Jasper to Glacier National Park

August 29, 2007

We spent 3 days in the great little town of Jasper. It was a friendly, laid back little tourist town with an awesome mountain backdrop. The folks at “Patricia Street Deli” got our vote for the best sandwich on this bike trip (Chicken-cranberry)!

We left Jasper on August 16th and biked the next 3 days along the Icefields Parkway. Thru Jasper National Park we rolled thru a pretty flat valley with mountains on each side that looked like the Flatirons near Boulder, Colorado. We were able to find some really nice campsites including one on a small lake with an incredible backdrop of glaciated high- mountain peaks reflecting into the lake.

  • The second day we climbed up to Sunwaptu Pass(approx. 6000′) and to our right was the amazing Columbia Icefield Glacier. It was so incredibly beautiful to see until we got close enough and saw “Glacier Buses” DRIVING across the glacier, accommodating tourists contributing to their melting, it almost made you cry! Why would they allow this when the glaciers are melting faster than you can imagine? This one has receded a mile the lst 150 years and they said it was due to climate change, but no mention of human activity that is the major contributor!

Then we got to drop down some awesome switchbacks into a spectacular valley with towering jagged peaks on either side to Banff N.P. We came to many glacier melt lakes and streams that were the most amazing aqua-blue color. The color comes from glacial flour (groundup rock pulverized by the glaciers).

We didn’t make very quick progress here due to the fact that we had to constantly stop and take pictures of all the jagged mountain peaks, beautiful streams and lakes and glacier fields everywhere. Banff N.P. was even more beautiful then Jasper.

After only biking 2700 total miles so far, we finally met our “personal trainer”, Stu, an athletic trainer from Whitefish, that fate must have sent to us. He was on a 2 day bike trip thru the park. We biked with him the better part of 1 day, got some great biking tips, that have proven very helpful and also area info that helped us plan our trip south from Banff.

All my life, I have been looking forward to seeing Lake Louise, because my Mom, Alice, has a beautiful picture of it hanging on her wall and she has always said it was the prettiest lake she had ever seen. After biking up a steep grade for 3 miles we got to beautiful Lake Louise just as a rainstorm moved in, socking in the gorgeous mountain backdrop and drenching us and sending us back down to the valley below, to a campground surrounded by an electric fence (to keep bears out, or to keep us in?) The campground was full, but a generous couple from England, who got some instant good Karma, let us share their site. We never did get to see the lake and we did not want to bike the 3 miles back up the next day to try again!

We met Oscar from Columbia and Dameon from Argentina that are both biking a similar route as us. We may be able to converge with them again as we get further south. They both obviously speak Spanish and are experienced in bike traveling thru central and South America!

After biking all morning in the rain we arrived in the town of Banff. The first person we met was a guy that lives on his bike (within the town of Banff) with skiis and all his personal belongings strapped to his bike! He told us, he is known as “Crazy Larry”! He was interesting to talk to and says he is producing 3 movies. He took our website address and may use some of our experiences (who knows, we may be in the movies someday)! Banff was a very busy tourist town, we only camped there one night, then started the “Great Divide Bike Route”, that starts in Banff and goes south from there all the way to the mexican border, mostly off pavement!

Now we felt like we were finally on a true Mountain Bike route, rolling thru the forests on single and 2-track along streams and thru mountain valleys! The next 2 days we enjoyed biking so much more than any other part so far because it was all backroads and trails with awesome views all around and away from the busy highways! We met and biked one day with James from Calgary, he is the director of the “Trans-Canadian bike route”, which winds thousands of miles thru Canada!

We biked thru the southern part of Canada pretty quickly because we were ready to be thru travelling in Canada – we were fed up with high prices and mis-information. Finally, we crossed the border into MONTANA on August 24th with 2905 miles ridden to-date!

WOW!! It felt great to be back in Montana, our home 20 years ago and where we spent our honeymoon 28 years ago! We enjoyed our visit in Eureka and then took some Forest Service roads over to the West edge of Glacier National Park to a little town call Polebridge. We had Elk and Buffalo dinners that were superb! Then we stayed in a small rustic cabin and were able to shower at the hostel next door and hang our clothes out on the clothesline to dry! We are now in a very dry climate, even our tent is dry!!! We have not been dry ALL SUMMER (2 1/2 months now)! This area has seen lots of forest fires in the last few years and they really need some moisture.

On August 26th, my friend, Deborah’s birthday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEBORAH, We biked thru fire-burned forests into West Glacier. We stayed at Apgar campground on the west edge of the park. They now have a “free” shuttle to the top of the pass “Going to the Sun Road”, which we took to have a day off from the bikes.

After listening to a talk on how our climate change has affected Glacier Park and observing these changes first hand, it brought to mind the song by Bob Dillion, “The Times, They Are A Changin”!! We don’t realize how quickly things are changing until we see it first-hand like here. The average temperature worldwide has increased 1 1/2 degrees in the last decade,but in Glacier Park it has increased 2 1/2 degrees!! That may not seem like much, but it is very scary to see all the animals and plants that are dying because of this! The impact we have ad on our environment is very real. Glacier N.P. has lost 18 of it’s 38 Glaciers just in the last 5 years! By the year 2030 Glacier is predicted to have “0” glaciers! So what will it be called then? The mountain goats are dying fast because they can’t regulate their body temperature in the heat. We saw many of them, trying to find any little bit of snow left to lay in. Alot of plants are dying here and species are becoming extinct. We know this is very depressing to read about but we have seen it and are very concerned as to what this world will be like in 20 years for our children and grand-children. We all have seen the drastic weather changes happening all around our world in the last couple of years.

It’s true, my friends, we are contributing everyday to this fast destruction of our beautiful world, and we encourage everyone to do your part – maybe ride your bike to work 1 day a week! It really makes you think about your lifestyle and what you do each day and is it really necessary?

All – In-All, our travels have been very interesting, safe, beautiful and educational. The people we meet and the friends we’ve made will forever be in our thoughts and are the main reason we travel.

August 28th, My Mom’s Birthday, Happy Birthday Mom! We biked from West Glacier to Whitefish, only a 30 mile ride. We are now at 3,030 TOTAL MILES!!!

Bikin’ On!! Ralph & Pat


One comment

  1. Already in Montana? You two are going to have to slow down a bit. Hopefully can catch you in Colorado!

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