Start: Lake Louise Hostel
Finish: Beauty Creek Hostel, Jasper National Park
Miles: 97.5 miles
Odometer: 2,878.1 miles
Ascent: 6,100 feet
Descent: 6,000 feet
I got up early because I had a 90 mile day with two huge climbs ahead. My first destination was the actual famous, picturesque Lake Louise. I mistakenly thought that the lake was on the Icefield Parkway and that I could check it out as I headed towards Jasper. I was wrong. To see Lake Louise I had to climb a pretty steep incline for a couple of miles just to get up to the lake. I’ve always wanted to see Lake Louise and it has been a primary focus while planning this trip. However, after climbing ¾ of the way up and realizing that my 90 mile ride today was in the other direction I nearly quit climbing and turned around. I knew I would regret that decision so I pushed all the way up to the lake, and it was spectacular. I was able to ride past all of the tourists in their cars waiting to park, and ride straight up to the lake side. The clouds were still sitting low on the mountains but the majesty of the mountains reflected in the lake was breathtaking. I took a few pictures and sat calmly to breathe in the magnificence, but alas the urgency of getting on the road for my 90 miles took me away. On another day I would’ve liked to spend an hour absorbing.
Today’s ride took me over two mountain passes and through some pretty nasty rainy and cold weather. The views were outstanding despite the bad weather. The aquamarine lakes reflected the menacing, giant snowcapped mountains. Stunning.
Along the Icefield Parkway in the Jasper National Park there are a limited number hotel or hostel accommodations, i.e., non-camping options. I had no reservation. I arrived exhausted at the Beauty Creek Hostel at around 6 PM hoping there was still a bed available. And there was. Relief. Otherwise, I would have another 20 miles to the next hostel.
Hostel host, Quinn, checked me in, gave me a tour, then awarded my effort with a beer. The hostel had no electricity, showers, or running water. That was fine with me; I was just happy to get out of the bad weather and have a warm bed for the night.
The hostel is very small with a limited number of beds. Tonight there were around 10 people staying there and all were gathered around the roaring fire only yards from the river with mountain peaks as the backdrop. It was a beautiful setting. The other travelers were an interesting international mix that included a couple from Australia, a couple from England, and a mix of Canadians. Everyone was drinking and the conversation was lively. I had packed some food and scarfed every bit while everyone watched. They shared their beers with me. The fire toasted my feet to the perfect temperature. The rain threatened but never came. A fine evening.
A word about the god of wind. Never curse and spit at the god of wind, for the curse and spit will most assuredly land in your face. Instead, thank the god of wind for the gentle headwind and offer sacrifice for a tailwind. I had a headwind most of the day until my second and hardest climb of the day over Sunwapta Pass, and then the god of wind bestowed on me a fierce tailwind to carry me up and over the Pass. The god of wind is a fair god.
I saw my third bear of the trip - a black bear. Multiple tourists (they are in season at the moment) stopped their vehicles to gawk at the creature, causing what is called locally as a “bear jam”. I weaved my bike in and around the bear jam and continued my journey without being harmed. They can be very dangerous. The gawking tourists, I mean.