August 17

August 18th, 2007

Sterling showed up right on time to join me for the morning skate from Canmore to Banff. The weather was great and the road was enjoyable. Not much of a climb so far! Coincidently, I found out that Sterling has a cousin who is married to the son of a friend of my family, Mary Dixon! The world is getting smaller every day! It was great having you roll with me today, Sterling. Keep in touch!


I took full advantage of the idealistic conditions and skated to Castle Mountain where we paused for lunch. I also wanted to take advantage of the rejuvenating powers of nature which were all around me. So I waded into the Bow River almost up to my knees. I figured the icy glacier waters would do wonders for my stiff ankles and toes. Once I lost all feeling in my feet, I hobbled back to shore to dry off. I’m not sure if it really did much, but it sure woke me up!


We were recommended to switch over to Highway 1-A from Castle Mountain until Lake Louise. Apparently there was construction on the Trans Canada and the 1-A would have far less traffic. We haven’t had great success with taking advice from locals to this point, but we thought we’d give it a try. I think we made the right call. The roads weren’t perfect, but nothing ever is. I coasted into Lake Louise far earlier than anticipated. So after checking into the campground, I headed back to the Trans Canada and set my sights on British Columbia!


Although it was only 9 km from Lake Louise, I struggled against the wind, up hill, on rough pavement to finally reach the Border. I can’t believe I did it! Just over 3 months ago, I began a journey of a life time from St. John’s, Newfoundland. And now I was standing at the border into the last province. Not only that, I was also standing directly on the Great Divide. The highest point on the Trans Canada Highway. From this point on, all rivers run towards the Pacific Ocean. It was a remarkable feeling as I stood there beside the Welcome sign to British Columbia. I know I still have a huge hurdle in front of me, but nothing will stop me now. My only hope now is that BC will out-do all the other provinces with respect to donations.


Another early day meant that we could enjoy the early evening and pretend to be tourists again. We drove back to Lake Louise and walked along the beautiful water front which was being engulfed by glacier-covered mountains surrounding it. I again took the opportunity to stroll through the frigid water. I didn’t have the nerve to go in for a full swim, though. I may be crazy enough to skate across Canada, but I’m not stupid enough to dive into a lake this cold!


As I was drying my feet off, a woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I would mind taking a picture for her. My parents made a wise crack to the effect “only if you donate to his cause”. Of course they were kidding, but it struck up some interest with the woman and her friends. As soon as they realized who I was, they were ecstatic. They had actually been at Boston Pizza in Canmore last night and heard the announcement about me. The woman who had approached me is in fact winning a battle with cancer right now! It’s incredible how peoples paths cross more than once. It almost makes you wonder if there is meaning behind these sort of encounters.


Next we headed up further to Morraine Lake. I remember Morraine Lake from my last trip through the Rockies with Crystal. I personally prefer Morraine over Louise. It is not as commercialized and I think the colours are more spectacular. It was a treat for my parents, too, because they had never been up here before. When you’re surrounded by so much natural beauty, it’s not hard for even the most talkative person to be speechless. The pristine blue water, the snow covered peaks, the aged driftwood and the intense serenity all make Morraine one of the most magnificent places in Canada. The only problem is the drive to and from it. Fortunately heights don’t bother me. I wish I could say the same for my Dad. Recall the Confederation Bridge from PEI, and the suspension bridges at Eagle Canyon near Thunder Bay? Needless to say, I was driving the RV back down the narrow road leading from Morraine Lake back to Lake Louise Village.


Being immersed in nature as we are now, one has to take necessary precautions to avoid unwanted encounters with wildlife. I’m an avid outdoors man, so I know all about bear-proofing. But the campground at Lake Louise has taken it to another level. We were specifically warned that there was a fence around the tenting area and not to go near it. At first I thought ‘a silly little fence isn’t going to discourage a hungry grizzly from charging the unsuspecting tourists. Think again. The fence is wired with 7000 volts of electricity. I suppose that might work. Tonight is a very significant event. This is the first night since I left Vancouver in April that we have had to pay for accommodation. I suppose we didn’t really need to pay, but we decided to splurge and check in to the National Park Campground rather than park at the nearest Esso. And we may end up being reimbursed. The ranger who checked us in gave us a form to request a donation from the Park. So I guess we’ll wait to find out.


I stood there talking to Crystal on a pay phone. I looked around at the mountains and glaciers and couldn’t help but think how easily it would be to fill my memory card with photographs. It’s hard not to get carried away in a place like this.

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