The rain had finally quit, and it was a very pleasant warm day when I finally got organized and headed out the gate. It was warm enough, and the bugs few enough that I was actually wearing shorts – which isn’t that common for me, in Alberta. Just a quarter mile down the road the first decision was made. Head for the bush, or the highway? Well, the bush won out this time and we headed west through Bearberry and onto the forestry trunk road heading north.
It was a fairly late start, and there were a few showers that barely kept the dust down, but it was good to be going somewhere again, even if we didn’t know or care where we went. The bush opened up into some nice meadow areas near Elk Creek, so we pulled into the first likely looking camp spot and set up. The conditions for a fire had not existed for a while. First, there was a fire ban, then there was rain, and more rain. So this was a time to sit around the fire and enjoy the quiet of the wilderness.
In the morning, we checked out some provincial recreation areas (primitive campgrounds), that were charging $25/night, which is why they were deserted, I guess. We also had a look at Ram Falls Provincial Park, and the falls near that campground.
I didn’t have my satellite (or internet) TV gear along, and I kind of wanted to see the Stanley Cup final game, as well as fill up on some of the slightly less expensive fuel in Rocky Mountain House. It was good timing as there was a heavy rainfall warning issued for the area I had intended to travel, which would have made things rather muddy. After watching the game (and the riot) that night, I did a bit of shopping the next day before continuing on northward on the pavement. I was also pleased to see one of the first Canadian McDonald’s restaurants are now offering free wi-fi, like their American counterparts. That day, there was even a local tornado watch, which is very rare for this area.
I continued up highway #22 through Drayton Valley, and Entwistle, where I stopped in to check out the Pembina River Provincial Park. It is a nice little park in a bend of the river with most of the amenities, including showers. So I was surprised to see the electrical sites were only $27 ($2 more than the deserted sites in the bush), and the un-serviced sites were $21 – even less than the bush sites and of course there were showers here! I don’t know why the price difference, and the staff at the campground did not know either. The backcountry sites are operated by contractors, so maybe the price is higher because of that?
While in Hinton, I caught part of a Sask. Roughrider – Edmonton Eskimo pre-season game on in a Radio Shack, so I found a restaurant with the game on to have some supper. Then it was time to find a secluded camp spot high above the Athabasca river, not too far from town.
The next day actually included a plan, which was to meet a friend and go up the road to the Miette Hot Springs in Jasper National Park – part of my old work stomping grounds. Unfortunately, with all the rain, the road was closed because of mud slides and the pool was closed because the water temperatures had dropped ;-(
We managed a hike up to Cavell Meadows instead, between the rain showers. I was pleased to see the road freshly paved and well maintained, and the parks trail crew had done some nice new bridge and trail work in the area.
After that was another decision point. Do I retrace my route back home and wait for the weather to improve, or do I keep heading west?
Stay tuned to find out!