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Day 37

This morning, we woke up at 6. Mike had a pot of coffee ready for us as we packed everything up. He offered to drive our gear up to the Icefield station so we could tackle the hill without all the extra weight (which was so nice of him, and made the cycle so much better!). He told us that, without pushing too hard, and without gear, it takes him 2hrs to cycle to Icefield station. He called ahead and found out that the glacier hike (the glacier tour he recommended. He said you really get your money's worth, and because we're active to do that one rather than the one where they drive you out. He said it's so much better) started at 11am, so Michael and I planned the day accordingly. We ate oatmeal (he had oreo oatmeal, which was wicked! And delicious!), loaded our things into his truck, then had a go on his recumbant bike. It was so funny and such a novelty! I realized (as I realized with downhill mountain biking) that I'm not good at non-road biking! I fell. Michael made sure to document that in picture form. I tried a few times and kinda got the hang of it, but not really. Michael caught on much quicker. But it was tons of fun still! Then we hit the road at about 9:30. It was a really nice, fairly flat route up until the start of the hill (since we saw the route yesterday, it was really easy to plan our route and know how much time to give ourselves for each section. It also really helped that Mike told us how long it takes to cycle to the base, and up the hill). We kept stopping to take pictures and videos because it was just so stunning! Then we got to the hill. It wasn't so bad because there were a lot of lookouts along the way, and we didn't have the gear. That being said, the hill was steep and fairly long (especially for being so steep), but totally doable! At the first lookout, a bus pulled in just after us, and a group of older men and women came off the bus and crowded around us, asking about our trip. They were so impressed with the fact we were cycling that hill, and the fact we were cycling across the country. It was kinda funny and cute. It was almost as if we were celebrities for a minute (without the fame, fortune or anything else really). Then we continued up and made it to the Icefield Center with ten minutes to spare for the tour! While Michael locked up the bikes, I ran ahead to sign up and pay. The woman behind the counter said that that group left 10 minutes ago, and that even if we showed up an hour ago, it didn't matter. It was full. We were so disappointed. We told her we cycled all this way and called ahead and timed it so we could do the trip! She took pity on us and offered us the other tour (where we take a monster truck type thing onto the kind of the lazy person's way of seeing the glacier) for half price. So that's what we did. It was a lot of fun! We learned about the glacier on the way up, then had about 20min to walk around (the designated area). Our first order of business was to fill up our water bottles. Then we went looking around. It was so fun! And it started snowing (which continued the trend of us not really seeing summer yet!). When the tour was over, and when we got back to the Icefield Center, we were starving. Since Mike had not yet arrived with our gear, we decided to have lunch upstairs in the cafeteria and then go down to get our stuff. We talked to him for a bit as we loaded our gear. We were about to do the hike he recommended, and he was off to check on an outhouse on one of the mountains beside the glacier that had apparently blown away. He said he has not yet seen Travis, but that's not really a surprise because it would have taken Travis a bit to get up to the Icefield, but he probably wasn't too far off, we reckoned. We then said bye to Mike and went to do the hike. It started to rain and it was very cloudy. Since we knew the weather in this area changed every minute, we still went up and hoped the view would be nice when we got there! Turns out, we made the right call! It was clear and beautiful! We went as high as we could until we came to a small stream crossing. We decided not to cross because we didn't want wet feet for the rest of the day (we still had another 80 or so kilometers to do before the day's end!). It also started snowing at the top! We made a quick Inukshuk for Mike and then headed down. We randomly happened to see Mike as we were getting onto our bikes again (and apparently the toilet DID blow away!). We talked for a bit, then he said we had better hit the road if we want to make the campground (as we had a while to go and it was 5pm already! We didn't realize it was so late! He also warned us that we would probably see some bears near the Saskatchewan River Crossing as a Ranger was sent out to scare them away earlier.). We said our goodbyes again and then we were off! We had a bit of ups and downs until we hit the killer downhill! It was SO fast! I had my brakes on and was still clocking over 60km/hr! Then at the bottom, we hit this wall of wind, which slowed us right down until we finished the loop around so the wind became a tail wind, and subsequently, our best friend! We just flew! Not long after the downhill, we saw two bears ahead crossing the road. They looked young enough (not cubs, but not quite adults). We were careful when passing in case the mother was around, and decided to tag behind a car for safety. There were rolling hills, but before every up there was a down and a wind that just pushed us easily over. We saw another bear at the side of the road as well! That brought our tally up to 8 bears! All black though, but still quite a bit! We made such amazing time that at the Saskatchewan River crossing, we decided to take a break and buy some chocolate milk and cookies at the little store they had there. We also decided to stop off at the Banff warden's office to let them know to keep an eye out for Travis (there is no cell reception on the parkway so there was no way for us to get in contact with him! I was worried about him all day!). Unfortunately, the warden wasn't there and there wasn't a number to contact him, so we kept going. Not long after the office, we were cycling and a deer just bolted out in front of us (far enough away to not be dangerous, but close enough to scare/impress us!). Just past the deer, there was a hike that we decided to do. It was only 300m down, so we decided not to change out of our bike shoes. I forgot my valuables in my pannier, and although I've done that before, this was the first time I had a bad feeling about it. Michael must have thought I was so annoying because I kept saying how worried I was, and kept asking if he was sure it would be alright. He kept assuring me it would be fine, and on the way back I told him to run ahead and check on the bikes. He said he didn't want to run ahead and not have me in sight (as we just finished seeing three bears in one day in the area!), which made sense to me. So when I could have him in sight up to our bikes, I told him to run ahead. Then I saw him sprint and yell "they're gone!" Panic struck! I screamed out "I knew it!" and smashed my helmet on the floor! It was such a horrible feeling! The image of a pickup truck with an opportunist of a driver loading them up and just bolting flew through my head. There was no cell reception to call anyone, and the warden's office was a km or so back, and no one was there right now anyways. We were freaked until we saw someone come out of the bushes saying the bikes were there. It was fucking Travis! All day I thought when I saw him I would hug him because he was safe. Now when I saw him, I hit him. What a jerk! Funny in retrospect, and the perfect opportunity, but he's still an ass! (also, when I slammed my helmet, I broke the light on it.... I realized it later). But once I knew my bike was safe, I was glad to see Travis was safe! We sat and rested for a bit (poor boy didn't have any breaks all day! He was gunning it because he left late. But he had a BIG day of uphills so was tired! I would have been more sympathetic if he didn't hide my bike!). Then we finished the 15 or so kms to the campground. It was also closed, so again, we had the place to ourselves! We picked a spot right on the lake, made tea, tried to find phones (to let mike know we're safe, but there were none!), and went to bed! Now that we're all together, we can make it into Lake Louise and just relax in the chateau tomorrow!!!