Run to the Hills 2013 – Day 5

Tuesday, 23 July 2013 – RTTH13 Day 5

We were all heading home today, but we had some sightseeing to do. Well, first we had to get up, do brekkie, and get the bikes all packed up. Most of us were heading south on the Ice Fields Parkway, while Stoney was heading back to Edmonton.

All packed up, the day bright and shiny and warm.

We made sure we all hit the gas station back in Jasper before leaving – no repeat of yesterday!

Our first sight-seeing stop was Mt. Edith Cavell, a first for Louise and I – we’d never been here before. The road up was pretty fun to ride, lots of hairpins and tight curves.

We stopped at a lookout point for a few minutes and took some pictures.

That silver ribbon running across this picture is a tributary of the Athabasca River further down the valley from where we came.

That rock formation in the bottom right corner of the photo above …

… likely isn’t going to survive much longer.

I managed to get a few pictures of Louise today, here’s the first …

With the brief stop over, we continued up the mountain … to tell the truth, I had no idea what was ahead, I was just following Dan and Trent until we turned back!

Around a bend, the roadway, which had been pretty good pavement, suddenly turned into rough dirt/gravel. It seemed like this was the end of the road. Louise was all for turning back there, and indeed, there was some confusion ahead until Dan, in the lead, saw the parking lot around another bend and pressed on, compelling the rest of us to follow.

We found a suitable place to park the herd, taking into account the extreme pitch – this was not a level parking lot. There was some jockeying about to get Louise’s bike at the right angle to be secure, due to the lower ride height and side stand angle.

With the bikes parked, we headed to the trail head to check out the views over the ridge.

Best sight on the mountain!

Now there’s just some lunk blocking the scenery.

Glacier

On the way up the hill, I must have been charging Trent and Dan because Dan asked if I wanted to go first down the hill. So I headed off, racing down the straight parts, and I was having fun right up until the first tight corner, where I scared the hell out of myself!

I’ve become very familiar with and confident on the FJR in the twisties, and while it’s not real sport bike, it’s got powerful brakes that are linked and have ABS. There’s a ton of engine braking available too. The transmission is very smooth shifting. And the tires are fairly grippy sport-touring types.

So I come into the first corner pretty hot and do what I usually do on the FJR – carry plenty of speed until right before the lean point, hit the brakes hard, leave it in gear, until leaning over when I’ll shift down, then lean into the corner and hit the apex, putting in some power as I go. Maybe that’s not actually how out goes, but close enough.

But this day on the VStrom, it didn’t really work anything at all like that. I came up on the curve, hot as usual – hit the brakes and tried to slow down, then shifted down. The bike started to slow down alright, but it’ll do that when the rear wheel is locked up and bouncing. It’s a good thing no one was coming up towards me in the curve, because I needed ALL the pavement to get around that first one.

Needless to say I modified how I entered curves the rest of the way down the mountain. I was still given’ ‘er and wound up waiting for about 5 minutes at the bottom of the road.

Once the gang was all together again, we headed south on 93A towards Athabasca Falls, our second sight-seeing spot.

Hard not to take a great photo around here …

Neither Louise or I had ever been to Athabasca Falls and I highly recommend going there – there’s a LOT of water going through here and while it’s not the highest falls, it’s still pretty spectacular.

Some people …

Here’s Louise, Phil, Trent and Bev, and Kay.

Eventually, we decided we had to get going, so getting geared up again, we all hit the Ice Fields Parkway again, heading south towards gas at Saskatchewan Crossing and holy crap was it expensive gas! It’s the only gas available between Lake Louise and Jasper, so that kind of explains it.

We stopped for lunch at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre. Great lunch, but pretty quiet. We were all by this time a little shattered and with home only a couple of hours away, there was a lot of focus on just getting there. Dan took a picture of the group at the table and we sure looked different than the happy bunch 5 days ago at the Socrates Restaurant in St. Albert! Sadly I don’t have the Lake Louise picture.

Within a couple of hours of braving the traffic on the TransCanada Highway, and in the city, we made it home. It’d been a long day – we rolled in and parked the bikes at 740pm!

Over the five days we racked up over 2700 kms on the bikes and we had a blast! I like Run To The Hills!

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