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Meet the Berzowskis Alaska Adventure: Heading Out

Jim and Robin are heading to Alaska! The Honda CR-V is packed and their trusty GO, L.E.O. (Low-Earth Orbiter), is ready for adventure. Follow along and get a taste of #myGOlife…Berzowski-style!

We are on our way to Alaska!

However, it’s not just the destination – we’re ready and excited for the entire journey, including all the places and people along the way ?.

We packed up the SylvanSport GO and Honda CR-V, with several additions for this trip:

  • Two extra spare trailer tires mounted on the sides of the GO, due to concern about some of the gravel roads on which we’ll travel (mounts welded by Bronson Patton, at Skully Brand Metal Works, contact: [email protected])
  • BAL leveler to reduce stress when we set up on uneven ground (thank you everyone on the SylvanSport Owners Facebook page for the idea!); also added stick on levels around the GO frame
  • SylvanSport Over Easy portable outdoor kitchen for all the comforts of home
  • GOzeebo for when we want an enclosed dining area or just want to tent camp
  • Mosquito netting hats to separate us from the voracious mosquitos, black flies, etc.
  • Muck boots in anticipation of swollen, soggy areas

Of course, we also have our regular gear with us: bikes, kayak (inflatable), hiking poles, bear spray and fishing gear!

We decided to pretty much make tracks from Milwaukee to Jasper, with no camping stops along the way. A lovely picnic lunch in Kenmare, North Dakota in the shadow of an old Danish Mill provided a respite from the long drive!

Our first stop was Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. We entered the park and were greeted by this handsome dude!

Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada – WOW!

Our GO, LEO (Low Earth Orbiter), followed us for 1,800 miles, over 3 full days, with no complaints!!

We reserved a site in the Wapati campground, the S loop. The campground is very nice; it is situated right along the Athabasca River. There is a path along the river and it is incredibly beautiful. In our loop, there is plenty of room between each site. There is a kitchen shelter, for those who needed it – we do not, and the bathrooms have flush toilets, hot water, soap, and paper towels – what more could one ask for? But there is more! A utility sink with hot running water for doing dishes – almost heaven in a campground! There is a shower house near the entrance to the campground.

We arrived at camp in the late afternoon, but really no rush to set up because it’s light until after 10pm!! After scouting our site, we determined that the best location would be to turn our GO, LEO, around. Good thing LEO’s a feather-weight.

We leveled LEO front-to back using the tongue jack and then side-to-side using our new BAL Leveler.

We’ve read many recommendations about it in the SylvanSport GO Owners Facebook group, and to be very redundant: we should’ve gotten this sooner!! It was so quick and easy, even on a site that was very uneven. What a no brainer! By the way, many people purchase a pizza delivery bag to store it when not in use; we are using an old garment bag that was gathering dust – it fits perfectly, has handles, and keeps the grease off of everything else.

We set up the GO and our CLAM, then put out a couple of chairs. We didn’t need the GOzeebo in Jasper, as the only time we spend in the campsite are to eat breakfast and dinner, and sleep – otherwise, we’re out exploring!

This was our first time setting up our SylvanSport Over Easy portable outdoor kitchen. It’s a snap to set up and fits perfectly in our kitchen.

After setting up and having a quick dinner, we went for a walk in the campground along the Athabasca River. It is so powerful, even though we are not on a riverside site, it is loud enough to lull us to sleep.

As we rounded out our tour of the campground, we came upon this cow elk. There are many warnings that the elk are ready to calve and can be very dangerous. She definitely looks large enough, but was placidly eating and did not seem to mind being shot by camera. By the way, these pics were taken at almost 10pm!

Our interior configuration uses our transformer panel/benches as bed extenders (see this blog for more information: https://www.sylvansport.com/meet-the-berzowskis-spring-2019-heading-out/). This set up gives us a nice double bed, a convenient nightstand, plenty of storage for our gear, and enough room to move around and get dressed, etc.

