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Sea to Sky Highway, Icefields Parkway and the Dave Matthews Band

CANADA | Sunday, 7 September 2008 | Views [5300] | Comments [12]

anna on icefields parkway

anna on icefields parkway

We said goodbye to Vancouver in style, cruising the harbor with Tas (Ali's former housemate) and Scarlett in their little yacht.

It suddenly turned really hot for a few days, and we sweated our way up 

the Sea to Sky highway, from Vancouver to Squamish and onwards to Whistler.

Squamish is known for the Chief, a huge monolith (rock), and very popular amongst rockclimbers. A whole different crowd from cyclists, climbers are, and we were amused and also intimidated a little by the crashpads, ropes, shoes, carabiners etc. We just kept things simple, and walked up the Chief via a hiking trail, still challenging and the muscle aches reminded us of the climb for another few days.

The Chief, Squamish, BC

Then onwards and upwards, on the narrow, winding road and with more or less continuous construction sites. Sometimes the drop off the shoulder would be over a foot, and we had to take care not to get too close to either that drop or the thousands of cars making their way to Whistler.

The reason for this influx to Whistler was Crankworx, an anual downhill and slopestyle mountainbike event. Picture a luxurious French ski resort (without the snow), a big hill with a jumpspark and downhill track, a 25000 people crowd, and some of the best downhillers/ slopestylers in the world. We were thrilled watching the slopestyle, where young guys flip and toss their bike into seamingly impossible acrobatic manouvres, always landing back on two wheels (almost always...).

Slopestyle, Crankworx, Whistler BC

We were lucky to be invited by friends of Marty, and camped on their deck for some nights. Good to hear their stories about riding, skiing, hiking, music, travelling and the black bear that had visited their kitchen recently. Sietse organised for us to go on a Ziptrek tour, an exhilarating and beautiful way to see the rainforest from above, zipping at high speed in a harness from tree to tree.

Ali geared up for the Zip-trek

Then one enormous bustrip brought us from Whistler to Jasper, in the Rocky Mountains. We're kind of fighting our way against the seasons, the days already shortening, and as we learned in the past 2 weeks, the cold and snow kicking in.

The Icefields Parkway, also named one of the most beautiful roads in the world, runs about 230 kms from Jasper to Lake Louise. It passes 8 Icefields with some 23 glaciers. And beautiful it was. Little sidetrips brought us to small lakes with colours turquoois and emerald, glaciers hanging of mountains and waterfalls gushing through gorges. On a walk up a pass we saw bighorned sheep smacking their horns together with a loud "bang". We also had our first snow since Alaska, first wet, than dry, leaving the slopes with a thin white blanket.

On the Icefields Parkway, Athabasca Glacier in the background

Big horn rams among the pines

The blue waters of Peyto Lake

We met Ken and Neill, two friendly American cyclists in their fifties, who inspired us with their enthousiastic ways, mixing vodka and gatorade powder for real deal camp cocktails, and with a good outlook on life, friendship and hardship.

Between all these mountainous adventures we indulged ourselves into a 4 day cartrip to Washington State, to see our favourite band, The Dave Matthews Band play at The Gorge. It was mindblowing to see them, playing in this natural amphitheater set against the Columbia River Gorge. A sad but intense concert, for their saxophonist passed away recently. 

Dave Matthews Band - Live at the Gorge, Washington state

So it is cold, and we've both caught a decent flu, keeping us in our tent for almost a week. Lucky it's snug and warm inside. But it also makes us ponder if the route we're taking is possible and more so, safe and fun. For now we're trying to regain our strength, and continue down to the USA border and into Montana.

Lots of love

Anna and Ali

Tags: canada, cycling friends, glaciers, hiking, icefields parkway, mountains, usa, wildlife



Greetings from Flinders Medical Centre. Great to read of the ongoing adventures and I can feel the pain of those uphill kilometres. Spring has hit Adelaide. All the best. David

  David Sep 8, 2008 11:18 AM


Hey Anna and Ali,

Somehow, I've missed a couple of updates. Good to read what you guyes are upto again. And, WHAT an amazing pictures! Cool! Must be such an experience. Hope you get well soon, hey and regain the strength you defenately need. All the best, keep enjoying! Lots of love, xOl

