CYCLING THE ICEFIELDS PARKWAY
DAY 4: Saturday, August 17, 2002 BANFF TO LAKE LOUISE
We rode out of town via the Trans - Canada Highway, connecting with the Bow Valley Parkway. On the outskirts of town we rode over steel grates similar to Texas cattle grates. These were treacherous to cross on bikes, and I dont recommend riding over them, especially if they are wet!
Bow Valley Parkway is a very palatial road, with little traffic. It had no shoulders, but we found they werent necessary. Every kilometre or so, there were areas where we could pull off the main road to view the scenery or take a rest. This route was very scenic, especially in the area close to Castle Mountain. Just before Castle Mountain we came upon a few cars parked beside the road. Our first "wildlife" - a trio of elk was grazing at roadside. They were not intimidated at all by either the slowly passing traffic, or by us taking pictures from our bikes. We could see Castle Mountain from a distance looming on the horizon. We recognized it immediately just based upon descriptions we had from various guide books. In a clearing, we found a spot to take some nice pictures. Afterwards, there was a rather large downhill. I traversed this area first, and waited for the rest of the "crew" to arrive. After a few minutes, Paul arrived. But alas, there was no Tom. We waited several minutes for him to arrive to no avail. We decided to go back and look for him, fearing him may have fallen on the steep downhill, or had a mechanical problem. Back we climbed for four kilometres, and we finally saw him coming down the hill. He explained that at the last stop a tie from his pannier had wrapped itself around his front rim, effectively stopping movement of any kind. We shuddered when we considered the effect this might have had on this steep downhill portion! The distance covered today was 79.2 km, in 4 hours, 12 minutes, for an average speed of 18.8 kph. This speed reflects a steep 4 km section up to the actual lake above the townsite of Lake Louise. I estimate we climbed about 1400 feet or more in this short distance. We enjoyed bright sunshine today, with no wind. It had clouded over by the time we arrived in Lake Louise.
Our park pass was inspected for the first time since entering the park, and we were informed by the attendant that a grizzly bear had been spotted the day before crossing the road 100 metres from the gatehouse. We did not encounter any bears today, but we did manage to photograph a couple of elk, and we spotted a deer in the woods. At the hostel we met four American cyclists - Joe and Gerard, and their wives, who were going to be riding the Icefield Parkway southbound from Jasper. Graciously, they offered to bring some food up to the next two "wilderness" hostels for us. Paul and I quickly made a dash for the supermarket to rapidly collect some food staples, and a bottle of Merlot wine our prize upon arrival at Beauty Creek.
The Lake Louise Hostel was very nice close to hotel standards. The rooms held two bunk beds, and each room had its own toilet and sink. Showers were right outside the door, and it appeared we shared the shower with only one or two other rooms. The price was $30.67 apiece, inclusive of taxes.