The road to Jasper

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A man named Brad stumbled (drunk) into our camp at Mosquito Creek campground. He invited us to his fire for a beer, and I accepted; he seemed fairly harmless. After chatting for an hour or so, he was so enthused by our trip that he gave me: his Winchester knife, his bear spray, and some food. An unusual character to be sure, but a nice one.

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We broke camp at 6:00 a.m. and made for the Num-Ti-Ya Lodge for breakfast. A beautiful place for a lodge, on the shores of Bow Lake

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Then off to the Saskatchewan river crossing, where they’d closed the road due to the Highway 11 wildfire. The smoke thickened the closer we got; it became hard to see and breathe at one point. We were met with a low-visibility stretch of the wildfire and had to push through it quickly.

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On we went, climbing first Bow pass, and then Sunwapta pass.

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We arrived at the famed Columbia Icefields once we’d claimed Sunwapta

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The water flowed south down the Saskatchewan until we summited Sunwapta. On the descent, water flowed North from the glacier above, forming the Athabasca River. Seeing the water change direction from this peak onward was very strange.

We set a mileage record on this long day. 110 miles. Our last record – 106 miles – was set with a tailwind in North Dakota. This kind of mileage in the Rockies was a challenge. Still, we found our legs fresh at the end of the day. We agreed that we’ve never felt so in shape in our lives.

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We saw the above black bear family in the evening. An hour later, we saw a grizzly sitting on the tree line by the road. An unexpected wind picked up a few minutes later. As the sun set, we heard a cracking sound just behind the tree line. A fifth bear? Who knows, we raced away as quickly as we could.

In light of seeing four, maybe five bears on the roadside in a single day, we figured it best to call it a day A.S.A.P. and camped at Mt. Kerkeslin, 20 miles south of Jasper.

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