O Canada, not the national anthem, but ‘oh Canada’, we have only been here for five days, only seen a small snippet, but how enjoyable, well, after the first couple of days and the snow, see the video for that. We crossed from the USA at Eureka and switched from miles to kilometres, at least we stayed on the same side of the road. Anne prefers kilometres to miles because she says they go quicker when it’s cold, so she is happy. Speed limits seem to be lower on highways, 100 kph /62 mph on the main highways and 90 kph / 55 mph where those roads pass through National Parks to protect wildlife.
Our second day seems to provide a cloudy weather window, without rain, to allow us to get to Canmore via Banff. We were last here in 1985 and are looking forward to renewing our acquaintance with the area. While cold it was dry, at least for the first hour, by which time we needed to thaw out! We stop at the town of Radium Hot Springs, hope the hot is natural… It feels good to warm up – Anne even got a refill of the tasteless American ‘coffee’. We start riding again in light rain and come across a Kootenay National Park entrance across the road, fees payable, but as it’s Canada’s 150th anniversary, we get a free pass for 2017 – excellent! Climbing up through the park, we have to cross a pass at around 6,100 ft / 1850m, the rain turns to sleet then snow, the temperature dropped to 33F / 0.5 C. As we slow and indicate for the car behind us to pass us, it slows down too and positions itself behind us for the first section of the pass providing a measure of protection – thank you!
Further the road, after waiting for 20 minutes for roadworks, we travel on, colder and heavier snow. While pulling over might seem like an option, there is nowhere in the National Park to stop, a cold tent does not appeal and especially having to setup in this weather. We need to clean our visors of snow every 10 seconds or so, just to see where we are going, then splat! we are sprayed with a wall of fast moving slush by a vehicle going the other way, that’s a new experience for us.
It takes us two hours of this, with a couple of necessary thawing stops, to reach our destination. We see no other motorcycles out there and encounter no bugs. Are the two related? More research is needed on that subject, I see a government grant here. We did note that driving snow does clean all the dead bugs off the windshield really well.
Two very cold, wet and bedraggled riders sloshed their way into the nice hotel in Canmore we had found online with 70% off. As we dripped all over the foyer, we were given keys to a great room with two baths. With wet gear in one and us in another, the amount of water was about the same, pure luxury. A nice bottle of South Australian red wine with dinner rounded off a tough day, but we made it through once again.
Refreshed the next morning, we are ready to head back to Lake Louise, a location we last saw in the summer of 1985 when we were hitch hiking back from Alaska via the Icefield Parkway. It was a destination that on paper, well post cards, I recall at the time thinking how the blue of the lake looked fake, nothing could be that blue, but it was. We arrive at Lake Louise, overlooked by the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel, to find no magic blue lake, just an ice covered scenic wonder. What a difference a season makes. Surprisingly the place is busy with tourists, both domestic and foreign.
Off again, then suddenly a gaggle of cars pulled over at the side of the highway, a breakdown, accident?, no a grizzly bear on the side of the adjacent railway track, slowly moving from clump of clump of vegetation, which can include dandelions which we have seen flowering and seeding prolifically during the last few weeks. Our first and last bear so far, at least it was a grizzly.
A couple of nights at a B&B gives us a chance to start sort out what we will take with us next month, yes while we have sent one package home, we think we can slim down a little further.
This also coincided with a new phenomenon for us, blue sky and warm weather. After six weeks, we have blue sky and warm weather. We will now take a few back roads southwards into the vast expanse of the Canadian Rockies, winding roads, deep lakes, tall forests and snowcapped peaks. I will let the photos do the talking from here.