Yesterday we opted for a shortcut drive wise to Canada. We opted for a ferry service out of the Olympic Peninsula that took us north of Seattle. It was nice not to spend all the time driving. We even saw the Blue Angels fly over the ferry when we were traveling! We had a snack and watched for sea life, sadly we saw none.
After safely disembarking we headed towards the border crossing. We cleared the border with no issues. Grandma Jo and Grandpa Howie accidentally came through he same line as us, we have Nexus entry cards, they didn’t. They were asked to pull into the search lanes. They were delayed a little but honestly not as bad as if they had gone through the regular long lines!
We stayed the night in Hope, British Columbia and enjoyed a family meal out at a place called Home Restaurant.
In the morning we headed towards a campground, Canyon Hot Springs, located half way between Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks in Canada. We could tell the air was getting more smoke filled as we drove. There are a lot of wildfires burning in British Columbia. We expect the smoke will get worse. Some of us are already coughing a little and feeling the effects.
The campground is quite large. It is situated along a noisy turn in the railroad track so we hear the trains often. They are doing track work at night and we hear that too. We are learning to tune it out.
Our first full day in the area we got up early and headed to Revelstoke Mountain Lodge to ride the mountain coster. We started with just one ride ticket and a ticket to the top of the mountain on the gondola. The ride was a bit nerve-wracking until you settled in. You control your own speed with a stick on the cart. It was a lot of fun. Grandma, Grandpa and the boys opted to ride a second time. Sadly they got behind lady with a baby and were brought to a creeping ride quickly. A mix up with the tickets occurred and when we went to get it straightened out they gave us a make up ride pass too. The boys got to finally ride at full speed 42kph. Quite a different ride when you go full throttle! Uncle Matt needs to spearhead the construction of one of these out in Truckee!
We then took the gondola to top and hiked around and explored the area. During ski season there are lifts that go up even higher!
We then headed to the Revelstoke Dam run by BC Hydro. We took the dam tour and it was awesome. We have always loved touring different dams on our journeys. Inside the victors center was a great interactive learning area for the kids. They had fun playing with the jacobs ladder and plasma balls. E picked out a small toy plasma ball that he is so happy to have. B picked a perpetual motion machine that is mesmerizing and distracting!
We then headed up Mt. Revelstoke through the National Park. The drive up was 26km and was filled with switchbacks and breathtaking wildflowers. It was amazing how many different kinds and colors there were. We took the shuttle to the summit and hiked a few trails and learned about the First Nations people in the area. It was a bit smokey but not terrible.
The next morning Mom and the kids headed out to explore Glacier National Park (Canada). The smoke was really thick from the wildfires in Glacier. The first few trails were closed due to hazards. We enjoyed hiking the Rock Gardens trail a lot. The boys saw a pika, ground squirrels and marmot. We scrambled over rocks and enjoyed some mostly smoke free air. As we ventured deeper into the park the smoke was terrible. We saw a lot of people with masks wandering around.
We drove through the campgrounds to hike some of the trails, that were sadly closed as well. We did get to walk part of the Loop trail along the river and the railway tresses.
Next we visited the Rogers Pass Summit Memorial and learned all about how the Trans-Canada Highway was constructed and about transportation in the area. There was a memorial bell you could ring. The bell is made of the metal of one of the old snow plows, railway tracks like the support of the bell, railway stakes are the handle and the entire thing is set upon a block from one of the old railway tresses that fell in an avalanche in 1910.
We saw a LOT more marmot just hanging out in the memorial. They were very photogenic. The smoke was getting to the point where we felt we should turn back. We visited the Rogers Pass Vistors Center and the boys earned their XPlorer badges and watched a neat movie about avalanche control and Snow Wars. They used howitzers to launch shells into the side of the snow covered mountains to trigger avalanches so they wouldn’t get out of control. This pass gets a LOT of snow each year. Even to this day it is one of the harshest areas of all of the Trans Canada Highway (TC-1).
We came back and picked up Dad and hiked Giant Cedars in Revelstoke. The smoke lifted in this area so it wasn’t bad. We saw more of these huge leaves and learned that they are Devil’s Club.
We then went to the Skunk Cabbage Trail. As we were just about to start a man alerted us to a bear down by the river. We saw a huge black bear down drinking at the rivers edge. We set off on the trail and were almost done when the people that were ahead of us came around the corner back towards us saying to stop there was a bear of the path. We talked and watched and stood in a big group. We went up on a raised platform to look down the trail and sure enough there a massive black bear on the boardwalk still. We watched carefully and waited for him to leave the trail and then waited a few more minutes and then proceeded out as a group. The bear left us a nice fresh steaming like of scat full of berries! What a treat!
We called it a day and headed back for showers and de-smoke smelling! At least the fires are hardwood so just smell like a nice campfire and not the stinky fires of soft pine in Florida.
Our last day was a few fun hikes including the Loop Trail with Dad. There was warning of bears in the area so we waited for Dad for this one. We learned all about the old rail lines that came through the area. As you walked you could see where the old railroad ties were with the rock fill between them. It was a tough terrain for people let alone a train! We saw no bears on this hike but really enjoyed seeing all the old tresses along the river.
Saying goodbye to the smoke, hopefully, we headed out of Revelstoke and Glacier area towards Banff.