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Sun Jul 29 2012: The Road to Banff

After our much-needed break in Calgary, it was good to be on the road again. We're headed west towards Banff National Park where we'll spend a couple of nights in the National Park to do some sightseeing and ride the amazing roads in the area.

Neda spots wildlife again on the Bow Valley Trail

From Calgary, we bypassed the main TransCanada Highway and took the smaller, more scenic Bow Valley Trail, which follows the Bow River all the way to Canmore. We saw tons of motorcyclists, mainly sportbikes, zoom by on the twisty road, taking advantage of the beautiful, sunny Albertan weekend-weather.

Rocky Mountains loom ahead on Bow Valley Trail

Posing on the main strip, Banff Ave

In Banff, we parked next to two Ontario GSes! One with an RTI sticker (where we used to teach)!

We've visited Banff many times over the years, mainly to go snowboarding in the amazing resorts in the area. It's a classic alpine tourist trap, very pretty, overpriced storefronts selling the latest Arcteryx fashions to Starbucks-sipping vacationers with permanent Oakley tan-lines on their face. We know, because we used to be one of them back when we had jobs. And snowboards. And a home to store all that stuff in... :)

Posing on the main strip

Ride back to our campsite on Bow Valley Parkway

Once again, Neda's keen eye spots more wildlife

Waitin' on a train. Please use your imagination.
Or Google Image "Morant's Curve"...

Paul told me that there was a famous spot in Banff National Park called Morant's Curve where people camp out for hours in front of the S-shaped turn waiting for the eastbound Canadian Pacific trains to pass by with the picturesque Bow River and (usually) snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the background. Sure enough when we arrived, a dozen photographers had set up tripods to capture the event. So we broke out our groceries and proceeded to make lunch while waiting for the train. The CP Rail schedule is about as reliable as a sundial at midnight, and over the NEXT TWO HOURS, one-by-one the photographers got fed up and left, as new ones arrived to take their place. We couldn't wait any longer - we wanted to ride. So, empty-handed (empty SD-card?), we rode towards Lake Louise.

While I waited for the train, Neda went hiking and took some pictures

There. Now we've got the same shot as hundreds of thousands of other tourists have...

Next stop, Lake Louise, the site of the most photographed lake in the world. We arrived in the pouring rain, so we hid out in the very posh Chateau Lake Louise, waiting for a chance to dash out to hike around the area. Once again, we were inundated by tourists of all nationalities. Tour buses swarm the Banff/Lake Louise area like GS-owners to the latest Touratech catalog. We really needed to "Get to da choppa!" and just ride where other people weren't...

Rental canoes on Lake Louise

Riding through the rocks at Radium, BC

So we did my favorite loop (er triangle?) in the Calgary-area: Banff->Golden->Radium->Banff. Kilometers of twisty roads, most of it with very little traffic south of Golden, and all of it with the majestic Rocky Mountains surrounding us!

Relaxing in the hot springs at Radium

The loop takes us into Eastern BC for a while, and we stopped at the hot springs at Radium to dip into the naturally heated wading pools to relax our riding muscles (posteriors) before the trip back to our campsite in Banff.

Kootenay Highway at dusk

The Kootenay Highway runs from Radium, BC through the Kootenay National Park, all the way back into Banff National Park. Although not as famous as Deals Gap, Sea-To-Sky or Cabot Trail, it's a destination highway for many motorists as well, and we hit it at just the right time, as the sun was low in the horizon. The colours took on a beautiful, lazy hue lit by the setting sun and for the first time on this trip, I felt that zen-like feeling, when all the turns in the road come to you telepathically and everything is right in the world. It was such a magical ride on that road that I didn't want it to end. Neda chimed in over the intercom telling me she was feeling exactly the same way and it was wonderful sharing the ride with her that way.


Riding into the setting Alberta sun

This was such a great riding day, and I felt I really needed it after the eventful week I've been having.

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