North to South Tour - From Edmonton, Alberta to Durango, Colorado

Preface - North to South Tour 2008

01/01/2008 03:42:20 by Administrator

Starting to plan of our next cycling adventure with SeeMore. We are still in the planning stage, so this entry will be updated. We plan to start in Edmonton Alberta near the end of June. Here is what is in store:

NORTH TO SOUTH TOUR (Adventure Cycling's Great Park Tour + more!)

The Canadian parks, with their wide road shoulders, provide excellent cycling conditions, though motorist traffic during the tourist season is heavy. Jasper, Alberta, a busy tourist center in the heart of Jasper National Park, is one of the five Canadian Parks the route traverses. Almost immediately after leaving town, we will be treated by scenery: glacial lakes, dramatic waterfalls, piercingly steep mountains covered with glaciers, and a tremendous variety of wildlife. Stops will be frequent just to marvel at the beauty. As we head south over several passes through the parks, we will take the time to go to Lake Louise and Banff. After 230 miles of amazing vistas, we'll leave Kootenay National Park and descend steeply into the town of Radium Hot Springs, stopping for an enjoyable soak in the soothing hot mineral pools. From Radium Hot Springs southward to Elko, the western side of the Rockies will find us following the Columbia and Kootenay river systems. At Elko, the route turns east over the Continental Divide through a series of small mining communities (Fernie and Sparwood which we visited in 2006). Then we will stay, again, in Waterton Lakes National Park. After the border crossing into the United States at Chief Mountain we will enter Glacier National Park in Montana, hopefully crossing the Divide back to the western side on the spectacular Going-to-the-Sun Highway. We missed Going-to-the-Sun Highway on our 2006 tour because of forest fires, so hopefully we will be successful this time. Then our route mainly follows river valleys bracketed by mountain ranges all the way into Missoula.

After Missoula, we will be cycling through the small Montana towns of Stevensville, Hamilon, Darby, Wisdom, Jackson, Dillion, Sheridan, Virginia City and Ennis. until we come to Yellowstone National Park.

After Yellowstone, we visit the Grand Tetons, then continue cycling towards Rawlings Wyoming. We will enter Colorado on Route 125, which will lead us to Walden Colorado, then Route 14; where we will find open grazing land and national forest lands heading into Kremmling. There is heavy summer tourist activity from Hot Sulpher Springs to Granby, the southern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Next, Estes Park to Georgetown - this area is the playground for surrounding communities on the Front Range.

We also might try Mt. Evans Auto Road which is the highest paved road in the United States.

After Mt. Evans we will head towards Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. South of Fairplay, the route becomes more rural and traverses the high, open land of South Park. After crossing Trout Creek Pass, the route drops into the Arkansas River Valley near Buena Vista. The western slope of the Colorado Rocky Mountains is old mining country, from Salida all the way into Durango. Around Dolores, the mountains give way to the dry, open Four Corners region, highlighted by Mesa Verde National Park. Durango is the southern terminus of the historic Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, the only remaining regularly scheduled narrow-gauge passenger train.

.....then turn south down the west side of New Mexico and finishing in Mexico in search for that ultimate margarita.

North to South Tour - Day 1

06/25/2008 04:37:13 by Administrator

From: Leduc, Alberta
To: Leduc, Alberta
Mileage: 0

We first want to say some "Thank You"s, we have done them in person, but we hope that mentioning here, were anyone and everyone can read them would a little bit more importance to them.

We would like to thank DECCO (the Rear Admiral's company) for yet again letting her escape for a couple of months. We would like thank Katelyn for watching the house and the cat during the summer, and hope you get a lot more backpacking in before returning to school. We would like to thank the Nadeau's for giving Sammy a summer at the lake. We would like to thank Ted Wojcik for SeeMore's operation. SeeMore is better than ever, thanks to the skilled hands of Ted. We would like to thank Bob at Souhegan Cycle Works who packed SeeMore into one box, just an incredible job! Finally we would like to thank Noel's new school Memorial Elementary in Bedford for the new adventure that awaits him, and for understanding about our trip.

I need to finally thank all of my friends (both retired and active) for 11 enjoyable years at Milford Elementary. I have been truly blessed, and I will be indebted to you for the rest of my life. The multitude of cards, gifts, letters, hugs and we wishes really humbles a person. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

- - - - - - - - - -

Bad Omens?

  1. Looking at your departure screen at the airport, and your flight is NOT listed.

  2. Getting to the gate, and your flight shows delayed, but the counter person says it isn't true.

  3. Reading the headlines in USA today, announcing that your airline - United has just announced major layoffs.

  4. Finally seated in the airplane, only to be stranded for 2 hours while they try to fix the commode.

  5. Having a bad head cold, and the last 25 minutes of BOTH flights reduce your hearing to zero in the right ear, and 10 percent in the left.

  6. Arriving at Edmonton airport, and watching all the other passengers walk away with their luggage while you can't find your back pack containing tools, tent, sleeping bags etc.

