Tete Jaune Cache, BC to Jasper, AB
I was here a day earlier than I expected. I didn't feel prepared! The great divide, The red pass, the great mount Robson all lay within the plans for today. I was nervous, and stopped at every chance to cool down completely before continuing. Road construction covered the road in tar covered gravel that seemed to melt onto my tires and make the biking almost impossible. Didn't this road know how hard it was without the added difficulties?! I slowly made my way up
the road which followed the Fraser River up to Moose lake at the top of the red pass. The train whistle echoed off the great mountain faces that were all around me, as I counted the number of major inclines I climbed, wondering if each one was considered one of the main two. Before I knew it I was biking along the lake, wondering where the most difficult climbs where - I had passed them and not considered them difficult enough to really be THE climbs! I stopped for dinner at a rest stop, making a huge pot of pasta as a reward for the day's work, even if it was less difficult than I had anticipated.
An RV pulled into the rest area and a woman came out and informed me that they were going to make a little bit of noise, as they knew the people who lived on the sailboats on the lake and was going to call them. I had been watching these boats as I biked along the nine mile long lake, their sleek sides shimmering in the reflection of the mountains so far away, full cruising boats. The RV left a note on a truck for the sailors and left. Fifteen minutes later a man appeared at the area looking around for something. He was dressed in a polar fleece jacket, baggy pants and rubber boots, with a hat covering up a tangle of happy hair. I told him about the RV and the note and was amazed at his appearance.
He could easily have walked out of any harbor across the Pacific, an obvious cruiser. And yet here he was at the top of the Rocky Mountains on a lake. Soon a woman, looking just as
comfortable with the elements as the man appeared on another zodiac. I asked them about places to camp in the area and the woman offered to take me across the lake to their favorite beach where they were planning to cook up all of the food in their ice chest on a big bonfire that night as the lid had accidentally been ajar during the day. I accepted and temporarily left the world of bike touring and entered the familiar world of sailboat cruising.
They were both employees of the railroad company and had enough seniority to have been included in an interesting labor deal. The railroads calculated the cost of hauling cabooses for each train and found that now that they were no longer necessary the company could save enough money by not having them anymore that they could keep the employees as a paid workforce on call though they were no longer hauling the extra car. This had freed these two cruising people for most of every week to live on the water enjoying their love of the cruising life. A couple of times a year they take the boats to the ocean, but during the summer they live on this lake like a pair of loons.
It was the following day, in the drizzle and head winds, that I crossed the great divide and biked through Jasper National Park to the town of Jasper. Jasper was an interesting little town so full of tourists that the local people rented out rooms in their home to the visitors to accommodate them all for the short two month heavy visitor period. Here I met the first female solo cyclist. I had heard of many of them along the way from other touring cyclists, but I hadn't run across any yet. She is a nurse from New Zealand who was sent to Canada for a conference and had opted to take three weeks vacation after the conference to bike around Alberta and British Columbia in whatever direction the area seemed to take her.
She was a wonderful companion and we spent the morning sharing a load of laundry (there simply aren't enough clothes to wash for one person on a bike, it seems so wasteful to wash only your own clothes in a load), eating breakfast, stocking up on food and checking our email at the extremely cute library in town. In the rain the following morning I left Jasper biking quickly until I got out from underneath the constant rain cloud. Babbling on my phone I cycled past the new terrain of sage, prairie dogs and deer.