Yesterday, we checked the notice board for the umpteenth time to see that the next stage of our trip – the southern section of Highway 93 (Icefield Parkway) from Lake Louise to Jasper was still closed and unlikely to open for over 48 hours. This is what we really came for. The trip involves about 220 km of spectacular scenery including rivers, glaciers, mountains and valleys. We weighed up our options and decided that rather than stay at Lake Louise for another night, or two, it would be better to take the long way around now that Highway 1 through Golden had reopened. This would at least mean that we would get a day in the northern section of the Parkway.
Therefore, we set off on an 850 km detour through Kamloops. All was fine and we travelled well. Just after the turnoff to Highway One we saw our second bear of our trip. This was a grizzly bear and was very happily eating dandelions that were growing along he road side. It must have been a well known bear as it was wearing a collar with a GPS transmitter. Three or four other cars stopped, as did a Canada Parks ranger. He promptly got out a handgun and fired a flare at the bear which quickly retreated into the nearby forest. It’s obvious that the ranger was trying to protect the bear from a potential traffic death on the highway by moving it away from danger. Bears must find something tasty about dandelions as most of the photos that we have seen of them in shops and galleries show them eating these fowers.
A little way further, we found the turnoff to Emerald Lake and took a short detour to see this pretty lake.
We continued through the town of Golden where the highway had been cut by a mudslide and eventually through some territory that we had seen a week ago when we were staying in Revelstoke. We stopped here for lunch and then continued driving to Kamloops. I took advantage of the free WiFi at lunch to research potential places to stop over for the night. One option was a motel in Kamloops where the passengers on the famous Rocky Mountaineer Railway stay. According to the Trip Advisor website, there was a Marriott hotel further up the highway in a little town called Clearwater. We reached there by 6.00 pm only to find a lot of roadworks, but no Marriott. hotel. The closest thing was the Ace Western, a poor copy of the Best Western Motel. It did have a diner across the car park which combined a pub and an eatery. It turned out that the Marriott was actually in Clearwater, Florida, which of course, is nowhere near British Columbia. Our accommodation was totally inconsistent with Jill’s view of 5 star accommodation, so I copped some flack for being so stupid as to gt these places confused. At least, this place put us an 90 minutes ahead on our trip for the next day.
We were up and out early this morning to continue our trip to Jasper. Just another 300 km to go. On checking our email in the morning, we found that, sure enough. Highway 93 had reopened during the previous day and we could have travelled just 220km to get to the same place as our 850 km detour was taking us. Well, sometimes things work out for the best and sometimes, they don’t. At least we saw a grizzly bear.
Not far from Jasper, we passed the very impressive Mt Robson. This is the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. It is only the 11th highest mountan in Canada, but is the most significant in this region. Not far from our hotel, we came across some elk who were feeding by the roadside. These are tall animals – about the size of a small horse.
Tonight, we are firmly ensconced in the second Fairmont Hotel of our trip at Jasper. It better suits Jill’s sense of ‘good accommodation’ than the Ace Western did, and this view from our dinner spot on the terrace is very nice.