Saturday, 8 August 2009

Icefield Parkway Cycling Trip


I was excited as this was the week of our summer cycling trip. We have gone to many different places, mostly in the Rockies, during the past several summers and this year was a repeat ride - the Icefield Parkway that goes by the Columbia Icefields. It is a 230 km ride each way for a total of 460 km (285 miles). Satellite image link.

We headed out from Maple Ridge on August 1st - holiday weekend. The 9 hour trip from home to Jasper was fairly uneventful. We did pass some areas which had quite a lot of smoke and haze, reminders that there were several fires still burning in the province.

The main campground in Jasper was full but we managed to pitch our tent in the overflow lot and bedded down for the night, hopeful of good weather in the morning. The bottle of whisky that we had purchased after dinner provided a couple wee drams that helped to encourage sleep.

We awoke around 6:30 and broke camp, ending up at a restaurant for bacon and eggs at 7:30. The previous night we had decided to bring one vehicle with us - something we called a "supported ride" - as the weather forecast had some iffy days ahead. It would turn out to be a very smart choice.

We were on the road by 8:00, a tad late, but I felt good from my riding in Victoria and things progressed nicely. It was cool still when we left and rolling - which means hilly but not insanely steep. I had rigged up a solar charger for my ipod which worked very well so I had good tunes and a variety of podcasts while I rode. Traffic was also quite good.


We stopped several times for water breaks and, after about 70 kms, came to Sunwapta Lodge, a place which had accommodations and, more importantly, a cafeteria. We had lunch there and a quick rest and then set out for the last 10 or 20 km for the campground at Jonas Creek.

We had gone about 80 km that day and I had driven for the last 20 km. A supported ride gives everyone the opportunity to take a break - like it or not - but I was quite happy to have an easy end to the day.

Jonas Creek is a fairly basic campground - an outhouse and a water station - so we all set up camp and then dipped our sore parts in the creek. After a bit of a rest, we all hopped into the vehicle and headed back to the Sunwapta Lodge for a dinner of chicken burgers. Very civilized!


Back at the campground, we were pretty tired and I think I headed to the tent around 9 o'clock.


The next morning, we were up at 6 and on the road by 7. It was another sunny day which definitely helped as there were a few bigger hills. The terrain steadily climbed until we arrived at the Icefield Centre. The centre is where tours leave for the Columbia Glacier but you can see the glacier quite well from the cafeteria. We had a less than exciting brunch at ridiculously expensive prices - captive audience, I guess.

The whole bike ride is in a National Park. It was a little disheartening to see that all of the food operators in the park supplied most things - ketchup, butter, jam, vinegar, etc - in little packages. In this time of environmental awareness, you'd think that Canada's National Parks would set an example.


After brunch we headed out of the Icefield Centre, heading south on the parkway. We ended up our destination sometime later at Saskatchewan River Crossing. Finally, a motel!

The Crossing Resort is really just a basic motel - and one that is in need of a bit of maintenance. The girls at the front desk, however, were very hospitable and friendly - but had some bad news - the weather forecast called for rain for the next five days. We decided, after several beer that evening, to check the weather the next morning and make a decision at that time.


When 6 AM rolled around, I was tired, but actually felt pretty good. We met outside the rooms and looked up to a grey, grey sky. Not a patch of blue was evident. We looked over to Bow Summit - our climb for the day - and it was shrouded in cloud. There were even rumours that there was snow forecast for the summit. We then looked towards Lake Louise and it was clear that it was raining. The forecast continued to predict 5 days of rain.

We decided that the trip was all about having a good time - and slogging through the wet was not our idea of that. We had all ridden the parkway before (in good weather) and decided that it was a better idea to pack it in. Waiting out a day or even two is one thing - five days? Forget it!

We carefully disassembled the bikes, threw our bags in the back. recycled the empty bottle of scotch that the four of us had imbibed during that past three nights, and headed back home.


Thanks to Chuck McCafferty (unframed) and Keith Rajala (framed) for their photos of the trip.

5 comments:

Keith said...

Another great trip with great friends. :-)
Keith

Just Plane Jayne said...

What an amazing adventure! I am going to bookmark this site and come back often to follow the trip. thanks for sharing.

Baron's Life said...

You know what...this is the best post I read all summer from all the blogs I read daily.
I really don't know what to say, except that you brought back some memories of my teenage years...when together with a group of CEGEP attending friends we would go cycling all over Quebec...and do 80 km a day on a saddle... I once ate a JUMBO pizza, the likes of which I bet you never seen all by myself....
Absolutely great...thanks for sharing bud...

Baron's Life said...

You know what...this is the best post I read all summer from all the blogs I read daily.
I really don't know what to say, except that you brought back some memories of my teenage years...when together with a group of CEGEP attending friends we would go cycling all over Quebec...and do 80 km a day on a saddle... I once ate a JUMBO pizza, the likes of which I bet you never seen all by myself....
Absolutely great...thanks for sharing bud...

Dave Dixon said...

Keith
Hey, I only travel with the best!

Jayne
Glad you enjoyed the entry. I'll try to keep you entertained!

Baron
Wow, and this entry didn't have anything to do with scootering! I'm really glad that you enjoyed the post and that it brought back fond memories - that's awesome!