04.08.10 Chilliwack - Jasper

A day of travelling 700km (over 430 miles) across the Rockies to Jasper was in prospect as the team emerged into bright sunshine with assorted rifle cases, suitcases and bags and started the process of fitting a quart into a pint pot. Recognising the impossibility of the latter, an extra car had been hired which meant that, with a bit of careful packing, wagons were ready to roll not long after the target time of 8 am.

After dire warnings from the Captain about the lack of fuel (‘gas’) beyond Hope (Abandon Hope all ye who pass that point without a full tank), and firm instructions from the Vice-Captain that it was not a race and that the full team would be required in one piece in Ottawa, the team set out in 6 vehicles for the 8+ hour drive (longer for a certain Irishman who left his hat in a restaurant and had to repeat a chunk of the journey to retrieve it).

Although all followed (almost) the same route, each vehicle chose their own stopping points for food, drink, leg stretch and driver changeover, with the consequence that most vehicles didn’t see much of the others except for the occasional passing manoeuvre. However, when they finally arrived in Jasper, all agreed that the good quality roads, light traffic and constantly changing scenery had made the journey a lot easier than they had expected.

Watering points sampled by the various vehicles ranged from an excellent restaurant with pretty lakeside views, to which the Captain unerringly led "Bus 1," through food halls in shopping malls, to rest areas by the side of the road. Amongst the latter was one excitingly named ‘Thunder River’, where one van load was tempted to stop to eat their lunch. Unless an Australian Thunder Box interpretation is put on the toilet (which more closely resembled a well) in what turned out to be little more than a lay-by, it sadly failed to live up to its name, as the adjacent river no more than gurgled in the background.

Despite atmospheric haze, caused by the large number of forest fires currently burning in BC, the scenery was spectacular, but not only of the steep wooded mountainsides that were so familiar from photographs of the Rockies. There were areas of rolling hillsides and treeless patches more reminiscent of Dartmoor, and in some places many of the trees have been killed by a major infestation of Pine Beetles. While some were just awestruck by the sudden, unexpected and spectacular appearance of Mount Robson, shortly after turning onto Highway 16, there were some with guide books who anticipated its appearance with “I think it’s that mountain”, “No it’s not, it must be that one”, “OH MY! No it isn’t, it’s THAT one!”.

One person who missed all this was the not so aptly nicknamed ‘Lucky’, who was due to join the team today after flying into Calgary and driving up to Jasper. A forgotten driving licence meant that he couldn’t pick up his hire car and had to catch a bus, but only managed to get as far as Lake Louise, still some 3 hours drive away. We will probably now pick him up as we drive past Lake Louise on Friday. Enjoy Lake Louise, David!