CYCLING THE ICEFIELDS PARKWAY
DAY 5: Sunday, August 18, 2002 LAKE LOUISE TO RAMPART CREEK
|Originally, when we had tried to book Rampart Creek in March, they did not have three beds available, so we booked ourselves into the Hilda Creek Hostel, very close to the summit of Sunwapta Pass, and about 125 km from Lake Louise a big ride in one day considering all the climbing involved! Around mid-April, Hilda Creek Hostel had a fire, and two of the four buildings were burnt. Subsequently, we were rebooked, into Rampart Creek. We left Lake Louise at 8:00 a.m., but Tom soon discovered that his front rack had a sheared bolt. This was probably a result of the previous days ride where the tie had wrapped itself around the wheel rim. Tom rode back into town to seek out a repair. Paul and I waited about an hour before Tom arrived from the bike store with a new bolt attached to the rack. The ride continued. About 34 kilometres out of Lake Louise, we stopped for lunch on the shore of Bow Lake, the source of the Bow River. The restaurant was the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge. The following description of the lake is taken from their web site: "Num-Ti-Jah Lodge overlooks one of the most dramatic scenes in the Canadian Rockies. Out of Bow Lake the mountains rise steep and rugged. The blue ice of Crowfoot Glacier hangs suspended over the turquoise water. To the west, the craggy peaks of the Great Divide tower over Bow Glacier." Lunch was buffet style. We needed this fuel to get us over the upcoming Bow Pass. Bow Pass was not as difficult as we had feared. It was long, but the climb was not steep at all at least in the direction we were heading! From Lake Louise, at roughly 5000 above sea level, Bow Pass tops out at 6785 feet. However, there are sever plateaux along the way. The steepest part of the pass climbs about 800 feet in only six kilometres. It is all downhill after the pass. I left Paul and Tom behind on the downward portion of the pass. Riding downhill is my forté! Highway 93 generally follows river valleys. On the north side of Bow Pass we follow along the Mistaya River. The Mistaya eventually joins with the Saskatchewan River. At Saskatchewan River Crossing, where we had agreed to stop for lunch, I waited for the rest of the gang to arrive. After fifteen minutes, I can see the whites of Toms eyes coming up the slight hill into the restaurant. After a quick snack, and drink, we departed once again for Rampart Creek, only 12 kilometres away.We arrived at the quaint hostel of Rampart Creek around 4:30 p.m. Rampart Creek was virtually deserted at this time. Only the manager and one other cyclist from Calgary were present. We took advantage of this quiet time to "case out" the joint and surrounding area. Rampart Creek Hostel consisted of two accommodation cabins, one food preparation cabin, the managers cabin, a wood fired sauna, and a very comfortable outhouse located at the entrance to the hostel. Rampart Creek Hostel was nestled beside a creek with fast flowing glacial water, and high cliff walls around the creek ample space for nice hiking. Today, we covered 79 km in 4 hours, and thirty-four minutes of cycling, for an average speed of 20.9 kph. I achieved the respectable speed of 79 kph in one downhill stretch of the Bow Pass.Around the supper hour more people started to arrive, with a tour group consisting of about 10 people, mostly from Australia, New Zealand, Germany and France. We checked to see if our food had arrived, and were pleasantly surprised that it had. We enjoyed bowls of soup, and bread.That evening, Paul and I took advantage of the wood burning sauna, completed by a dip in the cool mountain stream running behind the sauna. Make that "cold" mountain stream! I believe it was Pauls first experience with a sauna, and predictably, he was the first to venture into the stream. I say "predictably," because Paul was sitting right beside the fireplace. The so called "hot seat!" Paul did not return after this cold foray. Mary, from New Zealand was next, followed by a Korean "team" of three people.