North to South Tour - Day 8

07/02/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Jonas Creek Campground, Alberta
To: Rampart Creek Campground, Alberta
Today: 43 miles - 363 miles total

No rain the rest of the night, but the Rear Admiral did not sleep very good. Breakfast was oatmeal and bananas.

Over cast in morning, bright sunny day after lunch. Sunwapta Pass (6,676 feet) had our full attention before we stopped for lunch. What a climb. It seemed like we pedaled for 100 yards, took a break to fill our lungs again and take pictures, then pedal another 100 yards (repeat, repeat, repeat). As we allowed our hearts to return to normal, before the next attempt, all around us were glacier filled mountains. This scenery made recovering so easy! When we got to the top well almost the top, we encountered some pretty intense wind and had some problems with the chain. After some minor repairs and a bit more pedaling we made it to the visitor center. We had lunch at the Athabasca Glacier visitor center, watching the large wheeled buses deliver tourist onto the glacier. The glacier has really receded since the last time we visited (with Dustin and Katelyn) in 1998. Remember those buses guys? We wonder what it will look like, ten years from now. The lunch at the visitor center was ok, and price a little high...not like the prices for food at other stops so far in the park. We understand it is really remote, but we are warning other travelers about sticker shock. After lunch, we had just a short climb to finish off Sunwapta Pass. It feels like you are on top of the world up there. Going down was not that much fun, but it wasn't very long. We had a nice wide shoulder, and the traffic wasn't a problem. At the bottom of the pass, before the Athabasca Glacier, SeeMore's front chain fell off (knocked off by a huge cross wind?). As I fiddled with the chain, and the front idler, a couple pulled up to us. They had just purchased a Rans' Seavo (big brother to SeeMore) after 11 years of riding an upright tandem.

We are camping here at Rampart Creek, there is no drinkable water. Good opportunity to try out our MSR water purifier (which works really great). It is very quiet at all the campgrounds (besides Whistlers) so far. We have not seen very many campers/tourists from the US. There are a lot of mosquitoes here, so I am going to go hide in the tent.

North to South Tour - Day 7

07/01/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Jasper (Whistler's Mountain Campground, Alberta
To: Jonas Creek Campground, Alberta
Today: 53 miles - 320 miles total

Happy Independence Day - Canada

We are sitting here in the picnic pavilion, and the heavens have opened up and it is a complete downpour, with hail! We arrived at Jonas Creek Campground, chose a site (which in near this pavilion) got SeeMore inside the pavilion....and it started. So we are waiting Mother Nature out, before we set up our tent.

The skies were overcast for much of the today, which was a true blessing. After being in the hot sun for the past couple of days, we needed the relief. Boy what a ride today! 53 miles of snow laden mountains to the left and snow laden mountains to the right. The Endless Chain Ridge (east side) look like alligator teeth stretching towards the sky, on the west side were the Winston Churchill Range. These rugged mountains reach to the sky, casting shadows over the forest below; AND waterfalls, giant cascading waterfalls seem to appear around every bend in the road. We climbed 2000 feet today towards Sunwapta Pass. SeeMore had his first bear encounter, a mother black bear with cub were about 10 yards off the road. Some how SeeMore started picking up speed after seeing the bears, almost like having an engine of full throttle! Let me not forget the wild flowers! The park is full of wild flowers (clover, White mountain aven, wild strawberry, daisies, and indian paintbrush to name a few).


Jonas Creek is a planned stop, we want to be ready for Sunwapta Pass...oh boy the climbing begins tomorrow!

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....

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 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 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 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.