Friday, June 17, 2011

Banff - Port of Piegan

I followed the separate bicycletrail in between Banff and Canmore. Leaving the National Parc on Sunday near Canmore I saw hordes of bicyclers not paying the entrance fee by driving on the other side of the road. Canmore was nice on Sunday, many tourists and nice weather. Three separate people recommended me to take the Spray Trail down south, a nice pitoresque road, seemed promising but..
Climbing 400 meter out of Canmore and an hour later I saw enough, I wasn't going to cycle on this road for more than 500 meters, small rocks and potholes everywhere. Road 1A led me out of Canmore up to Exshaw where I took road 40 into Kananaskis country.
Very nice wide road going up into the Kananaskis hills. This road wasn't paved before the 1988 winter Olympics in Calgary. It led the sporters and supporters into the mountains. There were no towns on this road for 105 km. Only 1 gasstation on the way where I used the magnetron to heat up the canned Chef Boyardee brol. The lady in charge of the station did it for almost 27 years , and with and iron fist.. Fixing or plugging youre tire costs 15 dollar over here, I'll remember that. Cycling up to 2,2 km out of the 1,4 km high valley I reached Highwood Pass. This is the highest paved road in Canada ! Some 10 km before the pass, the road was blocked until 15 juni, thank you god.. Cyclers could pass it and were the only people on the road for more than 30 kilometer ! Great views and NO cars on the road. The snow was plowed away from the pass but the slopes were full of snow above 1900 meter by 10  degrees. I met a couple cycling upto the hill, I asked them if it was ok to cycle up there. After a chitchat I saw the licenceplate of Marc's car - VE6HOD .. Marc and Ciel were planning for a trip to New Zealand for some time next year, by the way I was travelling. We took some pictures from eachothers bike on the top in the cold wind and I received some calorybombs from them. They drove back into the valley where I continued into the quiet forest on the eastside of the pass. Wonderfull.

It wasn't before Tuesday until I reached Longview and it's generalstore to buy some food. I slept two times for free in the woods. From here on I cycled the Cowboy Trail down south to the US-border. Beautifull weather and a heavy sidewind. For the first time I was able to contact someone on 2 meter since Vancouver. The Calgary 2 meter system was full of activity. After two I tried six meters with success to Arizona !
N7CW, Budd heared my five watts out of a vertical dipole on my Bicycle in Arizona. I reached a farm late in the evening where I wad allowed to pitch up the tent in the fields. An 93 year old man came to me while I was eating chickenwings with fries in Lundbreck, he was born in Brussels and came over here after WOII, still spoke fluid French and had a lott to tell about this place.

South of Pincher Creek I found a place to set up my tent in the garden of an interesting lady named Frances Riviere. I gladly received a paperback from her where she wrote her memoires in of her past and living in this place. You'll find more info here. We had breakfast in the morning that lasted until noon ;-)

Leaving for the US-border after noon already didn't went smoothly. The front breakhose broke somehow and fluid went out and presure was gone.. With the mountains and Glacier National Parc ahead of me it was not possible to continue like this. It should be suicide .. I tried to fix it but nope..

White considering the options I had, a 4by4 pulled over and two ladies asked me if they could help..
Well, kind of.. and I not easely say yes but ..they were so friendly to drive me to the nearest Bicycle shop in Lethbridge some 120 km further while they were driving towards Calgary after a day of doing some landscape fotographing. Kerry and Kelly were way too kind to do so. Great !

In Lethbridge we stopped in front of the bicycle shop Bert & Mac's in 1108 1st Avenue South next to the highway and after giving a go to repair the fix the break we loaded out my stuff of the car and said goodbye. They still had to drive back to Calgary ..

They had the tools and material  to make it but it seemed that some parts weren't compatibel.
So remove the Magura system in front and replaced it by a V-brake system.
They only charged me for the V-brake some 26 dollars , great people and bought me on the road again.

While mentioning over there I was searching for a place to spend the night, Arlan, a straight-forward guy that works there proposed that I could use his livingroom to spend the night. He lived south of the city and on my way out of it so - perfect ! His sister works in the Waterton Park and proposed me going over there to visit it by that should delay me another day and already saw some great stuff over there so I'll keep it for another time. We ate pasta in the evening and talked a lot about bicycling as he loves it also and is very passionate about it. He has some self made recumbents hanging on his wall in the livingroon so you can imagine..
We drove out at 08:30 in the morning and he showed me the right direction to head out of town to the US-border.

