Hills and lakes

This post might also have been called ‘Rushing for Gold, part 2’ as we are still driving over the Cariboo Wagon Road, or Gold Rush Route. Now stopping at Prince George for a well deserved break, todays journey has been quite long, strenuous and quicker than anticipated.

TomTom and Google both told us, today would be a full 5 hour drive, when we would drive without stops and in a straight line. This would mean missing out on some stuff on the way, and was simply not acceptable for us. So we told ourselves we would simply start off, and see when we’d arrive where and go from there.
Soon, it turned out both TomTom and Google were grotesquely overestimating the durations, as we covered the first 3.5 hours in just 2.

This got us going; to Barkerville. A 4 hour drive (160km return) to a gold rush town from the late 1800’s which pretty much was preserved in that state by continuous occupation up until the 1970’s.

Barkerville is the town where the 1860 gold rush stated with a certain gentleman Barker struck gold. And a very rich strike that was. In todays money it would be around 70 million EUR! This sparked an influx to Williams Creek and soon all land there was claimed. Mining over there still takes place today and a very large deposit has been proven to be there by the current claim holders.

The town has been actively occupied from around 1860 to 1972, and acquired by the province of British Columbia in 1954. The last of the original inhabitants left in 1972 and now no full time residents remain. Still, a few houses are privately owned and used as housing for a period of time each year. That is, while the park is open to visitors! Weird.

In Barkerville, all houses are on display and staffed by employees who are age correct dressed for 1870 and participating in a simulated regular working day back then. In the meantime they are teaching us visitors what the life back then was like. Very entertaining, and a joy to see how much the employees love their job. Very enthusiastically yelling everyone about ‘their’ Barkerville and it’s rich history.

Luckily for is, the drive to Barkerville wad not 2 hours one way as predicted but 2 hours return, which left us another 2 hours drive to Prince George.Oh well, we are here now. 🙂
Tomorrow, another busy day while travelling to Smithers.

PS: we spotted our very first Moose today! Yay! Also a very placid black bear who allowed us to take a very good look at him while he was fouraging. Lovely!

Pictures will follow soon!

More mountain goodness

After the apparent successes of yesterday we were hoping another early start would yield an equal result.
How wrong were we!

Let me remind you: yesterday’s yield was 5 bears and a lot of wapiti. Today’s list is like this: 3 bears (of which 1 mother and her cub) quite a few wapiti and mule deer and 2 wolves. I’m sorry? Yes. Wolves. 2 of them. One per sighting. AWESOME!
Unfortunately for us, the bears were all black bears (some very brown ones!) so we still haven’t seen any grizzlies yet. Maybe later.

The wolves we saw were both grey wolves, and one actually was grey. The other one was black, but still a grey wolf as that’s the only spicies of wolf living in Banff National Park.
All animals we have encountered in the past two days were spotted while driving on highway 1a.
As we were not completely sure what species the bear family was, we went to the National Park Service building in Banff. We passed the question to the ranger, and he determined with some help that the bears we saw actually were black bears. We now know the most determining factor of bears are their claws, but unfortunately for him we have not seen them.
His reaction to us spotting several bears and a wolf was disbelief which only grew bigger after we told him we also saw a second wolf and more bears!

The rest of the day we spent doing some smallest stuff like visiting local falls (Bow River Falls, near Banff) and trying to get on the gondola to Sulphur Mountain. This didn’t quite work out as the locals also had their day off and were trying to make the most of the lovely weather.
We did go see the lower and upper falls of Johnston Canyon, which is located between Banff and Lake Louise.

Tomorrow is a moving day for us. First we pack our bags and leave this hotel to drive up to Jasper via Canada’s most beautiful road, or so we have been told. We are just hoping for clear skies and no rain!

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The early birds catch the … Bears!

This morning meant a really very early start in the morning. Around 6, we left the hotel to get a cup of coffee to start the day well. At 06:15 we checked in at Tim Horton’s to get our caffeine inside the bodies.
All was needed to start the day around dusk on highway 1a which takes you from Banff to Lake Louise. This highway is the old highway, from before the current highway 1 which is completely fenced in while it travels through Banff National Park. The old one is mainly a two-lane undivided road (one each way).

This road comes highly recommended for wildlife sightings, as it is one of few traversable roads in the park, and all animals are free to cross it or courage around it. And that us just what they do.

This morning, we have spotted a total of 5 black bears (amongst which a mother with her cub) and 5 wapiti. The latter are also known as elk.
Also, during this 60 km drive, we’ve spotted loads of chipmunks, quite a few golden mantled ground squirrels and even some pika!
We are pretty fond of those numbers, and felt the awfully early start of the day was well worth it!

Besides all animal spotting and paperazzi work, we also visited some amazing sites in Banff National Park. Among which are: Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Vermillion Lakes and the Hoodoos.
Especially Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are worth visiting as these contain probably the blueest water you’ve ever seen!

We actually spent quite a while at Moraine Lake, as its scenery and wildlife are truly mindboggling. Unfortunately for us, it sits in prime bear territory, which meant we couldn’t walk one of the desired trails as it was neatly mandatory to travel in groups of at least four people and to carry bear-repellant. We know that stuff as mace or pepperspray. We came prepared, but not to that degree!

All in all, it has been a fantastic day, with awesome animal encounters and prime locations inside Canada’s finest National Park.
Tomorrow will probably more of the same, and I’m still hoping to encounter my personal favorites: wolves and a hoary marmot.