A big%&$ loop
This is going to be a long Blog. For those of you who would rather just look at the pictures, head over to
and look at the “roadtrip 2011” galleries. The most interesting is probably the Yellowstone one.
For 2 weeks between August 21 and Sept 4, 2011 Machelle and I drove 3000 odd miles through many national parks and 2 countries. On this trip we saw many beautiful places and visited with friends, hiked up mountains and went through innumerable ice bags for the cooler. We had planned the roadtrip for some time, but left the details open to change as we went. The Ipad2 proved incredibly useful on the road for finding camping spots and interesting hikes/sights along the way. Also useful were the North Face Base Camp duffels, which we used to organize the chaos which would have otherwise overtaken the back of the car. These things are indestructible and we had one of each size in different colours so we knew what was in each one.
Anyhow, on to the trip.
We left after the wedding of Machelle’s son Andrew to Andrea in Patterson, CA, on Saturday August 20. Sunday we headed over to San Francisco to visit a city I had never had occasion to check out before. We first headed downtown for a short while, then we decided to drive around the city on the Scenic loop drive. This drive is well marked, though on any 49 mile loop there are places where it is easy to go off track. We made it most of the way around the loop, stopping wherever there seemed to be views of interest, and had a great time. Eventually, though, it started getting a little late and we headed out across the Golden Gate Bridge to seek out a camping area. We drove up the coast to Bodega Bay and found an empty camping spot in Bodega Dunes State Park, set up the tent and got some sleep.
The next day we drove most of the rest of the way up the California Coast. We stopped along the coast and found wonderful tide pools, went up Point Arena lighthouse, and eventually camped at Mill Creek State Park when the campgrounds further south in the redwoods area were all full.
The next day we broke camp and headed into Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park to hike the Hiouchi Trail. It was a nice walk and the views of the river were great, but nothing was too exciting photographically. We then loaded up and crossed the border into Oregon. Looking at travel times and camping areas, and really wanting showers we decided to head up to Portland to get a hotel room for the evening. This meant basically blasting through Oregon without seeing many of the beautiful sights.
On the morning of August 24th we bid Oregon adieu and headed toward Mount St Helens across the border. After a beautiful drive north through Washington, then West along the southern border of Olympic National Park, we made an early camp at Bogachiel state park. After setting up our tent we headed up the Hoh River to hike in Olympic National Park. I ignored the fact that I was being eaten alive by clouds of mosquitoes, in fact I think they tried to carry me off once or twice, to take pictures of the moss laden trees in this temperate rain forest. Soon enough we had enough of the bloodsuckers and we headed back to camp.
The next day we drove north and east through the park. We found beautiful lakes, and world war 2 bunkers along the ocean at Salt Creek, then headed up Hurricane ridge to walk on top of the world. The drive from Washington to Vancouver took much longer then we had thought it would due to a delay at the Port Townsend Ferry, but we eventually crossed the border at 12:30 am and reached our hotel room at 1:15 or so. Unfortunately our room was right above a night club, and the loud music boomed through the floor until 2:00 am, which would have been much worse had we not been already awake. Apparently our hotel was right beside the red light district of Vancouver, and Machelle’s first impression of Vancouver was of women in revealing dresses, all wearing long white vinyl boots. It seems to be a uniform of some kind.
Our next day was spent exploring Vancouver. We headed over to the Capilano Suspension bridge, snooped around Granville Island and had some great meals, but the highlight might be the showers in the Granville Island Hotel ;-). This hotel was luxurious and comfortable and even has its own brewery. Highly recommended.
Our second day in Vancouver saw even more exploring. We went to the market at Granville Island and bought some delicious food for the next stage of our trip. We drove over to Stanley Park and went to the Aquarium, then we headed over to Kits beach to have dinner at the Boathouse Restaurant with Chris and Audrey. After dinner we headed west out of Vancouver to get a head start on the drive to Banff. We eventually found a place to stop in Hope, BC, the Slumber Inn.
The next day was all about driving across British Columbia. We headed first along the border, then followed the Trans Canada Highway further north, eventually ending up in Yoho National Park for our camp. Waking to the gorgeous rockies was a treat, and we decided to explore the Yoho River Valley a bit before driving on into Banff. This was a wonderful hike, and we saw gorgeous vistas in all directions, waterfalls, forests, glaciers, elk … you get the idea. After our hike we hopped in the car and headed over to Lake Louise, and then Moiraine Lake before finding a campsite and grabbing some dinner in Lake Louise Village.
We were bound and determined to touch a glacier, so after a morning of taking amazing pictures in every direction we decided to head up to the Stanley Glacier in Kootenay National Park. This was our longest hike of the trip at 9.5 miles and 2400 feet of elevation gain. The glacier didn’t look that far from the road, but it kept receding the closer to it we got. Unfortunately, when we were almost there the weather started threatening lightning, so we backed off around 200 metres short of the glacier. This was a wonderful hike, and we found some draws hanging from a huge cave under a waterfall which were screaming out for hard mixed ice climbing in the winter. It rained on the hike back down, but no thunder so we probably could have continued safely. However, we still had some miles to make before the end of the day since we were heading for Glacier National Park. We hopped in the car and wended our way south. Spectacular sunsets greeted us outside Glacier when we finally rolled to a stop, and our tired bodies welcomed a hotel bed that night.
Glacier National Park is one place I have wanted to go for some time, but this wasn’t going to be the day for it. It was cloudy and rainy, and the roads were all being repaired, and we ended up driving almost straight through. I will be back though, and the next time I will do it justice. After leaving Glacier we spent the rest of the day spanning Montana. The late day provided us with beautiful sunset skies and vistas, and soon after the sun set we rolled into Mammoth Hot Springs campsite in Yellowstone and prepared for an early morning. At dawn we rose and broke camp. I wanted to get Mammoth hot springs in the dawn light without the crowds that show up later in the day. We got there and things were looking very promising then the sun got a little higher …. and was hidden by clouds. Very disappointing, but we headed on around the grand loop road, stopping by hot springs and other sights and making the best of the poor light. By the afternoon the sky had cleared, and when we reached the Grand Prismatic Spring the light was great. This place is brilliantly colored and surreal, and we had a great time there. From there we headed down to old faithful, then over by Yellowstone Lake, and up to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. After another brilliant sunset we rolled into West Yellowstone and found a hotel room so we could cleanup once more.
After Yellowstone we were already a bit road weary, but we still had some miles to make before hitting home. We headed down from West Yellowstone to a primitive campsite I knew outside Zion National Park and settled in. The next day we went in to get a permit for a canyon or 2. We found a long lineup outside the backcountry desk, and it was moving exceptionally slowly. We got a permit for keyhole canyon and headed up to do it. Unfortunately the monsoon season had not yet started and the water in the canyon was very low and smelly. we also met a couple of snakes down there. I had as good a time as ever, but Machelle wasn’t enjoying it as much as I wished she could. We decided that it was time to head on home, so after getting out of our wetsuits and packing up we had a little lunch then hit the road headed west for LA!
Home at last!
Remember that there are many more pictures in the linked galleries then I have shown here, so please head on over and take a look.