Day 20: To Jasper, Alberta - Western Canada 2007 - CycleBlaze

July 19, 2007

Day 20: To Jasper, Alberta

I was on the road at 9:15 and immediately noticed that it was cooler and breezier, with NO MOSQUITOES. As if yesterday's storm blew them all away. After riding only 5.5 km I stopped to hike the Rearguard Falls nature trail. I walked through the forest for 5 minutes to see where the Fraser river drops 3 meters (10 ft). There were no mosquitoes even in the dense forest. What a huge change from the last several days!

Rearguard Falls on the upper Fraser river.
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I had an early lunch at the nice cafe at Mt. Robson park. Unfortunately the clouds never lifted enough to allow me to see the summit of the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.

Clouds obscure the summit of the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.
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After lunch I did another short hike through the forest to Overlander Falls on the Fraser river. Still no mosquitoes even when I stand still in the forest. The hikes and river views were great, but at 12:30PM I had only pedaled 20 km.

Fraser river.
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I rode another 20km before it started raining. For an hour I took shelter from horizontal rain under a large bridge. I started riding again when the rain slacked off and rode a long distance in light rain with trucks producing clouds of muddy spray.

After the storm.
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The road gently climbs 400 meters along the Fraser river towards Yellowhead pass. Mountain climbing is easy when you follow a railroad grade.

Sunshine!
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Several things change at the summit. Politically, I cross from British Columbia into the province of Alberta. Geographically, I cross the continental divide from the Pacific Ocean watershed into the Atlantic/Arctic ocean watershed. The time zone changes from Pacific time to Mountain time. And I enter Jasper National Park where I paid a $62 entry fee.

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Pacific ocean to the left, Arctic and Atlantic oceans to the right.
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Now I'm in the province of Alberta, with only a small descent to the town of Jasper.

East of the divide, now in Alberta.
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Elk on the side of the road.
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Rocky mountains near Jasper.
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The sun was getting low and the mosquitoes came out for my last 10km to Jasper. I arrived at Jasper at 9PM (mountain time), but of course it seemed like 8PM to me. I rode through town looking for reasonably priced lodging. I stopped at one of the cheaper looking motels and found that it was $200+ per night. They said the only relatively cheap place in town was the Athabasca hotel downtown. So I got a "single" room at the Athabasca hotel. The room was barely bigger than the twin bed. Not even big enough for a chair. The room had a sink but toilet and shower facilities were shared, down the hall. My room was very warm (no air conditioning) and had poor ventilation. Right outside my window was an extremely loud ventilation fan for the kitchen downstairs. All this for only $94. Jasper is NOT a cheap place to stay. There is a hostel about 10km uphill out of town, but I didn't want to go there. I walked around the downtown area at twilight, watching the usual combination of wealthy tourists and low-paid local employees. The two populations coexist but do not mingle.

Upscale tourist shops in Jasper.
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Athabasca hotel, Jasper Alberta.
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The Athabasca hotel is a historic landmark built in 1929. It has been wonderfully restored and is now a charming "boutique" hotel.

Today I saw a westbound bike tourist. The high temperature today was only 21C (70F), significantly cooler than it had been recently. I definitely feel like I'm in the Rocky Mountains but the divide was a remarkably low elevation. I can understand why the railroad crosses the rocky mountains here.

Distance: 110.9 km / 69.3 mi

Climbing: 716 m / 2365 ft

Average speed: 15.5 km/h / 9.7 mph

Maximum speed: 52 km/h / 32.5 mph

Today's ride: 111 km (69 miles)
Total: 1,715 km (1,065 miles)

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