June 2013
Banff to Jasper bike and hostel tour

Click on images to see medium size or view as slideshow All images © CPBL 2016 unless otherwise stated
After the AERE meeting in Banff, Adam,
and I
got on bikes and rode
to Lake Louise.
The lovely hostel there is a bit more than a hostel.
We climbed up to the lake (and Chateau),
where Aleksa claimed victory.
Adam and I went for a short walk.
Horsepackers broadcasted partly-credible news of someone's grizzly interaction on the Six Glaciers trail. When this reached the Chateau, two armed rangers responded, the first walking briskly and the second cycling at full tilt.
That afternoon, Aleksa and I said farewell to Adam and headed north, leaving in the background L. Louise and the third highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.
A quick stretch and early-to-bed
at Mosquito Creek.
An early start
put us on the road for stunning weather,
stunning views,
stunning climbs,
and sometimes cold toes.
After Bow Pass, we got our first screaming descent
down to the North Saskatchewan river
nearby which there lies icecream.
We journeyed on,
past the Weeping Wall
and a waterfall hidden to cars but visible to cyclists (!),
... and climbed to Sunwapta pass, the subalpine, and the edge of the Columbia icefield.
There, believe it or not, there exists a hotel with glacier-view rooms.
Overnight, it snowed.
But by the time I'd gone for a run and Aleksa had sampled the local fries,
the sun was back.
On the way to the toe of the Athabasca glacier, interpretive signs document the Athabasca's rapid retreat in recent decades and explain anthropogenic climate change. In a wonderful irony, the Park now has replaced much of the walking trail to the toe with a petroleum-paved road. It also runs diesel busses to and onto the glacier, and has sold out to the building of a corporate, bus-only viewing platform. Write to the Park and the government, and avoid Brewster Inc.
Let's coast 100 km downhill to Jasper!
Aleksandra practiced her tuck.
After our fourth bear sighting (a lone grizzly), we arrived in Jasper and met up with Iris.
Now travelling by car, we stayed at Athabasca Falls and, the next day, stopped again for lunch at this stunning overlook above the Weeping Wall.
Iris's goal was to find some glacier lilies together with some Calypso orchids (shown here). We did, in Yoho.
These people ought to have been told clearly when entering the park that this kind of behaviour is punished by big fines (currently only for "harassment"). Even existing park rules seem not to be well communicated, let alone well enforced.
Of course, travel by bicycle is the only right way to see roadside wildlife from outside your car,
but still you should not stop and gawk.
Roadside rock and sand doesn't look appetizing, but maybe the bighorn find (road) salt there.
Current policies are not properly protecting endangered animals. This situation involved dozens of people (including children) noisily standing, running, and jumping within metres of the bears, which inevitably caused them stress.
Not only did the sow react, but one of the cubs came down to the road to enforce better behaviour. Surely such training at a young age diminishes these young grizzlies' long-term chances of not being shot or traumatically relocated.
This bull elk was in full velvet.
These parks, and their buffering lands, are special.
We'll keep coming back, as well as advocating for their proper protection.