A Travellerspoint blog

Vancouver Island

Heading to civilisation (slowely!)

semi-overcast 15 °C
View Around the World on Taffski's travel map.

Claudia had agreed to give us a lift so we were all up early and headed for the ferry. It was a 7:30am start so having spent an hour or so waiting in line with all the other cars we finally made it onto the ferry.

It was a pretty miserable day so the inside passage trip (supposed to be one of the most beautiful ferry journeys in the world) was a little drab, however, it was still nice as we sailed through the islands and along side small communities.

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We ended up playing poker for a while (using small salt and pepper sachets that we’d borrowed from the canteen as betting chips) and 15hours later we pulled into Port Hardy on Vancouver Island.

It was fairly late so Caludia gave us a lift to the C&N Hostel, dropped us off, and having taken our shoes off to get into the place (a rule that seemed to reoccur quite a bit in Vancouver Island) we headed for an early night.

The Hostel was quite empty in the morning as most of the backpackers had rushed off early to catch the greyhound bus out of Port Hardy at 9am.

Steph and I had arranged to meet Claudia at 10am so after a coffee and a quick chat with the owner / manager (the hostel was OK but just for a night… it was clean though!) we headed off South.

For years I’d wanted to go to Telegraph Cove as I’d seen this was one of THE places in the world to see Orcas. Specifically there was a beach where they rubbed themselves on the pebbles on the shore (no one knows why they actually do this).

It was a short drive and having looked around and popper into the Whale Interpretive centre for a quick overview of the local whales and specifically the Orcas we popped to Alder Bay, where we’d arranged for a whale watching tour.

The tour was to be on a sail boat as this meant we didn’t really use engines and were more likely to get close to the Orcas.

There were also only 12 of us on board which meant there was plenty of room.

Unfortunately it wasn’t windy… so the sails were never unfurled.. however the weather did start to improve slightly and we even saw the sun a few times.

We pulled up to Robson Bight (which is a protected area of the passage) and sure enough there were orcas in the distance.

Having not got too close to them, all of a sudden one decided to head straight for us. It swam right underneath the boat and for us all was perhaps the closest we’d all gotten to an Orca.

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The Captain recognized the Orca straight away as “Springer”. This is perhaps one of the most famous Orcas in Canada as it was found abandoned and near to death near Vancouver, however, having been relocated to the Passage it had been adopted by it’s Auntie, which was cool and good success story for everyone involved.

We saw plenty of other orcas and spent most of the afternoon just bobbing around watching the whales.

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The Company was called Sea Smoke Whale Watching and although it was not cheap it was well worth it.

After getting back onshore intact we headed off to Port McNeil where we’d booked a small hotel room for the three of us.

The next day we headed for Fort Campbell, where it was raining, but of course.

Vancouver Island seems to have a climate very much like Ireland or the North of Scotland. i.e. if it’s not raining… it’s not normal (so to speak!)

We popped past a Classic Cars festival that was being held in the rain and then after a Starbucks, drove to Nanaimo.

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The Hostel was nice, if a little impersonal (most of the residents seemed to be Hotely people staying in a cheap hotel) so we didn’t hang around.

We popped for tea to a great little Mexican called Gina’s which was a little walk away, however, well worth it as it was full (perhaps the only place we saw full the whole day) and it was full of locals (always a good sign!)

Today Claudia left for Victoria, so since we were heading for Tofino, we said our goodbyes and headed to the bus station to catch the bus.

We arrived some 5 hours later (after a nice windy road there) and checked into the C&N Backpackers. It was pretty run down, however, the manager (Rich) was great and more than made up for the haphazard setting of the hostel.

It was central however, and unlike many of the other hostels we’d been at in Canada, only had backpackers in and had character!

It was a crappy day though so we ambled around the town for a wee while, before retiring for tea and chatting with a few other backpackers in the place.

Today it was sunny… so we decided to catch the bus to Long Beach.

Unfortunately... the bus service had changed (no longer summer) so there wasn’t a bus to Long Beach… so we had to change our plans quickly whilst there was nice weather.

We stumbled on a hot springs tour which was reduced in price (from $130 to $85) so we both booked on.

