Bicycle trip North-west USA, Canada and Alaska



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Vancouver to Victoria, BC

Stayed two days at Richmonds RV campsite very close to the Airport. Sightseeing in Vancouver: Granville Island, Chinatown, Gastown, Stanley Park (totempoles). To N. Vancouver with the Seabus. Fantastic views from Grouse Mountain. Then to Vancouver Island: bus (with bike rack!) to Ladner (cycling through the tunnel is forbidden), bike to Tsawwassen, ferry to Vancouver Island. Highway 17a, Butchart Gardens (very touristic), Stayed in Victoria. in Renouf Hostel/B&B (private room $27). Ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, WA. Couldnt manage to cycle up to Hurricane Ridge (too much rain). Next day Highway 101/20 to Port Townsend, ferry to Whidbey Island - Oak Harbor - Deception State park. Met Chuck from North-Carolina. At that time he hadn't decided yet whether he would do the San Juan Islands first or following the the Adventure Cycling "Northern Tier" route like me.

Vancouver skyline Stanley park totem pole, Vancouver Stanley park Totem pole, Vancouver Vancouver,  view from Grouse mountain bike on bus in Ladner/Vancouver Gulf Islands, ferry to Victoria Island Butchart gardens, Victoria Island Victoria

Vancouver/Vancouver Island

North Cascades National park, Washington state

Beautiful mountainous ride trough the North Cascades National Park. At the visitor center I met Chuck again. He'd decided to head for Montana and together we started the long climb to Rainy and Washington pass. The latter was very scenic one with jagged peaks still covered with snow. Chuck was already looking forward to Mazama. In an excellent travel account we both found on the internet (Seattle to Chicago by Denis Kertz) he'd read: 

"..We stopped in Mazama, the first town from the Pass, to eat. There was a restaurant with a tantalizing barbecue smell that turned out was closed due to a power outage..." 

After a big down hill unfortunately for Chuck there was no barbecue, but next to the general store/gas station/outdoor store was a stand where we could get some hamburgers with chips. We could camp for free behind to the community building, with nice facilities like a picnic table, water pump and a pit toilet. 

North Cascades national park Diablo lake, North Cascades national park North Cascades national park Washington pass, North Cascades national park Washington pass, North Cascades national park Washington pass, North Cascades national park

North Cascades national park

Sherman Pass

In each stage we were treated to a big climb. First Rainy and Washington pass, followed by Loup Loup and Wauconda pass. This day the long climb to Sherman pass was on the menu. As most of the climbs in this region this one was a long one but luckily not too steep. The scars of a big forest fire of 1988 were still visible. The weather was sunny and dry and we enjoyed the fantastic views from the top. In the distance we could see the snow-capped range of the North Cascades, a few hundred miles to the west where we came from.

Okanogan valley Okanogan valley Sherman pass Sherman pass

Semi-desert Okanogan valley and Sherman pass

Glacier National Park

Going-to-the-sun highway to Logan pass, located in Glacier National Park, Montana, is told as one of America's most beautiful climbs. At least according to many cyclists who answered the thread "Most beautiful climbs of the world" initiated by my brother on the rec.bicycle rides forum, so I definitely had to cycle there! On that day I'd planned to meet another rider I knew from the internet, Ashley from New Zealand. He made a bike trip from Los Angeles to Alaska. When I was able to check my E-mail in Kalispell, his brother wrote me he was several days ahead of his schedule and already in Canada... Oh well, no big deal. Maybe I could catch up with him in Banff.

