Monday, August 22, 2016

Cycling from Glacier national park to Jasper, the Canadian Rockies

This tour ended up being 670 miles over 10 days cycling. 14 days door to door.
I was able to weigh in at the beginning of this trip.  Myself: 172 pounds, my bike fully loaded: 75 pounds.

I had the pleasure of a lovely host in Whitefish, Montana.  Where I ended up starting my ride.
Consumed by the views on my first day, I think I missed a turn and ended up doing about 10 miles on a sandy/gravely road... Which is no fun on skinnier road tires, especially when cars pass and force you into the looser shoulder.
But it wasn't too long until I reached Glacier National Park and the 'Going To The Sun Road'.  And after waiting for the cycling window to open (no cycling between 11am and 4pm), it was up up up.  A 3500' climb over 12 miles, about a 6% average grade, it took me about an 1:45 to climb it.  But boy I think I had a smile on the whole way up! :)
 75 miles on the first day landed me in the hiker/biker site of the Rising Sun campground.  I met a young fellow who was doing his first bike tour ever--6 months around the West of the U.S.!  Pretty ambitious.  With the time that he had, he used the tourist shuttle buses to cart him to the top of the 'going to the sun' road so he could fly down. That would have been wild!!
 Wish I had had more to explore Glacier National Park, but with 10 days to reach Jasper, I had to be on my way.
 This bull(y) had other ideas....Had to stop and wait for him to moooove
Crossing over into Canada brought pristine roads, minimal traffic and amazing mountain scenery....just what I look for:
 This photo shows me pointing back at the mountain on the other side of which I started my day.  About 2/3 through the day...
Spent a couple days leapfrogging and chatting with a group of 14 people doing an ACA tour from Missoula, MT to Jasper.  They were all in their 50s,60s,70s.
Fernie Canada was a cool little mountain town.  Here an enticing spot for a dip.  I wish I had had more time for some hiking/mountain biking, as is popular here.
 Showing up to a campsite late in Canada doesn't work so well.  As they have no hiker/biker spots and charge $30/night just to setup your tent!.... So I carried on to find a turn off that led to this lovely spot to rough camp.
Can't pass up a chance to take a dip in that quintessential glacial blue water... So cold!
Pulling into Radium Springs.
In the Kootenay National Park mountains.  With my eyes peeled for a place to rough camp for the night, this looked appealing.
But it was definitely bear country.  I kept my bear spray close to my side that night.  Fortunately for me, it was only a thunderstorm that plodded through the valley and woke me up that night.
About 10 miles into my day, amid the beautiful and quite remote Kootenay National Park, I found my pedal starting to wobble beneath my foot...upon closer inspection, it was my crank that was loose.  Which spelled trouble, as I don't carry a 3/4 inch Allen wrench... So I had to hitch hike.
I ended up with a ride that took me south towards Banff.  A bit south when I was going north, but it was manageable detour--to one of Canada's hottest tourist towns...and a great bike ride to get me back up to Lake Louise:
A bike path with a bear gate:

Lake Louise
This photo encapsulates the scenery in Alberta, Canada: beautiful mountain views, glacial blue water, and the ubiquitous railroad system--a reminder of Canada's mining industry.
Going north between Lake Louise and Jasper revealed some of the most stunning scenery my eyes have ever seen.  In league with my time in New Zealand.
The Icefields Parkway
Bow lake.
Peyto lake
Waterfowl lake
Athabasca falls
And finally, a quiet scenic mountain road into Jasper.

As for next year, I'm going for a big one: Vancouver to Cali, Colombia.  I'm anticipating 6 months.  But we'll see how it goes.  It's gonna mean a big shake up of my life.