June 7th-12th: Icefields Hangover and Being a “Normal” Tourist

I finally completed and published my The Gear page! Find it on the top toolbar.

Finishing the coveted Icefields Parkway produced yet another change in focus. No longer was I surrounded by magnificent mountains, entrancing half-icy lakes, and more hiking than hours in the day. It was a time to replenish my muscles, enjoy some great company, and do some “regular human being” activities.

Mentally and physically exhausted from an action-packed week, I met my Jasper hosts, Distant Relatives Jill and Larry.

My Jasper hosts, Jill and Larry.

A relaxing Tuesday evening visiting with them carried me to sleep early for some much needed rest. On Wednesday Larry drove me to Maligne Lake, a prominent Jasper attraction that would have taken me nearly a full day to cycle to and back!

 

Medicine Lake, on the way to Maligne Lake.
Maligne Lake.
Great view of the mountains and valley.
 

Walking around Jasper with Larry, I got the small-town vibe – everywhere we cruised, someone knew him and stopped to say hi. People felt more community-focused there, triggering my introspection on how us big city folk are so inward-focused. My rest day was capped off with a delicious Jill dinner, as the three of us soaked up the long evening of sunlight and gazed at the peaks from their patio.

Jill and Larry’s patio view.

Thursday morning I set out from Jasper, selecting a detour up to Miette Hot Springs. The winding, hilly, seventeen-kilometre side road took me an hour and a half up and forty-five minutes down. Well worth the trek, the hot springs provided a quartet of ice-cold, cold, body temperature, and hot pools. While I didn’t immediately enjoy the cold ones, I knew my legs sure would over the next few days!

Saying farewell to the incredible Rockies.
Saw a moose beside the Yellowhead!
Highest point on a major highway running from Prince Rupert to Winnipeg? Worth stopping for a pic.
 

As the clouds opened, I launched myself to the edge of Hinton, where I proudly discovered this tree-covered tenting spot via a dirt road off the Yellowhead highway.
 

Mostly shielded my tent from the rain!

Friday brought much more rain and my coldest day since BC, which I happily endured for the consistent Eastbound tailwind! Despite the ugly day, I reached a state of pure bliss several times that day, which I found quite intriguing. After gliding in to Edson’s Tim Hortons to warm up with two XL hot chocolates, I advanced to the Niton Junction Motel, as buckets of overnight showers were forecasted and my tent was already damp from the previous night despite my excellent camping spot.

Look closely enough at the grass and trees and you can see evidence of the tailwind I was blessed with.

Well-rested again, I got an early Saturday start with the goal of reaching Edmonton that day knowing it would require my longest cycling day yet. From my pre-trip research I recalled multiple cycle tourists describing their longest cycling days as “I just kept pedaling”. This is the perfect description, plain and simple. I did propel into Edmonton that evening, and would describe the day exactly as such. The legs would not have spun nearly as long or fast without two friends awaiting my Edmonton entrance.

Somewhat clear skies heading into Edmonton!

Cool blue-railing bridge for cyclists crossing the North Saskatchewan River.
View of Edmonton skyline and the North Saskatchewan River.
 

I met Long-Time Childhood Friend Devin for dinner on the bumpin’ part of Edmonton, Whyte Avenue. My well-deserved fried chicken burger, fries, and Edmonton beers were complemented by much laughing, reminiscing, and long-awaited catching up.

I continued to the residence of University Friend Nils, where I would pause for a couple days and enjoy the city. Sunday was highlighted by West Edmonton Mall staples: The world’s largest indoor amusement park, the world’s largest indoor wave pool, and an indoor lake featuring a pirate ship and seal shows. Naturally, my hand morphed into a W, then E, then M at each attraction:




We then swung by city hall and the Alberta Art Gallery in the downtown core.

Nice water fountain at Edmonton City Hall.
Look closely and you can see me being… Different.
 

Monday generated my all-time first prairie hike at Elk Island National Park, a 12.5km loop which I estimate has a total of 20 metres in elevation gains. Really makes me want to get out hiking more back in BC, where we’re spoiled rotten on that front!

The grassy trail just kept going…
And going…
And going!
Viewpoint of Shirley Lake.
Me and prairie hiking buddy Nils.
 

I then returned to a still lively Whyte Avenue with Nils for dinner and exploring. Organized, fully rested and ready to hit the prairies on Tuesday! I’ll likely take Alberta’s Iron Horse Trail, a rail trail that I hope will be similar to those I adored through much of BC. Beyond that I’m prepared for stretches of flat highways, wheat fields, and prairie winds which are hopefully at my back!

Finally found time to superglue some flags to my panniers!

PS, how are those gas prices at home Vancouverites?

4 thoughts on “June 7th-12th: Icefields Hangover and Being a “Normal” Tourist

  1. Another terrific posting Cameron; way to go! We just love travelling along with you, and you write such a detailed blog we feel we really are participating. Thankfully we don’t suffer the pain you do though! What’s with the three finger salute in all the Mall photos? And Colleen spent a lot of time on Whyte Ave while she was supposed to be studying at U of A!! Enjoy lots of flat cycling from now on…you’ll need your playlists for sure!

    Take care, ride on! love Heather and Dave xoxox

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  2. West Edmonton Mall! Finally figured out the finger salute for WEM!
    A place we have never been, but must be a hit with many tourists. Not many people in your photos though!

    Great job on your post Cameron. Love them all. Keep on trekking!

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  3. Very fun reading your blog! The Gear page is very interesting – I had been wondering what you packed to cover such a long distance. Nice touch having the flags on panniers. Always enjoy By the Numbers too – great variety of animals now – I’ve never seen a wild beaver, blonde bear or grizzly. The Hikes section is very interesting too. FYI, the West Edmonton Mall ship is actually not a pirate ship – although I bet most people think it is. It’s a replica of Christopher Columbus’ flagship Santa Maria for his first expedition to North America in 1492 (he captained this ship; the two others in the expedition (smaller caravels) were piloted by the Pinzon brothers). It was built at False Creek in Vancouver during Expo 1986. It was hand-built and hand-painted. Then it was transported by flat bed truck to Edmonton. It’s a carrack, which was the largest, most durable ocean-going ship of its time; very stable in heavy seas and had large capacity for cargo/provisions. Designed for long ocean voyages. Explorers Magellan, Vasco da Gama and Cartier also used carracks for their expeditions. Some more numbers for you: the Santa Maria had hull length 19 m. (62 ft.), beam 5.5 m. (18 ft.), deck 17.7 m. (58 ft.), cargo capacity 108 tons, displacement 150 metric tons. The largest carrack in the 16th century had 7 decks (the Madre de Deus, built in Portugal, 1589).
    Happy travels!

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