Man, real cold this morning! Gotta be in the low 40s. Don’t wanna get up!
But we’re out by 8:30 or so for a snack breakfast and tear down, and off we go. The original ride plan had us going 80 miles today, but our efforts the past 2 days have reduced that to less than 40. A nice easy day for sure.
We stop almost immediately at the other Waterfowl Lake a little south of us, and hike a few hundred yards down to the lakefront. Absolutely stunning. The still waters reflect a beautiful steep mountain (Howse Peak) illuminated by the early morning sun. Just fantastic.
Our next task is to climb the rest of Bow Summit, and it turns into an 11 mile gear buster to the top. While regrouping, Jack and I meet up with a cycling foursome immediately interested in why Jack has a monkey on the back of his rack. I explain to them: Mojo – the most important single item you can carry. I turn the guy over, “See, it’s even a Steelers monkey.” You should have heard the immediate moans and groans. Turns out these guys are from Cincinnati, big rivals of the Steelers. All of this cracked Jack up.
They’d passed Phil pushing his bike on the shoulder and offered “He’s carrying too many bags.” These guys were toting only 2 panniers each – motel-ing it, so not carrying tents or sleeping bags. Their leader proclaimed he’d decided to “spend the children’s inheritance.” Fun to meet these guys and we thought the “too many bags” idea was pretty funny.
From Bow Summit, it’s a 4 mile rip downhill to a place called Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, situated on the banks of Bow Lake. Our maps promised a restaurant here, but first order of business is a stroll to the waterfront. Such solemn beauty is indescribable – I don’t know why I try. We just kept walking around snapping pictures and oohing and ahhing. Ridiculous!
No restaurant here it turns out, but a gift shop had a few snack options at least. We rejoin the guys from Cincinnati outside for a while, and otherwise meditate in the shade for almost an hour. Blissful!
The next 20 miles are marvelous, comprised of mild to moderate downhills. Regrouping at one point, Phil reports he’d stopped to see a mother black bear and cub across the street. Cool!
Tonight’s target is Lake Louise. It’s the place where virtually every tourist goes and there is no vacancy anywhere for miles. Fortunately we’ve got 3 hostel beds reserved tonight at the Hostel International Lake Louise Alpine Centre. Of course we might be able to find hiker-biker camping somewhere nearby, but in the end we decide to try out the hostel as a diversion. It might be fun!
We discover our dormitory-style room that’s good for maybe 5 people. The three of us take the loft, which involves a three-stooges-like chain gang to hand our gear up the ladder. This hostel has a great little restaurant and bar, too, complete with wifi and local craft beer. What a fine afternoon!
Across the street, The Lake Louise Inn’s Timberwolf Pizza and Pasta Cafe calls to us. Each of us down our own custom pie – gotta love the soaring appetites. We walk back to the hostel stuffed!
Jack and Phil decide to chill in the room, but I’m still itchy. I just can’t come here without going to visit Lake Louise proper. The map shows it’s about 4 km to the lake – no sweat right?
Holy shit. Cyclists take note. In 4 km (that’s only 2.5 miles), the road rises 600 feet. No, it’s not the steepest thing I’ve ever climbed, but wholly unexpected. With each pedal stroke I kept thinking, “Man, you’ve got to be kidding me!”
Made it to the top to find a big parking lot packed with cars and shuttles and tour buses. Thousands of people mill around the lakefront snapping photos and selfies. The majestic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise stands nearby – I know Linda would like staying there. I dutifully take a few photos but I think the lighting of the lake would actually be better in the AM.
A pair of cute Asian girls ask me to take their photograph and I learn they are visiting from Florida. I ask what brings them so far from home, and the answer is simply: “This lake!” Oh yeah, duh. I’ve obviously seen too much beauty already in the last 3 days. They reciprocate camera duties of course – these are just a couple:
Kayaking looks cool to try so I mention it to the girls. They’d thought so too, until learning it’s $100 CAD for 30 minutes. Yikes!
I finally depart for an exhilarating and plummeting ZIP back to the hostel. So fast I have no photos, but so much fun I had to mention it. I meet our sole room mate, a nice guy named Emmanuel. Didn’t really get a chance to talk, however.
Linda texts me that the park road 93 south of Banff, the section between Castle Junction and Radium Hot Springs, was closed today due to wildfires. Indeed, I look it up on the bcdrive website, and note the closure was listed as hour-by-hour. I wonder how the closure was enforced and if they possibly would let bicycles pass (since we generally need less visibility). We’re supposed to ride this segment the day after tomorrow. I’ll need to discuss this with the guys in the morning.
Today’s Ride: 39.9 miles + 6.3 miles out & back to lake
Today’s Climbing: 1,920 feet
More Stats: http://cyclemeter.com/
Tour Total So Far: 156.8 miles