Travels With My Brother – Departure From Calgary

Tom walked into the hospital room around 3pm. He was pulling his lightly loaded carry-on suitcase behind him. It was great to see his smiling face.  The preparation for my departure from the hospital moved into higher gear.  By this time Tobi had started her evening shift, and she also moved into action to get me on my way.

As I mentioned before, the original goal was to see how I felt at the time of my discharge and plan what happened next accordingly.  Tom let me know that there was a train (The Canadian) leaving around midnight from Edmonton to Toronto, and that the next train was only on Saturday.  I decided that we should try to get on this train.  There still appeared to be seats available. We were going to try to get a private sleeper cabin for the three day trip.  This reservation would include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in the dining car. That was the tentative plan.

After Tom’s arrival, the first thing I did was to have my first real bath after the crash.   A nurse then arrived to put new dressings on my wounds.  As she was working on the wounds, she told me that there still appeared to be gravel in the crater behind my shoulder where flesh had been lost.  I gave her permission to use as much force as needed to try to get out the dirt.  It did not hurt. After the cleaning and bandaging, we gathered some of the left-over dressings as supplies for the journey.  I got fully dressed.

The doctors had a prescription ready for me for pain medication to take during the travels home, and we needed to get to the pharmacy before closing time to fill it.tempI walked through the hospital for the first time.  Having spent the last few days staring at other hospital buildings from my hospital bed, I had been oblivious to its nice location.  You could see the city out of its windows. It was a revelation. We went down the elevator a few floors, and then from out of the McCaig Tower into the main building. We walked past the cafeteria area, past the signs of people going about their “normal” lives, something that I had not seen for a few days, and finally found the pharmacy.  I submitted the prescription and we then returned to my room to complete the packing and other formalities.

Tobi had finally received the discharge documentation to take with me.  It included electronic copies of the X-rays and CT Scans. I wished my ex-roommate goodbye and good luck with his daughter’s wedding, wished Tobi well, and then walked out of the trauma center with Tom for the last time.

I was able to move along at a decent speed to get to places.  I was feeling good. Tom was helping with my luggage. We made it to the pharmacy before it closed with 3 minutes to spare.

We had a plan of action that required precise timing in its execution for us to be able to successfully catch the train from  Edmonton to Toronto that night.  Part on the plan depended on our ability to get automobile transportation promptly when needed.  Fortunately, Tom had the Uber application on his smartphone to summon car rides, and the system worked exactly the way it was supposed to.  Another element of the plan was the ability to take action to book reservations while traveling by bus.  The bus was supposed to have wi-fi.

Within a few minutes of picking up the prescription, we were out the front door of the hospital.  Our only chance of catching the train was to get on the 6:30pm Red Arrow bus to Edmonton and it was already past 6pm.  Would we make it?  Tom came up with the idea of intercepting the bus on its way north at Red Arrow’s Calgary North ticket office, where the bus was supposed to depart from at 6:45pm.  We made it there with 15 minutes to spare, and they did also have seats on the bus available for us.tempGreat – so far, so good!

They did also have snacks and water on the bus.  There was no time for a proper dinner.

Once on the bus, we connected to its wi-fi system and got on the Via Rail website in order to buy the tickets for our onward journey.  Fortunately there were tickets available. Our effort to buy the tickets online was however foiled by an irritating software bug that required that we enter some sort of discount code that did not exist!  Ughhhh, software!!! Tom had to call Via Rail directly, and after overcoming a credit card glitch, we managed to reserve places on the Canadian that night.  The boarding passes were issued electronically, and Tom had to send mine to me via email.tempWe were all set, and there was nothing more to do on the bus until we got to Edmonton, which would happen after 10pm.

I felt a little out-of-sorts without my camera, which I had asked Bob to take it home after the crash. I did not think that the camera on the smartphone was any good, but I had no choice but to start experimenting with it.  The sun was setting  as we rolled north.IMG_20170802_211721461We arrived in downtown Edmonton as scheduled, and immediately caught an Uber to the Via Rail train station.  The station was located further away from downtown and closer to the outskirts of the city than I expected.  We arrived at a building that had signs for both Via Rail train and Greyhound bus services.

