June 3, 2022 – June 16, 2022 Eureka, MT to The Icefields Parkway, Canada
264.2 Miles / 425.19 Km Elevation Gain 13,444 Feet / 4,111.14 Meters
It felt amazing to be heading off on a new adventure. Plans had been made for us to cycle The Continental Divide back in 2020. Covid-19 brought those plans to an abrupt halt. We focused instead on making our little red house that we purchased in August of 2019 into a cozier home.
This region of Canada is a revisit for us. On September 1, 2016 through September 11, 2016 we traveled this area from Jasper, Alberta to the US Border north of Eureka, MT. We were southbound back then. We decided to revisit the area by cycling south to north this time, making Jasper, Alberta our northern most destination. Our original plans were to begin the The Continental Divide Trail from Jasper and head back to the US, making this a 2-3 month long trip. The ride in 2022 for us would begin and end in Eureka, Montana.
We broke the route into segments. Our first segment would take us from Eureka, Montana to Radium Hot Springs, Canada and then on to Lake Louise where the Icefields Parkway started.
British Columbia has Recreation Sites which offer free camp sites, most of them at least. We hopscotched our way from Eureka stopping at Edwards Lake Rec Site, Kikomun Creek Rec Site, Horseshoe Lake Rec Site, Johnson Lake Rec Site, Findlay Falls Rec Site before rolling into Radium Hot Springs.
There were so many birds along the way.
The camping was no charge at the Rec Sites, most had Out Houses (BYO TP), fire rings and water sources. Most water sources were rivers and streams. Water is a huge factor for us when we camp and we filter water with an MSR Filter. Some water sources are more memorable than others. This one particular water re-supply stands out for us. Findlay Falls was a hike to get to and then Curtis has to be an acrobat to reach the fast moving water. Cold and crystal clear, this was incredible tasting water!!
My oh my how Radium Hot Springs has grown since our ride through there in 2016. It was a town, now a bustling city that we had wanted to revisit. We took a stroll down memory lane and ate at a local German Restaurant. It was definitely as good as we remembers. The new chaos of the city was not what we expected but we took an extra day off here and stocked up with groceries for the road.
Our departure day from Radium Hot Springs was on June 13, 2022. The day greeted us with pouring down rain and it was cold! We had our first real pass to conquer, Sinclair Pass. This time we would not take hypothermia and the rain for granted. In 2016 it was pouring down rain with temperatures near freezing as we approached this pass from the north. This time, we approach from the south but again it was cold and rainy. We geared up with as few clothes as possible to climb the pass. We planned to hit the pass, strip off the wet clothes, put on dry clothes and rain coats for the fast, long 6+mile drop. Our campground was just past the end of the downhill. We did have one other main concern this time, the pass summit had had a lot of grizzly bear activity. Slow, cold cyclists = meals on wheels. Luckily we did not see any grizzly bears only bear shit on the road and WOW do they leave a mound!
McLeod Meadows Campground ended up being home for us for 2 nights. We did so because of the hard cold rain and we opted to hunker down and stay put. We had a cook shelter complete with a wood stove, real toilets and a place to fully dry out our gear. We tent camped the first night but moved into the cook shelter for the 2nd night. The park host/ranger came by and said it was ok to sleep in the shelter since there was almost no one else in the park. Most that were there were in RVs. We literally hung the tent from the rafters and strung lines to hang wet clothes. We kept the wood stove going at all times and drank an enormous amount of hot beverages. Hot chocolate sounded good but we didn’t have any so the next best thing was we started cutting fudge into cubes and putting them into our mugs. It was actually pretty good!
We departed McCleod on June 15, 2022 and continued our way toward Lake Louise. We saw our first black bear as we cycled. Sites along the way were beautiful. We saw a lot of wildlife. It’s amazing how familiar the entire ride was. Memories from 2016 flooded back in.
One place we were both really looking forward to revisiting was Storm Mountain Lodge Restaurant. We took the time again this year and stopped for supper, enjoying incredible Bison-Elk Burgers along with a bowl of steaming hot Pumpkin Soup. OMG! Incredible!!
Before we left Storm Mountain Lodge the manager that had left to go home for the day called back to have the staff warn us of a “Huge Grandpa Grizzly” literally on the road that we would soon be on. We opted to hang out at the restaurant for a few extra minutes and then we cautiously headed out. The idea of running into one of the big grizzlies, yea not very high on our wish list. It was downhill from Storm Mountain Lodge. We were flashed over to the side by an oncoming motorcycle. It turned out to be a man that we met back in Radium Hot Springs. We chatted with him on the side of the road for about 10 minutes, giving the grizzly bear time to move along. And it had, by the time we passed it was lumbering into the trees in the distance.
We had planned to stealth camp but quickly changed our mind with such a known big bear in the area. HI Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel welcomed us with open arms. We were warm and dry and enjoyed the evening chatting with the other guests, including another cyclist, Ron. He rode with his cat Patrick. Never did see Patrick but that’s ok.
June 16, 2022 was an amazing day. Castle Mountain loomed beside us as we cycled down The Bow Valley Parkway. We met so many cyclists from so many different region. It was incredible.
We stopped for lunch in Lake Louise. The Magpies were very friendly. We bought a few groceries for the road and continued on our way.
Next stop is ….
The Icefields Parkway