I’ve been finding it quite difficult to get an early start on my rides… Largely due to 1. my legs not being functional after getting the KMs in, and 2. the amount of tedious work to re-organize and repack the panniers. Everything needs to be packed to precision, or else they will not close properly.
That morning’s challenge was making space for all the new snacks I loaded up on.
- Assorted Cliff bars
- Assorted protein bars (Including a “glazed donut” flavoured one. Really treating myself.)
- Beef jerky
- Dried mango
- Dried banana
- Gatorade (Not a problem to find space for this one since my regular bottle had already exploded two days prior!)
After stuffing the bags, catching up on blog articles, and giving the bike yet another hose down, it was time to hit the road.
Cruising to Alberta
I think the half rest day in Golden made a huge difference, because I was feeling amazing. All the pain had magically disappeared. The ride was smooth, the climbs felt (relatively) easy.
On top of that, this was the first day since I started where it hadn’t rained at all. The scenery was spectacular as ever, and air just smelled so so fresh.
A beautiful day indeed.
And as if things weren’t already perfect, I hit my first major milestone of the trip: crossing the Alberta border! A weird feeling, thinking of how far I’ve come, and how much of a challenge the past 10 days had been.
Deep in Bear Country
Now what I hadn’t mentioned was while it was a smooth ride, it was a pretty wild day in terms of bear encounters.
Much like the last one, this was a little black bear on my side of the road. Frightened as soon as I approached him. Still no pictures, although I did capture it on the GoPro.
Bears #5, #6, #7
As I made my way up yet another leg-burning hill, I was passed by two trucks on the opposite side of the highway who slowed down to warn me about the grizzly bears they had just seen about 1km ahead. Confused as wether to be scared or excited, it didn’t really change much for me: I knew I needed to get by. So I continued on.
A few minutes later, that second truck pulled up beside me, this time on my side of the road, and the driver offered to give me a ride past those bears.
He pulled over up ahead. While I immediately thought about how I would not be biking for this 1km stretch, technically breaking my own rules, I also thought it’d be best not to end up as a snack, especially since I was going no faster than 10km/h up that hill.
They were a nice couple, heading to Golden. It was especially kind that they completely turned around just to help me out. So I hopped in the back of the truck, next to my bike and gear, and was ready for this impromptu safari tour!
First up was another small black bear. Followed by a rather large grizzly. And lastly another grizzly, this one with blonde fur, which is apparently extremely rare.
And just like that, we were past the bears. And they pulled over to help me load up my bike. No pictures of the bears, sorry, but I did also capture the scene on the GoPro.
This was the scariest of the bunch. I was on the final stretch, getting up the extremely steep hill to Lake Louise, when I saw an “Alberta Parks” truck pulled over up ahead. I rolled over to the window to chat with the lady, a conversation officer. She was in the midst of tracking down a grizzly, with the antenna set and everything. Pretty cool to see. I told her about the other four bears I had seen today, and she looked at me in shock.
“Wow! You almost beat my record, and I do this for a living.”
Of course I had hahah. She then told me that it had just ran off into the bush, so I should be okay to pass by now.
And that’s what I did, feeling confident I wasn’t going to bump into this fellow. I continued for about 50m, looked right, to this massive grizzly standing there right beside me. My heart skipped a few beats, as I “stepped on the gas.”
Once I was way up ahead, I turned around and snapped this pretty useless picture. The bear is there, okay? Hahaha.
Joe, Philosopher and Photographer
I arrived at the top of the hill, where I was once again breath-taken by nature. I had forgotten how surreal Lake Louise’s turquoise water, and dramatic mountains were. This was at about 9:00pm at night, and I had never seen it with so few tourists. The Covid regulations must’ve played a part as well.
I took a couple pictures of the lake, and decided it was just too nice to pass up on to get a proper picture with the bike. There was maybe three people around at most, so naturally, I chose to ask the guy with the professional gear.
His name was Joe. And in that moment, I realized that I just met one of the kindest souls.
Not only did he take my ask for a picture way above and beyond (directing me on where to go, taking a bunch, and even pulling out his heavy duty camera to get some better shots), he also invited me to stay at his campsite when he found out that I hadn’t gotten my sleeping situation sorted for the night. On top of that, I was actually on the search for a proper meal, but he also had that covered. I offered to split the costs several times, but he would have none of it.
Once at the campsite, it was just so nice to chat with this character. He’s a big believer in being kind, no matter what, and just wants peace in the world. A man who is all about patience. His words were almost poetry, and combined with his calm demeanour, and kind heart, he really is the kind of person you don’t meet everyday.
It was a pleasure to sit by the fire, sip on probably the best tea I’ve ever had, and listen to his stories and perspective on life.
- Route: Golden, BC —> Lake Louise, AB
- Distance: 100km
- Elevation Gain: 1,703m