Roadtrip in Alberta + BC **Best 12

Ask a photographer to pick their best images from a solo two week roadtrip in Alberta and BC. Humm. I took thousands of photos with my ancient Nikon D700 and Samsung cell phone. I was traveling in my ancient 1991 FJ80 Toyota Landcruiser. Fall colors were absolutely amazing – perfectly timed, and there was almost no one else on the road. I took the Forestry Trunk Road (Alberta #40 / #732) on and off from Hinton to Coleman. Details in previous posts. 

My selection for best 12 photos.

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Picture 1 of 12

TRIP REPORT ā€“ Alberta 93 (Castle Junction to Wasa Lake + Whiteswan Provincial Park

October 5, 2023

This route followed Alberta highway 93 Castle Junction to Wasa Lake through Kootenay National Park. Unfortunately, this was the last day that the Trans Canada Highway was closed between Castle Junction and Lake Louise. As you can imagine – the road was stupidly busy !.

 

Whiteswan Provincial Park

A long and poorly marked forestry dirt road to Whiteswan Lake. Arrived late in the evening, needed flashlights to cook dinner and set up the tent. During the night, the elk were calling, and there was one splashing in the lake quite close to my campsite. The morning, calm and foggy. Pulled out the tripod for the first time in the trip, to photograph the foggy – almost mystic scene. Later, a person fishing in the lake surrounded by fog and a slowly rising sun.

TRIP REPORT ā€“ Canmore + Alberta 742 + Alberta 40 loop

October 4, 2023.

This post describes the Canmore + Alberta 742 + Alberta 40 loop. The route heads south on Alberta 742 from Canmore, passes Spray Lakes Reservoir, Spray Valley Provincial Park – Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and returns via Alberta 40.

TRIP REPORT ā€“ Forestry Trunk Road (Hinton to Ghost Valley)

Iā€™d been looking forward to solo roadtrip to the mountains since I had left my Toyota Landcruiser in Edmonton after the mass evacuation in August.  The truck was already packed with camping gear, clothes and food. Being retired I could take a road trip and hit some of the best fall colors in the Alberta.

My truck is slow (the story goes that 1991 FJ80 Landcruisers will only reach 100km/hr going downhill), and not wanting to drive at length on the Trans Canada Highway, secondary and tertiary roads are my preference. As this was also my first solo trip, and my first lengthy road trip with the Landcruiser.  I didn’t want to go on off-road trails, or technically challenging routes. This was to be a ‘Shake-down’ trip.

 

On October 1, with the truck fuelled up (plus 30l in extra fuel) and coffee in hand, I pointed the truck west to Hinton.

Having read reviews for the Forestry Trunk Road I was confident the road would be fine, if not quite dusty. The Forestry Trunk Road (FTR) runs for 1000 kilometers from Grande Cache to Coleman in the Crowsnest Pass. Most of the road (~800km) is gravel and the remaining 200km is  paved. The FTR was a north-south resource road, some segments of the road have been designated as parts of Highway 40 or Highway 734. The Forestry Trunk Road runs mostly through Crown Land, it is possible to camp just about anywhere, or in provincial campsites. 

 

This post describes the route from Hinton via Nordegg to Ghost Valley. I did a modified route. From Hinton taking the Robb Road and Pembina River Road  joining the Forestry Trunk Road near McLoed River. According to Google Maps, this is a 6 hour 51 minute (440km) route. I took three days- beautiful scenery and washboard roads made the drive quite a bit longer than expected. 

Day 1: October 1, 2023. 138km

The Pembina Road runs through appropriately named ‘Coal Valley ‘; coal mining, logging, oil and gas wells.

Camped at McLoed River.

Day 2: October 2, 2023.

To Nordegg and beyond. Google maps did not record the entire route.   I camped near the green dot shown on the map.

 

Day 3: October 3, 2023.

Camped on the Ghost Valley Road overlooking the Ghost River.

Summary. This route is highly recommended. I was especially fortunate, as the road conditions were good, and the fall colours were superb.  Additionally, there were very few vehicles on the road. Other drivers on this route had mentioned an abundance of industry-related vehicles.

Another post will highlight the Canmore + Alberta 742 +  Alberta 40 loop.

