Thursday, September 29, 2016

Camp Closed - on the road again!


After weeks of cool, damp and soggy weather, I finally talked them into closing down the fire camp!  All the remaining crews will moving to another camp closer to town to finish up the season.  And I am free once again!  I’ll kind of miss the great meals we were spoiled with all summer, but otherwise I’m more than ready to move on.

View of our fire camp on the old airstrip.


First thing up was a college class reunion back in Saskatchewan.  Lets just say it was more than a few years since I have seen most of these guys – including a couple of old room mates, a classmate/landlord.  It was held at the site of a field camp where we got to boat, fish, and blow stuff up – back in the day.  Unfortunately, none of the females in the class made it back, nor did any of the surviving instructors Winking smile  A good time was had by all – re-living and embellishing old stories, and getting caught up on what each of us has been up to for the last few decades.  Surprisingly, there were at least a half dozen of us who showed up in our original class jackets (some complained the jackets had shrunk over the years!), and we all got brand new T-shirts copied from the original.

This group of 5 of us went skiing together in Austria shortly after graduation.


After the reunion, Hailey and I spent a couple days visiting some of our old and favourite haunts in nearby Prince Albert National Park.


This bull elk was busy proving that he was tougher than a scrawny little poplar tree!


Here’s the video:


Beavers were busy logging in the park.


After a brief stop at home to mow the grass and re-provision, we were back on the road up to another old stomping ground of mine – Jasper National Park.

Water was blue and the trees were in their full fall colours along Abraham Lake as we headed for the park.


We stopped in at a couple of old warden stations where I used to live for a while, back in the day.  Very sad to see them more or less abandoned by Parks Canada, providing no coverage to more remote areas of the park.  And I presume there is still a housing shortage in the townsite of Jasper.


On the journey back south on the Icefields Parkway, the weather deteriorated considerably, and several tour buses had slid off the road near the summit.


Then began a sort of hot springs odyssey.  After traveling further south again, into a third national park (Kootenay), I passed by the commercial pool at Radium Hot springs, intent on a backcountry natural version in Whiteswan provincial park.  Alas, a sign on the road said that due to repairs on the access trail, it would be closed for the next month, with fines for trespassing Sad smile.   We managed to find a pretty decent new-to-us camp spot along the Kootenay river.

We had us a nice fire and a quiet night listening to the sounds of the river, and a few specks of rain.  The access road was very short, but had deep ruts, so the rain was a bit concerning, but the big GM slid a bit in 4 wheel drive getting back to the gravel.


Plans require us to be back in the Kootenay area on the weekend, but this hot springs closure was enough incentive to take on the long drive down through Cranbrook, Creston, up the side one side of Kootenay Lake, to take the longest free ferry ride in the world


(according to wikipedia) across the lake, up to Kaslo (passing on another commercial hot spring pool at Ainsworth Hot Springs, over to New Denver on Slocan Lake, then west then north to Nakusp on Arrow Lake, and finally approaching our destination at St Leon hot springs, with dusk just approaching.  Perfect!


We found a big, logging style, high security gate blocking the road right at the highway.  No warning, no signs, no explanation!!

What a let down after that marathon drive past numerous scenic lakes, mountain passes, ferry crossings, and commercial hot springs ;-( .


As we headed further down the road toward yet another ferry crossing, the old memory cells kicked in as we passed the logging road up Halfway River.  I had checked out a backwoods hot springs there years ago, but for whatever reason, had found them not appealing at all.  But what the heck, there were not many choices left.

Surprisingly, there were signs on the road saying that they were now collecting fees for camping at the springs?  After bouncing some 11km up the potholed logging road it was surprising to find a newly constructed campground of about 15 sites freshly built into the heavy timber.  And most of them appeared to be full too – on a weekday!  We found a quieter spot a ways further up the road, but spent a couple of days soaking in the springs and hiking down to the nearby falls. There are various pools to soak in, and some have pipes and taps where you can vary the water temperature to your preference.


The falls on Halfway River


Another ferry ride across Arrow Lake, a couple of mountain passes a couple of national parks took us back to Kootenay National Park where there was a retirement function.  It was a toss-up whether to stay on the road and perhaps head for the coast as we had done last fall, or return home for a spell to re-provision and catch up on a few chores.  In the end, we headed home for a short visit.

There is no ‘plan’, but the likely scenario will see us head out for a few weeks with the ‘summer’ truck camper, before changing to the 5th wheel for the southern migration some time later in October or Novermber …