Glacier NP Cycling restrictions, Going-to-the-sun-road, Glacier NP Glacier NP Glacier NP Weeping wall, Logan pass, Glacier NP Going-to-the-sun-road, Glacier NP
Glacier NP Logan pass, Glacier NP Logan pass, Glacier NP Chipmunk, Glacier NP St Mary Lake - Glacier NP Waterton Lake

Glacier national park

Going-to-the-sun highway was a wonderful climb indeed. There were only some restrictions for cyclists though. Due to traffic congestion it was not allowed to cycle on the west side of the climb between 11 am and 4 PM, so I started early from Avalanche creek campground. Because of the overwhelming views I hardly noticed I was climbing at all. Around 10 am I reached the summit and arrived early in the afternoon in St. Mary. Too early to stop, and at first sight not a very nice place, so I decided to head further north to Waterton Lakes. Hopefully catching up some time on Ashley. 

The Chief Mountain Highway to the Canadian border and Waterton Lakes National park was also very scenic and without too much traffic. Passing the Canadian border for the second time was not very difficult. Only the last part was tough, because of the head winds, mountains and many miles already traveled. 

On the expensive and crowded campground at Waterton, there were several other cyclists. One of them was a solo rider and I asked him where he started his journey. ' 2 months ago I started in San Diego', he replied. Hey, maybe that guy is Ashley, I thought, for I had no clue how he would look like. It was possible he'd changed his plans and started in San Diego instead of LA. So I asked if he was from New Zealand. Nope, his name was Andy and he was from Colorado. He was also planning to cycle the Icefields Parkway to Jasper and we decided to join each other to Banff. Warned for strong head winds on Crowsnest pass, we planned to ride an alternative route to Banff (highway 22), staying east of the Rockies instead of following the Adventure Cycling route to Radium Hot Springs.

A looney story

A few days before entering Banff, Andy and I were looking for a nice campsite in Kananaskis country. After a long but beautiful ride through great mountain scenery we entered Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Since the last developed campsite was at Waterton Lakes National park we were longing for a campsite with nice hot showers. No problems, our map indicated there were a few campsites inside the park. The first one we tried, had showers. To operate the showers, you needed some kind of tokens. They are called 'Loonies'. It was already late and the campground office was closed and there was no campground host to ask for those 'loonies'. We felt very disappointed and tired and decided to cycle to the next campground, only a few miles down the road, but another few steep climbs further. Anyway, there we learned that loonies were not tokens but simply one Canadian dollar coins... ;-) 

Prairies of Alberta Prairies of Alberta Long view Kananaskis country Kananaskis country  Peter Lougheed park, Kananaskis country
Highwood pas, Kananaskis country Highwood pass, Kananaskis country Moose, Smith Dorrien Spray Trail Smith Dorrien Spray Trail 2000 km near Canmore, Alberta Banff campground


Smith-Dorien Spray trail  (Kananaskis Country)

The next morning we decided to head to Banff over the Smith-Dorien Spray trail to Canmore. The park rangers recommended this gravel road. The Engadin Lodge halfway the trail had delicious apple strudel, which was the decisive factor to ride the trail instead of taking the easy highway 40. We didn't regret our decision. The scenery was fantastic and we spotted a moose on the road. It was a dusty ride, but fortunately for us there weren't too many cars. And the apple strudel tasted great. 

After the Spray lakes dam we rode down the steep descent to Canmore. Here I discovered I had reached my 2,000 kilometers since Vancouver. The last part to Banff we had to cycle over the freeway. Entering the National park, we were confronted with (compared to the USA) outrageous entree fees. We had either choice to buy a day pass ($5) or a pass which was valid for one year ($35). Because we planned to stay more than 5 days in the park I'd chosen the latter (and luckily could sell it afterwards to other cyclists I met outside the park). 

In Banff we camped at the huge Tunnel Mountain campground. No sign of Ashley, so we left a message on the bulletin board in case he was staying there. He also didn't checked in at the youth hostel. 

The first rest day of my trip in Banff, I spent doing my laundry at the laundromat, sending mail and used maps back home, dropping my films at a photo shop and looking for an internet cafe. At a computer office I was able to check my E-mail for 5 bucks: wow, 24 messages! Amusingly I read the E-mail correspondence between my family and Ashley's family in New Zealand. It seemed they were quite upset we didn't had met each other already. 

Banff to Prince Rupert >