Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 8 - Icefields Parkway through the heart of the Canadian Rockies from Banff to Jasper. 130 miles of spectacular scenic beauty!






Day 8 – Thursday May 28, 2009
Start: Banff, Alberta, Canada
End: Jasper, Alberta, Canada
Trip Miles Today: 179
Total Trip Miles: 3128

Today started in 40 degree(f)temperatures but under sunny skies (again!) Rolling out of Banff at 8:00 am I was struck by both the beauty and remoteness of this area. The 30+ miles over to Lake Louise passed quickly and painlessly (heated grips and a heated vest make all the difference!) There I stopped for a fuel top-off and met, for a second time, my fellow motorcycle traveler - Roger from Anchorage. Roger had, ironically enough, purchased a used BMW R1200GS motorcycle from a seller near Allentown, PA, not 100 miles from my home a couple of weeks ago. I had spoken to him very briefly yesterday afternoon at Blackfoot Motorsports in Calgary and then we went our separate ways. The chance encounter this morning happened when he saw me ride into the service station as he was looking for a place to have breakfast following his overnight stay in Lake Louise. Roger seems to love his new R12GS and I certainly wish him well with it - he told me that he needs to be at work Monday morning in Anchorage, some 2300 miles distant. He clearly needs to do some serious mile pounding over the next 4 days. I, on the other hand, can take a more leisurely approach to the balance of my Northbound trip. Clearly that leisurely approach was perfect for the 130 odd miles I rode today - the length of the Icefields Parkway. The Icefields Parkway connects the cities of Banff and Jasper and passes entirely through Canadian National Parks and the heart of the Canadian Rockies. There is really little between the two cities save some of the most compellingly beautiful scenery anywhere. The Alps have nothing on this place! I shot more photos today than the entire 7 days previous to this and yet photos do not do it justice. Certainly the perfect weather (ok - a little nippy - in the 40's most of the day) and the lack of huge volumes of holiday traffic made the trip even more pleasant, but this is a spectacular paradise in any case. If you ever have the chance to ride/drive this route then by all means do it! The roadway is entirely paved and most parts are in excellent condition despite the harsh winters. I say winter as if it is something that ended some time ago. According to some locals to whom I spoke only ended a week or two ago! There are wildlife signs posted all over the place but, in fact, I saw precious few animals. The total count was 1 elk, several deer, the odd squirrel, and several bighorn sheep. No bears. No unicorns. (Reference my May 9 post!) I actually arrived in the town of Jasper shortly after 1:00 pm. After this magnificent day I had to tend to a more mundane task – doing laundry at the laundromat. I have, after all, been on the road for a week now and I had needs. Following the great laundry escapade it was about 3:00 pm and I decided to call it a day early and remain overnight here in Jasper. Home for the evening is the Best Western Jasper Inn. I am glad I stopped early as I had some time to wander a bit in Jasper this evening, just as I did in Banff yesterday. While both are clearly major tourist destinations the two towns come off quite a bit differently, in my opinion. Banff reminded me more of one of the European Alpine towns...think Zermatt with cars. Jasper has a bit more of a cowboy feel to it. Maybe Steamboat? If the two towns were cars then Banff would be an Audi and Jasper would be more like a pickup truck. Anyway that's my story for today.

Tomorrow I plan for an early start as I want to get near Dawson Creek, BC and the famous "Mile 0" of Alaska highway. My route will have me take the Bighorn Hwy thru Grande Cache and on up through Grand Prairie. Another day of scenery but reportedly not as spectacular as today. That's the whole scoop. Thanks for joining me on my trip. Hopefully more tomorrow but with this qualifier....As I get up on the Alaska Highway and into some of the more remote parts of BC and the Yukon Territory there are few guarantees of internet access. I'll do what I can , and I will continue to feed twitter updates by cell phone to at least let you know (more or less) where I am.

If you want to see more pictures from my Alaska Motorcycle Adventure, posted daily, just go to http://jackb1.smugmug.com/

If you go to the RevZilla Motorsports blogsite at blog.revzilla.com you can see more pictures and find more info on my ride.

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by
RevZilla Motorsports at RevZilla.com and by Hermy's Cycles in Port Clinton, PA

4 comments:

  1. Hmmm...I think we need to repeat this day when I am with you...maybe a long weekend sometime. It looks beautiful!!

    LB

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  2. Yet another well written great installment! Beautiful pictures.
    As you continue your climb northward, are you noticing the daylight getting longer?
    Best of luck. Ride safe. Thanks for sharing this adventure.

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  3. How close did you get to that Bighorn sheep? What lens did you have on your camera?

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  4. The camera was a Nikon D60 with a 18-55mm zoom. The sheep was sitting on a small bluff, maybe 12-15 feet high just at the edge of the highway shoulder. I was standing on the shoulder - actually right about the line marking the edge of the pavement. So I was about 12-15 feet below and laterally about the same distance. I'm sure he wasn't more than 20-25 feet away straight line distance. He was VERY close, but apparently undisturbed by it all.

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