Ah, Banff™, we hardly knew ye. Dad claims that I’ve been to Banff before. When I was 12. On a train. For a few minutes or so. Please correct your scorecards, those of you following along at home.
Perhaps it was that shock of deja vu that caused my ass to fall out of bed in the morning. All I know is that my alarm went off, I reached across the large bed to snooze it, and promptly crashed to the floor. Apparently you don’t have to reach quite as far when you’re actually sleeping in a twin bed. Paul, the quintessential father-person, shot straight up in his bed and demanded to know if I was alright (in spite of the fact that I was laughing my ass off on the floor). I was up.
And yet, while my ill-fated alarm was set for 7:30am, off we rode at…yep, a little after 10. It just takes time to pack, shower, load, and grab a muffin and coffee. I’m slowly adjusting to the pace.
Off we went towards Jasper, our intended (but not ultimate) destination for the night. We retraced our steps for a few miles, then split off to the Icefields Parkway that runs the length of the park up towards Jasper. Once again, the views were staggering. I’ve lost count of the different ranges that we’ve ridden through or past, but each of them is more amazing than the last. Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier, and now Kootenay parks are all special places worth at least a visit, and we’ve now been riding through them for four straight days….
Before Jasper, though, comes Lake Louise. This is a natural lake at the base of several mountains which is fed largely by glacial melt. It’s just crazy beautiful. And k-k-k-k-k-rrrrazy crowded. I mean really now. I’m used to crowds in National Parks. This is not new. But I’m talking over-run. It’s also so well curated that it feels like Snow White is about to pop her head out a window to ask for help. The whole time we walked around the area I could not help feeling like I was in Canadaland at the Disneyland North park. It really took something away from an area that trades not just on its beauty, but also on it’s wild heart.
We walked (in our gear, no less) to the far end of the lake and back. On the trail, wouldn’t you know it, Paul spotted THE EXACT POINT OF REFERENCE FOR HIS PARENT’S PAINTING!!!!! A truly exciting moment for me (yet again). And we then spent a good amount of time moving a bit up and down the trail to find just the right shot. At my insistence, Paul contacted his sister to confirm for me that he was in the right spot. She responded that he was losing his damn mind and, no, not the right picture. We remain ever vigilant, though. Paul’s ice-porn collection continues to grow, in other news.
At the far end of the park we discovered Lake Louise’s ugly secret: Child Sacrifice. I’ve determined that the locals worship a local, warmongering chipmunk diety. To sate it’s thirst for blood they send him elementary (and possibly middle-school) aged girls, which he feasts upon leaving a field of bones along the pristine shore. To my horror, we came around the corner just in time to see the Chipmunk God strike down his latest prey. What came next was…disturbing.
The scene in front of me did call to mind this classic:
After finding only lame resort food at the lodge, we pressed on for another 2-3 hours to Jasper. The views continued to stun, and the road was quite nice. The rain came not long after we left Lake Louise and we finally gave in and stopped to gear up, cursing ourselves for not doing that sooner. It wasn’t too bad of a rain, but the temperature dropped to at least the low fifties. A little insulation with the rain gear and I was cozy. The rain came and went for most of that leg, but it was clear when we rolled in.
We looked around a tad, and it seemed like a nice town. But good lord, it was just as crowded as Banff and Lake Louise, if not moreso. We yelped up a restaurant and went to grab something to eat. While getting food was easy, we found out over dinner exactly how crowded Jasper really was: no rooms available. On a Tuesday night. And I mean N O N E. I cast my net a little wider and found one room about 40 miles away in Hinton. I jumped on that and booked it. Dinner we ate and off we drove, to cover the last hour into Hinton. It was relatively uneventful, aided in part by the laaaaate sunset up in these parts along with the fact that it wasn’t out of the way of our main route.
On our way out of town, Elk Attack! The wily bastards came en masse this time. We were saved by the quick actions of law enforcement. Kinda seriously, actually. Saved from a long delay, at least. This whole herd? gaggle? antler? of elk began crossing the road in ones and twos, with the others waiting just off the road. As traffic backed up, these uniformed Elk Police pulled up in a marked unit Code 2 (just lights, no siren). They exited their vehicle and began to escalate force with a display of Less Lethal weapons, specifically paintball guns. What they did was get around behind the laggards and shake their guns, rattling the ammo balls around in the hoppers. The elk heard about two shakes and were like “Fuuuuuuuuuck that!” and bolted right over the road to a small wooded area on the other side. I’m not sure what was in those paintballs, but the elk certainly were, and they wanted none of it.
Made it to Hinton, checked in an crashed out.
Starting Odometer: 34748
Ending Odometer: 34998
Daily Total: 250
Running Total: 2,435