The waiting room was packed with people in spite of the late hour.    There were all kinds of people waiting to travel, young and old, and families with kids, couples, and single people.  Children ran around in spite of the late hour.  A sort of dull chaos prevailed. Most folks were slumped in seats or wherever else they could find some space, trying to get some rest.   People were tired.  It felt a bit dreary.

At that point, we had been on the move for a long time. I was still feeling OK, even though the body was somewhat stiff. We found a place to park ourselves and our luggage. Our train was supposed to arrive at 11pm and depart at 11:55pm.  The only announcements we were hearing were for the departure of Greyhound buses,  There were vending machines in front of us with food and drinks, but it all looked unappetizing.  11pm came and went without any sign of the train.

A Few Days in Calgary

When I finally awoke for good that Monday morning, the hospital room was awash in bright sunshine flowing in through the massive windows beside my bed.  I had no way to tell the actual time because I did not have my watch with me.  Indeed, neither did I have my glasses, my wallet, my phone, or any of my other belongings.  All I had were the biking shorts I was wearing.  The rest of my stuff, including the stuff that had been rescued after the crash, was with KP.

A young nurse with a kind look on her face walked up the bed and asked if I wanted to get up.  Oh, sure!  I made an attempt to raise myself and fell back on to the bed immediately.  The pain in my chest was instant and excruciating, and almost unbearable.  I had to focus my mind to get it under control.  The nurse had a look of deep concern. I was more careful sitting up the next time, but this time, once I got up, my head began to spin.   I had been on my back for too long, with my only nourishment since the crash coming through an IV feed.  The nurse asked me to keep my eyes open and look out of the window until the feeling went away.   I stared out of the window at the other hospital buildings in front of me.  I managed to slowly get on my feet, but the chest was completely stiff.  It hurt to bend.  She asked me if I wanted some pain medicine.  I was reluctant to take the medicine because I had the thought (mistaken, it turned out) that the sooner I managed the pain, the better off I would be.  I did make it to the bathroom. The nurse got me some toothpaste and a toothbrush to brush my teeth.  I had to improvise by going down on my knees to reach the height of the sink to spit.  At least the knees were working!

My breakfast arrived and the day got started.  I ate regular food from then on.  Even though I still had a IV  line going into my right arm, it was not being used for anything.  Shortly after 10:00 am, a group of doctors arrived on their rounds.   The spokesman for the group told me that they would rather I took the pain medicine and exercise the lungs (to hasten healing and prevent infections) rather than sit in bed and tolerate the pain.  I resolved to use the powerful narcotic they were offering, but only as needed.  If you were wondering why I was in a good mood in spite of being in the hospital, it was probably the drugs!

The leader of this group of doctors, a sprightly older gentleman with a twinkle in his eye, stepped forward to talk.  His name was Dr. Ian Anderson.  I had the immediate urge to ask if he was familiar with Jethro Tull, but I held back.  He started by asking me about my insurance coverage.  I resolved to get my insurance ID to him as soon as I got my stuff.   Pretty soon, as the other young doctors looked on, my conversation with him veered off into the weeds with minimal effort on my part.  He enjoyed talking about many topics, and he seemed to have taken a liking to me.  Turns out that Dr. Anderson is a very highly regarded physician.  He is a former military doctor who is still very active, and he still bikes for charity events.  He must have felt a certain empathy when he heard my story.  He seemed to be very familiar with accident cases like mine. (From “Retired Colonel Ian Anderson, now a trauma surgeon for the Calgary Health Region at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, has kept himself available to the CFHS by remaining in the Primary Reserve. His 32-year career with the CF included deployments to Bosnia, Kabul and Kandahar. When he joined the CF in the 1980s, “I never dreamt I’d be here at the pinnacle of a tertiary care facility, in possibly the best trauma system in Canada,” Anderson says. By keeping his foot in the door, he gets the occasional shot at deployment. And when he’s not deployed, he points out, “I don’t cost the system one penny.”

