Day 19: Elk, Elk, Elk before Jasper

It was a warm and dry night and I slept watching the skies all night. Was lovely indeed. I was up at 7 and we made b’fast and it was a slow start to the day. It was less then 40 km to Jasper and I was planning to spend a while in town researching options and figured there was not much of a rush to get going.

The family I camped with offered me some hot chocolate (yum) and by the time we started it was 10 AM. They were lighter (or stronger) and rode off much faster than I could. We regrouped whenever they stopped to take pictures and we spotted 3 elks along the way. They are pretty animals and whenever we stopped, some car would stop by and then a host of cars would follow suit.

After the last bit of hill, the family dropped me and rode into the distance. I took a gentler pace and rode into the town of jasper after passing the timeline and adjusting my clock. When I reached the information center, I met Ann again. It took me a while to realise she was the park ranger I had met a couple of days earlier. We spent a while discussing hiking, mountains and cycling and I realised she was saving up to do a Pan American ride in a few years time. Awesome. She pointed a few camping and back country tips that I think might be useful along the way ahead.

The day got much hotter and I was itching to have a decent shower and wash up my clothes. So I caved in and decided to take up a stay at a hostel, about 7 km away. I did some grocery shopping, food for tonight and the next week or so and headed to the hostel. As it would have to be, the place was on top of a steep hill. A dutch cyclist I had met at the visitor center was also heading there and I met him at the hostel. The price was steeper at 30$ for a dorm (in the dark end of the room, duh), but I was glad to have a good scrub and clean my clothes.

I spent the rest of the day talking to the dutch cyclist. Its a bummer that he is heading out too fast. May be I will wait out for Krissi tomorrow to see if our schedules sync. Else I should be on my way. the route is supposed to be stunning.

Route: Luzerne Campground – Jasper
Distance: 40 km
Ascent:
Descent:
Time in saddle: 3:30 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 87.40
Comments: Gentle slopes towards Jasper. The day got much hotter however

Day 18: Bear sighting

I was planning to slow down today and given I hadn’t done much work on the blog in the past week, it was high time I took time off to attend to that. I was up early and made a leisurely b’fast at the campsite with my neighbours and took time to dry my stuff out before heading out.

It was pretty warm and a load of walkers were on their way up to Kinney lake. The ride out of obviously lot easier, but i took it gentle on the bike. I didn’t want to stress the wheels too much on rough terrain. As I was heading out of the trailhead, I met a few Mexican guys who had cycled the Pan-American route from Alaska to Tijuana and they invited me to their place when I was in the neighbourhood (still many months away).

I spent the better part of the day hanging out at the visitor centre and uploading pictures, videos and the blog (things I do for my loyal followers). I was hungry at 2 and with the work done, decided to eat at the cafe. I met an Israeli couple who were bike touring too and we chatted a while. By the time it was 4 PM, I was not sure if I should head towards Jasper or just hangout at a campsite here.

I rode to the nearby camp, but I felt pretty good on the bike and looped back into the hill heading East. Well I was in for it and I figured I’d do the 40 km or so to the next camp ground.

It was a pleasant ride as the weather mellowed in the evening. The views were fantastic and the slopes gentle and I could just pedal on. A little bit of headwind was not too much of a problem either. At one point, I saw a small bear rummaging around the side of the road. He looked pretty harmless to be honest, yes he is a wild animal, but he was just minding his own business. Around 9 pm, I was not sighting the campsite yet and I was starting to look at options to wild camp. There was a pretty perfect spot, a trailhead with toilets and a small creek running by it. and plenty of flat land to pitch my camp. I was ready to stop for the day when I sighted a sign which mentioned 2 km to the campsite.

I figured I’d scout that before coming back. Just a km away, I spotted an Elk who was heading toward the place I was planning to stay at. They can be a bit cranky I suppose, but generally I find wild animals stay away from human presence.

This was a park managed RV camp and it was nearly full. I rode around when I spotted a german family on bikes already in one site. I asked if I could share their site and they gladly allowed it. Matthias, Tobias, Karina and Sabrina were friendly and the parents are reliving a 23 year old route they had done. Quick dinner and an early sleep completed the day!

Route: Lake Kinney Campground – Luzerne Campground
Distance: 60 km
Ascent:
Descent:
Time in saddle: 4:30 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 10.45
Comments: Nice ride in the evening. Great to have daylight till late evening here

Day 17: Day hike to Berg Lake

Myself and Krissi planned to be up at our regular times, around 7 and then try to head out. I had learned that though she was heading to jasper from here, the same as me, she was planning to stay another day in this park. She was planning to camp up at the next lake for the night. I figured I could do the day hike and look around the scenery before heading back to Kinney lake to came again.

She had a heavy pack with tents and everything and I just took most of my expensive gear and was reasonably light. The route up was fantastic and passed thro some braided streams that flowed into the lake. Up in the valley were some stunning waterfalls that were cascading hundreds of feet into multiple ledges before hitting the ground. Whoa!

The hike itself was gentle and we chatted a while loudly, mostly talking about each other’s travels and also to keep the bears away (supposedly loud noises help). There were steep bits and though I reckoned they’d be difficult, it turned out to be pretty mild for me… May be I still have my hiking legs on.

However, the shoes I had was not ideal and was starting to create a blister in one of the toes. I guess I just have to live with it. The vies were stunning though, every couple of K’s we’d hit up another spectacular waterfall and it was beautiful to be in the alpine setting.

The highlight was the Emperor falls which was a roaring torrent, spraying mist all around. Well worth my effort getting in here. After a while the forest ended and we were dumped in a stunning and wide valley with Mt. Robson towering over. There were glaciers and a few bridges over the streams and soon we ended up at the Marmot camp ground which was Krissi’s stop. I spent a while enjoying the sun and my lunch of the packaged muffin and after 2 pm bid farewell, hopefully we’d bump in along the jasper National park. It was fun hanging out with Krissi and would have been nicer if our schedules matched. Ah well. C’est la vie!

