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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
PS, how are those gas prices at home Vancouverites?