CYCLING THE ICEFIELDS PARKWAY
DAY 8: Wedensday, August 21, 2002 JASPER REST DAY
Today we had decided to ride up to Mount Edith Cavell. I think Paul and Tom felt sorry for me. My heart was not really in it anymore, but I was on a quest, after all. We munched down a "hearty" breakfast at McDonalds. The restaurant was at Pauls request. Afterwards, Tom and Paul did some last minute souvenir hunting in downtown Jasper. While waiting for Tom and Paul to return I engaged in an interesting conversation with a local teenager on a Brodie downhill mountain bike. It seems he was sponsored by Brodie, and he was quite eager to tell me he had already broken his neck once, and his friend had broken his neck twice. I wasnt quite sure the broken necks were the object of their cycling endeavours, or sort of like a tattoo to show their friends.
Upon Tom and Pauls return, we started off for the hostel, about six kilometers away on a relatively steep uphill. It is fairly close to the Jasper Tramway, located on Whistlers Mountain. On the way up this hill, Tom and I decided to stop (yes, it was that steep). This proved to be a bit of a mistake, as it was very difficult to get the momentum to continue without falling over by the time we re-clipped into our pedals. Paul, on the other hand, with his mountain bike gearing simply spun away and easily beat us to the hostel.
We checked into the hostel, and made another decision. If Mount Edith Cavell was this steep (as we had heard from other hostellers), we didnt want any part of it today. We decided to hike up Whistlers Mountain and return on the skytram instead. We were told this would take us about three hours.
We started up, as we had a lot of time on our hands. The first part proved to be quite easy, with relatively good trails up the mountain in a series of switchbacks. Gradually it got steeper. At no point were we discouraged however, as we passed a few families with very young children climbing up today. It was about 27ºC when we left the hostel, and I was sweating profusely. My t-shirt was completely soaked with sweat, and the single water bottle I had was starting to run low. As we climbed, the tall alpine gave way to smaller and smaller trees, and finally just rocks. It looked like the moon, and the crisp atmosphere made things even more surreal. We reached the to in 2 hours and 35 minutes. Not a record by any stretch of the imagination, but a good effort for the over the forty crowd.
Paul and I continued to the summit, about another 800 feet in elevation. It offered some spectacular views, including one of my coveted mountain Edith Cavell! Our adventure was almost over. We made our way back down to the tram, paid our $11.00, and were whisked back down in a matter of minutes.
At the hostel, I prepared the grossest meal I have had to eat in a long time. It consisted of a mix of two different "add water and eat" dishes. Tom had his plate completely cleaned off by the time I sat down to eat. I stomached my way through about one-half of my plate, before I chucked the rest in the garbage. I dont think Paul made it that far. Tom still claims to this day that he ate everything on his plate. Damn, that boy must have been really, really hungry!!!
Sleep came early that night, surrounded by about 50 other bodies in the same common sleeping area. But it ended rudely at about 5:00 a.m., as we had to get ready to leave.
The Sun Dog Tours van showed up almost on schedule at 6:00 a.m. After a bit of seat moving, we managed to fit the bikes and luggage in the van, and we were off for the Calgary airport. Along the way, our eagle-eyed driver pointed out about 40 elk, and one bull moose along the highway. We still did not see any bears. The five hour drive kind of trivialized our six days of bike riding, but I dont think you can ever truly enjoy the vistas the way we saw them from the back seat of a steel cube moving at 100 kph!
Paul and Tom almost to the summit
Kevin and Paul with snowballs on the summit
Paul on his way down to catch the tram