Headin' into the mountains
Riding towards Calgary, we finally caught our first glimpse of the mountains. The ride across the high plains was coming to an end, and what was to come would be nothing short of spectacular. The entrance through the mountains into Banff National Park defines majestic.
The KLR roadside heading into Banff
The ride through Banff today was slightly overcast, but that couldn't hide it's beauty. I saw lots of wildlife including Elk and an awe inspiring grizzly bear. Yes, I was slightly frightened while taking the picture of him. The views of the lakes and mountains in Banff were truly incredible, and as Adam put it, there are no words to describe this place. There also isn't enough film in the world to capture it - not that film can do this place any justice. Along with the mountains, lakes, rivers, and trees, widlflowers engulfed the side of the road.
Three years ago, the three of us had been at Lake Louise near the end of our Rocky Mountain trip. This time, our visit to Lake Louise marked only the beginning of the adventure. At Lake Louise, there were these little gray birds, and they were not shy. We also made a side trip to see Lake Moraine, another beautiful mountain lake surrounded by Glaciers.
We began the Icefields Parkway, and were not disappointed. It is in fact one of the best roads I have ever ridden. Unbelievable clear lakes surround the road fed from the melting glaciers. We crossed into Jasper, in the rain, late in the day and grabbed a campsite that was at altitude, and just a mile down the road from Columbia Glacier. We enjoyed the surrounding mountain peaks (pic 1) (pic 2) as we had dinner, and stayed up talking for a while....until we realized that it was nearly midnight, even though the sun was still shining in the sky. The late (and eventually endless) sun was something that we would eventually grow accustomed to.
The rain turned to snow last night, and we awoke to a fresh dusting of snow on the tents and on the bikes. The fresh snow made for a really great view of the valley.
Neither Adam nor I made is out of the campsite before stopping to take a picture of Columbia Glacier, the shot just above. One by one, we arrived at the Glacier, and we each climbed to the top. Otter was first there, and I passed him by as I ascended and he descended. Adam showed up a few minutes later At the top, the 360 degree view (video) was complimented by the howling wind whipping off the Glacier. A truly awesome feeling standing up there. Glacier: (pic 1) (pic 2) (pic 3)
We finished riding the Icefields Parkway, enjoying the scenery, wildlife, and waterfalls. We then headed up route 40 towards the town of Grande Prairie where a set of knobbie tires was waiting for us. We mounted them in the hotel parking lot, anticipating the Alcan and dirt roads to come.
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