper.
We stopped at Athabasca Falls and enjoyed a short time exploring the canyons and the history of the falls. They were magnificent!
With the weather turning again and night falling soon we determined to push on to Jasper and hotel accomodations. We found a hotel and enjoyed the luxury of hot water for the night.
Location: Mount Norquay, Canada
We planned our trip along Mystic creek trail which does a loop around the creek through the range of Mount Norquay. We drove up and up the mountain stopping briefly for a quick picture of Banff from atop Mount Norquay.
The day was sunny and hot. We parked our car at Mount Norquay ski resort which was also the trail head for Mystic Creek. We were very anxious to get going. As we headed down the trail, we ran into two other hikers who were headed to the Cascade Ampetheatre. They were very helpful as the trail was poorly marked and not easy to follow even with our map.
We continued on our own and quickly found the trail became less and less wide and more steep as we began to go down into the canyons of Mount Norquay.
As we continued to hike down the canyons we found ourselves in the middle of beautiful panormas of the mountains and the creek. Our beatiful sunny weather however was not to stay with us. We learned just how quickly the weather can change out in the mountains. Within minutes of seeing some gray clouds, the sky opened up with hail and thunder as I had never seen before. We quickly looked for shelter to wait out the storm.
By the time we had our tent out of the bag to set up, the hail was subsiding. It continued to rain for a short time but we decided to move on. What an experience.
Now soaking wet, we continued along the trail hoping that the weather would clear for us to dry out and set up camp for the night. We continued along the mud and the mushy trail looking for clues that our campsite was close by.
It was beginning to get dark and we dicided to stop for the night at the next campsite we found which turned out to be the one we had been looking for. We were amazed by the quality of the site. There were cable pack hangers, a separte sleeping, cooking and pack area, picnic tables to sit at and a fire pit complete with firewood for us. Wow! This was luxury!
After a quick bite to eat, the sun began to go down and so did the temperature. It felf very cold. Us being from Ontario, we were not used to such cold nights. We huddled close to the fire before crawling into our less than adequate sleeping bags. We were in for long, cold night.
Location: Alberta, Canada
After a rough night of sleeping in the van, we awoke to find somewhat clear skies and a much calmer day. We looked at our map and headed straight for Dinosaur Park. It was still very early but hopefully by the time we got there things would be opening.
As we neared the park, the scenery changed dramatically, it was as though there was a giant hole in the middle of the land. It was breathtaking. We stopped and took time to explore along the lookout along the side of the road befoe entering the park. (see Dinosaur pics 1-12)
The small tour buses had been filled the night before but there were a few small trails that we were allowed to explore without a guide. The park was amazing. The land so fragile and so different from anything we had seen before. Many hours could be spent here exploring and learning about this very special land.
Once our trails were complete we decided to move on, towards Calgary and the mountains. We were very anxious to see the mountains; people had been telling us you could see them for miles.
We stopped along the highway once we had a clear view of the mountains to take some pictures and found ourselves on a sideroad full of free range horses. It was breathtakng. The Rockies are truly one of the world's most beautiful places.
We continued on to Banff and found a hotel room for the night to regroup as we wanted to plan a few nights in the mountains. We grabbed a quick dinner and headed to the parks office to get maps and permits to head out to mount Norquay and Mystic Creek.
We were very excited to be planning our first mountain experience.
Location: Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alb, Canada
Day three began with a late start. We packed things up, got cleaned up at the comfort stations and were on the road again. The prairies! The plan was to hopefully get all the way through to Alberta by the end of the day. We had heard there was nothing to see along the way in the prairies, so we were just hoping to make up some time and get ahead.
We drove for hours and stopped in a small town near the Saskatchewan border for gas and a bite to eat. It was going to be a long drive if we were to get all the way to Alberta today.
We stopped briefly at the Sask border for another picture and scurried into the info station for a map. They suggested we stop and see their statue of the Indian head up the road.
We made a quick stop for a picture and looked around a bit. There wasn't much there. We still hadn't seen what we had expected of the prairies, grain elevators and flat fields.
There would be plenty as we passed Regina and headed for the border.
We pulled off the highway on a little country lane and took some pictures of the scenes around us. There were rolling hills, and an old runndown farm in the distance. The image was very picturesque and calming. We stopped infront of a small marshy area with many ducks and birds flapping around. Though we didn't stay long as the storm clouds were once again moving in on us.
A short stop up ahead of some pretty grain elevators and we knew it wouldn't be long before the rain.
Tim wanted one more stop though when he saw the first oil well pumping even as the lighning was flashing way off in the distance.
We hopped out of the van and set up for a picture, the wind was beginning to gust and in the fields it was cooling off dramatically. This was going to be some storm.
We drove on and watched as the storm moved closer and farther from us as the road winded and curled around us. It was beautiful and powerful. We drove in and out of small rain storms and finally reached the Alberta border. It was very dark but we were determined to get a quick picture as the rain had temporarily ceased. The wind was wickedly strong and much cooler. Tim had trouble setting up the camera and finally we moved on hoping that our picture would turn out okay.
Once back in the van we contemplated our options, wait out the storm here, where already there was a transport truck stopped or move on and hope it would blow over.
We decided to continue pushing on for a campground or somewhere better for the night. We found a provincial park but decided not to stay as there was no one at the gates and they had signs posted about overnight visitors. We turned back to the highway and the storm and pulled off at the next visitor information bulletin. We would lie down for a couple of hours and wait out the storm.