I got to know my roommate better that day. He was about my age, and he was a fairly active outdoors guy.  He had been in the hospital for more than two weeks at that point.   Turned out that he had set out on trip by ATV from Calgary to Mexico with his friends, and had crashed on the first day of the ride itself, just across the border in Montana.  He had to be airlifted to the hospital.  He had broken numerous bones, had pneumothorax, but worst of all, had internal infections that were slowing his healing.  He had to walk around with a tube coming out of his back feeding into a device he had to carry.  (That was when I realized how fortunate I had been!)  He was a good guy.  He had his good and bad times physically while I was there, but he did not seem to get discouraged by the bad times.  He always spoke well about the caregivers in the hospital. His friends would bring him food from outside restaurants.  He really enjoyed the Baconator that he got one afternoon. He was trying to get into good enough shape to leave the hospital for a short while to give his daughter away at her wedding that weekend. I don’t know how that worked out.  By the way, his buddies did complete the ATV ride to Mexico.

KP arrived a little later in the morning with my stuff.  It was good to have my computer, and to be able connect to the Internet using the wi-fi signal in the hospital.  I was back in business. But the network connection process was onerous enough that I also activated a direct connection to the cellular network from my smartphone.  I learned to love my smartphone during the next few days.  The frame for my glasses had been completely deformed, but KP managed to push it back into a usable shape.  I now also had official documents with me confirming my identity.

My wife had been informed about the happenings in Canada the previous day, and she proceeded to spend a sleepless night trying to get things reorganized at home, and to come up with a plan of action on my behalf.  My brother Tom, who lives in Dallas, had been contacted. He was going to drop everything to come to Calgary to be by my side.  He would arrive on Wednesday.  He would figure out the rescue plan.  My older daughter was also roped into the planning.  The only realistic options seemed to be to either get up to Edmonton from Calgary to catch the train to Toronto, and then find a way to get Gaithersburg from there, or to get across the border into Montana to intercept the train from Seattle to Chicago, and then catch an onward train to Washington, DC.

Now that he was going to be in the city longer than originally planned, KP planned to spend some time in town as a tourist.  There was little to be achieved by him sticking around in my hospital room all day. He also got in his daily run.  He had also bought an airline ticket to get  back home the next day (Tuesday). His plan was to to stop by the hospital and spend some time before he left.  He was in touch with Tom.  KP was such a life-saver.  Beside helping me locate stuff that I needed from my luggage and getting this stuff back to me, he also offered to take back home some of things that I had no further need for. Most of this turned out to be my laundry from the ride.  Awesome dude!

It might have been some time during that day that I mentioned to one of the doctors that something did not seem quite right on my the back of my left palm.  He promised to order x-rays.

I met Tobi, the night nurse assigned to me for my entire hospital stay, that evening.  You could not miss Tobi when she walked into the room. She had such a presence.  A somewhat tall and lean person with a distinctive haircut, she always moved around with a sense of purpose.  She had a warm spirit and a great sense of humor. She was very experienced and good at her job.  She was also super efficient and effective.  She was  extremely caring.  She and I got to chatting about a lot of stuff in general, and she generally put my mind at ease.  She told me about her adventures traveling around the continent with her family.

It was Tuesday morning by the time I finally got a chance to get out of my biking shorts, and also clean myself in the bathroom with some wet wipes. When the doctors came by to do their morning rounds, they told me that my discharge from the hospital was up to me.  The lung was healing.  The broken ribs would be left to heal by themselves.  There was no more treatment for them to do. From then on my hospital stay was going to be all about my managing the pain.  For some reason, perhaps unfair, I thought they wanted me out of there.  I came to the realization that under the circumstances I might be better off just staying in a hotel until I felt well enough to travel, rather than spend a lot of money on a hospital bed.  I resolved to try to at least leave the hospital when Tom arrived.  We would make a decision regarding further travels at the time of my discharge depending on how I felt at that time.

