Smoky Rockies: Cycling the Trans-Canada Highway

Great Divide Bike Path, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada

On the Great Divide Bike Path

Smoky Rockies: Cycling the Trans-Canada Highway

Country: Canada

From Lake Louise to Revelstoke

Lesson learned: Bring self-gluing patches

Laughed about: Wet poppy seed rolls

Most wonderful miracle: Indoor sleeping

Greatest challenge: rain, traffic and tunnels

Days on the bike: 3

Kilometers cycled: 241

Average Kilometers per day: 80.3

Total Kilometers cycled till Revelstoke: 22,488


Cycling the Trans-Canada Highway

Missed the last entry? Here it comes: Cycling the Icefields Parkway

Deutsche Version hier: Von Lake Louise nach Revelstoke

Roberto and I woke up slightly hungover. I believe that the second pitcher of raspberry beer must have been Mark’s. But nothing that a good shower couldn’t fix.

The sky was even smokier than on the day before. Many of Washington State’s forests were on fire and the smoke was everywhere around us. Well, we missed out on the views into the mountains, but at least there were no fires near us that put us in danger.

Crazy Prices for kayak rentals in Lake Louise

Crazy Prices for kayak rentals in Lake Louise

We decided to bike up the steep road to the lake and were slightly disappointed. This was Lake Louie’s main attraction? We had been spoiled by all the beautiful lakes along the Icefields Parkway. Later on I saw pictures of how the views up here would have looked like without the smoke, and this would have clearly been a completely different thing.

Lake Louise in the smoke

We could have had a cool view

From here we followed the old Highway, called Great Divide bike path, that paralleled the Trans-Canada Highway. Nature had claimed most of the paved road and we felt like in a ghost town.

Cycling the Great Divide Bike Path from Alberta to BC

Cycling the Great Divide Bike Path from Alberta to BC

Back on the highway we met Jin from Korea, whom we had met earlier this morning in Lake Louise. The three of us continued to Golden. The last 20 Kilometers lacked any shoulder. The road was narrow and very busy and there were holes in the road from all the falling rocks.

We saw Moutain Goats while cycling the Trans-Canada Highway

Moutain Sheepalong the Trans-Canada Highway

Some mountain goats decided to ignore the traffic and cross the road at a real slow pace. They didn’t care for the honking truck and only hurried up when I whistled loudly through my fingers.

The Great Divide by bike

The Great Divide

Tanya from Scotland moved to Golden a long time ago. She opened the town’s first hostel (Kicking Horse Hostel) and knows how pricey any other accommodation in town are. $35 to pitch your little tent on the cheapest campground? No way! That’s why she opened a profile on warmshowers and offers free camping and half price indoor sleeping (when available) for travelling cyclists. Isn’t that awesome? If you want to stay with her in Golden, you might want to contact her through warmshowers first though.

Kicking Horse Hostel, Golden

Comfy times with great people in Golden, BC. Laura and Rob

It was my birthday and we decided that after 52 days of consecutive camping (except for the two nights in Whitehorse and the time in Edmonton) it was time for three indoors nights.

Roberto prepared a delicious German breakfast (thank you Roberto!), we watched some movies and ate Greek Moussaka for dinner. A perfect calm birthday!

Kicking Horse Hostel Kitchen

Perfect spot for a German breakfast!

Three nights turned into five. It was really hard to leave this comfy and relaxed place with all the nice people. Mike (whom we have traveled with through the Yukon), was on his way back home from Vancouver and came over for a visit. After many sunny days, the first clouds appeared just after Mike had left. I am quite confident that he brings the rain with him.

Warmshowerers are always welcome at Tanya's in Golden

Warmshowerers are always welcome at Tanya’s in Golden

We left Golden through the smoke in a light drizzle. The traffic was heavy and the shoulder far too narrow for the quantity of trucks on the road. The drizzle quickly turned into a proper rain storm and it was hard to keep the eyes open. With all the debris on the shoulder, the limited visibility and the fast trucks it was inevitable that we would ride through some glass and wires. And there we were, stuck on the Trans-Canada Highway in the pouring rain with a 30 cm shoulder and a flat tire.

