Sunday, August 24, 2008

Crazy-ass Road Trip '08: Part 4

Sunday I rode the short distance to the Canadian border, went through customs, then stopped in a visitors center and got some Canadian cash. I stopped and had a burger in the town of Revelstoke, then went on through a couple of National Parks without stopping. I did stop in Yoho NP, mainly because it looked like I was about to run into some rain and wanted to put on my rain gear. While I was at the visitors center I found the campground I had intended to stay in was already full, but every other one had sites available. I went on to the town of Banff and got a campsite just out of the town itself. I set up camp and then went into town for gas and dinner. I had a steak at a place called The Keg which had unsecured wireless for me to catch up on news and whatnot. I was going to do laundry after dinner, but at that point it was too late and they were getting ready to close.
Monday morning I rode to Lake Louise, checked on trails, and bought a sandwich to take with. The pastrami with lettuce and tomato wasn't the most packable lunch, but their to go was utterly worthless to pack, so I took it out of its styrofoam and put it into pastry bags. I rode up to the lake parking area and started off around the perimeter, booking around the throngs of tourists to the trail leading to Six Glacier Point. The trail wasn't too strenuous in general, but there were a few uphill slogs. After about 5 and a half kilometers I made it to the tea house, where I sat down and had a lemonade and half of my sandwich. I contemplated not continuing on for a closer view of the glaciers, but did and the trail was pretty flat until it got to a vantage point and then went up a ways and then got really steep and loose to a little waterfall. I didn't go all the way, but it was a really impressive view nonetheless. I stopped and had the other half of my sandwich back at the tea house and sat and read for a while by the stream. I diverged form the way I came on the way back, intending to see other things, but at a fork I headed back to the main trail since it was downhill. Once I realized the error I was kind of upset with myself for not consulting the map, but didn't want to go back uphill. I thought the whole thing was a complete waste until I heard a noise and witnessed a huge chunk of ice falling off one of the high glaciers. I rode back to Banff and hit a patch of rain near the campground, but it was just an isolated cloud. I went into town back to the laundromat to wash my clothes. I ate a Subway sandwich and read my book while waiting. Some of my clothes weren't completely dry, but I folded them and headed back to camp after a beer and some internet usage off of an unsecured router.
Tuesday I packed up and headed back to the states. I got to Glacier NP about 2, set up camp and got lunch just before a storm came in from the pass. I was hoping it would be isolated and pass quickly, but it persisted for a while so I started drinking beer on the porch of the store. Around 4 the weather cleared and I set out on the Going-to-the-Sun road. I got to Apgar, studied trail maps and headed back east. The return was amazing with the light at my back and for my money, I'd say Glacier's glacial valley rivals Yosemite's. At least in Glacier there isn't a village in the valley. The main problem was that the road was under construction, so in addition to one-lane sections, there was a big stretch of gravel as well as a few short sections.
Wednesday started gray but it wasn't raining in the campground in the morning, so I decided to stick with my hiking plan. It started raining just before Logan Pass, but I stuck with it and took the shuttle to the Loop to start my hike. It was a mildly strenuous 4 miles up to the chalet and was relatively dry most of the way until near the top and then really picking up right at the chalet. I passed several people doing the much easier and more popular reverse of what I was doing. I spent an hour in the chalet, eating two PBJs and reading a chapter of my book. The weather never let up and I never got any view, plus my clothes didn't really dry at all, wet mostly from sweating. I set out on the 7.5 mile hike back to Logan thinking it was flattish, but after an initial quick downhill, the trail leveled off and then started uphill, getting a bit steep in places. It was raining fairly lightly at that point, but the temperature was in the 40s. With the strain of hiking I wasn't doing too badly. After crossing some snow where the trail was kind of ambiguous, I ran into some Bighorn Sheep in the trail. I tried anything I could think of, my bear bell, clapping, yelling, but one in particular had found something good to eat and wasn't moving. I was trapped there 20-30 minutes waiting as weather rolled in. When the bighorns finally moved visibility was down to ten or so yards. I slogged on, kind of cold and miserable but really not too bad, until roughly 3 miles from Logan when the rain picked up and soaked me to the skin. It was such a miserable grind the rest of the way, all my clothes wet. When I got to the visitors center I was so glad to see a wood fire. I stood there shivering for a while until one of the rangers noticed and started to help get me warm and dry. I wound up staying there in front of that fire for two hours getting dry and warm with the help of the two rangers at the desk and another two, one of whom gave me his soup. I was dreading it, but the 12 miles back to camp wasn't too bad, and I took a long hot shower before getting dinner and going to sleep.

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