Posted by Alan on 17th July 2007
This was a nice morning despite the mozzies (that’s apparently what they call mosquitoes in the UK, I picked that up from Ursula) and I had a little instant oatmeal before breaking camp and hitting the road. Just past the campground was the Columbia Icefield, which is apparently quite a tourist attraction around here.
The icefield is pretty cool, but as I pedalled down a side road leading to the glacier, I noticed little signs showing where the edge of the glacier had been over the course of the past century. It was pretty depressing to see how big it used to be in comparison to its current size. It must have been truly impressive to see it back then. I rode back up to the highway to take a few more photos and couldn’t help noticing the huge RVs pulling into the parking lot. I hope the tourists arriving in these gas guzzling behemoths could see the connection between their vehicles and the receding glaciers they came to marvel at.
There was a fair bit of traffic on this highway and the shoulder was quite bumpy for long stretches. Throw in a slight headwind and this was shaping up to be a less than pleasant day. To make matters worse I had a close call with a car in a section where there basically was no shoulder, only two lanes for traffic. Some idiot appeared to be trying to pass in the right lane when he finally noticed me over on the edge of the road. He narrowly avoided me, but it sure got my blood pumping and I sent a few angry words in the direction of his retreating bumper. This was my first close call on this trip, so don’t worry, this doesn’t happen very often at all. After today’s ride I can’t really recommend this highway to other bicyclists. Maybe if there was less traffic, but as it is, it’s not particularly bicycle friendly.
I finally arrived in the outskirts of Jasper. I turned off towards a hostel near town. I figured I’d do some laundry and take a shower and sleep in a real bed for the night. Unfortunately it turned out to be a VERY steep hill up to this hostel. It was perhaps the toughest climb I’ve had this whole trip. Thankfully, they had an available bed and despite the place being full of people, it’s nice to be inside away from the mozzies.