Saturday, August 10, 2013

Whitefish into Canada to Jasper National Park

When I opened my eyes I was immediately wide awake.  I was excited for today's ride across the Canadian border and into their provincial parks.  Today's ride was going to be the most scenic one yet and I wasn't going to let sleeping get in the way of the sight seeing.  I would hate to have to rush through the park because I needed to find a place to sleep later in the afternoon.

Phillip, my new riding buddy, was already packed up and ready to go.  This was his first night from his home in Spokane, Washington so I can imagine he was stoked to ride all day.  I on the other hand was stoked but my body wasn't out of neutral just yet.   I was doing my best to get my tent down and bags packed up as quickly as I could. I made a pot of Chuck Norris coffee and we started up the bikes.

The packing and unpacking has become a matter of routine.  All the gear only fits if you pack it just right so without that routine I would be playing luggage tetris for hours until I could cram all the boxes and my duffel.  It also helps to know exactly what is in which box or bag.  I hate having to search all 4 for one item.

We rode for about an hour when we finally got to the border.  I won't lie to you guys I was nervous about it.  I was denied entry into Costa Rica once about 4 years ago.  They literally turned me around and put me right back on a plane to Florida.  I argued in English and Spanish all the way until they assigned an armed guard with an M16 to just stare at me.  Since that failed attempt at a surf trip every time I get to any border I get pretty anxious.  The US Canada border was no exception.  I don't think a plot twist like that is needed in this story just yet.

The ride through the Kootenay-Banff-Canadian-Jasper National Parks, or wherever I was, was exceptional.  The views were completely spectacular.  Mile after mile I wanted to pull over and take more pictures.  I think we were stopping 3-4 times an hour just to pause and take a look around.  The mountains and cliff faces were larger then I ever imagined.  I had no idea Zeus could stack rocks as high as these.  I've been places and I've seen mountains before.  These are worth a look so make sure you put this ride on your list.  I bet you could spend a week in these parks bouncing to and fro between hot springs, hikes, bike rides and campgrounds.  Any takers?

We spent most of the day in the parks cruising North.  Phillip and his "gently" used bike were keeping up just fine although he was putting out some smoke and his bike was making a funny clicking noise.  He kept assuring me he and his were fine.  I'm not a mechanic but to me it seemed like the beginning stages of a stroke.  

Towards the end of our tour through the parks we went through an area called the "ice fields."   I can't explain how cool it was to see an actual glacier.  We were at 6,000 ft above sea level and the temps has dropped to the mid to upper 60's.  At the lower altitudes it was 75 degrees.  I have a feeling I'm going to need to buy some warmer clothes within the next couple of days.  The weather up North looks like it's not going to cooperate with me.  

After the parks and a very wet 50 miles we ended up in a town called Jasper. I inquired about a campground and then we pulled into Jasper Brewing Co. for a beer and a hot meal.  I had myself a few drinks while I soaked up their Wifi.  

After dinner we cruised into Pocahontas Campground and set up in a nice little spot.  It had been raining so everything was pretty wet but we were comfortable enough.  The both of us tried to make a fire but the logs were pretty saturated.  We basically just warmed ourselves by a smokey toxic fire of Phillips motor oil and chain lube.  

I took about 100 pictures today and 40 minutes of video while riding around today.  I'm not going to post them all up now but here's a little taste of what today's ride looked like.

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