Canadian Vacation

Thursday, May 23, 2002, 4PM: Jeff, Buddy, and Harley leave on vacation.  Jeff borrows a 35mm camera borrowed from Andy, Jeff's friend and tester from work.  Unfortunately, Jeff does not know to load film in that camera, so all the pictures from the first half of the vacation were lost.

On our way to Bowden Lake (just north of Vermillion Bay, Ontario, Canada), we stopped at:

Thursday night: Kellog, Idaho.

Friday night, May 23: Glendive, Montana (NorthEast corner of MT).  If you ever find yourself driving through Glendive and you have a few hours to spare, I reccomend stopping at Makoshika State Park.  It is very neat-o looking.

Saturday night, May 24: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  We stayed downtown.  This wasn't the best choice for a weary traveler and two dogs.  However, it gave us a chance to walk around the Winnipeg.  Walking two dogs in a big city also provided many training opportunities (as in teaching the dogs to ignore distractions).

Sunday morning, May 25: I dropped off the dogs at a kennel near Dryden, Ontario, Canada and proceeded to Lake Bowden. There, I fished with my father and his girlfriend, Pat.  We consistently had our limits of Walleye.  We ate lots of fish this week.  Dad and Pat left with their limits of Walleye, Bass, and Northern.  I didn't bring any fish with me as I had no way to keep them frozen until I arrived back in Redmond.  We also caught several trophy fish.  I won't go into details here 'tho as I don't have the pictures to back it up.

Thursday morning, May 30: The three of us received news that Uncle Glen recently died.  This was very sad news.  Glen was a great guy.  It was also a shock -- Uncle Glen was in good health.

Thursday afternoon: I picked up the dogs, Buddy and Harley, from the kennel.  They were very glad to see me.  The 5 of us (Dad, Pat, Buddy, Harley, and myself) went for a hike near Lake Bowden.  The dogs got some swimming in.  They also picked up about a zillion ticks (I am still finding ticks, a month later!).

Thursday night: Buddy and Harley and I say goodbye to Dad and Pat.  We leave Ontario and spend the night in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba.

Friday, May 31: We drove west on the Trans-Canada highway all day.  We stayed overnight in Medicine Hat, Alberta.  This is where I realized I hadn't taken any pictures because I hadn't loaded Andy's camera correctly.  Doh!

So, I figured out how to load the camera correctly and took a few pictures.

Here are the dogs inside my truck in Medicine Hat, Alberta:

Medicine Hat seemed kind of boring to me.  I couldn't find any outdoor parks to visit that were very close to the city.  Also, I must say the Trans-Canada Highway drive all the way from Ontario to Calgary, Alberta is very flat and very boring -- more so than I-90 and I-94 through Montana and North Dakota!  It also seemed more populated to me and the road was slower than the roads in Montana/North Dakota.

Saturday, June 1: In the morning, we drove from Medicine Hat to Calgary.  We stopped at Stampede park in Downtown Calgary where much to my surprise they had an off-leash dog area!

Here are pictures of the dogs and Calgary.

The 1988 winter olympics were held in Calgary and the Olympic Park is still there.  We stopped at the olympic park on our way out of Banff and I walked around for a few hours.

Looking up at the ski jumps.

Jumpers were actually practicing while we were there!  If you look closely in the picture below, you can see a jumper in mid-air.  They were skiing on carpets.

This following picture was taken from the top of the tallest ski jump platform, looking east towards downtown Calgary.

Looking down towards the bottom of the jump.  If you look closely in the next three pictures (especially the one in the middle), you can see a jumper in mid-air.

Saturday night, we finally made it to Banff and car-camped at two-jack.  Here are a few shots taken near our campsite.  Fortunately for us, the campground was mostly empty.

Deer near our car-camping site:

Somehow, I managed to break Andy's camera at this point.  The rest of the pictures were taken on an old, very inexpensive 35mm camera.

Sunday, June 2.

The weather was just rotten today.  It rained hard, all afternoon.  Despite this, the dogs and I climbed up Castle peak.  It was quite a challenge -- the trail was steep and muddy.  Coming down was much harder than going up.  We spent about 7 hours in the rain this day.  We returned to the same car-camping site and spent the night.  I did not take any pictures this day and frankly, there wasn't much interesting to see thanks to the rain clouds.  At least the tent didn't leak.  Sunday night, I considered ending our vacation early...However,

Monday, June 3.

The weather was great today!  Partly clouded in the morning and mostly sunny in the afternoon.  I planned a backcountry trip for the next three days and two nights.  We were going to a backcountry campground on Glacier Lake, about 6 miles from the nearest road.  From our car-camping site, it was about an 80 mile drive to the trailhead.  Here are some pictures I took along the way:

Finally, we make it to the trailhead near the Saskatchewan river crossing.  Less than a mile from the car, we cross the Saskatchewan river.  In the pictures, you can see that Buddy and Harley carry their own gear.

Buddy and Harley jumped into water at every opportunity.

Here is a nice view overlooking the Saskatchewan river valley.

Harley became overjoyed anytime we found snow.  First, he buries his face in the snow.  Then, he rolls around on the snow for awhile.