Since we don't believe in bad omens, Everything happens for the best... We are staying at the Budget Western hotel where the manager has been very kind to us, her husband lent us his tools to put SeeMore back together while we waited (our tools are in Bertha our large backpack). The manager of the Budget Western held a room for us tonight just in case we didn't get the rest of our stuff from the airlines. We've had a quiet day reading and building SeeMore and test riding.

We finally received (got word) that around 5 pm the airline found Bertha the MIA backpack, the hotel shuttled Mary back to the airport to pick it up and were able to finish the last finishing touches to make SeeMore whole again. We decided to stay in Leduc for one more night, seeing that is was 6:00 p.m., when our lost backpack, Bertha, finally walked through the hotel door.

All in all were off to a pretty good start thanks to all of our support.

North to South Tour - Day 2

06/26/2008 13:06:03 by Administrator

From: Leduc, Alberta
To: Kapasiwin, Alberta
Mileage: 64

We are here in Way Cup Internet Cafe in beautiful downtown Wabamun Alberta. We are currently fighting over a piece of delicious cherry pie and a piece of evil chocolate cake. Don't worry Mom, we had our dinner first...some homemade pepper soup! If you're in Wabamun, stop here and treat yourself!

We fought the Edmonton suburban traffic this morning, snaking our way from Leduc to Devon, then finally into Stony Plain. Most of the country side was small farms, and this part of Alberta reminds us of Northern Illinois The weather person forecasted rain starting at 9:00 a.m., and concluding at 5:00 p.m. So we headed to Devon first, and with no rain in sight, we then travelled to Stony Plain.

Stony Plain is a nice small community off of the old Yellowhead (Rte 16a) Highway It was only about 10:30 so after a stop at the visitor center and a couple of egger sandwiches at the A&W we on the road again.

Following Route 16 the Yellowhead highway is not too bad. It is busy with traffic but we have a nice wide shoulder. We're starting to get into rolling hills. The skies have been gray and threatening but so far no rain, the temperatures hung around 50 today. Tonight we will camp at Wabamun Lake Provincial Park. The park ranger came out and took a shining to SeeMore. Told SeeMore that he was such a good boy, he needed a free night stay on Alberta! It will be a free but cold night!

There really was no Kodak moments today. We saw Red-tail hawks, Deer, Magpies, Prairie Dogs, the ever present Redwing blackbird, and a fox. We will be following the Yellowhead Highway all the way to Jasper.

North to South Tour - Day 3

06/27/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Kapasiwin, Alberta
To: Nojack Provincial Park, Alberta
Today: 56 miles - 120 miles total

Alberta is the Wild Rose Province, hence the below photo. We traveled on the Yellowhead Highway (Rte 16) all day today. No really "Kodak Moments" to tell you about. Traveling the Yellowhead Highway is like traveling the New York Thruway, from Albany to Rochester. Mostly straight, but some rolling hills to keep you legs from falling asleep.

We had a rather rain filled evening last night, but it didn't bother me one bit. Give me a tent, and the great outdoors...stand back and watch me sleep. I think it was 7:30 when I began concentrating on the insides of my eyelids. The Rear Admiral slept good also despite my snoring and the fact that tent camping is not her forte. You have to remember that the sun doesn't set in this part of Alberta until around 11:00. SO the sunlight doesn't even effect me, when I am in a tent.

This morning, we decamped and rode into Wabamun for breakfast at the town diner. We were the first customers, at 6:45. Mary order her lumberjack special (two eggs, 4 bacon, 1 pancake...hold the hash browns the tour is in it's early stages); and my usual of pancakes with peanut butter. Note: If you're camping at the Park, there is a back entrance/exit (that you can either ride or hike) so you do not have to go all the way back out to the Yellowhead Hwy and down to the next exit. A savings of about 3 miles.

We visited two towns off of the Yellowhead today, Entwistle and Wildwood. Both have small populations ( 400, maybe) but both are full of life and activity. We spent more time in Wildwood, visiting the Library (we were offered a piece of Cake, Ruth's retiring today!) and Community Hall (Farmer's Market today, 11:30 till 2:00!). We also had lunch (Donairs - Canadian Gyros) at the Wildwood town park.

Not much else, riding on the Yellowhead might be noisy, not very scenic; but it is a true blessing in disguise. We need these days to get our touring legs and bodies back before we hit the Canadian Rockies. We also are very close to Canada's Independence Day (July 1). This year it falls on a Tuesday, so most people are taking a long weekend, or beginning their vacation on this weekend. High gas prices or not, Jasper will be very crowded the next 4 days. Hopefully we will arrive at the end of it.

North to South Tour - Day 4

06/28/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Nojack Provincial Park, Alberta
To: Edson, Alberta
Today: 40 miles - 160 miles total

Here is a deer we saw, but it took off to fast to get a good photo.
Blue skies, hot temperature, 4 lane highway, Canadian Holiday weekend traffic, Alberta's booming economy, and trains describe our journey down the Yellowhead highway today. From Wildwood to Edson there has been mostly forested with with spots of ranches here and there. We saw a coyote having his morning meal of road kill deer, and we passed a ranch which is raising bison; but other than that, there were really no Kodak moments. We got honks and waves by motorist, which we return with a wave. Motorcyclist give us the thumbs up. Truckers go out of their way to slow down, and/or move over one lane. All make the Yellowhead more enjoyable.