I think it was the same day that I also got a visit from another young doctor who said she was from the Plastic Surgery team. She told me about the fractured metacarpal bone in my left hand, something that had been revealed by the x-rays taken after my complaint. She returned later with the senior attendee.  The recommendation was for surgical intervention to fix the fracture, but to have the intervention done after I got home so that I could get appropriate aftercare. I could be given a temporary splint in the meantime.

Later that day, one of the young ladies working in the unit fashioned a removable splint to use on my left hand.

That night Tobi decided that I did not need my IV line anymore.  I was very grateful when she took it off.  I was feeling good about getting on with things.

During their rounds on Wednesday morning, I told the doctors that I would like to be discharged that day.  I told them about my brother who was going to come to Calgary to rescue me, and about possible travel plans.  Dr. Anderson approved.  He went beyond approval. He said that times like this were what family was there for, and he proceeded to chat about the train journey experience if I were to take the train to Toronto.

The process for my discharge was started.  I had to make sure the hospital had my health insurance information so that they could deal with my insurance provider rather than insisting that I pay on my own.  FYI, I would not have had to pay a dime had I been a resident of Alberta!  They also had begun gathering my medical records to take with me when I left.

Dr Anderson stopped by to give me his bill.  He had been unsuccessful in reaching my insurance company, but he seemed to be confident enough that I would take care of the matter.  We talked some more and shook hands.  He wished me well and told me I could contact him any time if I had questions.

I began to gather my stuff to prepare for departure.  I told the nurse that I wanted to take a shower before I left, and also wanted to let my brother see how the wounds were to be dressed, so that he could take care of what was needed in this regard during our travels.  I was still not sure exactly what would happen after my discharge regarding these travels.  Tom seemed to be leaning towards taking The Canadian to Toronto eventually.

And then I waited…..

Fast-Forwarding to Today Temporarily Before Returning Back to My Canadian Adventure

I made it a point to return to the C&O canal for the first time today after the accident in Canada.  The pictures below are perhaps old in the sense that I have posted similar pictures before, but they also represent something new in my recovery process.  I am able to walk decent distances in the park, and I am also able to take pictures! Assuming no setbacks, I intend to slowly but surely try to get back to the stuff I enjoy doing outdoors.  This trip was to Pennyfield Lock.

Jasper to Banff Bike Ride, The Second Posting For The Last Day – The Pictures

Perhaps you will sense a different feeling to this post when compared to the earlier ones from the ride.  Of course, one of the reasons this post is different is because of what I did to myself at the end of the day.  The other reason is more sentimental.  I want to acknowledge my travel companions. The focus is not just on the scenery but on the people who accompanied me.  I am going to break my own unspoken rule and specifically mention names.  I am hoping that nobody minds.  We start in the morning as we get ready to depart Lake Louise.