It was still quite expensive for the two of us, however, it turned out to be a great little trip and well worth the money,

We boarded a little Jet boat (of sorts) and together with another 6 people we headed out through the islands off Tofino, heading North.

We spotted Bald Eagles, the odd seal every now and again and then as we headed outside the islands for a while a Grey Whale !

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Brilliant…. Our first Grey Whale and one of the reasons (together with Orcas) why we’d been excited about coming to Vancouver Island!

This was included in the price and our driver hung about for 15 minutes whilst we watched and photographed this great animal.

We then motored off to the Hot Springs.

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We arrived and were told we had 3 hours on the island.

It was a small walk to the Springs through rain forest and this in itself was really nice as the sun shone through the trees.

We arrived, stripped down and, carefully, tip towed through the rocks to the pools.

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They were brilliant ! And Hot !!! How Hot !!!

There was a small waterfall where you could stick you whole body underneath… however being higher up the Springs… they were hotter and after about a minute or two… you had to move before you fainted from the heat !!!!

A great place and unlike any other springs we’d seen in Canada, totally natural and at the time we were there… really quite and reviving.

After two hours of soaking we headed back to the boat.

On the way back we managed to spot a sea otter playing in the seaweed right next to the boat however, no photos ! Damn !

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Back at the hostel, we made some tea and chilled watching TV before Bed. A good day in all and an unexpected one! Funny how these unorganized trips turn out to be good eh ?

Today we left Tofino and having walked along the local beach, jumped on the Tofino Bus and headed for Ucluelet (or “Uccie” pronounced “You-key” as the locals call it)

We arrived at the C&N Backpackers in Uccie and it was a lovely hostel. Clean and with it’s own massive backyard with a small beach, it was a great place to spend a couple of days and chill out.

The Dorm were a bit big though, however, it was off peak season and there were only two other people in the dorm with us. The next night there was only us as they checked out that morning.

We’d decided to go for a long walk today (Steph wanting to do the Pacific Rim Trail) so having looked at the map, we decided to head North for Long Beach.

We walked up the road for a few K’s before heading into the forest for a few more and then down some steps onto the beach.

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We followed the beach, heading into the forest every now and again, for about 15k’s !!! It was a long walk !! but a worthwhile one as we spotted some garter snakes on the track which were cool.

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There were loads of them and they seemed to all be curled around a much larger and less colourful female….hmmmmmm.

After 5 hours constant walking …. We hit Long Beach (Finally !!!)

It’s a lovely beach with Surfers all hanging in the waves and loads of Birds and wildlife playing on the beach itself.

We checked out the Rockpools and found some colourful local rock pool life stuff :) They also have Purple Star fish here... Honest..... Purple !

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After a wee while here, we headed to the bus stop so that we were sure we didn’t miss it back to Uccie as it was the last one that day ! Fortunately we made it…just !

Back in Uccie, we grabbed a chippie and headed back to the hostel for tea and a well deserved beer or two!

Today we headed for Vancouver from Uccie and after a few changes in the bus and having to catch a good old American (sorry Canadian) School Bus half way, we pulled onto the ferry in Nanaimo.

The weather was beautiful and the crossing flat so we sat outside all the way across and watched Vancouver as it rose along the horizon towards us.

Civilization ! finally ! Damn !

Posted by Taffski 07:17 Archived in Canada Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The day of the Bears !

Stewart and Hyder (Alaska)

rain 10 °C
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Today we changed our plans quite a bit.

We'd been speaking to Claudia and she'd told us about a place near(ish) to Prince Rupert. It was on the border with Alaska and she showed us some pictures of the bears she’d seen there!

This got us excited as we’d not seen any Grizzly bears yet and would love to see some of these guys (in a safe environment also!)

So, in the morning I got on the phone with a few car hire agencies and found one (and only one) that did an unlimited Mieage rental (most of the cars up here work on Mileage)

It was a rainy day in Prince Rupert and by Lunch we’d arranged a car picked it up and were heading out of Prince Rupert and East towards prince George before shooting up North towards Stewart.

It was a journey of about 650k’s and we’d been told to look out for bears on the way.

Our first sighting was of a family of black bears crossing the road in the distance. There was a mother and two tiny cubs close behind, however, they were well in the bush by the time we pulled up to where they’d crossed.

