The Big Trip- Month Two Round UpTwo months down and I’m absolutely loving it!

Like last month, this month has been about re-visiting places I love as well as exploring a few new ones.

The beginning of my second month of travel saw me spend a couple more days in Denali National Park where I hiked up Mount Healy and around Horseshoe Lake, met some more awesome people and enjoyed staying at one of my favourite hostels of my trip so far.

Moving on to the small frontier town of Talkeetna, I did something that I have always been scared about doing: flying in a tiny plane! I also had one of the best breakfasts I have ever eaten at the Talkeetna Roadhouse, explored the historic buildings and checked out the small but awesome museum.

Nagley's Store in Talkeetna

After a couple of nights in Talkeetna I caught the bus back to Anchorage, spent a few hours wandering around the excellent museum then flew to Juneau, gaping at the glaciers below me from the plane window on the way.

Juneau was cold and wet for most of the four nights I spent there but I managed to squeeze in a Brewery tour, a trip out to the Mendenhall Glacier and a hike up to the Mount Roberts Tramway.

You may remember me saying in my last round up that I was slowing down in month two with a Help Exchange in Haines? Well that didn’t happen. I was meant to head to a lady’s house to help out with chores etc for two and a half weeks after Juneau but after initially talking to her by email, she didn’t end up getting back to me and when I still hadn’t heard anything the day before, I had to change my plans.

To be honest, I was kind of relieved.

She had been quite vague about exactly what she expected me to do around the house, she lived in a isolated location about 20 minutes drive from Haines and the house didn’t have wifi. Usually this would be fine but I wasn’t looking forward to not being able to contact Trav. Also, I took another look at her profile a few days before I was meant to go there too and I noticed that she was now asking for $35 per week from Helpers (usually the work you do pays for your room and usually meals).

I decided to bypass Haines as the hostel there was full and head straight to Sitka.

I took the fast ferry to Sitka with an awesome couple, Michael and Russell, who I met briefly the night before at my hostel in Juneau.

Despite the first day being cold and wet, I loved Sitka from the beginning. It is such a beautiful place with a friendly and vibrant community. It was the perfect ending to my time in Alaska and one of my new favourite places in the world.

Sun through the trees on Mount Verstovia

It was sad to say goodbye to Alaska but I couldn’t afford to stay longer and just travel so I made the decision to book a flight from Sitka to Seattle using my remaining air miles. I also had to cancel my Help Exchange that I had lined up for the end of August in Haida Gwaii as it is expensive to get there and I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford to fly back up.

Luckily I quickly found another Help Exchange: in the Canadian Rockies!

I hadn’t been planning to return to the Rockies on this trip despite it being one of my favourite places in Canada but I guess fate stepped in. The Help Exchange placement I got was working in the hostel in the small town of Field, in Yoho National Park. I have been to the town before and it is tiny, with only 200 residents. It is also breathtakingly beautiful and in a great location by a load of natural wonders and hiking trails. With the possibility to use a vehicle, I knew I would be able to explore the mountains during the days I wouldn’t be working.

They wanted me to work until the end of September, a few days before my flight to Hawaii from Seattle, so I decided to take a couple of weeks to travel a bit more in British Columbia before heading out to start my placement.

I caught the bus up to Vancouver from Seattle, arriving late. After a night in a hostel, I made my way out to Langley to spend a few days staying with friends. I had my own room which felt positively luxurious after the previous three weeks of hostel dorm rooms. It was nice to chill out for a bit but I also managed to finally visit the historic Fort Langley and do some hiking with my friend Megan and her cute dogs in Lynn Canyon.

After one more night at friends in Vancouver I caught the ferry to the laid back Sunshine Coast, staying in the small hippy community of Roberts Creek.

I spent three blissful days biking, swimming and hiking the small communities along this pristine coastline. I even caught a spectacular meteorite shower that I had to get up at 2.30am for.

Driftwood fort on Sechelt beach

My last stop before my Help Exchange in Field was in the small mountain town of Revelstoke. Unfortunately I was sick on my first day but managed to get out and explore Mount Revelstoke National Park and the compact town centre on day two.

And then I got to Field, where I unpacked my bag for the first time in nearly two months. It felt so good!

