ALCAN HWY – Day 1 – Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson

We spent several days in Banff, Calgary, and Jasper and then headed to Hinton, Alberta.
We drove from Hinton to Dawson Creek to start the ALCAN at mile 0.

The first day on the ALCAN was a bit uneventful overall.
Dawson Creek was pretty cool.  Lots of history about the ALCAN. For example, 10,000 workers built the Alaska Highway in 1942 in merely 8 months! We are really grateful that they did. It’s a beautiful continent we live inhabit.

There was literally nothing on the ALCAN other than a giant beaver in Beaver Lodge, BC and lots of trees for most of day. Gas stations are sparse until you get to Fort Nelson, British Columbia.
Fill up your gas tank in Dawson Creek before you head out for Fort Nelson.

Fort Nelson is pretty small with a couple hotels, campgrounds, a grocery store, and a few food stops like A&W, but they have a movie theater, which shows one movie each day at 7 p.m. We missed it, but that is ok because we found the Canadian version of America’s Funniest Videos and it was hilarious! It didn’t get dark until after 11 p.m. and even then, it was super bright outside again by 3 a.m., so we didn’t get to see the northern lights.
Most places close down early, so make sure you have food for your evening meal if you will arrive late.

Gas up in Fort Nelson before you head out to Whitehorse as it is a long way to Watson Lake.
There are a couple gas places on the way to Watson Lake.
More on all of that when we make our ALCAN post about Day 2.

Jasper National Park, Canada

Today, we ventured off into the great outdoors of Jasper National Park. In total we only hiked about 6 miles because most of the picture-worthy sites were not far from the Ice Fields Parkway.

We saw awesome mountain lakes –

We saw waterfalls –

We saw glaciers and ice fields – We hiked Parker Ridge to see the toe of the glacier. And we learned that when you’re thirsty and you forgot to bring your own water, it’s all good if you can find clean snow. It’s super important to clean off the top layer before you put any in our mouth.

We saw black bears – lots and lots of bears

It was a very cool day.


Banff National Park, Canada

After leaving Glacier NP, we headed north of the border to Banff National Park in Canada to look for animals and attempt to get hypothermia. While driving to the park we saw Big Horn Sheep and a Grizzly bear.

Once we set up camp and went into town for groceries & dinner at Boston Pizza (horrible), we went back to camp to get rained on and turn into Popsicles. The next day we rode around the park looking for animals, hiked to the Hoodoos, the Bow River Falls, and Tunnel Mountain. In total, we hiked about 4 miles that first day.


After that we went back to camp to make silver turtles and relax by the campfire, before it started raining again and we got in our tent, Ben in his hammock, for another cold night.


Day 2 found us in search of some good hikes around Lake Louise. We found Moraine Lake, which made for a short hike, but some great sightseeing. The weather was rainy, but we made the best of it. We tried to hike to where the rain turned to snow, but there was a waterfall at the end of the civilized trail.

The next day we got out of camp early to go on a big hike, and we went by two tea houses, climbed a few snow drifts, and got caught in a snowstorm. I’ll let the pictures show you how awesome it was.  Round trip was almost 12 miles. It was so cold and it snowed on us most of the day. We wanted to hike to the Beehives (both of them), but the Wilverine was revolting, so we had to keep promising him & tea and biscuits.

After that hike we went back to camp and made tacos, then sat by the warm fire until the sun disappeared and the stars came out, around 11 p.m.

Manitu Incline – Colorado Springs, CO

Well, this was a fun morning.

We tackled the Manitu Incline just outside of Colorado Springs, CO.

It was a blast, but pretty tough as you go up over 2000 feet very quickly.

Ben says it was horribly awesome.  He hated quite a bit of it, but was super proud once he made it to the top.  The news of a 3 mile hike down was a bit of a shock, but he had a blast.

Elgin, Oklahoma (aka Home of the Coyles)

Elgin was a really good first stop for our annual summer trip, and we got to see our good friends the Coyle’s


We spent the first day hiking in the Wichita mountains, until we went a place to eat where I ate about 2/3 gallon of ice cream. Then we watched the last Finals game (I really hate Stephen Curry), and I was very disappointed in Jebron Lames. The next day we went swimming in Lake Lawtonka and then in Medicine Creek, where we saw a water moccasin and Wyatt freaked out(JK).


We didn’t want to leave, but we did have to move on if we want to make it to Alaska.

Apostle Islands

After taking off from the Porkies, we drove a couple hours to the Ferry dock so that we could cross the lake and go to the island. The beach was packed when we got there and we went to get some ice cream after setting up camp. Then we got back and cooked tacos and then sat by the fire and read Brian’s Winter before going to bed. We did’nt get much sleep because of all the loud drunk people. After about three hours of intermittent sleep we got up and everyone else went to the beach while I slept in my hammock. I got up and headed down to the beach for an hour before it got too cold and we went to make sandwiches and find some ice cream.


