Chasing the Sun

Back in business with a new belt drive for my bike and a new enthusiasm for me. I made my way northwest towards Glacier National Park of Canada on Highway 1. The good news, the views are spectacular, the bad news, this road is clogged with tourists as well as trans Canada traffic. Best advice, get an early start, before the big rigs get on the road.

The other bad news, my detour delay put me on the edge of some sketchy weather. The locals were all complaining that this summer has been cool and rainy. The storms are slow moving, mostly visible and avoidable if you wait or change direction.

Not so avoidable rain.
Keeping with my flexible (translation: no reservations) travel planning, I found a private campground in Mara with an outdoor shower. Score one for the exhibitionist in all of us.

The Provincial Park gate keeper suggested I try camping at Kakekkawa Falls. The downside, it is bike/cart-in and first come first served campground, a challenge for the flexible traveler. Several disappointed potential campers were leaving as I hiked up to the campground. Lucky me, I found a note on a campsite that suggested sharing the site, and the cost. Score! A young lady from Belgium saves the day. Added bonus, the second highest falls in Canada roaring all night. Also happening all night… drizzle.

I packed up a wet tent and headed out. My objective: ride north up the Icefields  Parkway towards Jasper. As I hit the Parkway, it started to drizzle harder. Did I mention it was 45 degrees?. The system was rolling right up along the road and I couldn’t get ahead of it due to the rush hour traffic of RV’s, buses and cars. When the caravan came to a stop due to construction for fifteen minutes, I made the call to turn around and save this experience for another day. I headed towards the sun and Lake Louise. The view on the way back:

I remembered Lake Louise from my youth as one of the most beautiful places I’d seen of all the travels we did as a family. What I found was a very pretty setting choked with tourists. Even with the cold drizzle it was shoulder to shoulder. I quickly left and headed to Banff where, surprisingly, it was 67 and sunny. A good choice. 

I checked the weather radar and maps to see where the storms were headed and elected to swing out of the park towards Radium Hot Springs, thinking I’d cross the border at Roosville, pass back through Whitefish and ride Going to the Sun by motorcycle. You’d think a name that hints of radioactivity would deter tourism, but apparently not.I skipped by and saw a sign for a Provincial Park called Premier. Well, that I have to see. The sign didn’t say there would be a ten mile drive, five of it on gravel to get there. But, as expected, I found one of the last campsites. The lake is nice, maybe not premier nice, and I found out it is the hatchet for 40% of the trout stocked in BC.

In the morning, the weather had me cut off from my intended route so I headed over the Crow’s Nest Pass, mostly beating the thunderstorms creeping up from the south and hanging over Glacier. My new destination: Waterton Lakes National Park, the sister across the border from Glacier. Naturally, camping was available for the lucky traveler. I did a couple of short hikes in Red Rock Canyon and went to a pretty corny ranger presentation on cougars. The message was that they are essential for keeping the deer population in check. I’m thinking of getting one. On the way back to the campsite, there was a smallish grizzly on the road eating blueberries. I slept with the bear spray close at hand. 

It starting raining the moment I got into my tent and didn’t stop all night. When I peeked out in the morning, I was horrified to see my motorcycle leaning way over. The kickstand was sunk three inches into the water-softened gravel. Another couple degrees and it would have been on its side. A disaster avoided. Packed up cold and wet and headed for the good old US of A, where there were hints of sun. So long Waterton, you were beautiful.

Next up: race for home.


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