Lake Louise to Jasper via Athabasca Glacier and Falls
We left I1 to pick up the Icefields Parkway on 93 towards Glacier Country in Jasper National Park.
Since we were in a tourist hot spot at the time of year that many tourists would be out and about with their RV’s, canoes, boats and hiking kit.
We had I’m sure witnessed people hauling all manner of things with all manner of vehicles, some of those vehicles were self-evidently better prepared than others.
Use of Cribbing and Blocking:
- Material must be placed on a firm level base or foundation to properly disperse the weight of the load.
- Ensure no debris is under the cribbing or blocking which may prevent it from resting firmly on the ground or surface.
- It should be placed directly beneath the outrigger and stacked to avoid slipping.
- Frequently inspect cribbing and blocking during unit operation for settling, slippage, cracking, bending, crushing or shear failure.
- Cribbing should never be taller than twice the width of the blocking base.
What happened next should not have been a great surprise.
We were motoring down the road, taking in the scenery when we were quite literally showered by lengths of timber cribbing. Cribbing (pictured above), chunks of reasonably substantial timber that you would place onto the ground to evenly distribute an imposed load from above.
these pieces of wood were spilling out of an insecure locker on an RV straight into our path!
In this case these pieces of wood were spilling out of an insecure locker on an RV that was merrily trundling down the road ahead. Hauke and Petra on the lead bike spotted the problem, alerted us and Frithelm and then sped off to alert the RV driver who he managed to stop. We had been given an ‘early warning’, by a motorcyclist that we had met, about the hazards presented by RV and SUV drivers. Now we had experienced one of those hazards for ourselves.
There were many photo opportunities and when we pulled over at one I chatted with Duane a coach driver who said that he had 27 years motorcycling experience riding Police specification Harley Davidsons in his job as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer based in Calgary. Our stops tended to last long enough for Hauke and Petra to have a cigarette which meant that just as my conversations with people got going, we were off again. That’s unfair as I was given time to talk. I was also reminded that we had a schedule to achieve!
Our next stop, Mount Athabasca glacier is one of those ‘once seen - never forgotten’ experiences. We pulled off of the road into a large car park. Across the other side of the road I could make out the tip of the glacier. I was witnessing a glacial feature that I had learned about from Trevor Annear during one of his Geography lessons at Bodmin Grammar School ** years ago.
Describe the glacier. The glacier was first properly recorded in 1844.
Driving these long miles explains what Wing riders see in their machines.
*** says in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance ‘ when you drive in a car in the countryside you look at the country, when you ride a motorcycle you are in the scenery.
I extend this description to all of those who dislike, detest or abhor the Wing. I know there are those who say the Wing is an armchair or a car. That may be so. When I look I see people who choose to sit on a small piece of wood to watch television. Most prefer the comfort of an armchair. After viewing their favourite diet of tv they go off to do whatever, feeling better for the experience. So it is with the Wing. You can ride comfortably for hours. There is none of the aching wrists, aching legs etc associated with some riding positions. You are able to enjoy being a part of the scenery rather than being cocooned in a car passing through that scenery.
To appreciate it, you have to ride it. Looking at a Wing or sitting on one in a showroom does not get you there. You have to feel the bike heeled over powering through curves or hauling up a hill, that is when you will know.
Six cylinders of undiluted fun await those who want to ride for the joy of riding. As with religion - there are many true ways - this is my chosen ‘way’.
Moving on, as one does on such a tour, we arrive at our next stop, Athabasca Falls. Stand for a moment and witness the thundering water which, over unremembered time, has cut through rock which is harder than most. This cutting action is monumentally slow and yet has created an impressive waterfall such is the volume of water that passes daily though this river.
A pinned notice indicates the sad death of a 21 year old man named Roger Wilgenbusch. He gave up his life to get closer to the water. Safety fences testify to attempts made to keep people ‘safe’. Witnesses say he slipped on the rocks on Sunday 9th June 2002 and when we passed through on 22 June 2002 his body remained unaccounted for.
His was not the first such death, nor will it be the last.
Reason not always our best trait - This is the inscription on a park bench near the spot where Roger Wilgenbusch fell to his death in the Athabasca Falls on June 9th 2002 and where just this past week, an Italian visitor also met his own untimely end wrote *** on 12 August 2011.
History of Jasper
Established in 1813, Jasper House was first a North West Company, and later Hudson's Bay Company, fur trade outpost on the York Factory Express trade route to what was then called "New Caledonia" (now British Columbia), and Fort Vancouver in Columbia District on the lower Columbia River.
Jasper National Park was established in 1907. The railway siding at the location of the future townsite was established by Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1911 and originally named Fitzhugh after a Grand Trunk vice president. The Canadian Northern Railway began service to Fitzhugh in 1912. The townsite was surveyed in 1913 by H. Matheson. It was renamed Jasper after the former fur trade post.
By 1931, Jasper was accessible by road from Edmonton, and in 1940 the scenic Icefields Parkway opened, connecting Lake Louise and Jasper.
Jasper is our next destination. We are riding through high country. So many fir trees, such huge mountains, so much water all these dwarf the road and the railway. It really is magnificent. We all appreciate the big powering curves created by the path of the river which the road is obliged to follow. These curves illustrate the time over which the river has made its mark. Climbing mountains on a motorcycle, opening the throttle and accelerating up, up and around winding curves. This is what defines my kind of motorcycling pleasure. Climbing and swooping around the kinks in the road. I really get off on the winding curves and powering up hill! And boy, this route has that!
Jasper is another community that arose because of the railway it seems to me. It strikes me as a clean, appealing and friendly place - what more does one need? I’m unused to seeing wooden buildings and these have a certain novelty factor in my eyes. Here we are talking big pieces of wood, almost certainly having good insulation qualities and replacements are conveniently sourced when needed. Sensible. The designs are fresh and novel to my eye. We spent some time searching for our accommodations. Hauke took the role of lead negotiator. Mount Robson Motel offered rooms at C$120 per night. We found The Penthouse Suite run by Roger and Terry where we stayed for C$60 per night it met the requirement of being clean and tidy. Yes we had to share a bathroom, so what? I’d recommend staying here and spending the money saved on a good meal out!