We have been looking forward to cycling in the Rocky Mountains for a long time. Ever since returning home from South America, in fact. The plan was to meet the El’s (Ellen and Elmar) somewhere in the Rockies in the northern US and ride north with them into Canada.
The plan was hatched August, 2014, when we parted ways in Cusco, Perú. Jan and I went north to cycle in the Cordillera Blanca, and flew home from Ecuador in October, 2014, but the El’s kept cycling north through South and Central America and Mexico, eventually picking up the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in the US, a trail that runs from Antelope Wells, New Mexico, to Banff, Alberta.
It’s been a long, dry summer and forest fires have been raging all over the northwestern US and southern BC. The smoke in Whitefish was thick when we arrived but the good news was that the fire in Glacier National Park had been extinguished and the Going to the Sun Road was open again to cyclists.
Our friends Cathy and Walt put us up at their place in Whitefish and Ellen and Elmar cycled into town the next day. We spent two months cycling together in Bolivia and Perú and became good friends, so it was a great reunion for all of us.
We spent another day hanging out in Whitefish with our generous hosts Cathy and Walt who took us on a smokey, sunset booze cruise on Whitefish Lake, with dinner after at a local restaurant.
With the bikes loaded, we headed north into Glacier National Park. Unfortunately, the smoke covered the landscape like a blanket and views of the mountains were very limited. Regardless, it was great to be out cycling again with friends.
While camped at St. Mary’s on the west side of Glacier, a fierce thunderstorm in the evening cleared the air and by morning we had gorgeous clear skies for a short ride north into Many Glaciers. Sadly, the glaciers in the park have all but disappeared and will likely all be gone in another 10 years. I wonder if they will rename it “Used to be Many Glaciers.”
The clear skies didn’t last as fires to the west raged on pushing a plume of smoke over a large swath of the US and Canada and sadly causing loss of life and property. Nothing we could do but ride on and hope for the fires to burn out or rain to bring them under control.
We crossed the border into Canada at Chief Mountain, a small border post between Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks, and cycled into the town of Waterton Lakes, crossing paths with a small black bear on the bike path.
North we cycled along the smokey rolling hills of southwestern Alberta into the Crowsnest Pass, the southern-most crossing of the Rocky Mountains between Alberta and British Columbia. A friend of the El’s generously offered his house for us to stay in while he was away working. Thank you Wim!
Here is a map of our ride so far. Click on it for more information.
Here are some more photos.