52.75 Miles; Lake Louise Campground in Banff National Park, AB to Canmore, AB
My knee is flaming. I wake up and realize just how good a call it was to make in deciding to end our ride. Any more pushing past today would cause some serious damage to my already inflamed patellar tendonitis; Janna is in the same boat about her Achilles. We break camp after sleeping in, making our way to the Trailhead Café in Lake Louise, and then jump on the Bow Valley Parkway once more to head east across the Rockies to Canmore, Alberta where a hotel and a U-Haul are waiting for us.
The Bow Valley Parkway was as gorgeous as the day before and way more active with wildlife. A car pulled over to call out to us warning of a grizzly ahead. We started bear calling while cautiously moving forward. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to catch a glimpse. We paralleled the Bow River once more, all tepid and glorious in its gray-green sheen against a backdrop of the Bow Valley circumferenced by blackened peaks of the Rockies. We passed the point we had originally joined the route yesterday (in the opposite direction) and pedaled slowly through neon green meadows of rich vegetation.
My knee was burning hard with tendonitis and Janna was gingerly flexing her Achilles to keep ourselves moving forward. Around mid-morning, a black bear jolted across the road in front of us before disappearing into the trees. The Bow Valley Parkway ended and we joined up with the awesome multi-use Heritage Trail paved path. At once, the path entered an electrified fence and matt, sealing us once more away from the wildlife near the adjoining highway. Jurassic Park.
We rode along through the tree before the path brought us pass the Vermillion Lakes and then spilled us into downtown Banff, AB. I was fairly mind-blown by the high-scale appearance, high prices, and high opulence of the place. It was gorgeous for sure, but one of the cheapest lunches we could find was still many dollars over anything I would even pay at the Grand Canyon. Janna and I locked up our bikes before taking a walk around the downtown district to see the sights as we felt we would probably never visit again. Satiated by early afternoon, we jumped onto the Banff Legacy Trail, another paved multi-use path, that led us out the north part of town.
The trail paralleled the Trans-Canada Highway with the large electrified wildlife fence to our rights. The Bow River also flowed next to us; its tributaries and side-streams in this part were filled with beaver dams and lodges. Storm clouds began to gather over the peaks as the weather system forecasted to dump days of endless rain on the area showed their bellies. We read that it would be nearly impossible to see the glaciated mountainsides in the coming days, leaving us grateful to see what we had and lessening the sting of ending a trip early without passing through the entirety of the Icefields Parkway (we'll come back and bike this for sure).
By early evening, we were pulling through aspen groves and into downtown Canmore where we had a hotel booked for the night and a U-Haul rental waiting for us to load our bikes in before driving back to our car. The last dapples of light centered around the grasses at the feet of the hills as the storm bedded down. We caught showers, unloaded our gear, and rested our inflamed tendons. 700 miles down some beautiful northern Rockies landscape lay behind us and we looked forward to wrapping up our trip back in the States the next day.