We headed off and after another two hours or so we were on the outskirts of Stewart when Steph Spotted a little black dot on the side of the road.

I slowed down, put my hazard lights on and we pulled up slowly to the black object in the grass.

It was a small black bear eating grass on the side of the road. We pulled up slowely to the guy and he didn’t move…. Not an inch !

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Steph was in charge of the camera and we got some brilliant Close up photos of the wee guy!

He was brilliant and after 10 minutes of watching him chomp away on the grass on the side of the road… we pulled away!

So we’d seen a bear close up and we’d not even reached Stewart yet!

We pulled in and went to our little hotel for the night. It was great little place and we decided that since it was only about 5 o’clock we’d head over the border to Hyder (Alaska)

This meant we’d have set foot in Alaska (which was originally one of the places we wanted to go, however price constraints stopped this!)

We crossed the border without going through customs (ensuring we had our passports with us for the return leg however) and headed up a dirt track towards the River Viewing Platform.

This was where (with a bit of luck) we’d maybe get to spot a Grizzly or two!

We arrived and found out we had to pay ($10 US) each for 24 hours at the viewing platform, however, we were told that at the other end there was a grizzle already there… eating fish!

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WOW….. he was a small one…(so we were told) however he was cool and in his peak conditions (we were also told) as his fur hadn’t started to shed ready for his winter coat!

There were loads of Salmon in the river as we walked past and after about 5 minutes the grizzle left (having had his fill)

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We thought we’d wait around for a while longer (since we’d paid the $10 entry fee)
and after half an hour a large Black Bear Strolled up the river.

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This guy was big! However, he didn’t hang around as he strolled up the river… looked at the salmon in it… decided best not to bother fishing and then strolled away into the bushes!

After another half and hour another smaller black bear appeared under a bridge by the river. He popped his head up and then headed off as quickly as he’d appeared.

Then a larger Grizzle popped his head out by the side of the walkway overlooking the river.

The walkway was elevated to allow people to view the bears in comparative safety (for the bears and the people) however… in between getting on the walkway and getting to/from your car… you were in bear country.

This was quite funny as when the larger grizzle poked his head out of the bush it was right next to one of the wardens who was just about to walk to his car.

The Warden froze in his tracks…

The Grizzle looked him up and down….

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Then walked down to the river to start feasting on the salmon

Very amusing (not so much for the warden!)

All the bears seemed really uninterested in their human watchers and acted normally.

It was a brilliant place and having seen a quick glimpse of a couple of small grizzle cubs and their mother behind some trees, we decided we’d head back to Stewart for tea.

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We crossed the border and wre asked a few questions about where we'd been (which the guy seemed thoroughly used to tourists doing this day excursion) and popped back into Canada waving goodbye to Alaska after our 4 hour trip there!

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We grabbed a pizza and eat it in bed whilst watching the TV which was in the room!

What a day trip and a diversion and thank you Claudia for making us detour over 1000k’s to see these guys.

They were brilliant !

The next day we headed back to Prince Rupert to get the car back for lunchtime and chilled for the remainder of the day.

We’d booked our ferry to Vancouver Island for the following day (along the Inside passage) and Claudia having returned from the Queen Charlottes offered us a lift to the ferry and to the hostel in Port Hardy.

Posted by Taffski 17:08 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The West Coast of Canada

Land of Islands and the Pacific Ocean

sunny 20 °C

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The scenery en route to prince George was beautiful, however, we’d been unlucky with the weather and most of the mountains were caped in cloud.

It was still a nice train journey (albeit it a full one) and for us a relatively short one, taking some 8 hours to get to Prince George.

We pulled into the station and walked with our rucksacks to the Hotel we’d booked online for the night (Another Internet deal)

Prince George was pleasant enough, however, there wasn’t much to do there and having been told this, we were there for the night before we boarded the train early the next morning to head to Prince Rupert.

The weather hadn’t changed much and although the train rolled up and down through gulleys and along ravines, cross massive bridges and along mountain sides, much of this was obscured until we reached closer to the coast where the weather broke and we were able to glimpse the water falls and snow capped mountains alongside the track.

The rivers and water looked clear and crisp and at 8pm (on time !!!! Shock horror !!!!) we pulled up to Prince Rupert Station where Christie (the lady owner of the hostel) picked us up and took us into town.

