Today was wrought with conflict from the beginning. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was warm and comfy, and I didn’t feel like going anywhere. I eventually convinced myself that I was gonna see some awesome scenery. A bribe with a chocolate bar sealed the deal.
I rode around Banff for a bit before turning the bike north. While I was walking yesterday, I saw signs for a waterfall, but didn’t walk far enough to find it. Today, I did. It was nice, but I still wasn’t in the best of spirits to enjoy it properly. A quick snap and I was off again. I am enjoying the photo of it now though.
It was cold; above freezing, maybe around 40F. My gear was keeping me warm. I took the scenic route out of Banff along 1A. I enjoyed the twisty, windy road. The mountains looked great, but I still didn’t have my head in the game.
I watched as the clouds and the blue sky fought to control the sky. The blue sky kept poking out and tried to bring the sun with it to burn away the clouds as it lit up the mountains below to a blinding white. The clouds were having none of it. They quickly moved in to block any advance the blue sky made. It was snowing high up on the tops of the mountains. When I tried to encourage the blue to come back, the clouds had the wind blow the snow down onto the valley and onto me. At least it wasn’t rain.
Most of the turn off spots along 1A and in Banff in general were closed for the season. Lake Louise was open, so I road up the mountainous, gravel strewn road. The parking lot edges were covered in several feet of snow. A brief walk through the snow-filled woods, and I saw the lake. Well, I saw this bench first actually.
Then I saw the lake.
the thin ice sign didn’t stop many people from running out onto the lake.
I have some experience with frozen lakes, so I stayed on what appeared to be the sidewalk (it was covered in snow too).
Here is my snowy recreation of the famous Lake Louise photo. It isn’t quite the same, so I walked back to the bike.
Since I already had my helmet and gloves off, I decided now was as good a time as any for a snack. I quickly ripped open my package of corn nuts. Too quickly I fact and several went flying. Darn it! Then this little guy swooped in within seconds to try to eat it. I’d never seen a bird like him before. Anyone know what he’s called? He’s about the size of a morning dove with a beak about 1.5 inches long.
He tried to bite the corn nut, but couldn’t break it by biting. He spit it out and just looked at it, and then up at me. He must have been thinking “what the hell is this?”
Then his buddy flew over and tried to eat it. He failed in the same way as the first, so he just gulped it down swallowing it whole. I starting laughing. A lot. It was so funny watching them. I don’t know what specifically was so funny, it just was. They chased each other around fighting over the last piece. The second bird got his beak near it and swallowed it whole.
The first bird jumped up onto my helmet. I HAD to take a photo. I’ve never seen a bird on a motorcycle helmet before, much less on MY helmet. They hung around until I was done eating waiting for me to drop more. I was more careful and didn’t. You’re not supposed to feed the animals here. Those birds gave me a big laugh and really made my morning.
More closures. Most I was able to walk around, but this one had a five foot snow bank. It was a good deterrent.
I headed further north on the ice fields parkway. I’m not sure how to start describing this road. The scenery was better than yesterday, and yesterday was awesome. The awesome scenery department had a buffer overflow into the rest of my brain, and I’m sure I lost some childhood memories in there trying to make room for it all.
The mountains towered over the valley on both sides of the road. Massive mountains just looming all the way to the clouds all different shapes and sizes. In some places you’d hurt your neck looking nearly straight up at them.
It was slow going today, as I was constantly pulling over to snap photos. I took double the photos today that I did yesterday. Yes, I rode a few more miles, but just wow.
I was also riding slower, so I had more time to look at the scenery. There wasn’t anyone around, and when there was I would pull over and let them pass. I wanted to enjoy things at my own pace.
My heated gear kept me warm, and so did my slower pace.
Eventually, I rode out of the snow and it was back to clouds vs blue sky.
I founds a stretch of blue sky just after one snow storm, and just before what appeared to be another one. So strange to see a snow storm from a distance. When riding you do it all the time with rain, but I don’t recall ever doing it with snow. I pulled over and started to make lunch. (southwestern couscous and grape gatorade. yum!)
The lake was below the road about six feet, but there was an easy trail carved out by the many feet who went before me. I found a nice spot in the sun and ate my lunch while leaning on a large rock.
I love the look of the water in this area. The turquois color is very beautiful and comes from the glaciers. It’s also very clear.
Yes, the lake was frozen, but the warm sun felt great. Even though it was still only 40F.
more awesome scenery
this was another overlook area.
A fun road that wound around and then up one of the mountains. I enjoyed the sweeping turns. I love a road that doubles back on itself like many great mountain roads do.
Somewhere in the middle of that part of road.
Another shot from the other direction
When it was snowing before it was blowing snow from on top of the mountains down in large soft chunks.
But when I got near the Columbia glacier it was near blizzard conditions. It was properly snowing. It wasn’t sticking to the road, so I kept going.
I had to stop for a quick pic with the ice crawler
After the next pass, the snow stopped, and it was back to clouds vs blue sky again. This mountain almost looks like it has shark gills.
another visa with a river.
I saw signs for a waterfall, so I followed them down a narrow round. I entered a parking lot, but couldn’t figure out where the falls were. Then I took off my helmet, and I could easily hear they were behind a nearby snow bank. I was rewarded with this shot:
Which was only the top part of the falls, I walked around for a bit, and got the lower half here:
I liked the area, so I found a sunny spot and sat down for a snack. I should mention the entire time I was there this large black bird was following me around. I think he was waiting for me to feed him, but I didn’t.
I think he’s a crow, but he had a different beak. He is also much larger than any crow I’ve ever seen.
It was a good day. AB93, the ice fields parkway, is now firmly in the top 5 of the best roads I’ve ever ridden. I know completely understand why people say this area is one of the most beautiful in the world. I saw it mostly covered in snow and it was still spectacular. I can only imagine what it would be like all green with a clear blue sky, or even better when the plants are all in bloom. I wasn’t able to see all I wanted due to closures, but I am happy with what I did see. Especially when I consider that later in the year I would have to content with throngs of people and swarms of insects. I’ll take a bit of snow over those two any time.
Just before I arrived in Hinton (which smells awful thanks to an industrial plant), I saw my first sign ever saying “Scenic Road to Alaska (arrow)” pointing to AB40. I realized then, that I’d never seen a road sign mentioning Alaska before. I’m still over 1000 miles away, but it was so cool to see. Dawson Creek tomorrow, and the start of the Alaska Highway!!
The last conflict was to decide which of the 190+ photos to include in this post, and which stories to tell. I feel like today could have been ten posts. I was also torn about not write anything or to just do a summary post since today marks the completion of the first week on the road. In the end, I decided to write the post because it helps me remember the day better than just pictures. I hope you guys enjoy the photos today as much I do. Thanks for the comments and support.
My route today:
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Other Posts in the series: