Bicycle trip North-west USA, Canada and Alaska

Banff to Prince Rupert


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Icefields Parkway

Castle Mountain Lake Louise Bear warning sign, Icefields Parkway Bow lake, Icefields Parkway Icefields Parkway Icefields Parkway Mosquito creek, Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway

From Lake Louise we cycled up the Icefields Parkway. We met lots of other cyclists, most of them riding an organized tour. It was again a beautiful sunny day and all along the way we passed beautiful mountain scenery with turquoise lakes, rugged mountains with glaciers and waterfalls.At the Saskatchewan River Crossing a large group of cyclists ended their day, but we continued our ride. 
At Rampart Creek hostel I left a message for Ashley, maybe he was cycling behind us? The hostel manager saw a couple of grizzlies this morning, but despite all the warning signs along the road, we hadn't seen one single bear in the whole park yet. 

Sunwapta pass

Just after the Weeping Wall viewpoint the ten kilometers long climb of Sunwapta pass started. Although it was a bit lower than Bow pass, it was a tougher one. The steep section just after the strange wide curve wasn't too bad due to the tail wind, but near the view point of Bridal Veil Falls there seemed no end to the climb.  The higher we went, the more impressive the glaciers. Finally we arrived at the top. The sign was too heavy to take it with me on the bike as souvenir...A few miles further down hill, we camped at the Icefields campground opposite of the foot of the Athabasca Glacier. On the bulletin board someone left a message for me...??? 

Sunwapta pass Sunwapta pass Athabasca glacier Athabasca glacier Athabasca falls Ashley

Sunwapta pass/Athabasca Glacier

Athabasca glacier

It was no surprise to me the message on the bulletin board was from Ashley and soon we found him at the campground. We spent the whole evening exchanging stories of the past weeks. The next day the three of us cycled to the Icefields information center, close to the campground. A ride with the snow coaches on top of the glacier was a bit too expensive, so we decided to hike up the opposite mountain slope for a better view on the Columbia Icefields. 
It was a strenuous and steep hike through the shrubs. From the rim we enjoyed the excellent views over the valley and the glaciers. Back at the visitor center we were looking for Andy, who turned back half way the climb. It was very crowded with tourists and we couldn't find him, so we headed for Jasper, supposing he was already on the road. 

The bumpy road to Jasper was a bit of a bummer, not a nice long descent as we'd expected. After a stop at the scenic Athabasca falls we took the old, narrow highway 93a, a very scenic detour. On our way to Jasper we met again two other cyclists, who started at the same campground and helped them with some mechanical problems. It seemed they met our pal Andy, who was cycling behind us! Later that day we found him at Whistlers campground, he saw us leaving the visitor center while he was still there... 

Mount Robson

Jasper seemed to be the place where a lot of other cyclists ended their trip. Andy's trip is also finished and he's happy going back home. Ashley is a bit tired of cycling, being on the road for three months as well. He's longing for the Alaskan coast and didn't like to cycle all the way to Prince Rupert. After gathering information at the bus and train station, we'd decided to ride the next day to Mount Robson. From there I was planning to cycle to Prince George. Ashley preferred to hitchhike to Prince Rupert. 

On the Yellowhead highway to Mount Robson we encountered some head winds and it became clear our pace was a bit different. I arrived alone at Mount Robson, the highest mountain of the Canadian Rockies, rising high above the valley floor, a spectacular sight. I asked some people on motor bikes if they'd seen Ashley, but nobody had seen another cycle tourist behind me. I also saw someone waving from a car while I was cycling, so I assumed Ashley got a ride to Prince George. I put a note on the bulletin board and went looking for a campground. At the campground I met a Dutch couple, Mariette and Robert, making a bike trip through the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They left Fairbanks, Alaska 6 weeks ago! It was nice to speak Dutch again after several weeks, we roasted some marshmallows and time went by very fast. It was already dark when I pitched my tent at their site and forgot to look for Ashley at the visitor center. 

Yellowhead highway, between Jasper and Mnt Robson Mount Robson Kinney Lake, Mount Robson Berg trail, Mount Robson Hitchhiker, Yellowhead highway Yellowhead highway

Yellowhead Highway and Mount Robson

Yellowhead Highway

The following morning I got up very early to watch the sunrise from Kinney Lake. A deep blue lake at the foot of Mount Robson and accessible by a trail. Back at the visitor center I met Ashley again! He couldn't find me and pitched his tent elsewhere on the campground. After breakfast we cycled together to Tete Jaune, from where Ashley started hitchhiking. Maybe we would meet again somewhere along the Alaskan coast, maybe not. And a few hours later I met him in McBride waiting for another ride!

After two days of cycling the remote Yellowhead highway I arrived in Prince George. Along the highway I saw the first bears of my trip! The weather deteriorated, it kept on raining the whole day and I finally decided to take the train to Prince Rupert. Since there was no luggage coach, it was not possible to take bicycles on the train. I didn't like the alternative (taking the Greyhound bus) and decided to try my luck in hitchhiking the following morning. Luck was not on my side, but the weather improved a bit and I started heading for the next town Vanderhoof. After checking out the local campground (didn't like the gravel sites, too much mosquitoes and too expensive) I pitched my tent behind a baseball field. The next day I bought a bus ticket to Prince Rupert, wrapped my bike in cardboard and boarded the bus. The whole day the weather was awful and I was glad I was now busing instead of cycling. The rain had stopped as soon as we arrived in Prince Rupert, the port to the Great Alaska, my next adventure... 

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