The Pioneer Hostel looked lovely and was very clean and we also had a double room booked for the three nights we were going to stay there. We were both grateful and after a quick lunch down by the waterfront and a lovely Sunset in one of the local pubs, we hit our sacks.

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It was a bright sunny day and feeling lazy after a couple of days on the train we just wandered around Prince Rupert.

This didn't take too long so we ventured into the museum.......... didn't take that long either!!!!

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It was a small museum, however, it was an interesting one and we spent a while musing over the Haida Artwork and the carvings.

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Later on that evening we decided to have a barbeque and a campfire with a kiwi couple..... this ended up with the entire hostel joining us and an arranged camping trip on the Queen Charlotte Islands with the kiwi couple (steve and natalie) in a few days!

The following morning wasn't quite as sunny but we hired bikes from the hostel and cycled through the mist! Our determination was rewarded with sunshine and the ride was actually enjoyable (not as many bloody hills as Jasper!!).

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We cycled to the South Pacific Cannery Museum which looked quite spooky with mist still surrounding it! A train came flying past the cannery just as we were leaving and I had never seen Alan move so fast for his camera!

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On the way back into town we stopped at the amazing Bhutze rapids........... a natural phenonemon where the great tidal changes create some stunning rapids! The walk there was 20 minutes and ok, it was through forest. We arrived at the lookout to see ...... flat calm waters......... no rapids at all so we turned around and followed the same 20 minute trail back! Maybe if you visit them at high or low tide then it would be a little impressive!!!!

So after the 40 minute wasted walk, after cycling 30 kms, we got back onto the bikes and cycled Prince Rupert bound!

A much needed beer was needed before Alan wandered to the chippy and came back with scrumptious fish and chips (halibut is the best).

Of course we went for a cheeky at the nearest and dearest bar before we crashed!

We woke up with Natalie bamging on our door telling us there were some deer in the garder outside... right next to the hostel. We managed to get a quick piccie, however, apparently, these were regular visiters to the hostel and even the guys camping in the garden had gotten used to having them wonder by for their morning feed!

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Today we're on the Ferry over to the Queen Charlotte Islands for a few days with Steve and Nat

Posted by stephyd 18:28 Archived in Canada Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The Galapagos of the North

AKA the Queen Charlotte Islands

sunny 21 °C
View Around the World on Taffski's travel map.

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So, if you were to have asked me where the Queen Charlotte Islands were before I'd come to Canada.... not a clue!

However, Since we'd been in Prince Rupert a few people had raved about this clump of islands over the water even further West than we were!

They also housed the only remaining (and original) Haida Totem Poles and an original Haida Meeting House. This sounded good so we'd arrange with Steve and Nat to pop over on the ferry and stay in a backpackers in Queen Charlotte City (city being perhaps one of the most loosely used terms in this instance I've seen for a while!)

So we arrived at the ferry terminal and jumped on the ferry. We were foot passengers so we checked in our bags and jumped on board. The sea was flat calm and as we pulled out the mist started to clear to reveal a crystal blue sky. It was beautiful and as we sailed down the islands en route to existing the Canadian Western Islands to head out to sea we were all sat outside, basking in the sunshine and admiring the beautiful scenery.

The ferry was relatively cheap so even I was happy (at this point !)

It got even better as we moved along the channels and into Open water with a couple of humpbacks spotted in the distance. Then there were porpoises in the seas around the ship and then an announcement that a minke whale was spotted on the Starboard side of the ship.

Everyone rushed to see the whale, however, I hung back to see what was happening on the Port Side... Steph could always call me if she spotted it.

I then spotted some fins in the distance... larger fins however and as we got closer it was apparent it was a small pod of Killer Whales. Now what they were doing isn't clear, however, they were heading in the same direction as the Minke whale, so I reckon they might have been testing it's fitness (Hunting it!)

Anyway, the ship soon put a stop to that (albeit unknown to the captain) who never mentioned on the tannoy that there were Orca's on the Port Side of the ship and the Orca's were on a collision course!

The Orca's Slowed as the ship approached and then swam down along the port side of the ship. Then after we'd passed them they disappeared off .... heading in the same direction as the Minke!

