Rewind day 2: Smoky mountain

It was still hazy in Naramata from the Okanagan fires when we left, and our plan was to get up above the smoke and camp in Glacier National Park, in the Rockies.

We drove up to Revelstoke, the last town before the park and spotted the first moose of the whole trip on the way up.

There was just one problem: Glacier Park was on fire.

We’ll only 600 hectares of it.

The park is on a 150 km stretch of curvy roads between Revelstoke and Golden. There’s nothing else in between.

In Revelstoke the air was so smoky it was hard to breathe. It was impossible to imagine camping.

But all the hotels for a 100 mile radius were booked for the local street festival. In Golden all we could find was the fancy jacuzzi suite in an independent hotel.

We set off. It was two hours driving through the smoky end of a forest fire on curvy mountain roads in the dark with extremely limited visibility at 110 km/hr.

I had an asthma attack about 30 minutes in and spent most of the drive in panic mode feeling dizzy. Good thing I wasn’t driving.

And yet there were still folks out repaving the road in the dark.

Nothing like alternating single-lane traffic for 24-7 construction while ash falls on your car. Harrowing.

I have never been so happy to get to my hotel in my life.

No pics of the drive – I was a bit distracted. But here is some hipster glassware from the restaurant in Revelstoke.

Some stats:

  • Moose: 1
  • Total distance: 7500 km

Day 7: Plot twist

The best laid plans often leave you stuck in the Rockies. No? Well maybe it’s just me.

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Magpie

We left Calgary bright and early and headed down The Cowboy Trail. There are just two highways that connect Alberta and British Columbia. We chose the older, southern route.

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Prairie grasslands
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On the Cowboy Trail
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A change in the view
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Near the border

We crossed the Alberta-British-Columbia border and stopped to see an old coal mine and eat lunch.

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The Frank Slide
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In Sparwood

The next stop in the East Kootneys was to see the Titan (a giant mining truck) in Sparwood.

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Mining machine

We headed back to the highway and about 15 minutes out of town there was an accident. It was only 600 m ahead of us. But sadly, there was a fatality and the police closed the highway for several hours to do an assessment.

There is only one detour for this route: backtrack 10 hours through Banff. The highway ahead wasn’t expected to reopen for 3 hours.

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Curvy mountain roads

Unfortunately that meant that we couldn’t get through the mountains during daylight hours. And the roads are treacherous, winding, single lanes that make it feel like you are driving off the edge of the world.

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In the Kootneys

So we decided to stop half-way and book a hotel in Cranbrook. We tried to upgrade to a suite, but in the time we waffled, they all sold out. Doh! Seems we weren’t the only ones thinking about safety first.

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In the Rocky Mountains

So we didn’t get to Osoyoos that night as planned, but we were still very lucky so I can’t complain too much.

Some stats:

  • Magpie: 1
  • Hawk: 1
  • Raven: 1
  • Eagle with a large snack: 1
  • Unexpected layovers: 1
  • Hours in Sparwood: about 5
  • Total distance:  4531 km