Day 1 – Calgary to Prince George
Distance: 780 kilometers
Time on Bike: 7:00am – 5:00pm (BC Time)
High/Low Temp: 16 celcius (Mcbride, BC) / 0 Celcius (Icefields Parkway)
Really good ride today. I was a bit nervous to start out the big ride today more so than going South in previous years. Once I had the “Breakfast of Champions” (McDonalds Egg McMuffin Meal) I was ready to get moving. Pretty nice weather overall. Cloudy for the entire day and not particularly warm. I have a feeling that I may have seen the warmest day already and things will get progressively chillier as I keep making progress North.
I absolutely love the ride between Lake Louise and Jasper. Endless mountain ranges and stunning vistas of glaciers almost the entire way. Our spring has been quite late this year so there’s still plenty of snow in the mountains. Stopped at a few choice spots for photos. I’ve done this route dozens of times but still I am awed by the majesty of the Columbia Glacier and surrounding area. 300 + square kilometers of huge and thick glaciers.
Stopped for lunch in Jasper. The end of a nice summer weekend and Jasper was a bit of a gong show. It’s normally Banff’s quieter sister town but today it was like being in downtown Calgary. The ride from Jasper to Prince George is also quite beautiful and already you get a sense of getting much farther from civilization. It’s a pretty big gap between towns (about 250 kilometers) and there’s literally nothing in between. Very little traffic or signs of life today.
I’ve been quite fortunate to already start the animal count. The first animal was when my odometer on my bike clicked ‘3000’ and I had a friend jump out into the road to celebrate the milestone – a huge black bear. He jumped out in front of me so that I had plenty of time to stop, but then decided he was going to come join me for the party. He walked straight towards me which is a bit unnerving on a motorcycle. He then darted into the brush and was gone. A truly magnificent beast.
In total I saw five black bears and one grizzly today (yes, I’m sure it was a grizzly – size, colour, hump). A few deer but no moose today in spite of kilometers and kilometers of warning signs. Unfortunately, my bear friends, the Bearendsons, were too quick and didn’t hang around long enough for a portrait. Perhaps the next time.
Equipment updates: bike is working well, not as comfortable as my VFR but not too bad. New tires work well and stick well to the road (wet and dry). One-piece riding gear is actually waterproof – tested in for the last hour today in a downpour. GPS and SPOT are working well and the SPOT is posting updates. Tomorrow I’m off to Hyder, Alaska. Another long day before the pace becomes much less demanding.