Monday, May 18, 2015

Jasper and Banff

Alright, there's been a long gap since I wrote stuff down unfortunately, I've been moving too quickly. Wednesday morning I woke up early and got to the Fort Nelson visitor center when they opened. The very helpful worker there gave me a bunch of information packets for the area and I found one specific to mountain biking. I headed towards Prince George, it would be a long day to get there but I had a couch when I did. Along the drive I saw a turnoff for wildlife viewing, and decided to take it.

I followed the signs but after the first couple I didn't see any viewing area so I kept driving. Turned out to be a neat road with several bridges over some very scenic highway turnoff  streams and ponds.

After following the road for approximately 15 miles I ended up giving up and turning around. I found that the turnoff for wildlife viewing was closed, and only a few hundred "meters", whatever those are, away from the highway. It wasn't a total loss though, I let Yogi run alongside the car to get some exercise.

Once I arrived at Prince George, I mooched off the visitor center wifi and met up with a friend I had met in Prince Rupert. We had dinner and some beers at a place called Nancy O's. The next morning I washed my bike at a manual car wash to get some of the dirt and crap off, and had a bunch of extra time, so I washed my bike again. Miho looks better dirty anyway.

The next day I was off towards Jasper. I got distracted at a scenic turnoff, turned out to be the waterfall that was the upper limit of the salmon run, where they stop to spawn. I knew I was getting close to Jasper when I saw some enormous mountains on the horizon. Mount Robson was the first that made me stop and see if there were any trails. The visitor center (I'm loving these places) pointed me towards a nice trail that ended at an enormous lake surrounded by snow capped peaks. It was incredibly scenic, and ran along a turbulant river the whole length as well.

After getting back I kept moving towards Jasper. I found the Overlander Trail, which would be a total of 30 km, on top of the 16 km I had already ridden. I decided to go for it, if Yogi could survive this plus Mount Robson he'll officially be some sort of mutant cybord super dog. The trail ran along the large river, with some scenic overlooks as well as a nice clearing where an older settler built some now delapidated cabins. Naturally Yogi did fine, he chased deer a few times, and had enough energy at the end to chase some off near my car.

Overlander Trail in Jasper

A video posted by Byron Young (@byron.a.young) on

After some beers in downtown Jasper, I slept at Whistlers Campground which was the one campground open. It came with free wood, and I was hopeful that the clouds clearing up would give me my last opportunity to see the Northern Lights. I stayed up pretty late, and woke up fairly consistently through the night, but I didn't see any lights. At least I got to see them in Iceland!

The next day I moved on to Banff. The park started with some enormous mountains on either side that looked sort of like larger but flatter versions of Boulder's flatirons, except you're surrounded by them on either side. These mountains get larger and higher in altitude until you're driving through the Columbia Icefields, which contain several enormous glaciers. One seemed to be an enormous wall of ice several hundred feet high, perched atop a large cliff another 500 feet tall.

Enormous ice field!

A photo posted by Byron Young (@byron.a.young) on

Along the way there was a group of goats in the middle of the highway, apathetically watching cars as they passed. They seemed too easy to hunt, maybe they're more afraid of people on foot?

Mountain goats!

A video posted by Byron Young (@byron.a.young) on

I decided to go a little out of the way and see the town of Banff. I found a trail that circled the eastern part of town. After getting massively lost at the start of the trail I got back on track. I was hoping that the trail would go near a river as the map suggested, but it turned out to be near a river in only the map's perspective as the trail ran along the side of a huge ravine with the river a couple hundred feet below.

After sampling Banff Brewing Company I continued on south towards a hot spring that one of the rangers recommended. It was well worth the long dirt road to get there, it was a very natural hot spring with basically just a few rocks moved around to create the pools directly next to a pleasant river. It reminded me a lot of the hot spring along the Kern River in California. After spending way too much time there I continued on the road where some of the other people at the hot spring were camping. It was a nice spot right next to a small lake.

Hot springs!

A photo posted by Byron Young (@byron.a.young) on

The next day I escaped that dirt road with only mild damage the underside of the Miata, but I think a stray rock might have finally done-in the bike tire damaged by exhaust/stupidity. I drove on to Kimberly, where I heard there was some good biking. After getting a nice new tire, I rode along Magic Line, probably their premier trail in the area. It was great but consistent rocks made it the first time I was really missing a rear suspension. I thought about doing another ride in Cranbrook farther south but I decided to keep moving and get into the US.

The border crossing guard was more suspicious than normal, when I said I was from Colorado he needed to see my registration for my California registered car. Once satisfied I wasn't driving a stolen car (from Canada?) he let me by. My first stop was Whitefish, where I tried out a few breweries including the Great Northern Brewing, Bonsai Brewing, and Tamarack Brewing. I decided to have dinner in Tamarack, I needed a non-camping meal.

Montana isn't as consistently covered in ice as I thought

A photo posted by Byron Young (@byron.a.young) on

I ended up camping near another lake, if you could call it that. Flathead Lake seems almost large enough to call it an inland sea. The next morning I had breakfast at a small bakery and that finally catches us up! Today I'm heading to Missoula before hopefully camping in Idaho.

Somewhere Montana

A photo posted by Byron Young (@byron.a.young) on


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