posted on Monday, July 13, 2015

Rampart Creek

The bitter start made this first day of cycling even sweeter. I left the campsite in earnest and decided to make the most of a clear sky. Soon after Lake Louise I turned into the Icefield Parkway and began a steady climb to the highest point of the day, over 2000 metres. Still the grades were gentle and made easier by long stretches of flat. Right at the start a large bear sign informed me that they are a lot, they are dangerous and if I ever met one I should stay in my 'vehicle'...thinking my vehicle might not be enough protection I cycled on faster and found out how hard it is to climb a mountain while  whistling  and singing. I had heard over and over how wonderful this road to Jasper was and now I was finally cycling it and it was a never ending display of natural wonders and breathtaking views. The whole day was uninterrupted expanses of forests and dramatic granite peaks, creeks gushing down, waterfalls and every now and then small lakes scattered around, set like jewel stones of a light jade colour I had never even seen. Despite the not so kind forecast of rain, the day turned out ideal, mostly sunny with some cloudy spots here and there and two or three very light showers that were almost pleasant and cooled my effort down. The only longer shower happened right at the time of my lunch break in a chalet and only lasted a sandwich, a cake and a coffee! Despite being the height of the summer season, traffic so far has not been an issue and especially early morning I am often riding long stretches of empty road. Cyclists have also been spare, and the all day I have only seen half a dozen, all heading the opposite way. I planned a stay at the Rampart Creek campsite but I had heard already it might be closed to tents due to a 'bear issue' as they call them here! It seems a bear went into a tent who had some food in it, luckily when the camper was not around! Upon arrival it was indeed close so I hoped the nearby Rampart Creek hostel I had booked on my return to Lake Louise would have a spare bed. Melanie, the host from Calgary, was really welcoming showed me my cosy bed in one of the wooden chalets and to my utter shock informed me that the little hut up the hill was a natural sauna I was free to use! My bliss gauge reached the highest readings on the 'blisster' scale... after sorting my things out she gave me a lighter, told me the fire was all set up and ready to be lit with logs and sticks and to enjoy it, and I really did! I lit the fire in the stove and in no time the large pan on top heat up the water piping hot. After  washing I sprinkled some on large rocks set on the stove resulting in spouts of steam and certainly the most unexpected and pleasant sauna experience I have ever had! 
Food along the road is really spare and the hostel had no cafe and as I was chewing down yet another peanut butter sandwich Melanie took some pity and appeared with some instant noodle I could prepare in the kitchen. Brontie despite the crooked rack seems to work well and hopefully will take me a bit further along this magic road!