Circle Routes

Every 6 months we make a pilgrimage. At least that is the way I see it. Like a homing pigeon, I am drawn, every so often, to my birth province. (Technically the February trip is still in B.C., but it is super close to Alberta and filled with the same).

On our summer drive home this year, we tried to stop at a few new places. This is a long drive, even with no major stops, usually taking about 12 hours. Unless we are taking 2 days, we try to limit the stops to gas station fills, potty breaks and snacks.

This time we agreed to add at least an hour to the day. First new stop was the spiral tunnels. This is an engineering feat in Yoho National Park where the trains pass through and spiral over themselves as they do. We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it, along with a couple of tour buses full of people.

Just after that was Field. We have stopped there many times, but not as a nice happy family. I was forced to stop there once with the kids, when my daughter was about 5. She took one step out of the car and promptly threw up everything in her stomach. I should have heeded that warning. But I digress, another time, another story.

The next required stop was lunch. Since finding The Nomad Food Co. in Revelstoke, we try to time every lunch stop here. A funky, fun and fresh cafe serving everything from big hearty burgers to curry wraps. Even if we just want a snack, at that point in the journey, it is always worth the wait. (Gets pretty busy in the summer).

Not a new stop, but made special by a huge ice cream treat – Pedro’s in Salmon Arm. A crossing of the Rockies in the summer is not complete without an Okanagan fruit stand. (As I write this, it occurs to me that these names sound pretty strange – what is Pedro doing in a place called Salmon Arm?)

Finally, as we crested the Coquihalla, we stopped at a large public rest area. We have been forced into this during our winter drive by a kid who needed to pee, but in the summer it is quite different. There was a gourmet coffee and snack truck. I half expected a small band to be playing. There were random travellers stopped, some looking like they were staying awhile. But the best part of this break were the signs showing circle routes throughout British Columbia.

As we stood there picking out our favourites, ones we truly would like to do, and started looking at the kilometres involved, it was fine to take a picture and think, “someday”. With only 45km into Hope and then another 150km to our doorstep, we were practically home already.

Pouring rain

On the Canadian West Coast, there is a rainforest. It stretches: West to the Pacific Ocean; North towards the boreal forest, arctic tundra and wetlands; South to the dry forests and steppes of California; East to the crest of the Coast Mountains; and up mountain slopes to alpine tundra and glaciers.

Parks Canada even lists a “recipe” for a rainforest:

  • Rain, and lots of it (or other precipitation, i.e. snow, drizzle, mist, fog….). The area must receive a minimum of 250cm of moisture (100 inches) per year.
  • Our moist maritime climate keeps the landscape wet most of the year, giving us an annual precipitation of about 300cm (120 inches).
  • Forest (Without trees we might have grasslands, but it wouldn’t be rainforest).

Normally, we get this rain all winter long. While our fellow Canadians are freezing with cold and snow, we are watching the rain feed our trees and fill up our reservoirs.

May and June are supposed to be the time of variable conditions. Precipitation is meant to be half of February. According to the statistics we are running a little high, but nothing like February.

So why does it feel like we are in the depths of winter? Sure the temperature is milder. And yes, there is more daylight, even if it is filtered through the dark rain clouds. There are also plants growing that normally do not in the winter.

My front yard, looking through the fig tree

However, it is a fact, if you ask someone how they feel when it is raining, their answer will be diminished, their mood will be darker.

It was pouring with rain this morning. While I lay in bed listening to the sound of it, I wondered when we would have another sunny morning? But, the fact still remains that today is Friday. Time to curl up with a book or knitting tonight and let the kids watch a movie or play video games. These are the rainy day activities that you don’t get to do when it is sunny all the time.

Imprints at Rogers Pass

I have known about this place in the Rocky Mountains since I was a child. In fact, I can’t remember when I learned this was the gateway to British Columbia. Who knew what kind of fun would await us. Sometimes it was a short trip to the Okanagan, and other times we would ride the mighty BC Ferry over to Vancouver Island.

Nowadays, we live on the “other side”. So getting back through the Pass coming from either side is a huge relief. If we were able to make it from the East, pretty good chances we will make it home. And if we were able to make it through from the West, excellent chance of taking some turns the next day.

It is quite amazing that trains and cars can get through Rogers Pass in the winter at all. In the first winter of railroad operation in 1886/87 there was 12 metres of snowfall. Each season, there is a proactive effort to “manage” the snowfall that will affect the area. As the snow is accumulating in the alpine, experts are studying the conditions in anticipation of avalanche risk. When a motorist is turned away for a road closure, more often than not, the blasting has brought down a dangerous amount of snow and can take 24 to 36 hours, (or more) for crews to clear from the roads and rail lines. More on Rogers Pass National Historic Site –  http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/bc/rogers/index.aspx

This summer, on our family road trip, we stopped into the museum at Rogers Pass. There is no driving stress when the sun shines, the road is bone dry and the only snow visible is very high at the peaks of the Selkirks. Some interesting photo’s here show imprints taken from the park. I did not write down what everything was, so your guess will be as good as mine.

 

Other posts related to Rogers Pass:

Parks Canada

Living in the Western part of Canada most of my life, so near to the Rocky Mountains, I have taken our National Parks a bit for granted.

Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park

On a recent drive from Alberta back to the Coast, we stopped in at Rogers Pass and I picked up a couple of brochures. Parks Canada is 100 years old and celebrating some pretty significant accomplishments.

  • Parks Canada was the first government service in the world dedicated to national parks
  • 42 national parks
  • 167 national historic sites
  • 4 national marine conservation areas
  • 10 of Canada’s 15 prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Sites are cared for by Parks Canada
  • Parks Canada receives the “Gift to the Earth Award” from WWF-International

The Rocky Mountains in Banff National Park

Here I am, a rather proud Canadian, who travels through the parks many times per year and I did not know about most of the material in the 2 brochures. Isn’t that like Canada, though – “let’s not shout too loud and proud”. We will remain humble and continue on with the work.

The problem with that philosophy is that, many Canadians will not stumble across this information. They will wrongly assume that the money we pay to use the parks is not being spent wisely. Or they will wonder why we should pay to use the parks at all.

Maybe it is my age, sentimentally catching up to me, but I love what I see. And I now have a very strong desire to travel across Canada and see all the parks. Kind of a life list, or parks passport, if you will.