May 30, 2012
Lake Louise, AB – Prince George, BC: 398mi
“It was another epic day riding today. Words cannot serve justice to the extent of magnificence. Pictures cannot capture their magnitude. I continue to be humbled by this country. It’s intimidating standing so close to such great peaks covered in pure snow. Clouds loom around them like the weather could change at any moment. “ (Journal excerpt)
This was my second to coldest day on the trip. It was 29 degrees Fahrenheit. I was slightly disappointed to wake up with clear roads giving me no reason to stay another night in Lake Louise. However, once I saw the blue sky on the day I was going to ride the 140mi Icefield’s Parkway, I felt more motivated than ever to take advantage of the weather.
I ran through my morning routine quickly, knowing the weather could change at any moment. I put the bike on its centerstand, checked the chain, waxed the chain, checked the oil, topped off the oil, and then packed up the bike.
What I didn’t realize after packing up the bike on the centerstand, was that I had parked it on a slight incline. So here I was, humiliating myself, attempting to rock the bike off its centerstand unsuccessfully. Thankfully my Scottish friend was in the parking lot ready to leave on his own adventure when he saw my dilemma. He was kind enough to give me a boost and get the bike back to its kickstand. We both laughed and he said in his thick accent, “Should I foller ya to give yer a boost in the next town?”
After saying goodbye to my hostel friends I rode up to the alpine lake of Lake Louise which was breathtaking in its natural beauty however disappointingly overdeveloped. It was sad to see a massive castle-like resort saturated by tour buses and herds of people surrounding the shores of such a majestic place. I managed to get a few pictures away from the crowds and was anxious to get on the bike to be alone on the road again.
The morning started off cold and I struggled to stay warm even with my heated gloves. I wore layers so thick I could hardly turn my head or bend my arms. I’m pretty sure I was wearing everything I owned; underarmor, two fleece layers, a windbreaker, a rainlayer, plus a balaclava and fleece neck cover, all under my insulated armored gear. For my next adventure, I will be investing in all heated lightweight apparel.
I had flurries off and on throughout the day. I took my time riding along the parkway to take pictures and video but I couldn’t help feel like I just wanted to ride. I began to feel more and more anxious to just make miles and not stop. I didn’t want to blow by gorgeous scenery without enjoying it, but what I found I enjoyed the most was being alone on the bike.
It was annoying me how many tour buses were on the parkway, although I can see why it is such an attraction. Every overlook, every vista, every lake and glacier seemed to have crowds of people and prevented me from stopping. Funny how much I enjoyed sharing my trip with strangers in the hostel, however when on the road, I didn’t want to be bothered. I didn’t want the attention or the questions or the looks. I just wanted to be left alone.
I loved passing the assortment of caution signs along the parkway. I saw Avalanche warning signs, Caribou, Moose, and Bighorn Sheep crossing signs. I did see a few elk and a couple black bear and a juvenile bull moose with a small rack. I wanted to stop for a hike somewhere to see more wildlife, but thought it too risky to leave the bike and all my gear unattended at a trailhead full of people.
When I got to Jasper I was sad to be at the end of the Icefield’s Parkway. In comfort, I kept thinking with the time I was making I could be in Alaska in 5-6 days. It was only going to get better and better I thought.
I filled up with gas, which was sparse and expensive on the Parkway. There were only a couple stations that were about 90 miles apart and $1.40/liter. They knew they could get the money in an area like that, where everyone needed it and had no other choice.
I checked the Milepost for gas ahead and it looked about the same the rest of the way to Prince George. The next station wasn’t for 90 miles so I hoped I could make it there and not have to unpack my extra fuel.
Sure enough when I got to that gas station it was closed. Thankfully I was carrying the RotoPax. It took me about twenty minutes to figure out how to work the lock on the cap to get the gas to flow. But once I got it done, I hit the road again.
When I got into Prince George I stopped at the information center and asked about local camping spots. Nothing really interested me but when they told me there was a hostel down the road I was sold.
When I pulled up to the hostel a large tough looking man with a bald head came out to greet me. He had kind eyes and was intrigued with all the gear on my bike. I asked if I could park on the street and he said it wouldn’t be a good idea.
He owned a Jacuzzi shop just below the hostel and had me push it in there next to his Harley. It was an interesting parking place for a bike.
He helped me unload the bike and bring my gear upstairs. It was a cute place. His own apartment converted into a hostel. There were four rooms and I got my own. It was a bit expensive at $50/night but I felt worth the experience.
After getting settled he told me if I wanted some free food there was a soup kitchen down the road he could take me to. Then he offered to take me to the grocery store if I needed any supplies. His generosity reminded me of a trail angel; one of those people on the Appalachian Trail that help out the thru-hikers, just because they can. It’s support from people like that that kept me going.
I had a hard time going to sleep that night. It was partially from excitement and partially because it was still light outside at 11:00pm. I looked at the Milepost. Looks like I will reach the Alaskan Highway tomorrow!