Thursday, July 24 - Grand Teton National Park to Butte, MT
Old Faithful Geyser Plaque
We've finished with the grand and sometimes scary adventure on Teewinot. We decide we'll continue with our itinerary, and so head north back through Yellowstone and on up towards Glacier National Park. We stop at old Faithful Geyser on the way through Yellowstone, and then continue out the West Entrance of the park.
Old Faithful Geyser
BEWARE: people love to in Yellowstone to gawk
at wildlife, and they create HUGE traffic jams that hold up traffic
for a long time (ie- 30+ minutes). Once outside the park, we take
US 191 north into Montana. Very nice mountainous scenery and a good
road and good speed limits. Traffic is moderate. Along this section
of highway is
we encounter our only real bit of non-sunny weather on the entire
time out west so far : a few rain showers here and there.
Eventually we find ourselves on I-90 again and head west. Again, more excellent scenery. Given that we started our drive fairly late in the day, we know we are not going to make Glacier National Park. So we decide to stop in Butte, MT and find a cheap motel that we can use to sort our gear and get a shower. The weird thing about Butte is that almost all of the motels there of the variety that don't have floor-level entrances into the parking lot. Which is of course what we wanted with our huge amount of gear. After much searching we locate a sleepy motel near downtown Butte.
Total distance: 431 km. Total elapsed time: 6h 24m, including all stops.
July 25 - Butte, MT to Glacier NP
lazy get up and a bit of time organizing and packing prevents us
from getting going early. We start off at 10am and head north up
to Glacier NP, taking the interstate 15 at first, then veering off
onto US 287 and then 87 towards Glacier NP. Highways 287 and 87
go through very neat rolling prairie, with minimal traffic and maximal
atmosphere. Nice drive. The final bit of road towards glacier on
US2 has some really good twisties too! Too bad the views of Glacier
were obscured by forest fire smoke. We set up camp at the Rising
Sun Campground (again we get the last spots, lucky us!).
Cleaned and relaxed
Mighty Reynolds Mountain
Total distance: 489km. Total elapsed time: 9h 54m, including all stops.
July 27 - Glacier NP to Lethbridge, AB
After our last Glacier NP hike, Ewart was feeling a lot of pain, and we thought it would be best to visit a Canadian hospital ASAP. So, we made a beeline for Lethbridge, the nearest city in Alberta.
Ewart - Guest of honor?
Southern Alberta prairie scenery is very similar to that of Northen Montana.... After visiting the hosptial (Ewart was ok), and having a bite to eat at a local Montana's restaurant, we find a relatively cheap motel and crash for the night.
Total distance: 164km, Total elapsed time: 5hrs, including all stops.
Monday, July 28 - Lethbridge, AB to Calgary, AB
The Urban West
Lethbridge it is a short hop to Calgary, where we'll be staying
at a friend of Markus' in downtown Calgary. Tony's place is very
nice and right in the downtown. I find Calgary to be a very scenic
city, and always enjoy driving around there. Peter G leaves us here
(as planned) and flies home to Ottawa.
Total distance: 221 km, Total elapsed time: 2h 56m, including all stops.
July 29 - Calgary, AB to Banff National Park, AB
After a non-successful ascent of Mt Hector, we decide its time to start heading back to Ottawa. We opt for continuing along the icefields parkway and then heading west. The day is beautiful and sunny, and the scenery is incomparable, especially the columbia icefields area. To the north of the icefields area the parkway's scenery is still beautiful, but if I had to choose I'd say that the southern half of the parkway has most of the scenic highlights. We gas up in Jasper and then head north and east on the Yellowhead highway.
Mount Athabasca from N
Firefighting near Jasper
Along the way we encounter forest fires right near the highway, complete with aerial water bombers going back and forth to battle the flames. Markus takes a picture and then gets shooed away by the police.
We continue east on the Yellowhead highway and soon we are saying goodbye to the Rocky mountains for good on this trip. This part of Alberta is flat but treed - not a whole lot different than some places in Ontario. We stop for the night in a motel near a small place called Gainford, about one hour west of Edmonton.
Total distance: 468km, Total elapsed time: 5h 32m, including all stops.