So an eventful ferry and beautiful one was had by all and then after two hours sailing in open waters we saw the Charlottes and sailed into Skidegate (a small town just south of where we were staying)

We jumped into a taxi once our bags had arrived and went to the Hostel. It was a nice hostel, even if the Lady Owner was a bit Abrupt to start off with, and there were apparently two scientists in the Hostel with us.

We’d been informed of this as the Two Scientists seemed to be very precious to the lady, so much so, that she’d reiterated to both Steph and Steve when they’d booked the rooms that there was DEFINITELY no drinking to be had late into the night!

She seemed worried that the scientists would be woken up by the rabble caused by Foreign these Backpackers!

It turned out that the scientists were Science Teachers… and they’d be there for only a couple of more days anyway…so not too sure what the lady Hostel owner was going on about.

Anyway, the hostel was nice, however, there was only room enough for one of the couples….. ! Damn !!!

As a result one couple was to be in another hotel (literally next door) for one night, so having seen the double in the hotel and the rather nicer room in the Hotel, we drew lots.

Now this is where I started to remember why I don’t travel too much with other couples!

Ok… so we drew lots (i.e. the toss of a coin) and we won… so Steph and I wanted to stay in the nice room. This was fine with Steve, however, Natalie wasn’t too happy with this and made a little stink about it so much so that Steph and I stayed in the hostel for the night in the end! Not worth the bother!

Anyway, after a good nights sleep and having chatted to another couple in the hostel called Shannon and Jamie, we woke up and went to pick the hire car up.

The only way to get around the Charlottes is to either hire a car… or hitch a ride. Since there were 4 of us… it was much better value if we hired a car. So we did !

The Hire car was cheap and between the four of us a good deal for 3 days of transport around the North Island (The only one with roads on!)

We packed up and, having stopped briefly in Skidegate to watch a guy carving a totem pole from scratch, headed North.

We passed Many a Bald Eagle (they seem as common as Crows over here) on the waters edge as we drove North, however, we’d heard they had bears on the Charlottes and all of us were secretly hoping we’d spot one (from the car of course!)

Then in the distance, Natalie spotted a bear crossing the road!

It was massive ! Apparently, the black bears in the charlottes are the largest in Canada as they’re the only bear on the charlottes and therefore the top predator!!

This guy was huge and Steve rolled up quietly next to him to try and get some piccies!

He wasn’t bothered about us and having changed his mind about three times as to which direction to turn off the road, he wandered into the brush!

Our first Black Bear! And he was a big bugger too !!!

We headed up to Masset (at the far North of the Island and the largest Town on the islands… although not a city like the metropolis of Queen Charlotte City!!!) for supplies. Unfortunately, I thought we’d be able to get an MSR gas canister for my little cooker… however… they were all out! We’d have to rely on the good old method of cooking on a fire! Steve and Nat had no cooking stuff and only the one Sleeping bag… so it was up to Steph and I to provide the cooking implements!

OK… on to the camp site!

We camped on Agate Beach and having set up camp, managed to get the fire lit and up before it started to drizzle! Luckily we’d put the fire pit under some trees so it was fairly well sheltered!

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After a few beers, some pasta and sauce and chatting with Shannon and Jamie (who’d camped just down from us also!) we hit the tent for an uncomfortable nights sleep!

When we woke it wasn’t raining, however, Steve had the fire up and running again and we cooked some eggs for brekkie.

We headed back into Masset for some supplies (No gas!) and then on the way back.. it started to rain….and rain…..and rain!

We stood underneath the bushes for about another 4 hours!

Luckily the fire remained lit so cooking was still a possibility!

Shannon and Jamie came over at 4pm as the rain had lifted slightly and offered to give us a lift to Tow Hill Summit! Steve and Nat couldn’t be bother and Steph and I got the distinct feeling Natalie wasn’t exactly an outdoors sort of person (poor Steve !)

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It stopped raining when we got there so we walked up to the lookout and then descended to the Blow Holes Where Jamie decided to try out his waterproofs! Very Funny!

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We returned to the camp and Steve and Nat hadn’t really moved at all, so we quickly cooked up some tea and then we all wondered down to Jamie and Shannon’s camp (as they had a tarpaulin and it had started to rain…again!

