We visited four Canadian National Parks and five US National Parks during our 24 days on the road. The first one we came across was Mt Revelstoke National Park, about an hour east of Salmon Arm. I had never heard of Mt Revelstoke until I started researching our trip. It is a small park, situated alongside the Trans-Canadian highway and if you didn't know to look for it, you would barely notice it was there. A tiny sign signaled us to turn off for the Meadows in the Sky Parkway so I quickly swerved over and prayed Jess had enough time to get over as well. Luckily she did and soon we were heading up a windy, rainy road towards the summit. I watched the car thermometer quickly drop from the 60s down to 40. We passed through forest of cedar, hemlock, spruce and fir and after 16 switchbacks, we reached roads end at Balsam Lake. We bundled up and headed over to the shuttle station to wait for our ride to the top. The rain was falling and we were wondering what was taking the shuttle so long to arrive. We checked out the trail to the top and decided maybe we should just take it instead of waiting. Mazzy was cold and didn't want to walk so Jess hauled out the stroller. After a couple hundred feet, found the trail to be not so stroller friendly. There was still snow on the ground in spots and parts of the trail were muddy and steep. Back down the hill we went to wait. And wait. And wait. Finally another tourist informed us that the shuttle was not running today. The National Park website said the shuttle would run daily. No park ranger informed either one of us that the shuttle was not running when we paid our fees.We had just wasted our time freezing in the rain for nothing! By that point the children were growing irritable, the rain was coming down harder and taking the trail was just looking like a bad idea. Not a good start to our National Park tour. There was a subalpine meadow filled with wildflowers with my name on it and we just weren't going to be able to see it. We said goodbye to beautiful Balsam Lake, packed our kids back in the cars and headed back on down those 16 switchbacks. I hope one day we can go back and get to know Revelstoke a bit better.
The next National Park we encountered that day was Glacier National Park. This was another small National Park along the Trans-Canadian Highway filled with glacier covered peaks and temperate rainforests (not that we could see the glacier covered peaks since the cloud cover was so low). Most of the trails in Glacier were uphill and advanced for the toddler set so we settled on taking a boardwalk tour of the hemlock grove. We received plenty of rain during our time in the rainforest and honestly, it only added to the experience. Everything was so lush and green. Little streams meandered underneath us carrying the rainwater down the mountain. It was warm enough to enjoy the rain and the kids loved catching droplets in their mouths.
Ben, being true to character, insisted on bringing a ball along with him on the boardwalk. Even after a stern lecture about not dropping the ball off the boardwalk, temptation took hold and off it rolled. My first instinct was to tell him "too bad" and let him learn the consequences of not listening to Mommy but then guilt crept into my mind. The ball was made of plastic and there was no way that I could leave it there to never biodegrade and tarnish the otherwise pristine forest. Normally I would never condone anyone walking off trail because of the damage it can do to the ecosystem but in this case I felt it was the right thing to do. There was no way for me to climb off the boardwalk where he dropped the ball so we walked to the end of the boardwalk and I proceeded to wade my way through the forest. I say wade because getting to that ball involved me crossing two streams and getting poked countless times by some seriously sharp and seriously soaked waist high underbrush. The recovery was made, I was soaked and the boy was happy.
(Look closely and you can see a white object near the wooden pole. That is the soccer ball I had to retrieve. Lesson learned- leave the ball in the car)
We continued to drive through Yoho and Banff National Parks and even though I was tempted to stop, I knew we would have to explore them the next day. We settled into our awesome condo at the Hidden Ridge Resort. It was so nice to have a full kitchen, a living room, and room to spread out. We tucked the kids in, planned our itinerary for the next day, and watched the rain come down on our balcony. It was a long and memorable day.