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Monday, August 15, 2016

Day Ten - Jasper to Sunwapta

What an incredible day!!!!!  

I think I'm going to have to set up  my tent when I get home.  As nice as it was to sleep in the hotel, I can't say that I slept super well. But definitely slept better than the night before!

Had breakfast at Tim's which was just down the street, got all the bags packed and in the right place and time to leave. Last time I did this ride, I decided to stay on the main highway.  This time, I decided to try the secondary road which was on our maps. Almost right away, we start climbing.  Today was going to be a brutal climbing day, and I asked myself if I really needed to do this.  But I told myself to suck it up and just do it. So I did and you know - it really wasn't all that bad.  At the 30 K mark, the two roads met up again.

However, it was very advantageous to take that road.  The big thing has been what wildlife we would see on any given day. I'm riding down this road and noticing that it's pretty isolated to be riding by myself.  There was traffic on the road so it wasn't completely isolated. All of a sudden a big brown bear came out of the ditch and onto the road.  He or she stopped and looked at me.  I stopped and looked at the bear. Hmmmm - what should I do?  Well - I grabbed my camera of course!   After a few minutes (OK - probably less than one minute), the bear decided I wasn't a threat and turned its' butt towards me and started to amble down the road.  Then headed into the ditch.  The ditch was pretty steep and I couldn't imagine the bear was smart enough to stalk me - there are lots of berries around.  I rode on the opposite side of the road and I was good.   My heart was pounding a bit and it wasn't because of the climbing!

The rest of the day went pretty smoothly.  I have to say that the last time I did this ride, the weather was crappy.   It was cloudy, it was raining. It was ugly.  Today was GLORIOUS. It was a bit cool for the first couple of hours and the sun was behind the mountain. I stopped at the same lodge that we did in 2011 where I bought my pop bottle coat.  No need to buy a coat today or sit by the fire to warm up.  I had my chocolate bar and I was off.   As I was stopped at the lodge, some of the rest of the group came up and I showed them (including Jamie) my bear picture.   It was exciting!!!!

The mountains are spectacular.  I have never seen these mountains before and well, it was so nice that the sun was out.  I was even down to just my cycling jersey! I took tons of pictures today.  Oh yes - do you want to know why the sun is out today???   Because I carried my big rain jacket with me all day.

The KM for today was 107 which isn't a a big deal. The big deal was to climb up Sunwapta pass.  It was a TOUGH 4 KM. Not a lot of let up and the grades were steep.  I did stop every KM and I was OK with that. I'm sure that all the cars that were coming towards us just before the climb were thinking we were a bunch of looney tunes. I met up with the others at the top of the climb.  This is where the Colombia Ice Fields are located and they are spectacular.  

There was a little problem with the campsite which in this area are first come first serve, but we got all the details worked out.  In the meantime, we stopped at the Ice Fields center.  Then we had to ride to the campsite which was 3 K away.  I thought I was going to die!!  My quads are screaming!!!!!  I'm not sure the numbers, but we climbed about 1,400 M today and our elevation is almost 1000 M higher than last night. A tough day to say the least.

Rob had wanted to do the hike that is near the park.  I said YES, but when we got here, I thought my legs were too tired. But Mike, Rob and Bjorke, Charles, Jamie and I headed out.   I was with Mike, Rob and Bjorke - three very good cyclists. ACK  - I'm not sure how high we climbed, but my legs were screaming!   However it was all worth it.  The view of the icefields from the top of Wilcox is amazing.  We didn't hike all the way to the top, but we hiked above the tree line.  After we took the requisite pictures, we sat on the ground and enjoyed the view and had a good contemplative conversation about life.   Well worth the climb.  I'm hoping that it will help to loosen up my quads.

We are crammed into a couple of camp sites, so hope no one snores after all that work!   But I think I'm going to sleep very well tonight. No services here  - no cell, no Wi-Fi, no showers.   But that's OK!!!!!

On that note, have a great day!!!!!

Ciao!!!!!

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