I have been here for six nights now and have already had three days off, one of which I borrowed the Hostel pickup to visit a friend and hike around my favourite lake in the Rockies, Moraine Lake.

So far I am loving the mountain life in this amazing small town.

Here’s the Stats:

Countries visited: USA (Alaska), Canada (British Columbia, Alberta)

Places visited: Denali National Park, Talkeetna, Anchorage, Juneau, Sitka, Vancouver, Langley, Sunshine Coast, Revelstoke, Golden, Field, Lake Louise

Islands visited: Baranof Island

Best meal: Nick’s Way breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse. This epic breakfast included scrambled eggs, bacon, homefries, sourdough toast, a homemade biscuit and reindeer sausage gravy. So decadent and so delicious.

Nick's Way breakfast at Takeetna Roadhouse

Worst meal: The Japanese curry I cooked for myself. A lovely Australian couple at my hostel in Seward used the same curry paste and kindly gave me a bowl of their curry – it was beautiful but when I attempted to cook it myself it left a lot to be desired. I overcooked my chicken and I added too much water so it didn’t have a lot of flavour. I ate it over three nights anyway but I was glad when it was finished.

Best craft beer: Tie between Sitka Spruce Tip Ale from Baranof Island Brewing Company and Paradise Valley Grapefruit Ale from Whistler Brewing Company. I am a sucker for fruit infused ales and the Grapefruit Ale is one of the best I have ever had. The spruce tip ale was like nothing I have tried before and can only be described as having a pine flavour. Weird but good.

Baranof Island Spruce Tip Ale

Hikes:

  • Mount Healy 11km and Horseshoe Lake Loop 5km in Denali National Park
  • Mount Roberts Tramway trail in Juneau 6km
  • Mount Verstovia in Sitka 14km
  • Indian River in Sitka 7.5km
  • Tavistock Point on McMillan Island in Fort Langley 5km
  • Section of Baden-Powell trail in Lynn Canyon, North Vancouver 9km
  • Skookumchuck Narrows in Egmont 8km
  • Soren Sorensen Loop trail 5km & Mount Revelstoke trail 2.6km in Mount Revelstoke National Park
  • Consolation Lakes Trail 5.8km & Moraine Lake Shoreline and Rockpile 3km in Banff National Park

Interesting person of the month: My friend Veronika who I met in Denali is one of the interesting people I met this month. Veronika is only 18 years old and is travelling solo for six weeks before returning to Germany to start University. When I was 18 I had only ever been to Australia and wouldn’t have even imagined travelling so far from home by myself. I was so impressed by Veronika and loved spending time with her in Denali and Vancouver. I hope I see her again one day – maybe in Germany.

Reading: How Not to Travel the World by Lauren Juliff. I have been following Lauren’s blog, Never Ending Footsteps, for a couple of years now and was excited to read her book when it came out recently. It was hard to put down and I ended up finishing it in a few days. I was worried that it would just be a rehash of the same stories I had already read about on her blog but it is written in a different style with a lot more information. It flowed together very nicely.

Highlights

Hiking Mount Healy in Denali National Park

A stunning hike with views of the surrounding mountains, a bit of rock climbing, loads of wild blueberries and great company: it all made for a fantastic day out in the Alaskan wilderness and was my favourite hike in Denali.

Climbing Mount Healy in Denali Mount Healy

Flight seeing around Denali and landing on a glacier

As a very nervous flyer I never thought I would be able to ride in a tiny plane but embarking on this trip must have given me much more confidence because I decided to do a flight seeing tour when I was in Talkeetna on a ten person propeller plane! We flew around the imposing hulk that is Denali, America’s biggest mountain, over the biggest glaciers I have ever seen and even landed on one. It turned out to not be so scary after all and it is one of the coolest things I have done to date.

Landing on a Glacier near Talkeetna Denali

Sitka – just everything

This gorgeous little town just stole my heart. It has such a vibrancy as well as being so pretty. The sun was out for the three full days I spent there and with a great little group of hostel friends, we went to the local farmers market, the sprawling and overgrown cemetery, through the totem park, hiked up a mountain, went out for dinner and drinks at the local pub, kayaked around the small islands offshore, hiked the salmon choked Indian River and drunk craft beer at a local brewery. It was my favourite place in Alaska and somewhere I definitely want to return to, hopefully with Trav next time.

