Distance = 531 km Gas = $66.52 ($1.39/L in Salmo and Radium Hot Springs)
This morning I woke up before 7 a.m. just raring to go, but realized I had to find a BCAA office in Nelson to renew my car insurance, which is due to expire soon. So I had to wait till the place opened at 9 a.m., and didn’t get on the road till almost 10 a.m. Only a minor hiccup, though, since I arrived in Canmore, Alberta just before 7 p.m. and easily found The Hostel Bear where I’m staying tonight. Of course, arriving later in the evening meant I have to sleep on a top bunk in a six-person dorm room. There’s a guy already sleeping in the bunk below mine snoring like a cave man. Also, the front desk clerk called me “dude.” I can’t complain, though. For $35 I get sheets, an en suite bathroom, and kitchen facilities, plus wifi in my room.
Driving from Nelson to Canmore (a town about 20 minutes east of Banff on Highway 1) would probably take about three hours if there wasn’t a massive lake, hundreds of mountains and a billion trees in between. So, you have to drive south to Creston, then north to Radium Hot Springs, then east through Kootenay Lake National Park, before heading south again, all in a big S pattern that takes more like seven hours. But it’s a mind-blowingly beautiful drive.
Along the way I basked in the mountain sunshine, breathed in the sweet mountain air, and saw a chipmunk, two mountain goats, a raven, and what I can only assume was a magpie. Of course I got photos of none of these, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. I also saw a raging forest fire in Kootenay National Park that was belching pink and white smoke off the side of a peak less than a kilometre from the highway.
Travel tip: there is a fee to enter any of the national parks (Kootenay, Banff, Jasper, etc.) but if you’re just driving through, they’ll waive it.
So I’ve made it through B.C. now and I’m looking forward to exploring Alberta. I’m also looking forward to paying less for gas. When I stopped at Radium Hot Springs to fill up, this senior couple pulled up behind me and the man mentioned how expensive gas was in town ($1.38/L). I laughed and wasn’t surprised to hear him tell me he’s from Lacombe, Alberta. I’m looking forward to spending less to fill up in this province. Tomorrow, I’m going to drive up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper. Might not have wifi tomorrow night, but I’ll update again on Saturday.
NEXT POST: Canmore to Edmonton