Location: Ontario, Canada
Day two began with a bit of a rocky start. We awoke to the sound of voices outside the van and vehicles slowing to a stop around us. With a quick peek out the windown, Tim saw that there were workers arriving around us. Our rest area was on a road that was to be fixed. They were construction workers! The van was packed up pretty good around us, they probably thought it was abandoned. They must have been pretty shocked when Tim and Sue jumped into the front seats and took off!
We stopped a few minutes up the highway to collect ourselves and have a good laugh! There was a road leading down to the river valley and we both needed to wake up a little more! A few pictures and some exploring and we were once again back in the van and ready to go.
We pushed on towards Thunder Bay with a brief stop to check out Ouimet Canyon. We were both glad we had allowed time for this stop! With the storm clouds hovering in the distance the area had a mystical and erie feel to it. The area looked untouched my man except for the lookout platforms there for us to admire this wonder.
Once back in the van we pushed on to Thunder Bay and our lunch stop; McDonalds here we come!
Just outside you Thunder Bay are the Kakebeka Falls; also well worth a stop. They were beautiful and the afternoon sun that had finally come out made the water sparkle all the more.
The rest of the drive through northern Ontario was filled with tree lined highways and small lakes.
Finally we came upon our first border crossing, Manitoba. We stopped at the info centre got a map and some park information as well as a picture under the Manitoba sign. It was deciced that we would stay at Falcon Lake Provincial Park as it was only a few kms up the highway. We were both tired and eager to look at the pictures from the two days.
Falcon Lake Provincial Park was much different from the provinical parks here in Ontario. It was more like a small community complete with grocery store, bar, golf course, beaches, and cottages. We found our electric site, hauled out the computer and set up to download the pictures from the camera under the stars! We were probably the strangest people there!
This would be the start to a very long trip for Tim and Sue. Sue is moving to Edmonton for school and we are driving across country to get her there. There will of course be many stops along the way!
Our first day, we plan to leave Barrie by 9am. A quick check as we head onto the highway and it is 9:06; we are on time. The fist few hours in the van are uneventful as both of us have been to Sudbury before, none of the scenery or roads are new.
Our first break is set for Sudbury for lunch, only we accidently take the by-pass and miss all of the city. Oups! Next stop??
We grabbed a quick bite and some gas along the way and pushed ahead for Sault St. Marie.
Our stop in the Sault was not altogether pleasant. We have both decided we will not visit this city again anytime soon! These were not the friendliest of people.
Once again we are on the highway again, enjoying the wilderness surrounding the highway. Around a corner of the highway we spot something on the side of the highway. It was a herron but it ran from the road as the vehicle got closer.
We stopped along the side of the highway and got some beautiful shots of the water in the area. Northern Ontario is so beautiful.
Another short stop in Wawa for dinner and we decide to push on to Neys provincial park for the night. We didn't make it there though! A few stops for pictures and it was getting dark quick.
We finally pulled off on a road that didn't look like anything more than a dead end. We shuffled some stuff in the back and called it a night.
Location: Kilarney Park, Canada
Day 2 Kilarney Park
The day began with a lot of clatter as Shasta chased chipmunks around the campsite. Over much discussion at breakfast we decided it would be best to hike out today as a couple of people had to work on Mon and would need to leave. Better to go as a group. We relaxed around the campsite and made a quick lunch,
We gathered up the campsite and slowly made our way back to the beach and the cars. It would be another long drive home.
We stopped at several of the lookout points to admire the beauty of Kilarney. We will have to come back here again. It is all too breathtaking.
Location: Kilarney Park, Canada
Day 1 Kilarney Park- La Cloche Interior Camping
An early rise to complete to long drive up to Kilarney from Barrie. Our group is excited and eager to get out of the city. This trip was done with Tim, Sue, Ryan, Sheri, Ashleigh, John, and the Woodhouse family dog Shasta.
The drive up to Kilarney was long but everyone jumped out eager to explore the wilderness of this phenomenal park.
The scenery and views along the hike in were some of the best we have seen. We cannot wait to explore deeper and further up along the mountain trails.
We arrived at our campsite a little disappointed at the lack of scenery directly around us but nonetheless ready to settle in for the night.
A good dinner of pork chops and potatoes and we began to get the fire started. We had an excellent fire and roasted marshmellows for Tims brother and sister. Everyone told their favourite camp stories and then it was off to bed.
Location: Frost Centre, Canada
Day 3 Frost Centre
Once again the day begins beautiful and sunny. We all know we must head home today but no one is anxious to leave our beautiful little world. We stayed on the island til lunch was done and began to pack up our things.
By the time we climbed into the loaded canoes the sky was opening up with more rain. The paddle out would prove to be very wet!
Out of the canoes and into the cars and we were drenched. It had been worth it though. The Frost Centre is an area that we will all look forward to visiting and exploring further.
Location: Frost Centre, Canada
Day 2 Leslie Frost Centre
The morning begins with sunny skies, drying out the ground from the overnight showers.
Once out of our tents we all look on in awe of the beauty of our deserted island. There is not a sign of another human being. The birds and wildlife are plenty and breakfast was begun with all in a great mood ready for adventure and exploration!
With the island being only large enough for the campsite we had to go across to shore in search of firewood. While over there we explored and travelled many of the trails, one leading to a small waterfall and river. The area here is gorgeous.
By late afternoon it is raining again and we hung up our tarp. After a quick dinner, we start a fire to help dry out. Ashleigh and Sue roasted their hikers to dry out from the very wet day. Who needs marshmellows!