Sunday August 12th, 2018 – approx. 415 km today – approx. 1279 km total
During the night, the rain seemed to have stopped, and after getting up, enjoying a shower again and having breakfast, I just had to clean my dishes before continuing my journey. Unfortuntately, in the meantime it started to rain again – and even not just a little, but quite heavily.
I still left the campground and drove the short way to the town center of Banff. There, I stopped at the visitors center to ask about the weather forecast and the situation of the wildfires. I had checked the weather forecast already in the internet and to what I could see there, it was supposed to continue raining today and clear up a bit the next days. So at this point, I doubted my plans to continue on the Icefield Parkway since the visibility was that much impeded that I would most likely not be able to enjoy the majestic views of the Banff and Jasper national parks. The rangers in the visitors center told me that the road down to Radium Hot Springs has been opened again today, so another option made its way into my mind…
Back in the car, I studied maps and guidebooks and finally came to the conclusion of chaning my plans a bit: I would first leave Banff and Jasper national parks aside and drive down to Radium Hot Springs. From there, I would pass through Cranbrook and Creston to then drive northbound along the Kootenay lake to Revelstoke. This journey would take me a couple of days and afterwards, I hoped the wildfire situation had calmed down a little until then, so that I could visit Banff and Jasper national parks then with better visibility. Decided that, I filled up my food supplies in a local supermarket and the tank of my car at one of the only gas stations in Banff and then hit the road again.
On my way to Radium Hot Springs, I saw the helicopters with water buckets fighting agains the wildfires. A lot of side roads to the highway where still closed and one could see all the ranger activities to gain control over the situation. I even had my first animal encounter when a moose was grazing along the highway. Unfortunately, I could not stop to take pictures as there was quite some traffic on that side of the road and behind me. But I still hope that this was not my last animal encounter here in Canada!
The rest of the drive passed by without much attractions. I stopped a couple of times, once in a rest area to have a salad for lunch. Again, the rest area was nicely prepared with restrooms and a beautiful view to a lake – if there was not the smoke of the wildfires :-(.
Further down the road, I stopped again in Kimberley, a little town which claims to be bavarian.
And indeed the short pedestrian street was designed like a cliché bavarian town. However, they apparently did not get the real difference between the Black Forrest and Bavaria: On the square called “Platzl”, there was a huge “Kuckucksuhr” :-).
After leaving Kimberley, I passed through Cranbrook which was of no particular interest to me and stopped for some Parmesan cheese in Creston. From there, I continued to the Duck Lake south of the Kootenay Lake where I wanted to look for a place to stay the night. On my way, I passed a lot of campgrounds and RV parks, but now that I needed a place to stay, there was nothing anymore. So I decided to check out the area of the Duck Lake for a possible place to stay in the wilderness. And voilà, I found a place to park my car on a tiny little stretch of land literally separating the lake into two. So there it was: My next premier experience: Spending the night in the car in the wilderness without any infrastructure!
I prepared myself pasta with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese which was quite a challenge because of the tough wind that impeded cooking with my gas stove a little. However, I managed it and enjoyed dinner. Thanks to the still available mobile network, I was even able to talk quite a while with my wife back there in Toronto which I enjoyed a lot since I was without signal in the Kananaskis area.