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Day 12 : Wednesday 6th October 2004

The long drive...

Today was mostly going to be about driving. The journey from Jasper down to Kelowna, via Wells Gray National Park is a good solid 6 hours of driving at least (depending on how closely you adhere to the speed limits .

We started off from Jasper at about 9am. The weather, for the first time since we had been here, was pretty awful and it was not long before heavy rain was falling. This was worrying as it could easily add hours to our already long day. However, after an initial heavy bout of rain, it started to ease off by the time we reached our first port of call, Mt Robson visitor centre.

Mt Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. However, at this time of year the visitor centre was closed, so we simply had a short stroll around and took some photos, before heading up the road to the Mt Terry Fox stop-off. Terry Fox was a young guy with cancer who, having had his leg amputated, decided to run across Canada to raise money for charity. Yes, you heard that right, he decided to run across Canada. He ran more than a marathon a day for over 140 days (on an artificial leg!), before finally succumbing to a relapse in his cancer and being forced to give up outside Thunder Bay, Ontario (but over the halfway point). Such an achievement is so monumentally astounding, that not only did his charity achieve his wish of 1 Canadian Dollar from every citizen (about 20m CAD altogether), but a mountain in the Rockies was named after him. You can read more about this remarkable achievement here.

Following a period of quiet reflection on this achievement, we returned to the car and carried on our way, driving all the way down to the entrance to Wells Gray Provincial Park by late lunchtime. A quick bite to eat in a local fast food joint and we entered the park. The main sights here are two beautiful sets of waterfalls, Dawson Falls and Helmcken Falls. Both were as amazing as I remembered them. Additionally there is a viewing platform in a clearing at the top of one of the hills that affords wonderful views over the park.

With the afternoon dragging on, and with still half the journey yet to go, we headed on our way. After a number of hours more driving, with few stop-offs on the way, we eventually reached Kelowna after dark. Kelowna is a strange place - driving in we drove through a long strip of neon-signed out-of-town type places, maybe 15 mins or so of driving. Then the centre of the town itself is fairly quite and peaceful. We were staying near the waterfront in a comfortable and clean motel, the Travelodge Abbott Villa.

With lots of driving and little else, we decided to go out for a nice dinner and found a lovely Thai restaurant just round the corner from our hotel. A perfect end to an otherwise fairly boring, but necessary, day of driving.

Mt Robson, Mt Terry Fox and the clearing weather

Wells Gray Provincial Park