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!The following pictures are from the Forefield trail.I 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.Today 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.We 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.We found this chap beside the trail, taking in all the tourist traffic going by.You could see the support vehicle at the bottom of the mountain as we returned from the hike.Then 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.And 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.
We were riding beside a wall of rock for a certain distance.After 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.These are some views from the resort.After 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.That 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.We are halfway through the ride at this point!