In the morning, I used our new Over Easy Kitchen for the first time. It’s fantastic! I love having so much ‘counterspace’ and the bamboo is such a wonderful surface. There is plenty of storage space, also, but being in bear country, all kitchen supplies are stored in the car when not in use. Truth be told, the eggs were not over-easy, they were sausage and cheese omelets!

For our first day of hiking, we went to Maligne Canyon. We started at Fifth Bridge and hiked to First Bridge and back. It was a really nice hike right along the river, with an abundance of waterfalls and melting snow, including plenty of up and down without being overwhelming. It was very popular, so at some of the most scenic areas, it was somewhat log-jammed. We took trail 7 there, but returned on 7f; this path was at a slightly higher elevation, providing a different perspective of the river and mountains, and was much less travelled ?

After that hike, we drove around to see Lake Annette and Lake Edith, to check them out as possible kayaking venues.

Back at the campsite, we shared our dinner of homemade venison hotdogs and Polish sausages with two guys from Hungary in the next campsite. While we were eating, we were almost surrounded by elk!!

We decided to go into the town of Jasper for ice cream. As we got our treats, it started to pour, and while it was pouring, the sun came out. So our bonus treat for the night was not only an end-to-end full rainbow, but a full DOUBLE rainbow!! The photos don’t do it justice, but it was the best I could get ?

The weather forecast for the next day indicated a high probability for rain, so we decided to drive down the Icefields Parkway. Our first stop was at Athabasca Falls. The power of the water from these falls squeezing into the narrow canyon is awesome!

Although the weather was still questionable, alternating between sunny and rainy, we decided to hike up Parker Ridge (which is actually part of Banff National Park) because we’d been told that this is the best. It was an incredible hike. The lower part was very muddy, switching to snowy and muddy as we got a bit higher.

Once we were above the tree line, the trail turned to gravel and snow. About that time, it started to rain, so we donned our rain gear and kept going. Being so high, we had a great view all around and could see storms in two directions and sun in the other two. It was difficult to tell what was moving in which direction, so we soldiered on.

As we leveled out on the ridge, we heard a rumble of thunder; this was concerning, as we were pretty exposed. With no repeat after a few minutes, we kept going. Of course, as we neared the trail end (not a loop), there was more thunder and suddenly, hail and heavy rain! We hunkered down, somewhat nervously, and waited for it to pass, as we would be just as exposed going back. The views of the mountains, the valleys, and the glacier were worth it. (of course, the photos do not do it justice)

There were phenomenal vistas on the drive back up the parkway

Back at the campsite we made a delicious hot meal of steak and cheese sandwiches and pea and barley soup. That and hot showers dispelled the chill from the hike?

After a good night’s sleep, we headed through the town of Jasper and up to Pyramid Bench. There is a wonderful Overlook Loop hike; it starts out steep, but along the ridge are magnificent views of Pyramid Lake. As you go further, you can also see Lake Annette, Lake Edith, and Jasper in the distance.

We saw many types of lovely flowers along the way.

We had a peaceful picnic lunch on Pyramid Lake and enjoyed watching a pair of loons fishing.

In the afternoon, we drove Maligne Road. At the top of Medicine Lake, we saw our first bear (black). We also saw nesting eagles and osprey. On the return trip, we saw several more bear.

Continuing to the end of Maligne Road, the weather continued to transition from sun to rain and back, but upon arriving, we enjoyed a quiet hike along Maligne Lake.

Jasper is a hiker’s paradise, like so many of the US and Canadian National parks. We finally woke to a day with no forecast of rain!! We started the day with a hike at Valley of the Five Lakes. The green/blue colors were spectacular, as were the reflections of the clouds. Fifth Lake, Fourth Lake, Third Lake, Second Lake and First Lake; yes, those are the actual names!

In the afternoon, we crossed to the west side of the Athabasca River and drove along the Wabasso Road to Cavell Road, culminating in the Edith Cavell area. After a picnic, we took the Path of the Glacier Trail. The mountain was majestic and the upper and lower parts of the glacier were massive.

On our last full day in Jasper, we again drove down the Icefields Parkway, this time to Sunwapta Falls. On the way there, we saw more bears.

While the Sunwapta Falls are awesome in their power, the hike to the Lower Sunwapta Falls provided even more beautiful waterfalls.