We made it to Glacier Lake and our campsite!  Here are some views from our campsite!  It was amazing.

That afternoon, we continued to hike around the lake.  It's about a 4 mile walk (one-way) to the other end of the lake.  We hiked a whole lot this day (~18 miles).

Here is a shot of our campsite.  It was an established backcountry campsite with a picnic table and fire ring.  Fortunately for us, there were no other campers.  In this picture is the proof that I can start a fire.

Tuesday, June 4:

The next morning, the wind was calm.  The next two photos are my favorite from the entire trip.

There is a story that goes with these pictures.  The 3 of us were hiking down a trail.  The dogs with the bear bells on their collars were off lead and walking well in front of me.  We were walking down a valley and I knew there was a river at the bottom of it.  As I come around a corner, I saw the river in the picture below.  However, the black dog was not on shore as in the picture below.  Instead, I saw a little black snout poking out of the water in the middle of the river.  The snout was whining and being quickly swept downstream.


So, I quickly took off my backpack and tied Buddy to a tree.  The current in the river was very fast -- maybe 7-8 MPH?  You can't see it in the above picture, but the river banks downstream were vertical mud walls on both sies.  The mud walls were about 6 feet high, so there was no way Harley would be able to swim to the side of the river and climb out.

So, I jumped in the river thinking I might be able to wade in, catch up to Harley and carry him out.  The water level soon rose above my waist 'tho, so I abandoned that plan thinking that I soon would be swept off my feet by the current.  I then ran through the woods on the side of the river...there was no trail, so I wound up scratching my legs on the underbrush.  After about 5 minutes of running, I found a place where the mud wall was only about 4 feet high.  I saw and heard Harley -- he was about 200 feet upstream from myself, crying, and still trying to swim upstream.  I called Harley -- he truned around and swam downstream towards me.  As he came by my position, I grabbed his collar and lifted him out of the river.  Harley was actually happy to get out of the water for a change.  Harley and I then bushwacked back to where I had left Buddy..this time taking about 10 minutes.  What did Harley do then?  He jumped right back in the water!  So, I pulled Harley out, tied him up with Buddy, sat down, gathered my wits, and took this picture.

Later in the day, back at camp, we played fetch the stick in Glacier Lake (again).

Wednesday, June 5:

In the morning, the weather was very windy and cloudy.  We packed up our backcountry camp and headed back to the truck.  Back at the truck, we drove North towards Jasper National Park and the Columbia icefields.  Along the way we saw some Goats.

This photo was taken very near the border of Banff and Jasper National parks.

We stopped at Athabasca falls in Jasper national park.  Very impressive.  This time, I didn't let Harley off lead or anywhere near the water.  That was a good thing for another reason.  As we were standing there admiring the impressive waterfalls, a park ranger came by and told us, "Please head back to your vehicle now!  A large grizzly bear has been spotted in the area.  Keep your dogs on a leash.  Walk quickly back to your car!"  Well, we didn't see the bear, but a bunch of rangers arrived as we were leaving.  It looked like the rangers were searching the river banks just north of the falls.

We also drove to Jasper, Pocahontas, and Hinton, Alberta on Wednesday but I didn't see much that was worthy of a picture (it was cloudy).  We stayed in a Motel just south of Athabasca falls Wednesay night.

Thursday, June 6:

We drove south and stopped at the Columbia Icefield.  This is a place where many glaciers from several different mountains all merge together.  It's supposedly the largest icefield in North America excluding Alaska.  Several hundred square miles of ground are covered year round by the Columbia Icefield.

We stopped there and went on about an 8 mile hike.  The dogs had a blast on the snow.

And in the water.  You'd think they'd be cold (that water is near freezing), but they didn't act cold.

This was funny.  They have a Stop sign on a hiking trail.  Supposedly if you go beyond this sign, you risk falling into a crevasse.  So, we didn't hike far beyond here...just up to that ridge and back.

The dogs, posing for a picture.  They were actually obeying the "Stay" command!

Thursday night, we stayed in the Sportsmen's hotel in Golden, British Columbia.  It was a pretty nice place...with an indoor swimming pool, waterslide, and hottub...for not much $$$.  Oh, and we had some very good pizza from a place called "Papa Johns" in Golden.  No, it's not the Papa John's chain that we have here in Seattle, but a restaurant with good pizza!  It reminded me of my mother's homemade pizza.

Friday, June 7:

We left Golden, British Columbia at 9:00 AM MDT.  We stopped in Glacier National Park and hiked for 30 minutes, and also stopped for a rest stop in Kamloops, BC.  Despite this, we arrived at my house in Redmond, WA at 5:00 PM PDT sharp.  The drive was shorter than I had expected.  The weather was rainy / snowy this day and unusually cold -- it was actually snowing heavily on some of the mountain passes we drove over.  I did not take any pictures this day.

Overall, it was a pretty good vacation.  When we drove into Banff, I was worried the trails would be crowded.  However, once we got 2 miles from the road, we didn't see any other people.  The weather was good about 75% of the time.  I would recommend visiting Banff later in the season 'tho.  Snow blocked many of the trails in June.  Late July and August are better dates for hiking.

Despite that, we hiked an impressive 83 miles in 6 days!