Being his usual helpful self, Rick had packed our luggage into the back of Ben’s van for the last day’s ride. He was quite proud of his effort.   Rick also did his bit to keep us entertained as we rode every day.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is Ben giving us instructions for the last day.   Ben was very thorough in his support.  Go ahead and take a tour with him at Mountain Madness Tours.  You will not be disappointed!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had been riding thus far on the Icefields Parkway.  From now on we are on the Bow Valley Parkway.  The funny thing is that my bear sighting was pretty soon after we saw this sign. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe road ran beside the Bow River.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is a picture of the riders on the move.  You may notice that the road markings here are very different from those encountered on the Icefields Parkway.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA freight train awaits beside the road.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKoushik, the heart and soul of our riding team.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne way to smell the flowers, perhaps on another planet (get it!?).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANancy and Stacy, old college mates.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABen in his vehicle, after overtaking one of the riders.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI stopped with KP at a memorial point for the Castle Camp internment camp.  Even though this episode happened during WW1, it is not difficult to imagine something like this happening even  in our modern times.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe last paragraph in the wayside marker for the internment camp below reads “In total, eight thousand five hundred and seventy-nine men became prisoners of war in twenty-four camps located across Canada during the internment operations of 1914-1920.  Most were foreign nationals, a few were British subjects or Canadian citizens.  The majority were non-combatant, unemployed civilians – victims of the 1913 depression, racial prejudice and wartime hysteria. Many of the internees came from western regions of Ukraine, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStacy, Nancy and Sally.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Bow river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABen’s van and trailer at the last stopping point.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAResting before the last push.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASally and Bob, our riding leaders.  They were the youngest and the oldest in the group. Bob, a former triathlete, took on the hills we encountered as if he was on a mission. Sally was not too far behind.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA squirrel observing the goings-on at this last stop.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was the last picture I found on the camera after the trip.  I did not take this picture.  The time stamp on the picture leads me to believe that it was taken after I fell off the bike.  I suspect that Bob, who had retrieved the camera and eventually delivered it to my home, took a picture to see if the camera was working. A great picture from that perspective.  The camera ended up in better shape than I did!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA That was the end of the ride, but not the end of my adventures.

Jasper to Banff Bike Ride – Day 5

As usual, I am up at 5:00am in the morning, and this is my excuse for quickly trying to type up a blog for the previous day.  My pictures for the blog have been preprocessed the previous night and are ready to go.  My roommate has been up late in the night taking pictures of the skies and the stars until 12:45am. (The dark skies above Bow Lake and the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge are free of light pollution and are ideal for this endeavor.) He manages to sleep through the clickety-clack of my computer keyboard as I try to bang out another blog quickly before going down to breakfast.

Ben is already at work when I go down for breakfast. He also has to to take care of the rest of the business and plans for other tour groups while with us since he is a solo operator. While we are chatting he shows me a gorgeous picture he has taken of the lake earlier that morning. That is my cue to run out and take pictures before the others arrive. Here is some of what I saw. (If you click on the first picture, it will open out in full resolution.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlans for today are a little different than usual.  Since the ride is going to be shorter and mainly downhill, we are going to do a three hour hike to the Bow Glacier Falls at the far end of the lake before we start riding. The falls are probably visible in the first picture above if you look at the full resolution version of the picture. The picture below was taken with a zoom lens as we start our hike.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are pictures from the hike. Note how the color of the water is already beginning to change.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was time to slow down and take pictures of the flowers that lined the trail.  Here is one sample.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe other side of the lake is pictured in the morning light below. The sun has yet to make its way completely over the mountains in the east.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe early sections of the trail ran along the lake shore.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWild flowers grow among the rocks.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is where the trail left the lake shore.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen it was time to begin the trek back.  We had to make it back in time to the lodge to check out by noon.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe noticed that the color of the waters of the lake had changed in the meantime.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then it was time to get on our bikes once again and ride!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome of us stopped at a location on the Icefield Parkway to take parting pictures of Bow Lake.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is a picture of the Crowfoot glacier from the road. The picture did not turn out as well as I hope for.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe bike ride to Lake Louise today runs along the Bow river.  Bow river is a tributary of the South Saskatchewan river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a picture of Hector Lake from our lunch stop.  The Bow river flows in and out of the lake.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then it was time to speed down the hill into Lake Louise.  Folks had told me that it is possible to ride much faster on a road than on a trail. I could not believe how fast one can ride consistently at under the conditions.  We arrived at Lake Louise in no time.  All in all, this was a short riding day.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter resting for some time, we went to the Lake Louise Station restaurant for an early dinner.  The trains pass right by the station.  It was delightful dinner in a delightful setting with delightful friends.  We even had a squirrel wander into the restaurant looking for scraps. (It was chased away by a waitress who did not seem the least bit annoyed by the squirrel’s antics.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Rocky Mountaineer also stopped beside the restaurant as we were leaving.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter dinner Ben then took us on a ride to Lake Moraine in the mountains. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We passed by Temple Mountain on the way.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Here are some pictures from the lake.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy camera battery ran out at this point, and I could not take pictures at our next stop, Lake Louise.

