Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Adventure Begins: Cycling the Icefields Parkway, Canadian Rockies (June 2010)

Jules and I had been living in Vancouver for three months.. I had been working and Jules was being housewife and 'preparing for our cycling adventure' (aka sitting on the couch watching the baseball). We bought our shiny new (and embarrassingly matching) bikes and panniers in Vancouver and had spent lots of money on warm clothes and wet weather gear in preparation for Alaska (and hence ensuring that we had sunshine almost the entire trip). We had done a few weekend trips, one to Golden Ears Provincial Park, one to Salt Spring Island and lots of long cycles around the city.
So we had our gear, our maps, our plan and our food and were all prepared to start our trip at the end of June; however, a week before we started we gained one extra piece of equipment.. my mother. She had given us a weeks notice and turned up to accompany us on our first week or so. This resulted in our first few days turning into a car-tour through the wineries and hot springs of lower BC - Jules certainly wasn't complaining, tho it wasn`t the best training...!
I managed to put my foot down when we reached the Rockies and we extricated Norma and Betty from the back of our rental car (ah yes the bikes got pride of place in the back seat while all three of us squished in the front seat.. all the better for spotting wildlife and wineries).
Jules and I rode the Icefields Parkway; Banff – Jasper. We spent 5 days doing this; fairly short days enabling us to spent time with mum in the arvo and evening (and to get through our winery purchases).
Around 280 km of spectacular scenery, including mountains, icefields and beautiful lakes, great wildlife spotting, fantastic campsites and a mother to carry our gear, set up camp and cook for us! Wow this is what cycle-touring is all about.
Lots of people had warned us about the wildlife along this area (we were 'Meals on Wheels' after all) but in fact the only Grizzly we saw in the Rockies we saw from our campsite, as we were leaving the shower-room. This was in Lake Louise, where the campsite was surrounded by an electric fence, so we could quite happily watch the bear amble through the meadow next door to our campsite. The next day we were riding along the road when a car swerved to the side of the road to tell us a Grizzly had just crossed about 50m in front of us, just around a bend. We appreciated the warning and stopped to give the bear plenty of time to move on (and yes Jules had her fluoro whistle firmly in one hand and her bear-spray in the other). Not long after this driver left another drove past, rolled down the window and yelled at us “Bear!!!” as he continued driving. We were very glad the first driver had taken the time to tell us the details as it would have been a little unnerving to have someone drive by and simply yell “Bear” at us.
Our scariest wildlife moment happened one morning when we were safely tucked inside our tent. I woke up to feel the entire tent shaking and could see that something had the top of the tent and was pulling it from side to side. At first I thought it was my mother, for this might be the sort of thing she thought was hilarious, but then I realised it was something much bigger. I woke Jules and she got up the nerve to peek out the front of the tent where she could see a hoof. Obviously an elk had taken a liking to our tent and decided to have a little nibble. We managed to scare him off and somehow the tent survived in one piece, though my nerves were a little shot.
When we finished cycling the Icefields Parkway we packed everything back in the car and drove across BC to Prince Rupert. In PR we said goodbye to mum as she had to make her way with the car on the ferry back to Vancouver Island and then down to Vancouver to fly out. I was sad to see her go, and I think Jules was horrified at the fact that we now had to cook our own dinners.

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