Today we had a motorcycle pull over in front of us. He was traveling from Edmonton to Jasper and the bolts holding his foot rest were almost off. He did not have the correct allen wrench, but SeeMore did! He could not believe the SeeMore's very small tool section could actually help fix his motorcycle. He was just coming home after an airplane ride.

We are staying tonight in Edson, in a hotel. You can just make out the Canadian Rockies from Edson, which is making our hearts go pitter patter. The Rear Admiral has had enough of camping....actually she is just SO jealous that in takes me less than 5 minutes to fall asleep. Remember, it doesn't get dark until after 11:00, and here I am, in bliss, at 7:30. Last night's camping adventure, Nojack Provincial Park, had two other things not adding aid to her slumber. It is located next to the highway (I just pretend that the traffic sounds are waves, crashing on the Maine coastal rocky shores); AND last night's late arriving neighbors started hammering in their multitude of tent pegs through very rocky soil, just when she was in the zone. She said it sounded like they were constructing a 4 bedroom log home, with dormers, from scratch. I never heard a thing..hehehe.

Tomorrow will be the last day on the Yellowhead. We will reach the highest elevation (3800 ft.) of the Yellowhead, at the most northern point our this journey, then head south towards Hinton. The Kodak moments are just about appear!

North to South Tour - Day 5

06/29/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Edson, Alberta
To: Hinton, Alberta
Today: 57 miles - 217 miles total

Today was a 10! A ten? Yes, and we are still on the Yellowhead Highway, and the Kodak moments have arrived in full force. Our day started with us making waffles at the hotel's continental breakfast and then following SeeMore out the door; we were on the road around 7 a.m. Because it is Sunday, early in the morning, and a holiday weekend our ride from Edson to Hinton was very quiet. Adding to the quietness was the ability to play peekaboo with the Canadian Rockies throughout the ride, until we were close to Hinton. The Rockies can not hide themselves from the city of Hinton.

We saw lots of deer and birds and due to light traffic we could actually talk to each other, without shouting. The temperature topped off in the upper 80's and the skies were blue. We are in the foothills of the Rockies, so there was a lot of going up and down, down and up. Today there was more up, because we reached the highest point on the Yellowhead Highway; then headed down into Hinton. While on the highway, we stopped at a road side rest area, and SeeMore was inspected, poked, pointed at, and discussed in full by an older Manitoba couple who were making their annual trip, to pester there children.

Hinton is a mining and pulp mill town, but oil is king. Hotels are being built fast and furious, because the oil field workers need places to stay. I don't ever remember two towns (Edson and Hinton) with a combined population of 16000, having 40 +/- hotels between them. Our hometown, Milford, has about the same population, and one (1) ten room motel! This is more proof that the price of oil effects everyone differently. We have parked ourselves at one of the nicest hotels in Hinton and have enjoyed the pool and jacuzzi. We are living large!

The Yellowhead Highway stretches from Winnipeg to Hinton so we are at the end. Tomorrow we will follow more of the foothills into Jasper.

North to South Tour - Day 6

06/30/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Hinton, Alberta
To: Jasper (Whistler's Mountain Prov. Park, Alberta
Today: 50 miles - 267 miles total

"The walk in campsites are see that large green bear trap? Just take the trail to the left of that and the walk ins are just behind there. Oh, there are also food lockups located near your site, I gave you a site with easy access to them!" This was our introductional talk from the ranger, just after handing our money over for a campsite at Whistlers.

Today was another 10! The ride into Jasper seemed to be all down hill (we did not lose any elevation), and mountains surrounded our vision all day. Can't beat that. As we entered the park, (someone off stage?) cued a pack of Dall Sheep to be grazing, just off the side of the road. Poor SeeMore had to ride next to them. Next we saw Mountain Goats, high up on a sheer cliff. They were taking dust baths. We would have never seen them inside a car. Then, 10 miles down the road, Big Horn Sheep (again, we were the only ones that spotted them). They were also high on the cliff, and we caused a small traffic jam because people were wondering what those crazy cyclist were looking at. Then, just outside of Jasper, our first close encounter with and Elk. Toss in a couple of snow covered mountain peaks, and you have yourself a ride to remember!

The weather is beautiful, very warm (low 90's) and sunny. The sun out here is not forgiving so we have to be careful to make sure the sunscreen is applied liberally. The road through the park is spectacular, you ride down in the valley surrounded by the mountains on both sides. Lots of lakes and rivers. Not too much snow in the mountains, but we are not up to where the glaciers start. There is a haze in the air. We think it is because it is so warm?

The town of Jasper is a perfect, quaint tourist village. The mountains surround it so it looks like pictures of villages you see in the Swiss alps. This campground is just outside Jasper about 2 kilometers. There is some scat on the trail to our site but it doesn't look like it came from an animal big enough to eat us so were ok with that. Tonight it's backpacking food, and tomorrow will be oatmeal for breakfast. We are heading off to the showers now, because....well....