On our drive back, we stopped off at Buck Lake, which was framed by the ‘endless chain’ of mountains.

From the road, we happened upon a mountain goat family who appeared to be eating rocks!

For our last stop, we visited Athabasca Falls again because it is just SO spectacular!

After our last dinner at the campsite, we took a leisurely bike ride; it is light until at least 10:30pm, so it’s hard to not fill every day to the max?!

It has been a great week in Jasper. Packing up was easy and pretty quick, as we have all our equipment organized for efficient packing into the GO.

Next stop, Hyder, ALASKA!!

14 thoughts on “Meet the Berzowskis Alaska Adventure: Heading Out

  1. Looks stunning! My wife and I are slowly returning to our roots of hiking and camping now that the kids are grown. Good luck on your adventure to Alaska. It is my favorite place to be in all it’s majesty and abundance of wildlife, there’s never a boring time to be had.

  2. We did the trip to the Yukon and Kluane National Park in June of this year. It was an amazing trip! If anyone goes take the time for a flyover the glaciers. WOW! Wish we taken our GoEasy with the kayaks. So many places to paddle along the way on the AlCan trail. No extra tires or gas needed anymore. Didn’t even get a stone chip in the windshield.

  3. Very interested to hear about your adventure ( mine planned for 2021 ) Plus your remarks , comments , experience pulling all that with your Honda CRV. Which I own a 2011 Honda CRV 4×4..
    Thank You !!
    Safe Travels.

  4. Wonderful seeing your trip and those great pictures, may I asked what type of camera you used while in Jasper? Look forward in following your trip, the sites, your hikes and your meals, thank you, Donald Trudeau

    1. Hi Donald,
      We use a combination of our phones (Samsung S6 and Motorola Moto) and a Nikon Coolpix with around a 40x zoom. I think most of the pics were taken with the phones!
      Regards,
      Robin

  5. Hey Ya’ll,
    First let me say, if ya’ll make it to Anchorage and want to ride the ALASKA RAILROAD let me know.
    I’m an Locomotive Engineer for them and could help ya’ll out. Though i have never personally scene a Go, i’ve have a big interest in them and would like to see how one is utilized the real world. If ya’ll travel this far, I sure would like to visit where ever ya’ll stop.

    Marthel Jones

    1. Hi Marthel,
      We are currently in Anchorage! We will be in this area (Anchorage, Homer, Seward) over the next couple weeks. If you contact Seyl at Sylvansport, he can give you our email address and we can try to connect to show you a GO in the wild!
      We hiked Flat Top today!!
      Regards, Robin and Jim

  6. Thanks for stories and great pics. We purchased our Sylvan 2 years ago and travel mainly in northeast. Hoping to travel further in a couple years. Great ideas on options you use w/camper. Thanks again. Be safe and enjoy!!

  7. Thanks for the wonderful travelogue; so well documented! Looking forward to reading about the balance of your Alaskan venture.

  8. Wow, more great adventures! Thanks for allowing us to live vicariously thru you!
    Did you have any issues with Canadian customs? Did they make you open up the Go? I’ve heard a few horror stories lately. Best wishes for a fantastic and safe trip. We’ll be waiting breathlessly for your updates!

    1. Hi Michael,
      We have not had any problem with customs. We first crossed the border into Canada at Portal, North Dakota. We crossed repeatedly between Stewart British, Columbia and Hyder, Alaska and the border agents were very friendly and fun to talk to! Then we crossed the border from Yukon to the US on the top of the world highway. We asked him about living up there for five months out of the year and we exchanged hiking stories. We could not take citrus peels into the US, so I peeled all of our clementines and gave him the peels but were allowed to take the actual fruit with us!!! No one asked to see anything in our car or the GO. No horror stories!
      Regards,
      Robin

  9. Hey Jim! Wonderful and thanks!

    Did you get your harmonicas?🎶🎵🎶🎵🎶 If not, there is a visit to a music store in your future!

    Judy and I await your return so you and Robin can share some of your recent adventures.

    Blessings and Balance,

    John

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