Alaska 2008 – Day 21, July 24

Day 21, July 24

Grande Cache to Banff AB

311 miles

After paying our park fees we stop at Jasper Lodge, resplendent with masses of petunias dripping from roof-edge planters. Mike happens to ask the best person possible for a map of the area; he’s head concierge of the hotel, and one of the most vital and dynamic people I’ve ever met. He gives us a map and a list of recommendations and we’re on our way.

First on the list is a loop ride to Medicine Lake, which is incredible. The lake is deep blue with surrounding slate and granite walls rising sheer and steep at the edge of the road. Strangely, this lake disappears in the winter. The Indians called it Bad Medicine because they thought it was magic.

Next we ride in to town and grab a quick lunch at a coffee shop that just happens to have some really good vegetarian cold salads. Mike’s ready to move in and stay awhile, but we’ve got a reservation in Banff, so we ride on, vowing to spend more time here on our next trip.

After a ride on the Jasper gondola, we gear up and head out of town. We’ve been through Jasper and Banff on our honeymoon, so we know what’s in store for us, but still, every corner of the road brings more ‘oh wow’ landscape in to view. I’m lucky to be wearing a full-face helmet, or I’d have a mouthful of bugs, I’m grinning so much. What glorious, beautiful, otherworldly peaks and valleys!

Mike has me lead, then shoots about two billion photos on the fly, chronicling the 100 mile trip from Jasper to Banff. We pull in to town and hit a gas station first, then find our hotel, which is very nice. After dinner, we’re asleep before our heads hit the pillows.


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