Find the Tasting Travels Sticker

Find the Tasting Travels Sticker

Back in Hungary was the first and last time that we tried to fix a flat in a rainstorm. With little success. You just can’t let glue dry out if it’s raining. But today we had one self-gluing patch left and were skilled (or lucky?) enough to fix the tube.

In the end we were soaked. The passing traffic had left us sprinkled with dirt and we looked like two wet poppy seed rolls.

Being cold and wet made us bike the second climb of the day in record time. Today we had to cycle through five busy uphill tunnels. I remembered the nice Polish motorcyclists who saved us in a long tunnel in Armenia (story about that scary tunnel here) and the pitch black tunnel of fear in China.

We passed tunnel after tunnel. Deep breath, full speed, trying not to panic. In case of panic – even more speed. Next.

Rain still hadn’t stopped when we reached the Illicillewaet campground in Glacier National park. No glaciers to be seen, due to all the grey clouds. Monika and Aldo from Switzerland shared their campsite with us, so that we could all save some money and enjoy an evening with nice company.

The rain continued all morning. We packed our stuff anyways and carried everything over to the kitchen shelter, where I tried to dry out my rain jacket and shoes. I had bought them back in Kyrgyzstan and used them nearly every day. The waterproofness had come to an end long ago.

Camping in Illicillewaet

Camping in Illicillewaet

A nice hiker, who had reached the end of her travels, left us her leftover red wine and I couldn’t stop myself from heating half a cup over the fire. If it looked and felt all Christmassy it was time for some Christmas taste.

Today was of those “why are we even doing this?”-days for me. One of those that I wish we had a dry car and money for hotels. One of those that I would have done much and more for a nine-to-five indoor job and a room with a roof and a heater. I spent most of the morning nagging and complaining.

Mount Revelstoke National Park

Mount Revelstoke National Park

We crossed another three tunnels (fortunately downhill) and entered Mount Revelstoke National Park. Due to rain and fog we saw nothing of the park’s natural beauty. Mount Revelstoke National Park was home to the only temperate rainforest worldwide that wasn’t situated on the coast. Well, that explained the terrible weather.

Mount Revelstoke National Park

Green and wet forest

Whenever the rain got lighter, we could see the most stunning double rainbows. We reached Revelstoke, where we stayed with Louis-Marc. He owned a Hostel-Hotel named “the cube”, and as warmshowerer he offered us a room for nothing but the operating costs. The cube offered one dorm room and many private rooms with shared showers. And there was even a drying room! Everything was perfectly clean and looked brand new.

Marc-Louis is a great chef!

Marc-Louis is a great chef!

Louis-Marc had only opened the Hotel in January 2014. He grew up in Quèbec, but lived in British Columbia for nearly 40 years now. We had a great time chatting with him and when he offered us to spend another night, we happily accepted. We were really in need of a good talk and a dry bed.

And what happened next? Just click the next blog! Our last weeks in Canada: Cycling to Vancouver

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  2. All that rain sounds seriously exhausting… I will remember that next time we’re cycling uphill in Borneo’s tropical heat and I’m wishing for cold weather and rain 🙂

  3. Tanya says:

    I have to admit that I was surprised when I came back from Lake OHara that you guys were not still at the hostel, actually I’m surprised you are not still here! I was just saying to a current winter guest that you 2 were an example of my “perfect guests” He cycled around S.America 20 years ago so I was showing him your blog so he could see what the young’uns are up to now 🙂
    I know our paths will cross again at some point!
    Oh ps I hope you have had no further issues getting served in bars 🙂

  4. Tanya says:

    Oh and those are mountain sheep believe it or not! The goats are white.

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