Mount Verstovia summit, SitkaKayaking in Sitka

Learning about British Columbia history at Fort Langley

Since living in Vancouver years ago I have been wanting to go to the birthplace of British Columbia: Fort Langley. On this trip I finally had the chance to get there as I was staying only a half hour bus ride away in Langley. The town was cute, the Fort Langley National Historic Site was very interesting and the short hike I did to Tavistock Point was beautiful. It was worth the wait.

View from Tavistock Point in Fort Langley Fort Langley National Historic Site

Returning to the Sunshine Coast

I fell in love with the Sunshine Coast when I first visited in 2010 so when I was looking at places I could go before starting my Help Exchange, it was near the top of my list. I booked into the fantastic Backpackers I stayed at last time, Up the Creek, and it felt so great to be back. I was even in the same bed. This time around I visited further afield than I had before and made it all the way up to Egmont to see the tidal rapids at Skookumchuck as well as visiting the biggest town in the region, Sechelt, and rode a bike to swim at Davis Bay.

Porpoise Bay, Sechelt

Slowing down in Field

After being on the road for almost two months I was looking forward to slowing down and staying put for a while and I couldn’t imagine a better place to do this than Field. The people are friendly, there are loads of hiking trails nearby and it is just drop dead gorgeous. I can’t believe my luck that I get to live here for 5 1/2 weeks!

Field, Yoho National Park in the Canadian Rockies

Revisiting Moraine Lake

My favourite place in the Canadian Rockies, I revisited the stunningly beautiful Moraine Lake with a friend I met in Alaska and a couple of girls from her hostel in Lake Louise. We climbed the rock pile for a perfect lake view, spotted some pikas and fat chipmunks, hiked to Consolation Lakes and walked the shoreline of Moraine Lake. Despite it being my third time there, it still wowed me as much as the first time I laid eyes on it.

Moraine Lake in the Canadian Rockies

Lowlights

Abysmal weather in Juneau

I usually try not to let the weather bother me but the entire four nights I was in Juneau it was not just wet, it was also chilly – averaging around 10 degrees celsius in the day time. Even with all my warm clothes on, the cold still seeped in and with the hostel having a lock out from 9am till 5pm, I was pretty miserable. I spent a lot of time in cafes and in the library – I read a novel in two afternoons sitting in there – and didn’t get to do the hiking I had planned except a short one during a respite in the rain, to the top of the Mount Roberts Tramway. Me and Juneau have some unfinished business.

Wet Juneau, Alaska

Having to cancel my Help Exchange in Haida Gwaii

Although I wasn’t too upset when my Help Exchange placement in Haines fell through, this meant that I also had to cancel my Help Exchange in the islands of Haida Gwaii, and I had been really looking forward to this one. Alaska being so expensive and with the ferry schedule being limited (and expensive) it didn’t make sense to stick around just travelling and I couldn’t afford to fly back up to the islands later on so I had no choice but to cancel. Luckily they were very understanding. One day I will make it there.

A horrible night in a hostel in Vancouver

My first night back in Vancouver after leaving Alaska I arrived late and as the friends I was staying with live nearly two hours by public transport from the city, I booked into a hostel. There weren’t many choices as I booked it so late and I ended up in the Cambie Hostel on Seymour. It was dingy, loud and just horrible. To top it off I had an unfriendly room mate. I barely slept and after the amazing hostels I stayed in in Alaska, it was a shock to the system. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

Getting sick in Revelstoke

I have been very lucky with my health on this trip so far – until I got to Revelstoke. I think that all of the fast travel finally caught up on me and by the time I got to Revy I was just exhausted. After going out for breakfast I started to feel very weak and nauseas so I spent the rest of the day in bed, feeling sorry for myself. I still wasn’t 100% the next morning but I made myself get out and about and by the following day I was luckily back to normal again.