We left at 8:30 am to get the hire car back before 12pm (which meant we’d hired it for only 2 days in total and worked out cheaper!)

We beeped goodbye to Shannon and Jamie as we drove past (who were still in their beds nursing a hangover I’d assume like the rest of us!)

We drove down to Queen Charlotte City and dropped the car off.

Steph and I fancied getting down to the South Island, however, it was expensive and so we decided to finally book a boat trip down to one of the less Southerly islands where we could still see Haidi Totems (if not the Gwaai Haanas UNESCO Site which was further south… and some $400 dollars Each to get to!)

The Next Day, we said our goodbyes to Steve and Nat and got ready for our trip… it had been cancelled ! Damn! We spent the day at the Haida Museum in Skidegate and that night had a few drinks with our new Hostel Mates (Stephanie and Claudia)

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Claudia had only just met us, but having been chatting down by the docks with a old sailor had arranged for a short tour on his Tug Boat for the four of us! It was nice and gave us a different idea of how Queen Charlotte Culture was.

We paid him with a 6 pack of beer… of which we all had one and said our goodbyes.. as simple as that! Cool Older Guy!

Anyway, the next day we headed for the Ferry. Darius (the guy who looked after the hostel and worked for the other lady) who’d befriended Nadia (another girl in the hostel and was on our ferry) gave us all a lift down to the ferry for free, which was cool again… albeit I had to ride in the back of the truck which was reserved for the his dog normally !

Anyway, we made the ferry and chatted to Nadia for most of the journey back over to the Mainland.

This time the weather was considerably worse… a four meter swell, so the ferry had to detour North a bit to compensate… and there was no sitting outside this time !

We made it back and Christie came and picked us up from the hostel again which was nice. We were back in a nice hostel and we had our double room. We unpacked, went for a quick drink and some tea and then crashed out.

Now… where to next ?

Posted by Taffski 18:17 Archived in Canada Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Heading Out West

Into the Rockies

sunny 18 °C
View Around the World on Taffski's travel map.

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So a day later the train pulled into the Station at Churchill and we were allowed to board. Surprisingly the train was full as there was a tour party of about 50 Oldies also booked on the train for the first part of the trip.

The faces on the train other than the oldies were all familiar as Churchill is such a small place you'd regularly bump into people off the train on the journey up.

So having spent the past week or so looking for the Northern Lights in Churchill we were rewarded on the train journey back with a light show from the train as we pulled into The Pas. The Lights were green and waved in the sky as the train plodded along the track southward. They're pretty cool to watch, however, no photo opportunities as the train was moving (which I was annoyed at) however, at least we finally got to see them.

Since the train was delayed for a day we were rewarded by Via Rail with free breakfasts and free lunch and dinners all the way down to Winnipeg and together with an interesting mix of "hard Core" train travelers that braved the 2 day trip down to Winnipeg the journey flew by.

We pulled into Winnipeg and had reserved the HI hostel (which was the newer one) which we thought was closer to the train station. Unfortunately for us it still involved a good 20 hike through Winnipeg to the new hostel, but we got a double room and slept quite soundly after a quick tea and popping up to the other hostel to see some people we'd met there before.

We jumped on the train the following day and headed off to Jasper (which is where the Rockies start)

The journey was very scenic passing through the Wheat fields of Canada (loads and loads of flat fields spinning off into the distance) and then finally a day later we started to move into the Rockies good and proper.

We arrived in Jasper at 4pm which is a lovely little town in the middle of the Rockies.

Luckily Natalie and Simon (the Welsh couple we'd met in Winnipeg) had given us the details of a little Bed and breakfast which was supposed to be really nice so we found the address of the B&B and then rocked up at the door.

A lovely older lady, called Trudy, welcomed us (together with their chocolate Lab Dog) and we were shown our room (which was the only room that the lady had!)

The town was a bit touristy and reminded us of a smaller Bariloche, except in Canada, however, the mountains and surrounding lakes were beautiful.

The next day we were to explore Jasper and the surrounding National Park.

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Steph got up and then woke me up saying she'd seen a "ghost dog!"

