We started the day by stopping at a high pressure car wash, attempting to know off some of two months' accumulated muck and mire. Two dollars later, not much had happened, so we've elected to attempt a different approach to the problem. We at least manager to get the glass clean so that we could see the park. So on we went on a six hour around-the-park adventure, stopping to see all sorts of interesting stuff, mostly of a hydrothermal nature. Observation: Glacier is supremely spectacular, whereas Yellowstone is extremely interesting. The two parks are not particularly similar in the experience they offer. It's hard to imagine how this park was formed, and what devastation must have occurred when its last major eruption occurred more than 600k years ago. This northern part of the park, by the way, we did not see on our snow mobile trip several years ago.
This is the second leg of the trip from Glacier to Yellowstone, and the countryside continues to be beautiful. The approach to Yellowstone is especially dramatic, following a rushing river through a long mountain pass before reaching more open countryside at Big Sky. We arrived at West Yellowstone in mid afternoon and checked in to another great KOA located about 8 miles west of the village. Tomorrow we are going to to the Great Loop Road, which covers the north end of the park. We'll leave Old Faithful, which we have seen before in the middle of a very cold snow mobile trip, until Wednesday. Milepost 8845.
Glacier was absolutely magnificent, so why wouldn't we add Yellowstone to the list? So it's off we go, with plans to go perhaps as far as Helena today. This was a two lane road trip across rural Montana, passing through a number of small towns along the way. This is beautiful country that appears to have been financially ignored. The wind began to increase dramatically during the early afternoon, so we decided that Helena would get our high profile vehicle off the road, so we quit there at about 2:00 pm. The campground was another top drawer KOA, which as a rule seem to be better in the west than back on the east coast. Milepost 8646.
Today was the day to explore Glacier National Park. This is another of those places that we will leave to the photos to explain. It is absolutely breathtaking.
Today we headed back into the lower 48 on our way to Glacier National Park. We crossed the border at Carway, which is a small customs outpost an hour or so north of the park. We had one survey customs agent and one very nice person to deal with, but overall we got through in a short time with little difficulty. We checked in for a two night stay at the East Glacier KOA, which is probably the best KOA we have ever stayed in. Beautiful views, excellent facility, nice camp store and even a small restaurant! Tomorrow, we tour the park. Milepost 8435.
Today we are mostly retracing steps, at least from Jasper southward. The trip down the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise is actually more striking when traveling north to south, I guess because you're looking at the north facing peaks, many of which are completely snow covered, even in late summer. We had hoped that we would be able to find a campsite in the Banff area, but nothing was available, so we continued on to Calgary, where we were able to stay at the same campsite we had visited on the northbound leg of the trip. Milepost 8250.
The coach was close to a mileage milestone requiring an oil change, and we were able to get an appointment at a Cummins dealer in Prince George. We arrived there at about 11:30 am, did some shopping and touring to kill a couple of hours, and were back on the road at about 2:30. We continued east to the community of McBride, BC, which is at the base of the climb through the Robson Valley to Jasper and the Ice Highway. Overnight was at a small, wooded campground east of town. Not a particularly luxurious site, but comfortable and quiet. Milepost 7198.
We both felt that this is the day that we begin our long journey home, with most of the most striking sights behind, at least as far as the far north is concerned. Today, we completed the journey down the Cassiar and and turned east toward Prince George on the Yellowhead Highway. We spent the night at a lakefront campsite in Fraser Lake. Milepost 7663.
Today we took a side trip to Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK. These two communities are literally at the end of the road, in the middle of the Coast Range. The trip is about 45 miles through absolutely striking scenery, ending at sea level at the head of Portland Canal, which is a long fjord of the Pacific. We spent time in Stewart and then crossed the border back into Alaska to visit Hyder. From Hyder, we traveled a dirt road twenty-something miles up into the mountains to view some of the most massive and beautiful glaciers of the entire trip. We'll let the photos speak for themselves.
There are a lot of challenges related to a trip to Alaska, but today wins the gold medal. We awoke this morning to snow in Dease Lake! It was just a smattering at first, with the white stuff sticking to leaves, and we decided that we should go on south. But in this part of the world you need to consider the effects of elevation on the nature of precipitation, and as we climbed going south, the snow intensified. At its peak we were dealing with maybe three inches of the white stuff, as evidenced by the photo of the picnic table. This resulted in slushy conditions on the highway, and of course slow going. Note also in the photos that snow in August does little to slow down the highway crews, who were laying asphalt on Sunday in the snow. Try that in North Carolina! Anyway, we successfully made the trip to Lake Meziadin (pronounced Mez-e-AH-din), where we checked in to a lovely lakefront site in the provincial park. Tomorrow it's a side trip to Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK to see the Portland Canal and the glaciers of the Coastal Range. Milepost 7359.