Hiking in Mount Revelstoke National Park

Not getting to see the Mayor of Talkeetna

This is pretty minor but I was disappointed that I didn’t get to meet the Mayor of Talkeetna, an 18 year old ginger cat called Stubbs, as he was one of the reasons I wanted to visit Talkeetna in the first place. I looked out for him three days in a row but luck wasn’t on my side with this one. I just hope he didn’t die.

Spending:

Total: USD$1861

This month was meant to be a cheap one but when my plans changed and I ended up travelling for longer before starting a Help exchange, my expenses ended up piling up. But it was definitely a smart move to come back to Canada rather than stay in the US, as the low exchange rate between the Australian dollar and the US dollar was giving me a mini heart attack every time I checked my credit card statement. The Australian dollar is almost one to one with the Canadian dollar so everything seems so much cheaper here.

Accommodation $430

Surprisingly only a little more than last month, largely down to the kindness of friends in Vancouver and Langley as well as starting my Help Exchange in Field for the last week of the month. I also had a free nights accommodation in Denali at the Denali Mountain Morning Hostel. I have mostly stayed in hostel dorms when I wasn’t staying with friends.

Food and Drink $575.50

Better than last month but still higher than it should be. I have been drinking a lot of craft beer over the past month so I am going to blame that. I have also been eating a lot of donuts. These (delicious) things add up.

Clothing $0

True to my word, there has been no further spending on clothing this month. I haven’t been tempted at all either, I never usually am when I’m travelling.

Transport $422

  • Park Connection Bus from Denali to Talkeetna $65
  • Park Connection Bus from Talkeetna to Anchorage $65
  • City transport in Anchorage $2.25
  • Flight from Anchorage to Juneau $10
  • Taxis in Juneau $23
  • Ferry from Juneau to Sitka $48
  • City bus in Sitka $10
  • Flight from Sitka to Seattle $5
  • Bag for flight from Sitka to Seattle $25
  • Greyhound bus from Seattle to Vancouver $26.50
  • Return ferry from Vancouver to Sunshine Coast $11.75
  • City transport in Vancouver, Langley and Sunshine Coast $20
  • Greyhound bus from Vancouver to Revelstoke $64.50
  • Taxis in Revelstoke $15.50
  • Greyhound bus from Revelstoke to Golden $19
  • Petrol money for Moraine Lake day trip $1.50

Considering I took two flights this month, I am pretty pleased with how low my transport costs were. If it weren’t for my Qantas miles there would be at least another $700 added to this total so I count myself very lucky.

Activities $412

  • Flight seeing tour around Denali $256
  • Mendenhall Glacier shuttle and Visitors Centre $24
  • Alaska Brewery Tour $20
  • Talkeetna Museum $3
  • Tlingit traditional dance $10
  • Sitka Kayaking Tour $84
  • Vancouver Police Museum $9
  • Fort Langley National Historic Site $6

A few more splurges this month on activities, mainly in Alaska. Worth every penny.

Other $21.50

  • $19 Toiletries
  • $2.50 Laundry

I did fantastically with my random spending this month, only buying things that I really need. Pretty happy that I have only had to pay $2.50 for laundry so far too, two months in.

What’s in store for next month:

The next month I will be living and working in tiny Field. I only have to work three days per week so with lots of days off, I will be exploring the hiking trails in Banff and Yoho National Parks, as well as weekly trips to Golden for groceries. My brother is coming in mid September so we are planning to head to Lake O’Hara for some overnight camping and to do a few trails close by. Maybe we will even head up to Jasper.

A second month done and dusted. The longer I travel solo the more confident I have become. I knew this would be good for me and I am truly loving my life right now.

To read additional Monthly Round Ups, you can find them here

12 comments on “The Big Trip: Month Two Round Up”

  1. You are amazing Katie .you keep such a strict budget.and see everything you want to. I loved Alaska but it’s over 9years now since I was there , I flew all around Alaska.with Jim and Glen in their 4 seater plane. The highlight of my trip was fishing for Halabut of which I caught two, which was the limit . And also flying up the glaziers , and touching down on a highway . All frightening but wonderful. Have fun love Aunty Di

    • Wow that would have been amazing to fly around Alaska in a four seater plane! You are definitely braver than me. I never got to go fishing but it is something I would like to do if/when I go back there. Halibut is one of my favourite fish – so delicious 🙂

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