I met a few nice people along my way down toward Kinney and had some nice chats with people young and old! A nice couple from Prince George also invited me to their place. Would love to, but just too out of the way for this trip! Definitely next time!

While making dinner I met a nice family with children who were cooking gourmet meals with dehydrated food. They were really cool and by the end of the evening, I had offered to carry their garbage out and they had get me a second dinner with a wrap and nearly half a litre of pudding! They even gave me a nice coffee percolator! Awesome, I am going to drink gourmet coffee from now on! yay!

Good hike to end a nice warm up to the next leg of cycling!

Route: Berg lake trail (hiking)
Distance: 16 km
Ascent:
Descent:
Time in saddle: (hiking) 7:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 0.00
Comments: Hikes take me to much more awesome country.

Day 16: Cruising to Mt Robson

So I had decided to take the offer by Clark and Wendy to speed up my ride towards Jasper. I was unsure if I should get off at Mt. Robson and check it out, but finally decided I’d do that, given its just on my way.

Clark and Wendy were really sweet and though it was a bit of a challenge for to get the RV (more like a container truck) down the narrow roads, it was successful. Once on the highway it was a smooth ride out. I was staring out of the window looking at the bits of landscape I had missed. There were bits that were beautiful running along rivers, but mostly pine covered mountains. The last 60 km was pretty with higher mountains with snow tops showing up. I think it would have been a nice ride, but hey, I am happy to speed things up :-)

After saying goodbyes to the lovely couple I headed into the visitor centre to see what I can do around here. I had learned before that I could cycle up to the first campsite called Kinney Lake and my idea was I could do a hike into the mountains and stay the night. It was possible and I booked the last campsite at Kinney lake and hopped out to the cafe to carry a packed lunch.The place was pricy and catered for the busload of tourists that do the nice leisurely hike to the lake. I ended up getting some high energy, low priced muffins and scones and a big box of fries. I figured I’d eat them at the camp before the longer hike. I met a nice aussie couple who were tourers themselves and it was really cool chatting with them. They had friends who were on a long tour starting in Europe. Ah, always fun to meet people who appreciate the simpler pleasures in life…

It was nearly 3 when I headed in and I figured I was cutting it tight with a hike in the day. The initial bit of the trail was nice but as it turned out the grading was for mountain biking and it was a bit too much for my loaded tourer to handle. Some of the climbs were stiff enough that I had to stop and push. I met a park warden who was on her way out and she really recommended that I stay another night and do my hike in the morning. With that advice in hand, I was not in a hurry to reach my campsite and enjoyed the push-ride route into the forest. There were a couple of hills and the last one was a stiff set of switchbacks which was a real work out for me to get over.

The campsite was fantastic though overcrowded (well, its an easy 7 km walk from the car park, no wonder). I saw Krissi there, who was already camped and gave a big smile looking at my bike. I noticed she had a bike with racks on too and lo and behold I met another tourist as crazy as me to push a bike with load thro the switchbacks. We chatted a while and realised she has met all the cyclists I have along the way and even stayed with Niki and Anna at Pemberton! Talk of a small world!

Well dinner, chats and then an early evening. I slept pretty well and soon too. There was a bit of a drizzle but nothing like a few days ago!

Route: Kinney lake trail (Hitch between Clearwater and Mt. Robson)
Distance: 7 km
Ascent:
Descent:
Time in saddle: 1:30 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 25.74
Comments: So nice to be back on the saddle

Day 15: Drying out

The forecast for the morning was for rain to stop and I was hoping for a bit of sun to dry out most of my gear after the long thunderstorm. At Midnight, the pitter patter stopped and I was relieved that the forecast might just be right.

I work up early as the sun warmed up my tent. It was just about 6:45 and I walked out to the fancy restaurant to see if they had any b’fast. I had stored my food (away from bears, of course… Incidentally there is a mama bear with 2 cubs in the vicinity) in Wendy’s truck and was a bit too peckish to wait for them to be up. Restaurant opened only at half 7 and I hung out in there drinking coffee and tanked up on a nice pancake when service started.

The sun was bright and shining and it was an opportunity to dry all my gear. Awesome. thro the past days rain, I noticed a couple more micro holes in the fly and I went about patching them once they dried out. Nice to get some of the gear cleaned up and ship shape for the days ahead.

Given the day was great, I could have started today, but wendy and Clark suggested that they could give me a ride up to jasper tomorrow as they were heading home and it was on the way. These days would have been non riding days for me regardless, but I guess it would be nice to skip some of the crazy highway 5 riding. I was delighted with the offer and I would be doing the next 350 km on the fast lane!

I had a plan to spend some time hiking in Mt. Robson along the way. I might still do that, but lets see how it pans out. The rest of the day was spent warming up my bones and taking a walk around this resort. It’s a rely fancy spot with most of the visitors being rich European families who hang about swigging fancy wine at the patio and take their car for 300m to the restaurant. The end I am camping at is a lot more fun I reckon… People have been super friendly and we’ve been having our own little party here.

To be honest, I have lucked out being here during the storm I pay 8$ a night to camp and the place is really beautiful and have met some really nice folks. Wendy and Clark let me hide out in their camper away from the cold, shared their food, coffee and beers, had really good conversations and they have been so much fun to hang out with. Even gloomy, rainy, cold days brighten up with nice people around eh!

Route: -
Distance: 0 km (Drying!)
Ascent: 0 ft
Descent: 0 ft
Time in saddle: 0:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 23.40
Comments: Cold, but not so wet!