Ruby Falls. September 30, 2023

Road trip to Ruby Falls, Alberta on September 30, 2023.  Driving into Ruby Falls isn’t for the faint of heart, or for cars (4×4 truck is a necessity). I drive a 1991 Toyota Landcruiser FJ80, and joined a Jeep YJ, and a Jeep Cherokee. The other drivers were experienced off-roaders, and one had done the drive several times. Prior to the trip, I asked  – “Is off-road driving experience necessary for this trip ?”. The trip guide, replied, ‘not really’.   I now know !.

According to Google, our driving day was 7h:59 min, drove 128.28km, average speed 16 km/hr, and ‘on a ferry’ for 108km !!. There were no ferries !.

Pictures: Nice and clean before the trip …..to time for a wash, and there is a licence plate somewhere under that mud !

 

Ice roads on Great Slave Lake

Easter long weekend cruise on the ice roads on Great Slave Lake (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories).
This 110km long and 1.1m thick ice road heads from Yellowknife to the Vital Metals Ltd. Nechalacho rare earths project at Thor Lake near the Hearne Channel of Great Slave Lake. All heavy equipment for the mine was transported on this road.

On Saturday (May 8th) the light was poor and road conditions made road difficult to drive. Actually quite difficult to see the road. On Sunday (May 9th) the road was freshly plowed and sunny sky. We drove the Yellowknife – Devils Channel (Gros Cap) section (75km) and skied 11km in Devil’s Channel that separates Gros Cap from the mainland. No other traffic on the road. On the return, due to the warm temperatures in the afternoon and cooling evening temperatures the large and deep puddles on the crystal clear ice were partially frozen – peppering the hood and windshield with chunks of ice. The ice road was closed 12hours after we got home.

Anticipating that things can go wrong on a remote ice road, we brought safety and survival gear, including the rooftop tent, -30C sleeping bags, warm clothes, food, stove, inreach, extra fuel, winch, ice screws, towing strap, and Maxtracks. 

Pictures from Saturday:

Pictures from (sunny) Sunday:

Wilson Switch & New-to-me BJ60

The “joys” of buying something old. It could be a house or a vehicle. There is the realization the previous owner made some changes “renos” that- Well, sure could be done differently. 

This 1985 Toyota BJ60 Landcruiser had a Wilson switch installed – sort of. They didn’t remove the Toyota installed Superglow system and added a few wires to resemble the Wilson Switch.  One of the wires was jammed under a fuse in the fuse box, and they used a on-off switch instead of a push-on (momentary) switch.  Did they swapout the 12v glowplugs from the Superglow system for the recommended 10.5v glowplugs for the Wilson Switch?

For those that don’t know what the Superglow system is, or what the Wilson Switch is – They are different ways of warming up glowplugs in a diesel engine. 

Opening up the dashboard,  steering column and drivers side kick plate to figure out what the previous owner had done, and install the Wilson Switch. 

 

Sold: 1997 Toyota 4Runner

There goes another one…

Rare 5 speed Manual and E-locker 1997 Toyota 4Runner SR5.

 

Bought it in May 2020 – sight unseen in Calgary.  Because of Covoid, didn’t get to it until August 2020. By then, it had been picked up and moved to a new location outside of town. Did a few repairs and drove it back to Yellowknife. 

Definitely fun as heck to drive. Short shift 5 speed transmission, and straight piped (no muffler – straight pipe exhaust). Great sound from the engine. It also had a forward tilt, slightly nose down. Two inch lift and 17″ tires, and a crazy blinking light pole at the rear.  Like any used vehicle, it had its share of surprises.  In retrospect I should have known. It had a rebuilt engine installed.  Last winter i had a heck of a time starting it. It had an electric battery blanket and cord for the engine block heater.  Cord….I assumed it was plugged in. But i discovered a week later that the cord wasn’t actually plugged in – it was left over from the previous engine !. New engine didn’t have a block heater.!.

 

The power windows didn’t work, and still don’t. Checked the fuses, and same circuit as the sunroof – and that works !. Power locks work, except from drivers door.  I opened up the side console and checked the controller. It was dirty, worn out and sooty. Cleaned it, and figured it was the problem – Not !. Broken wire somewhere?.