I am still in doubt in between going over the Marias Pass into the Glacier National Parc over the continental divide or keep on this - the east side - of the continental divide and go south to Yellowstone. The pass over Glacies National Parc is still closed and the snow (and there`s much of it on top) isn't removed yet.. I'll probably head for the Carway/Port of Piegan bordercrossing and go to Browning into the US and there I'll decide how to cycle on further. Weatherwise aind is from the west and showery like 30% by some 15/17 degrees over here closeby the border.

For the last 4 days I had no space nor time to hang up a 40/20 meter dipole and weatherwise it wasn't really perfect neither. Still 2 meters is a ok for a few minutes and skype and echolink are doing great ;-/
I hope to find a AT&T card in Browning later on this week.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Valemount - Banff

Some tens of miles out east from Valemount I should have been able to see the highest point in the Canadian Rockies Mnt.Robson. Nothing special to see today except for some tens of dozens RV's because of the low hanging clouds. A bit further on I had to find a camplace to make canp for the night. At 2030 local, a guard from the national parc came along to collect the fee : 16 dollars. It was the same as for an XXL camper or RV. The campsite had no shower, no running water .. nothing except for a firepit and a table..
Cycling to Jasper was easy. The lady at the entrance of the national parc - that is sone about 255 km long - didn't know what to do. Count me as a pedestrian or a car. She didn't charged me to enter the parc. OK. 

Jasper didn't really had anything else to offer to me than grocery's.
Some tens of dozens RV's and tourbusses again that spoiled the landscape. Once again I had to camp in a campingsite as camping in the wild is strictly prohibited here. I only costed about 24 dollar for one night, outrageous ! Entering the parc from the northside lead me again to an entranceport of the parc. The lady over there charged me 9.8 dollar for one day, again waaay to much to encourage cyclers to come over here. The views on the other hand were nice, some icy slopes and moutainranges could be seen one the east and westside of the valley.
The terrain elevated to a certain height of 2100 mtr ASL in the Glacier Ice Range and again further on in Bow Pass to some 2200 mtr ASL.
Steep climbs ? : I only counted two of them that lasted longer than 6 km in the highest gear in the back..

Lake Louise was not worth visiting on the way : too much tourists (Germans, French, Dutch, French speaking Canadians, Japanees, Chinees and Aussies) and the lake was way not nicer than the ones I already saw on the way.
It rained now and the temperature was around 10/15 degrees.
In the Parc I slept two times in a Youth Hostel. The campgrounds had no running water nore electricity .. The hostel had a sauna, a campfire a nice watercreeck, a kitchen, no running water nore elecricity but at least a decent bed and heating as temperatures went down to 2 degrees outside. Only some 10 people were in both youthhostels. Nice people all over the place. Again spoke some dutch with a .NL-er.

I entered Banff today in the pooring rain.. And even with sun or rain : it's a tourist trap over here. Extra-ordinary expensive and even the campgrounds are over 20 dollars for a bicyclist. It's a shame ! Cell-coverage was none-existent in the parc. The youthhostel here is the place to be again. I hope to cycle out of this parc as soon as possible since other prices like groceries and  stuff is way too high as it already was elsewhere in Canada.

I would never cycle in this National Parc again and would not recommend it to a bicyclist since it's no way cheaper as driving a car here and the views are nice and spectacular but so are the Alps and certainly the Pyrenees.
Bye bye Canada and Glacier National Iceparc here I come !
In the US it will cost me only 80 dollar to enter ALL national parcs for one year.
By the way ; I broke the 3000 km barrier today after checking my logs.

Once again I tried to contact the local repeaters on 2 and 70 in Jasper / Banff Lake Louise on different times but no success again.. Someone must still be doing the maintenance ? Strange .. I used 40 meters only once near Mnt. Robsons since I had no time for it to setup the antenna in the hostels , I rather had two saunas and campfires over there !

USA, here I come again !