Thursday, October 1, 2009

Segment 6. Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Lake Louise, Alberta, Aug 31 - Sep 11, 2009, 460 miles, 2982 cum. miles

Adios BC, hello Alberta on August 31. Doug, eating a chocolate snack. At least some of it got past the facial fur.
Beautiful downtown Grande Prarie.
Here is a clearcut steep slope, one of many clearcuts we observed while cycling through BC & Alberta. Note the severe erosion, dumping silt into the streams and ruining habitat necessary for salmon spawning. While all this clearcutting has been going on for years, and continues today, they blame overfishing in Alaska for the declining fish populations.
On the evening of Sept. 2nd, at dusk, we noted that the map we were using was inaccurately depicting the location of a provincial campground with a water source. Thinking that a local passerby or others travelling that stretch of highway might be able to advise us, Doug tried to flag down approaching traffic. Several cars & pickups passed by, but then a pickup stopped to help. The driver, Marc, who said he was on his way home & still had several hours of driving to go, had a better map and knowledge of the area, and further suggested he go on ahead and call us back on his cell phone when he reached the campground and tell us the actual distance from where we were. He did just that, which was quite helpful in our decision whether to proceed on the now-dark highway or safely set up camp for the night right where we were. A true cycling samaritan, when we needed him most.
Unfortunately, while heading eastward towards Jasper and climbing a hill on Canada Rt 40 just below Grande Cache on the early afternoon of Sept. 4, the gearing on Doug's Rohloff hub equipped bicycle slipped under heavy load, and when it immediately reengaged, the shock caused the left pedal mechanism to break and unclip, sending Doug's left leg high in the air & pitching the bike to the right. As fate would have it, the shoulder was only 6 inches wide, with a 12 inch drop-off leading to a steep, rock-strewn 20 foot embankment. Doug & his bike met the embankment head-on. Luckily, only a few scrapes ensued, but Doug's bike was rendered unfit for further travel. A few phone calls later, and Doug's wife, Chris, was on a plane from Philadelphia to Calgary, to meet him at Jasper, thusly turning a disaster into a welcome vacation & reunion with stays planned for Jasper, Lake Louise, & Banff. Afterwards, Doug could package up his bike for normal airline baggage travel using the S & S couplers, and return to Phila. via Calgary with Chris, fix the bike, and meanwhile attend to some pressing personal matters. All Doug needed was a ride from Grande Cache to Jasper, which was accomplished the next day, thanks to the courtesy of a gracious Canadian couple who stopped to help.

Near the entrance to Jasper NP.A Black bear, patiently waiting to cross the highway.
Same guy, getting impatient.
Trail angels, Julie & Nathan, pickniking with Doug in Jasper town square. They gave Doug & his broken bike a ride from Grande Cache to Jasper.
Doug meets Guujaaw, President, Council of the Haida Nation, and Chief Stihlda, Haida Nation, at the ceremony to announce the commisioning of a new Totem Pole for the Jasper National Park Information Center, Sept 6th.
When Chris & Doug checked into the 'Two Princess's Inn Hiking Boots' B&B in Jasper, the proprieter, Marc Chalifoux, was astounded to see Doug standing there. A week earlier, Marc had stopped to offer Doug assistance late at night when he was still on the road 175 miles from Jasper. Chris had arranged the stay at the B&B from an independent internet search, and had no knowledge that Marc & Doug had already met, and Marc had no knowledge that Doug was Chris's husband & Jeff & Jason her sons. Small world.

Elk. Just outside Jasper town. The leader of the pack.
Wild sheep at Miette Hot Springs, roaming the parking lot looking for handouts & occasional scraps.
Miette Hot Springs, a welcome respite. Jeff on the left, Jason on the right, & Chris (Doug's wife) in the center.
Jeff & Jason & Lucy at the trailhead of the Miette trail, for a few days of backpacking in the mountains.
View from the Miette hiking trail.Jasper NP allowed dogs on the Miette trail.
On the trail, at the top of a mountain, in 60 MPH winds, almost got blown right off the ridge
Fording the Fiddle River, numerous times. Very, very, very cold!Backpacking for a few days near Miette, stunning views
Mushrooms, wild & fresh. A ranger at Switzer Provincial Park in Alberta armed us with knowledge of the edible mushrooms, and we felt comfortable picking and eating many saffron milky caps and a variety of boletes.
 View from the sh$tter.
Doug & Chris at the top of Whistler's Mountain (7496 feet), 8km from Jasper townsite. The climb wasn't so bad, but it was below freezing and the winds were brutal. You could see over mountain ranges over 80km away, including Mt Robson in British Columbia.
From the top of Whistler's Mountain, north towards Fiddle Valley, home of the Miette Hotsprings.
Stone sculpture of a weary Icefields Parkway cyclist on the banks of the Athabasca River, just below the falls. Sombody removed his helmet, but his Speedo was nowhere in sight.
At least it was anatomically correct, if not PC.
Athabasca Falls, powerful & breathtaking, largest in all of the full length of the Rocky Mountains.
A must-see in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
The gang, at Sunwapta Falls.
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. If you have to ask how much a night's stay costs here, you can't afford to stay here.
Lake Louise, looking out from the Chateau.
Lakeview Lounge, at the Chateau. Chris & I had drinks here with Verna & Lorne, a couple from BC who we met on the trail to the upper glacier teahouse.
Chris & Doug at the halfway point on the teahouse trail, Lake Louise in the background.
One of the six glaciers visible from the teahouse.
At the teahouse, after tea & a sandwich, we were raided by a Clarks Nutcracker.

Lake Louise, glacially fed.
That Gray Jay really blends in well, no?
Gives you an idea of the size differential.
This trail warning greeted us at Lake Moraine, visited by Chris & Doug while Jeff and Jason were cycling south on the Icefields Parkway.
Lake Moraine. Awesome.
The following spectacular photos are from the Icefields Parkway, known as The Most Beautiful Road in the World, which connects Jasper NP to Banff NP. It is 230km of continuous World Heritage Site scenery completely protected in two national parks. It passes whithin viewing distance of seven icefields (large upland glaciers) and 25 smaller glaciers. The largest, the Columbia Icefield, is the largest in the Rocky Mountains with an area exceeding 200 square kilometers.
Approaching the Columbia Icefield.
From one National Park, where the waters flow to the Artic Ocean...
To another, just a step away, where the waters flow to the Atlantic Ocean...

Jason & Jeff, at the 93 turnoff for Vermillion Pass & southward to the border. Doug would not continue on with them as he was to fly back to Philadelphia from Calgary with Chris to repair his bike.

1 comment:

Carlos said...

Fantastic adventure! If it's possible, it would be great that you put it up a map about your situation.

For a foreinger like me, it's difficult to know where are you.

Best bishes,

Carlos from Barcelona (Spain)