Summer BC 2020
Travelling to Whistler BC in September after COVID-19 lockdown
Shortly after we returned from our search for Abandoned Mines, the BC government lifted some COVID restrictions and accepted Canadians residents to visit the province. We started to plan our trip to Whistler in BC but still had to check the rules in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
We booked our campsite in Whistler for Labour Day Monday. Our start date in Mississauga was Monday at noon on August 31st. We had one week to get to the west coast without being rushed.
Even so Hwy 11 is about 80 km longer compared to Hwy 17 along Lake Superior, it was our preferred choice. Hwy 11 has less towns and we met less traffic than we expected. All in all, a very comfortable ride with enough time to look at the exposed rock formation from the road cuts along the highway. After reading about rocks and minerals, these formation are truly amazing.
We spent the first night at the Kap-Kig-Iwan PP camp ground. That was our home base in July, from where we searched for abandoned mines. Our target destination for the next day was Nipigon, where Hwy 11 joins 17 again.
Ontario into Manitoba
When we noticed the MacLeod PP, about two hours short of Nipigon, we opted for the comfort of a Provincial Park camp site over a truck stop. We immediately liked the park, they didn't post the usual bear warning. They had "Wolf sightings on the Camp Ground" posted, how can anybody improve on that?
We had an early morning start to catch up the 2 hours we squandered the day before. No regrets, we had a relaxing evening.
The third day target was the Dixie Lake Rest Area. We stop there every time we travel through. The lake has crystal clear water at a comfortable temperature. 'Comfortable' is anything above 18C (65F). The water was 21C, the swim was refreshing.
The day four destination was in Saskatchewan. We had to drive through Manitoba without stopping and travel along the Trans Canada Highway (COVID). On a positive note, Manitoba has the lowest gas prices and we took this opportunity to fill up the tank before we left the Province.
We made it into Saskatchewan that same day without problems.
Saskatchewan closed down the public places. No washrooms, no rest stops, no camp sites. We found enough truck stops to fulfil our basic needs. This was a long day, but the sunset was amazing.
We knew that we could spend the night at the Walmart parking lot in Moose Jaw, some Walmart permit overnight stay. A McDonald was just around the corner for our first breakfast.
We had an early start on day five. Before exiting the province, we stopped in Maple Creek for our second coffee. There is no way that we do not stop in Maple Creek at the Daily Grind Coffee Shop. The small town was very well visited by other fellow travellers.
We crossed into Alberta on Friday of the Labour Day long weekend. We expected lots of traffic, it was the last weekend before the schools start again. It is likely the busiest weekend of the summer. We did not reserve a campsite, they were all fully booked. We did not expect to find a camp site and were prepared to compete for a spot in one of the few truck stops in the Rocky Mountains.
No more pictures of the endless sky and highways that seem to lead into the clouds. When you get closer to Calgary, the Rocky Mountains show up on the horizon.
We drove through Calgary and met heavy traffic in the Bow Valley. The Bow Valley PP in the Kananaskis has several camp grounds. The first one was fully booked. Out of curiosity we entered the Willow Rock Camp Ground. All sites were 'first come' and as it turned out, there were still plenty of openings. We picked a site and started to preview our travel route for the next day. We dropped the planned stop in Kelona and booked another night at this site. Now we had a full day to do what we do best - NOTHING
Doing nothing means we had time for a hike to the Grassi Lakes. All recreational sites in the Canmore were crowded by tourists. Finding a parking spot was nearly impossible, unless getting there before 9am. We got a spot about 1km away from the Grassi Lakes trail head.
The trail leading up to the lakes was extremely busy. Keeping the 2 meter social distance (COVID-19) was difficult at times, but it often seemed as if people just didn't care at all.
The Grassi Lakes are named after Lawrence Grassi who built this trail in 1920 as well as other trail systems around Canmore and in the Yoho National Park.
The trail up to the lakes is short and therefore visitors of all age groups come here. The Grassi Lakes are very picturesque and well worth the trip. A rock face just passed the lakes attracts rock climbers.
|An alternate trail, much more rugged and very steep, leads to the water fall below the Grassi Lakes. The steps were constructed with natural rocks, but they did not take smaller kids into consideration. Their legs are just not long enough. Mind you, some of them managed better than their parents.|
By now, we lost count of the days we spent on the road. It is unlikely that the wine tasting in Penticton was the cause.
We got a camp site outside busy Canmore in Alberta, why not try here along the Okanagan Lake. Again, the 'first come' system worked in our favour, we got a site at the Okanagan Lake PP. We took possession in the afternoon, our revised travel itinerary worked out well.
Now we were on the clock, three hours to get the wine and liqueur. Maple Leaf Spirits was our highest priority. We ran out of the Maple Liqueur earlier this year and couldn't find anything as delicious as the one from Maple Sprits. When COVID restrictions kept us indoors, we started to have an afternoon coffee plus "something" to kill the bugs. A Liqueur was our interpretation to kill the virus with alcohol. Oddly enough, it worked until now
Maple Leaf Spirits offers a Hand Sanitizer with the amazing aroma of cherries. It is not drinkable, same as any other hand sanitizer. This one smells nice and will bring back memories of the Okanagan.
Whistler here we come
It is Monday and a gazillion people are returning home from the long weekend. Driving through Vancouver was not an option. We drove through Merritt via Logan Lake to Cache Creek, then Hwy 99 to Whistler. This is not the closest way, but the Logan Lake was a new place for us.
Hwy 99 starts north of Cache Creek and follows a valley to Pavillion Lake and Fraser Valley. The Fraser River can be seen from the road high above. A bridge crosses the Fraser in Lilloet and the 99 is now also called the Duffey Lake Road, named after the Provincial Park and Lake with the same name.
Before descending to Pemberton, The Duffey makes a steep drop with several turns and multiple Truck Runaway Lanes. The breaks on the Jeep got hot as expected and needed a break from breaking.
We arrived in Whistler in the late afternoon. By 8pm, we could enjoyed our first evening of many.
Now we have time to hike, bike and get the Jeep dirty.