The crowds that we found at these lakes made me feel like we had wandered back from the wilderness into the thick of civilization, and it was not necessarily a good feeling.  Having experienced what I did during this ride, it is going to be hard to to go back to being a traditional tourist, joining the massive crowds that tend to throng the more popular tourist sites.

Some of us sat ourselves outside the hotel eating ice-cream and chatting after we returned.  It was very relaxing.

We are going to do our longest ride of the trip tomorrow, but Ben assures us that it is all downhill. We might need to be more disciplined with time management since all of us have flights to catch from Calgary later in the day.  The vacation will inevitably come to an end at that point.

(This blog, in its current form, requires much more work for cleanup, but I have limited time on my hands.  I will take care of that later.)

Jasper to Banff Bike Ride – Day 4

Perhaps there are few of you who are actually following along as I talk about our experiences during the many days of this ride.  Some of you may have even discerned some sort of a pattern (dare I say routine) to the daily experience.  After breakfast together, Ben gets us started for the day with instructions and directions.  He has our bikes all checked out and ready to go. He pulls open up a map on his trailer and talks about where we are going and the nature of the ride for the day.   Once we get going, he stops at places along the route to make sure we are OK, and help us out with whatever we need.  He says we can even stop by at some of these spots if we just need a hug. We usually have a snack stop where Ben sets up a “picnic” with a bunch of stuff to revive us. We may also have a lunch stop along the way depending on the length of the ride that day. We stop along the way to do things.  The rides usually end early so that we have time to recover and do other things.  We gather around for dinner.

The descriptions of the next stage of the ride that Ben provides at various stops while pointing to his map are interesting and useful.  He tries his best at each stop to prepare us mentally for the next stage of the adventure. He does not downplay the challenges shown on the map, like the 8% climb the other day, or the major climb that we did today.   Other sections that are not that steep but are still challenging in their own way are described using terms like “Rocky Mountain flats”, or “downdulations”.  The instructions that we get are very complete.

We have gotten to know Ben well during the last few days.  He is a sweetheart.

Let me now get on with with the story of another glorious day of riding in the Canadian Rockies.

I was up early, as usual.  The places we have stayed at so far are in remote areas.  The hotels or resorts tend to be the only human habitation for miles around.  Network connectivity is generally through a satellite link which has it own challenges.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACrossing the North Saskatchewan river early in the ride.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI actually saw a black bear today!  I was at the back of the group and managed to get only one picture!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMt. Chephren.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had a long picnic stop at a spot along the Waterfowl Lakes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen it was time to brave the cold, glacier fed, waters of the Lake.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe was the first to actually be brave enough to go all the way in for a swim.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOthers followed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI did step into the water myself, up to my knees. It was freezing.  There was a discussion among the folks experienced in swimming in cold waters and those who were scientifically inclined about what the actual temperature of the water might be, since it was flowing down from a glacier, and since it also felt pretty darned cold! My somewhat unscientific guess was that it was in the 40s – degrees Fahrenheit that is.