I replaced the brakes. All new parts; pads, rotors, calipers and drums, and the entire parking brake system (removed by previous owner) – Wow. That was a bit of work, and so much better !.

Also did a bunch of smaller jobs; sway bar (removed by previous owner), end links, replaced all the fluids, and fluid film on rusty bits. The truck came with a cargo rack, that was replaced with a DIY roof rack for canoes and roof top tent.   Never got around to doing body work – seemed as though every panel had a big dent.

The ARB bumper and 12,000 lb winch for a bit of use moving other vehicles around the yard – but not real use off road.

Of the original 5!!  4Runners in my fleet, this was number 4 (4-4). One remaining ;>

 

 

My “Covid Illness” – Part One

Farewell to the 1999 4runner. It was called 4-2. 4-1 (sold) was its earlier sibling, followed by 4-3 (sold). 4-4 (1997), and 4-5 (1999) are still in the family. Not crazy original names!. Good thing I didn’t name my kids. Lol.

With 5 Toyota 4runners (I miss read the memo about 4 runners…Ha Ha), it was difficult to keep track of which one was which, and to refer to them.  I am not into giving my vehicles people names. My dad had a couple of Volvos. He was always fixing something, cursing and sometimes calling them “Swedish Shit”.  That said, they were good cars, and they (and the occupants) survived car accidents in which my family would probably not survived.

I digressed…

Prior to Covid, I had only one car – a 2000 Toyota 4runner. It was Jade Green, Manual and ‘stock’. I spent a ton of money on maintenance and repairs – in retrospect many things i could have done my self. When Covid really hit the fan in my town – another Jade Green 4runner was advertised.  Asking price was $1000. Body was in near pristine condition – but it blew blue smoke.  Most likely a Head gasket failure – a major and costly repair.  A gamble – Could I fix it ?, or simply a truck to practice mechanics, or simply for parts. My daughter and did a few repairs – value cover gaskets, and compression test. A vehicle to spend time with my daughter whom had expressed an interest in mechanics.

“Covid Illness”…It starts !

While searching for parts, I came across another 4runner. The Covid illness had started, but I didn’t notice.  Bought another 1999 Toyota 4Runner – Silver, Manual, ARB front bumper.  Great Truck, needed a few repairs and had a bit of body rust. This one got the name of 4-3.

“Covid Illness”…It continues !

And then, bought another 4Runner !. 1997, Silver, Manual, ARB bumper with winch, leather interior, rebuilt engine, short shift transmission, elocker, and straight piped.  Driving it – feels like a sports car, with the throaty roar, and short shifting, and the lack of rear anti-sway bar !.  Obviously this truck got the name of 4-4.

“Covid Illness”…It goes on and on !

4-5. Yes – My fifth 4runner !. 1999, Silver, Manual, rebuild front and rear suspension, rusty rocker panels and quarter panels, and front which and stinger type front bumper.   It was filthy !!. Mud all over the dash, and dog hair everywhere.

Yes – 5 Toyota 4Runners in my yard. !!

 

4-1 (manual) and 4-2 (automatic) were stock.  Drove more like a station wagon.

4-1 beside its bigger brother

 

4-2

Usual state of 4-2

4-2 on its way top new owner. Ironically, towed away with another 4runner !.

 

4-3 with stiff shocks felt like a heavy truck, and 4-4 feels like a sports car. 4-5 has been neglected – though feels more like 4-3, distinctly truck like.

4-3 on Marian Lake ice road (NWT).

 

4-4 ‘Road Runner’

4-5

Delivery day (4-5)

 

Since then, 4-1, 4-2, 4-3 have been sold, and 4-4 will be soon.

Does a person really need 5 4Runners ??

Without a doubt – No.  But sure was fun having them.  Basically the same vehicle, though each one is distinct, and its own feel when driving.

Soon, down to only 4-5.

But the illness continues. Why do I call this My “Covid Illness” – Check a previous post. In brief, vehicle maintenance, repair, buying and selling is a new thing for me, and started with the Covid shutdown. It is a mental distraction during the times that we are not able to socialize.

..The Symptoms are now a collection of Toyota Landcruisers – But that is  another post.

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