28.76 Miles; Marble Campground in Kootenay National Park, BC to Lake Louise Campground in Banff National Park, AB
I awoke with my patellar tendon absolutely gushing that deep pain all too familiar to me and indicative of sustained patellar tendonitis. Janna awoke barely able to walk from the searing Achilles pain making itself known. Today was planned to be short. It also coincided with Canada Day (which had a feel similar to me of the Fourth of July in America). The roads would be packed, the campgrounds even more-so, but luckily we had reserved a tent site ahead of time at Lake Louise Campground. Unlike many parks in the USA, the parks in Canada did not save sites for those arriving by foot/pedal, precipitating the need to reserve everything ahead of time. In fact, we saw some cyclists along the route going the opposite direction who daily seemed stressed about trying to find camping accommodations each night due to their lack of reservations.
We roll out of Marble Campground slowly and gingerly so as to not flare up further pain with our bodies. The morning is bright and blue, leading to gorgeous panoramas of the surrounding peaks on the northern edges of Kootenay National Park. We push back out onto the main highway and start our ways north towards another Continental Divide crossing. We talk to a family passing through about Canada Day and the state of snow in the surrounding peaks before pressing on and entering Banff National Park and the province of Alberta.
Janna and I jet down a descent and cross over the Bow River to join the epically beautiful Bow Valley Parkway. The Parkway is a lesser-driven road but chock full of cyclists. Most are gravel and road riders out for holiday spins; we're the only long-distance travelers we meet. The Parkways spills between the Bow River and adjoining Rockies leading to gorgeous vistas of the snowmelt-swollen valley. We pass by a monument/memorial to the Castle Mountain Internment Camp; this was Canada's version of ethnocentric-Ukrainian internment during World War I.
Miles and miles of richly fresh-with-new-growth, woodlands shot up around us. Wildlife was abundant, the peaks were momentous, and the continuing views of the Bow River made me stop every chance I got. Wildflowers sprouted from the ground densely along the shoulder. And with that, we exited the Bow Valley Parkway and descended down to Lake Louise. We ran into a German bike-tourist who was stressed about not having camping reservations for that night so we invited him to join us. The three of us biked down to Lake Louise Campground, which featured an insane line, comparable to the Grand Canyon, in order to get in; I felt super grateful we had made reservations ahead of time as there was absolutely no place to book in the area on Canada Day. The campground itself was completely surrounded by a high-wired electric fence to keep bears out. Even the cattle guards across the road at the fence-line were electrified. Again, Jurassic Park.
Our fellow cyclist headed out to bike up to Moraine Lake. Janna and I were both suffering heavily from her Achilles and my patellar tendonitis. We thus decided to grab tickets on the bus to the actual Lake Louise. And it was insanely packed with people. Honestly, it felt like I was standing outside a ride at Disney World - just to get up to the shore of the lake. It was a pretty lake and the opposing views of glaciers tumbling down into it were breathtaking. But the density of people made it nearly impossible to view it without being jostled back towards the parking lot. We snapped a quick photo and agreed that we enjoyed the Bow River and its namesake river more from earlier in the day.
And we made a hard decision. Both our tendons were flared, biting, piercing, and burning. Despite our desire to continue, we had been down the road of overuse injuries and pushing our bodies when we shouldn't too many times before. Better to heal a short-term injury then a long-term. In addition, a weather system was moving in that would storm on the area for the next 7 days or so - obscuring all the views we definitely wanted to see. Janna and I decided to call the trip over and start putting together an itinerary to get back to our car in Montana. We caught the bus back down to the campground from Lake Louise, ate some food at the local café, let our new cyclist friend know we were bowing out, and then just enjoyed the evening in the pines. The campground was raucous with revelers on holiday, but we had a nice corner to ourselves. The sun dipped, so we scuttled in to sleep and prepare for our last day's riding tomorrow.