We drove around the island befre playing Uno for 4 hours while waiting for the fireworks to start. I have to say it was well worth the wait. The fireworks were really cool and the food at the beach club was pretty good.


We headed back to camp and read more of  Brian’s Winter and actually slept as there were less drunk people.

Pictured Rocks Part II

We woke up and ate some granola bars and then packed up our backpacking gear and hit the trail.

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We stopped about two miles in and had some sandwiches that my mom was glad to take out of her backpack. We then grudgingly slowly hiked the other six miles to the camp, with lots of crying from the wildabeast.

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When we finally made it to camp, we set up and made dinner, played Uno, and did parcour on the beach.

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During this entire time we were talking to a man we met named John, who kayaked to the campsite. We talked to John for a little bit by the fire before going to bed.

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The next morning we woke up and packed up the camp then hit the trail again. We tried to keep going and only stopped twice along the entire eight mile trail back to camp.

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We got back and then gave a ride to a Backpacker before heading to Hardee’s for dinner. After dinner we went to a cruise to see the rocks from the lake. It was really very pretty.

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After the cruise we headed back to camp and went to bed after reading Brian’s winter.


Pictured Rocks Part I

After saying goodbye to Mackinack island, we headed towards the town of Munising for a race. My parents woke up very early the next morning to run, and then came back to get up and head to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to camp. We spent the first day setting up, building huge fires, and complaining about the bugs.


We had pork chops and potatoes for dinner, and then me and Ben decided to take a bath in the lake, which really meant jumping in and immediately jumping back out because the water was so cold, then jumping back in the lake because the bugs were eating us alive, and going back and forth until we were so cold we couldn’t feel our feet. Then we retreated to our fire which warmed us up and kept the bugs away, and read the end of The River, before heading to bed in our hammocks. We got about three hours of sleep before a huge windstorm which scared everyone to death. We woke up and headed into town to buy groceries, then went and got backcountry permits. By this time it was raining pretty hard so we drove around and went to Hardee’s for lunch. Then we checked out Miner’s Castle and headed back to camp to make silver turtles. We went to bed early so we would be rested up for backpacking the next day.

Green Bay/ Minneapolis

We woke up and packed up camp on the Apostle Islands and ate breakfast at the Farmhouse, which made the best waffles ever. We played basketball for a little then got in the two hour long wait line to get off the island. Then we drove the six hours to Green Bay and then ate at the TitleTown Brewery which was pretty good. Then we watched Pirates Of The Carribean and went to bed. We woke up and ate at the White Dog Black Cat Cafe for lunch.


Then, we headed down to Door County and checked out some sea caves and grabbed some ice cream. Then it started raining really hard so we drove back to Green Bay and ate at a horrible restaurant by the name of Kroll’s. It was AWFUL, but it was near Lambeau Field.


After that we went to the hotel and went to the pool before going to bed. The next day we woke up and drove to Minneapolis and ate at Broder’s pasta bar which was amazing. Then we went to go see Finding Dory, and went back to the hotel and watched the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.


The next day we woke up and headed to go check out a Waterfall.

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We also went to the Wild Rumpus book store, which was really cool.

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After that we ate at the Surly Brewery and came back the hotel and played some Basketball.


Mackinac Island

I started off the day waking up to seventies music as my mom’s alarm told us to go to Mackinac Island. We got into the car and drove thirty minutes to the ferry and got tickets, then waited about an hour to finally get to the island.

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When we got there, we were astounded by the number of people, but quickly got to a bike rental shop and hit the trail. As there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island, we had to bike eight miles if we really wanted to see the island, a fact that the Wildebeest was very upset about, but once we started going he had a lot of fun.

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We did a very flat, easy loop around to see beaches and scenery, which was fun.


After the loop we went to the Yankee Rebel Tavern, which was alright, and went to look for fudge. We found it at Murdick’s Fudge (the original shop) and got peanut butter fudge, mint chocolate fudge, and salted caramel chocolate fudge. We also got saltwater taffy and cheddar cheese popcorn. I wanted to go to the Skull Cave because it sounded cool, and my dad wanted to see Arch Rock. We decided to take a shortcut, which had a ton of uphill climbing, but what goes up must come down, and we got to coast down the hill, which Ben and the Wildebeest loved. We stopped at a few cemeteries, Skull Cave, which was cool, and arch rock, which was even cooler, riding our rented bikes a total of 18 miles on the island.

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We coasted into town, turned in our bikes, and headed over to the Pink Pony for drinks and appetizers, which were very good.


We then got back on the ferry to return to our car, where all the kids fell asleep within minutes. It was a really fun day. Tomorrow, my parents are running a race in Pictured Rocks before we go backpacking through the park.

On the road again and telling about it as we go . . .