As we got going once again, I did stop by to smell the flowers by the roadways.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe downhill slope below is actually just before the start of a brutal climb, this time to the highest point that we are to encounter during during this ride. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABow Pass, the point that we were just about to ride though, is at about 2069 meters.  I was on the lowest gear going up for most of this long and challenging climb.  My thigh muscles were screaming, and I was simply hoping that I would not cramp up and have to stop, because starting up once again on the 4-6% slope in the condition that I was in would have presented an additional challenge. Obviously, I did not stop for pictures. The ride seemed never ending, and every time I came around a hill or over a hump, with the hope of the end of the climb just beyond, there was yet another challenge to overcome. In the end we all made it to the top in grand manner!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt this point, we got off the main road and rode to an even higher elevation on Bow Summit.  From the parking lot for the buses, Ben took us on a hike to an even higher elevation, to a somewhat isolated spot where we could have our lunch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPeyto Lake below us. Off in the distance you can see the direction from which we rode this morning.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis little guy popped his head out from among the rocks, looking for some scraps, or perhaps the leftover muffin grabbed from the breakfast table that was in a backpack.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was hoping to make out the road that we rode on this morning, and perhaps even Waterfowl Lake where we stopped by for snacks and swimming, in the picture below.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen were heading downhill to our place for the evening. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is our place for the evening, the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a picture of Bow Lake from a window of the lodge.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was sitting outside the lodge with some of the others waiting for dinnertime when I took this picture.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASlept well last night after a scrumptious dinner and the company of the wonderful friends, both old and new, who accompany me during the ride.

We have gotten past the highest point in the ride, and it is all downhill from now (in a manner of speaking). But I am also sure that Ben has a few “whoopsies” along the way that will continue to challenge us and keep us on our toes.


Jasper to Banff Bike Ride – Day 3

I know I am very fortunate, and there a times like now, and days like today, and moments like the one I experienced this morning, when a sense of the extraordinary is so overwhelming that I do not know whether to laugh or cry out aloud in happiness when I am out there all my myself.

I woke up a little earlier than the others this morning and went for a walk.   There was nobody around.  The feeling was very different from that of the previous afternoon when there were crowds all over the place.  You could even hear the water flowing in the distance from the glacier.  After dropping by the pond in front of the hotel, I discovered the Forefield Trail and ventured off towards the Athabasca glacier before the others were up.  The sun was rising behind me, the early birds were all atwitter, and off in the distance was the massive glacier and the mountain peaks. It was glorious!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe following pictures are from the Forefield trail.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI joined the others for breakfast after the walk.  Then it was time to get ready to depart. I saw Ben outside our hotel window getting the bikes ready for the day’s ride.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday we crossed over from Jasper National Park to Banff National Park as we went over the Sunwapta pass. This is the second highest pass that we will cross during the ride, and it is at about 2035 feet.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stopped for hike at Parker Ridge. We crossed over the mountain ridge to the other side to see the Saskatchewan Glacier.  It was a pretty steep climb.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe found this chap beside the trail, taking in all the tourist traffic going by.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou could see the support vehicle at the bottom of the mountain as we returned from the hike.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen came another challenging section of the ride.  This one was a little scary, but we all came through in good shape.  We were essentially speeding down a mountainside on a road that was not in the best of shape, a road that was also lacking a good shoulder, or even a shoulder in some parts.  We were riding besides other motor vehicles on the road.  It was bone rattling ride at high speeds. Ben had a stop for us at the halfway point, where he instructed me on how better to hold on to the bicycle handle so that I could take the rough road without wobbling too much.  One of our riders hit a speed of 70 kmph coming down, a personal best for her.  I was just a little slower. 🙂  The picture below shows a very short section of that descent.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then we were riding the rest of way to our destination for the evening on the flats beside the North Saskatchewan River.  This river flows into the Hudson Bay. The Columbia Icefield is a source for rivers that flow into the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were riding beside a wall of rock for a certain distance.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter a certain while, the river disappeared behind some trees and woods. There was less things to stop for, and the rest of the ride became more about the sheer enjoyment of the experience of riding.  Folks were speeding along all the way to our destination, which was a place called The Crossing Resort. It was located at a spot just before our road, the Icefield Parkway, crosses the North Saskatchewan river.  Here is a picture of our digs for the night.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are some views from the resort.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter dinner we drove to the Mistaya Canyon where we could take a hike to a spot where the Mistaya river goes over a waterfall.  The Mistaya river feeds the North Saskatchewan river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat evening a few of us stood outside our rooms hoping to see some colors in the sky at sunset.  The show was a little disappointing.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe are halfway through the ride at this point!