A favourite part of the summer holiday season for me, is going on a road trip; it might be to a familiar place, or the opportunity to visit some place new. My eldest sister visited us in Prince George for a week this past July. She had never been to Prince George and we had not spent extended time together for at least 25 years. My cousin Courtney whom I have not seen in 30+ years has just moved to Edmonton Alberta. The three of us decided to meet up in Hinton, Alberta – road trip!
One of the advantages of living in Prince George is relatively easier access to spectacular terrain: to the west, a variety of mountain ranges including the Coast Mountains of BC; to the east, the Rocky Mountains. The road to Hinton, Hwy 16 East, crosses the Rockies. Along the way it passes through Mt Robson Provincial Park and Jasper National Park. The town of Jasper Alberta is in the National Park. From Jasper, the Icefields Parkway runs south to the town of Banff. The Parkway provides access to some of the most spectacular vistas found anywhere in the world.
We set out for Hinton on a sunny but hazy Wednesday morning; hazy because of smoke from a number of wildfires burning in the region. Highway 16 East between Prince George and Hinton traverses a sparsely populated region. The flip side of this is that, depending on the time of day, there can be numerous wildlife sightings.
We were fortunate on this trip to see elk and a young black bear just off the side of the road. The smoke and haze appeared to be getting thicker as we approach Mt Robson Provincial Park. By the time we got to the visitors’ centre in the park we could see Mt Robson in all its grandeur.
At twelve thousand nine hundred and sixty-three feet (12,963 ft), Mt Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. It’s a special treat to see the mountain with its top cloud-free – that was our privilege on this road trip.
We arrived at Jasper around 2 pm and took a detour down the Icefields Parkway going south. Our goal was to get to the Columbia Icefield/Athabasca glacier and still have enough time to make it to Hinton before supper. The Icefields Parkway… “So much to see, so little time”. We could have spent an entire day driving that stretch of road and still not seen everything that there was to see. One of the places we stopped was at Athabasca Falls. The falls were more impressive than I had seen them on previous occasions.
After a few more stops we finally came to the Columbia Icefield/Athabasca glacier. The Athabasca glacier shows signs of significant melting since I first saw it 34 years ago. We spent a few minutes at the icefield, turned around and continued our journey to Hinton, arriving there about 7:30 pm.
The question in both our minds: would we recognize our cousin Courtney after such a long time? The answer? Yes! It was a great time of re-connecting! Having just visited Trinidad, Courtney came bearing gifts from the “homeland”. These are still being savoured as I write this post. Over dinner I am marveling at the fact that we could sit down together after so many years and enjoy such a strong sense of connection; “strangers” because of the years of not being in contact, yet not strangers because of the family heritage. It was a good time. The drive home to Prince George on the Thursday was uneventful except for our first rainstorm in at least a week.
Road trip to Hinton – a time for making memories.
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