CYCLING THE ICEFIELDS PARKWAY
DAY 7: Tuesday, August 20, 2002 BEAUTY CREEK TO JASPER
Originally, we (and when I say we, I should say, I) had planned this day to end up at the Mount Edith Cavell Hostel. Tom and Paul had other ideas, however. Tom and Paul are not "hostel" people. Tom and Paul are not campers either. Tom and Paul like hot showers. Tom and Paul dont like sharing their bedroom with 9 other strangers. Since our arrival in Rampart Creek, they had been planning their mutiny. They wanted a hotel, with hot and cold running water, a shower, and less than four people to a room. I was outvoted, and this day we bypassed Mt. Edith Cavell entirely! We would have to forfeit almost $50 for the nights stay, and pay an additional $160 for a night in a hotel. I guess to them, though it was worth it. To me, I think I was trying to get back some childhood memories. Some of my fondest times were camping in the Canadian Rockies with my dad. Mount Edith Cavell held some great memories for me. My mom still delights in telling stories of how her six year old son climbed half way up Mt. Edith Cavell. I am sure it was only a couple hundred feet or so, up some well groomed path.
Todays journey was mostly downhill. Early in the morning, on my way to the impressive Beauty Creek outhouse (it has some interesting quotes to peruse while one does his or her "business"), it was very foggy, and you couldnt see more than ¼ km. By the time we left, however, there was bright sunshine and no evidence of any fog. The temperature eventually warmed up to 23º, and we were able to finally cycle in shorts and jerseys.
We left Beauty Creek around 10:15 a.m. After 32 kilometres, one bee sting to my temple, and 1hour and 25 minutes of cycling, we reached Sunwapta Falls. This is a fast moving, narrow falls, with a rather large drop off through a rocky gorge. There are all sort of hiking trails along the sides of the Sunwapta River around the falls, as well as a wooden footbridge to cross for a view from the other side. We spent about a half-hour at the Falls before proceeding out the road intersection for lunch at the restaurant.
We finished lunch and resumed our journey at 1:15 p.m. Our next stop would be at the equally breathtaking Athabasca Falls. The 24 kilometres took us the better part of an hour. Athabasca Falls had more water dropping down a similar gorge to the one in Sunwapta, but I for one did not find it as spectacular. It was also more crowded. We bumped into a German couple we had met the previous night in Beauty Creek, and they agreed to take our group shot by the Falls.
Cycling out, we stayed on the main highway, #93, instead of 93A. This meant that we would certainly bypass Mt. Edith Cavell. I rode by myself, several kilometres ahead of Paul and Tom. I stopped at the junction where the two roads rejoined, just after crossing over the Athabasca River and waited for my two "comrades." From this point it, was 5 kilometres back to the junction of the Mt. Edith Cavell Road. I had contemplated starting out on my own, but I wanted to remain friends with the others, so I waited. Besides, there was a park entrance, and I didnt know if they could get through without the National Park Pass, which was in my possession. Upon their arrival, Paul said that they would go on to Jasper, but I was free to go to Mt. Edith Cavell if I wanted. I thought about the logistics, and I capitulated and agreed to accompany them to Jasper. Mt. Edith Cavell would have to wait. We did however take a few pictures in front of a directional sign showing the distance to the turnoff me with a "thumbs up," Tom and Paul indicating a "thumbs down." Isnt democracy wonderful?
We arrived in Jasper at 4:40 p.m., covering 92.8 K in 3 hours and 51 minutes of cycling time, for an average speed of 24.1 kph. I attained a maximum speed of 71 kph. I thought at one point I would surpass my downhill record of 79 kph (also achieved on this trip), but alas, a van pulled out 1/3 down the hill and I had to brake to stay behind him. I guess thats not bad, considering this was in a 50 kph zone!
We found a hotel called the Tonquin Inn, which was very nicely situated and answered the needs of Paul and Tom quite nicely. OK, I admit it - I did enjoy that warm shower, as well!