18TH ISSUE - FROM VANCOUVER TO BANFF AND BACK

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From Vancouver to Banff and Back

Having a wedding to shoot in Banff late October, I found myself with multiple choices: flying to Calgary in and out for the wedding or; leaving earlier and driving up there from Vancouver.

I left Thursday morning from the rainy Vancouver and started my journey driving east towards the Canadian Rockies.

Quite the extensive drive but I stopped a few times before reaching Banff. I chose the northern road, staying overnight in the little town of Clearwater south of the beautiful Provincial Park of Wells Gray. That evening, I was welcomed by the most apocalyptic light. Rain was still pouring from the sky but eventually, the sky cleared out. Black and orange clouds formed, and a rainbow appeared on the other side of the field. What a perfect way to start this trip. After rainy autumn on the Pacific Northwest Coast, the time had come to travel east in search of the first snow of the season…


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FROM VANCOUVER TO BANFF AND BACK

Places visited:

 

17TH ISSUE - THE SUNSHINE COAST

Spending the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend on the Sunshine Coast.

    I organized myself a bit late for that trip. The consequences; we couldn’t book a morning passage on the ferry and had to wait for one later in the day. Most hotels and Airbnb booked, we decided to camp in the last opened campgrounds of the season. Without a tent, we slept in the back of the car. Arrived at Horseshoe Bay, the ferry I was hoping to get got canceled. Once on the water, we arrived late afternoon at Gibsons. Enough time to grab supplies and firewood. We then headed to Porpoises Bay Campgroundin Sechelt.

    The next morning we woke up in the rain (as well for the next days). Not so much of Sunshine! From Sechelt, we drove to Smuggler’s Cove Provincial Park. A great park to visit by land or by sea. With two kinds of campgrounds, you can either camp on the shores or on your boat my mooring between the islets and islands.  The park got his name from a smuggler that use the area as a hideout in late 1800. He’s known for passing Chinese workers across the border to the Washington States. Later in the 1920s, smugglers also used those islands as a hideout, moving alcohol during the Prohibition.

We kept driving along the coast and eventually reached Welbourn Cove to eat a late lunch while the sun was quickly setting behind a large number of clouds. Next stop to Earls Cove, catching a late ferry to Saltery Bay. There we stopped at the first campground right outside the bay; Mermaids Cove campground. All of that under pouring rain, we canceled our plan of campfire and went hiding into the car trunk for our second night.

    Another morning making breakfast under the rain. From there, I wanted to explore the northern parts of the coast, up to Sarah’s Point. That’s the final destination of the well-known Sunshine Coast Trail that starts in Gibsons. My lack of planning and web scouting made us go to Sarah’s Point with the car… From Lund, we took the dirt road that quickly became hardcore. This road should be used with a large 4X4 truck (aka pickup or large SUV) Instead, we did it with an Audi Q5… There were many spots we could have turned back but I kept thinking; we made it this far, so let’s keep going! Finally reaching the last part, the road was turning into the woods. We stopped the car there and kept going on foot. Down there, one pick-up truck parked on the side of “road” (at this point more of a river bed than anything else). We saw one guy coming back from the beach. I asked him how far the beach was. - "5 more minutes. Did you park beside me?” I told him no, we played it safely parked a bit further up.

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Once reached the beach, we did not stay long as we were supposed to drive all the way back to Gibsons for the rest of the afternoon. This is pretty backcountry and I’d suggest bringing bear spray and bell... On the way back, we found a beautiful gift on the car’s roof; a nice rock! Hopefully, it was placed on the roof bag. Placed there by our friend earlier. Why? No idea! The way back from Sarah’s Point was as “fun” as the way in. We used a technique we often did back in Northern Ontario, Ellanna left the car to remove big rocks on the road so I wouldn’t accidentally wreck the oil tank under the car… We did succeed to get out. I’m very thankful for Audi’s Quattro technology! Even though I would certainly not recommend trying that road with that type of SUV…

  It's only on our drive back that the rain finally stopped and the sun came back. After 3 days in the rain! From Earls Cove to Gibsons. Passing by Powell River, the road provides a viewpoint on the shipwreck bay of the Powell Historic District that creates a mill breakwater. This is pretty impressive to see. All the ships are dated from WW2. From the viewpoint, we could hear the Californian sea Lion resting in the bay.

  We experienced a little race with all the cars going back to the mainland. We all kept passing each other to finally meet at the rendezvous point; Langdale. We arrived at 6pm, hoping to catch the 7pm ferry but we saw it filling up before our eyes and had to wait for the last ferry of the day at 10pm.