I have now reached Canmore, and was able to go to Calgary to upgrade my electronics, so I am connected again and able to share the stories and pictures. I accumulated enough stories for more than one blog post: here is the first one!
The day I left Fraser Lake, I had 2 ‘firsts’. My first day of riding in the rain in about 2 months (no complain there!) and my first flat tire. Funny how flats and bad weather seem to come together but luckily I was at a café in Vanderhoof when I realized that it happened. Just a slow leak. Perfect timing, and I made new friends as I was fixing the problem.
From there I rode further to reach Felicity’s farm. Felicity is a fantastic woman who runs a farm all by herself. A super cool, strong and fun young woman. She was already hosting 2 cyclists but didn’t mind having an additional guest. I spent a few hours helping her with preparing her produce for the next day’s market in Prince George. We chatted like old friends as we were cleaning carrots, beets, lettuce, etc. The 4 of us had supper together and great fun sharing stories. I slept on a straw bed and the next morning I was treated to a nice breakfast of homemade granola and milk from Felicity’s cows. Awesome. Another place where I could easily have stayed much longer. I hope to go back one day.
From there it was a fairly long ride to Prince George where I was hosted by a Warmshowers couple, Kathy and Phil Rice. Their place is just fabulous, right by the river, and they were such wonderful hosts. We shared bike touring stories as we ate a delicious pad thai and ice cream, and they gave me a lot of valuable info about the ride to Jasper since they had done it too recently with their son. It would have been easy to stay another day but the weather was great and I ended up leaving the next day with a belly full of Phil’s tasty pancakes.
There were a few good climbs after I left Prince George, but I felt great and soon reached Purden Lake where I was thinking of staying for the night. There is a resort and campground there, with access to the lake so I thought it would be a good place to stay. But there were so many people, I felt almost claustrophobic (well, agoraphobic would probably be more accurate) and decided to keep going and wild camp, like in the good old days (!) in one of the places that Phil had mentioned to me, next to Kenneth Creek.
And from there, it was a reasonable day to Lasalle Recreation Site, a place where people can camp for free, next to a shallow lake full of tadpoles.
On the way, I did a short hike in the Ancient Forest Park and stopped at a rest area where a woman came to see me. She could not believe that I had climbed the ‘big hill’ just before the rest area. I laughed at her perspective, as I hadn’t really noticed the hill that she talked about, but I sure noticed a lot of other ones before that one… She was so excited about it that she actually pulled a $20 bill out of her wallet and handed it to me!
Minutes later my phone died. Of course it is very inconvenient when you rely on this tool to, amongst other things, take pictures and navigate. But I was mostly sad because I could no longer write a blog to share stories and pictures. Because I travel alone, writing a blog and emails is an important part of my journey and I was very disappointed. But at least it happened in Canada, where it was going to be easy to find a new phone.
The next stop was McBride. I was very curious to see the place as I had heard from a motorcyclist that it was not a pleasant town. But somehow, I had the feeling that I would have a different opinion and sure enough, I loved the place. There is a nice little café next to the visitor center, where I had a second breakfast and met a couple from Newfoundland that not only knew one of my friends from there, they were also reading the book that my friend’s father wrote… Small world again. And while it started raining pretty hard, I went to the library to write a couple emails and then to another café, until the rain stopped long enough for me to ride to a RV park (since I somehow missed the rest area where I wanted to stay, I must be riding way too fast, lol!) where I lucked out and could pitch my tent under a big gazebo before it poured for the rest of the day.
With not a single day off since I had left Whitehorse, I started feeling much more fatigued, but still wanted to take advantage of the nice weather while it lasted. As I pushed towards Jasper, I stopped at all the lodges on the way to get a coffee, and more often then not, I was offered the caffeine boost for free! Once again, generosity on the road was outstanding.
Just after Tete Jaune, I entered Alberta, and the scenery started to get really spectacular.
And before lunchtime, I arrived at the Mount Robson Provincial Park Visitor Centre where I met John, an American tour cyclist who had a bike exactly the same as Laf. Same colour, just bigger, and with much fewer bruises! He was about to start his day as I was calling mine over. Definitely on a different schedule! However it didn’t take much to convince him to stay an extra day at that beautiful location.
There is a lovely café with several picnic tables outside, facing Mt Robson, and not only was the food delicious, it was also very original. I had a breakfast sandwich but instead of the regular bagel, the sandwich was made with 2 waffles that had crunchy maple sugar chunks in it, and they gave me some additional maple syrup to make it even better. As I was thinking it couldn’t get much better than this, I realized that they also had baklavas. So I had that too, and for a very reasonable price. The rest of the day was spent resting and chatting with several hikers, many of them on a multi-week trip.
I was hoping to squat somewhere for the night, but realized that this is easier done when you are alone. Thankfully people in charge of the nearby campground let us, hikers and bikers, stay in the ‘overflow’ area for free.
I left early to ride to Jasper, chatted with a bunch of people as I ingested more calories (scrambled eggs in a curry wrap and a delicious 1000 calories pumpkin maple square). I sat next to two older ladies that were eating chocolate cheesecake. They both left some in their plate and I was very disappointed that they took their plates inside when they left, as I would have gladly prevented such waste.
If you think I am really focused on food, here is another story. I had bought a nice and very heavy cinnamon bun at the grocery store in Jasper that I carried to the place where I stayed that night. In the morning, I started packing while I was eating my bun. Well, a very small squirrel also thought it looked good and as I was packing my tent, it stole the bun. Maybe it’s my sixth sense that made me look in the right direction at the right time, I immediately dropped poles and pegs and chased the squirrel. Luckily it was very small and the bun very big still, so it had to drop it to save his life (he must have realized I was not taking this act lightly). I was able to pick up the bun and finished it before anything else tried to eat it for me…
More on the Icefield Parkway ride in the next blog post!