Trudy, the landlady, used to have an old Labrador dog who'd died a few years earlier and for some reason there was a Lab (together with the Chocolate Lab) playing on the floor in the kitchen.

Of course, there was a logical explanation for Steph's Paranormal Experience!

That night there had been a large thunder storm and a local dog (who happened to be an older Labrador) had wondered over to Trudy's house for shelter. Trudy had taken the dog in until the morning....

Ghost Dog I tell you !!!!

Anyway, after Steph's Apparition, we headed off for the day to go and explore. Trudy's Son, Fred, lent us his mountain bikes (for nothing which was great) so Steph and I headed off towards Maligne Canyon. This was some 20k's away and after a while we realised it was mostly up hill :)

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The Canyon was packed with tourists, so Steph and I headed down the path so we could avoid most of the day trippers who only stayed by the upper canyon. Here it was much nicer and the river had gorged out a lovely canyon through the Forest.

On the return journey (which was mostly down hill Steph was glad to find out) we headed back over a bike path through the forest.

Jasper National Park is home to bears, so Steph and I were a little apprehensive incase we stumbled over one whilst whistling through the forest path... so we talked loudly and whistled and sang songs as we peddled through.

We never saw a bear, however, we did see a large Elk with massive horns parading around in the trees.

The path took us alongside some of the lakes surrounding Jasper and with the beautiful sunny weather they looked lovely.

After a few beers and a quick supper we headed back to bed (exhausted after our long bike ride)

After Breakfast we grabbed the bikes again and headed out to the Tramway which would take us up one of the surrounding mountains. It was a hard ride (mostly up hill again) and after a couple of hours Steph and I pulled into the Tramway "Airport".

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We booked our "departure" tickets and our "flight" left some ten minutes later.

It was misty and we couldn't see the top of the mountain, however, Fred (Trudy's Son) had informed us earlier that the weather often did this in Jasper and would clear up later in the day.

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Fortunately for us, this was indeed the case and having reached the Top, almost immediately, the weather seemed to change and the views down onto the valley below and of the surrounding mountains were spectacular.

We walked up to a higher point on the mountain and took some pictures of the local wildlife (ground squirrels and Ptarmigan... like highland pheasants.... but they turn white in winter)

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Tonight was to be the night of the Jasper Rodeo.

Steph and I had bought tickets earlier in the day and had been told that it was to be “Pink night”…. In aid of Breast Cancer.

Trudy lent Steph and Stetson Hat and some Cowgirl boots and I had a pink neckerchief on, so we wandered into town to catch the rodeo.

Now we’ve never been to a rodeo before, so with Canadian beers in hand Steph and I settled down to some Cowboy and cowgirl fun.

We weren’t disappointed as firstly they switched off all the lights and a group of horses sporting fluorescent lights paraded up and down and in and out of the stadium.

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Next was where a guy rode next to a calf and wrestled it to the ground (the winner being the quickest) and then we also had some horse riding (where the guys had to stay on the horse for the longest) and then finally after a good two hour show came the finale.

Bull riding !

Now these guys must be nuts ! Honestly ! These bulls were massive and as we learned during the course of the evening, the bulls being fairly mild mannered in temperament were “encouraged” to perform by having their nuts wrapped in some string and having the string tightened before opening the gate with the nutter cowboy on it’s back!

Wow did these things bounce (so would I if my nuts were tightened up into my throat too I thought)

However, the line was loosened after the bull had done with flinging the cowboy twenty feet into the air and threatened to skewer a few of the clowns and maybe even some spectators in one instance !!!!

It was a good night and afterwards Steph and I went to the Rodeo Dance where all the locals gathered to consume alcohol and square dance ( or whatever it’s called… formation dancing anyway !)

We awoke with a bit of a hang over (Steph worse than I since she’d been drinking half pints of wine the previous night) and after some breakfast Trudy gave us a lift to the train station and we said goodbye.

We boarded the train (for the last time) and headed off towards Prince George and then ultimately Prince Rupert on the Eastern coast of Canada… our last stop on our rail passes.

The Rail passes had been good overall value in that they’d allowed us to travel across Canada (huge that it is) in relative comfort and taken us to places we’d never have ventured in a car or on a bus, so all in all, a good deal.

Posted by Taffski 10:01 Archived in Canada Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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