  Olga Sep 8, 2008 4:45 PM


Holy fuck! Wat eindeloos indrukwekkend allemaal! Endlessly impressive! Woorden schieten echt tekort, zeker met die foto's erbij. Wow! Hoe is het verder met jullie? Still going strong? Ook samen? Hier is alles ok. Aan het werk, je kent het wel. Maar goed nieuws: Died en ik hebben beiden 8 wkn vrij gekregen om door Australie te reizen, dus 22 nov a.s. vertrekken we: yessssss! En als we in januari terugkomen dan verhuizen we twee weken later naar ons nieuwe zelf-gekochte huis in Utrecht, Wittevrouwen. Helemaal leuk! Inmiddels is mn eerste artikel voor mn promotie geaccepteerd in goed tijdschrift, dus ook dat gaat lekker. Al met al: very happy! Hope you too, maar als ik dat zo zie/lees, dan geloof ik dat het allemaal wel okay is met jullie. Geniet! Liefs, Bar xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  Barbara Maat Sep 8, 2008 10:27 PM


Jeetje, An, wat een stoere foto´s allemaal. Volgens mij val je van het ene avontuur in het andere. Super, hoor!
Hoop dat jullie onze email vanuit Maleisie nog hebben ontvangen. Nu ben ik weer aan de arbeid en Joep is aan het solliciteren. Spannende periode wederom.

Jullie veel plezier met alles. Liefs ook aan Ali,


  Maartje Sep 9, 2008 12:27 AM


Wow!! You guys are definatly making brilliant memories! What an adventure, keep on peddling-you guys are an inspiration!!Also-The Dave Matthews Band.....I'm sooo envious!!
Luv Verity xx

  verity Sep 9, 2008 5:39 PM


Imrpessive expedition! Anna thanks for your call. You have always been a great support despite the distance. Sorry you can't make it the Ozzie BBQ next sunday. Hopefully in 2 years! I hope the flu will settle and you and Ali will have some warmer weather,

Take Care,


  Vincent Sep 12, 2008 5:53 AM


Hi An and Ali,

What a great stories! My god, really impressive to read and then thinking about the fact you are actually there! Get well soon and enjoy your trip. Looking forward to receive more news and read all your adventures, x Mireille

  Mireille Sep 12, 2008 5:55 AM


Hey guys!

It was great to meet you on the Icefields Parkway. I'll be following your progress and wishing you all the best. If you want to ride out the winter in warm and sunny Arizona, just let us know. Have we got a place for you!!! We're working on sharing our stories so if you get a chance, check us out on http://bikeglacier.blogspot.com/


  Neill Sep 12, 2008 12:10 PM


Dear Friends,

Thank you both for the good times on our brief overlap in time and space along the Ice Fields Parkway this past August, 2008. One of the main reasons I continue to bicycle tour, and will ride as long as I can, is the increased chance of meeting a stranger/s who can become a friend/s.

Your optimism for life I see in my daughther as well, and reminds me to not get too jaded in the second half of life as it unfolds.

You can be pretty sure your ride ahead will continue to bring challenges, but that is why we ride afterall isn't it? That and all of the senses are heightened when riding! Well, perhaps (taste)eating is after riding mostly, but anything tastes really good after burning off 2500+ calories during the day!

You both seem able and prepared and want to take those challenges on so keep it going if you can. I wish you well in your travels both on the bike and in life and trust our paths will cross again in the future.



contact info: [email protected]

  Ken Elsman Sep 16, 2008 4:42 AM


Dear Friends,

V2 of this post as not sure previous was accepted.

Thank you for the good times and meaningful conversations we had during our brief encounter in time and space on the Ice Fields Parkway, August - 2008. One of the reasons I continue to bike tour, and will continue into the future, is the increased chance of meeting a stranger or strangers who then become a friend or friends.

Another reason which I am sure you are keenly aware of is the heightening of all of the senses when on the bike. Well, okay perhaps not taste, which comes after the days ride when you have burned perhaps 2500+ calories. Cardboard would likely taste okay so any attempt at making a decent meal becomes special.

Your optimism for life I also see in my daughter which helps me to remember to avoid becoming too jaded as I enter the second half of my life. You both have taken on a challenge where each day will require your vigilance and experience to keep the wheels rolling. You both appear prepared, committed and willing to take on those challenges so keep it going if you can. I wish you both the best in your bike travels as well as your future life travel and trust we will meet up again.



  Ken Elsman Sep 16, 2008 5:21 AM


We missed you at our Ozzie BBQ. I will email the pics.



  Vincent Sep 19, 2008 7:37 AM


Hey guys!
Feeling better already?! Take care of yourselves and each other, eh? Eat well and stay healthy!


Wondering how you guys are celebrating it, but at least in a wonderful environment. Enjoy and have fun!

Love to read all of your stories + see your pics. Had the interview for the GP training yesterday, pretty tough, though, will keep you posted.

Love and birthday kisses from Claudia.

  Claudia Oct 10, 2008 6:20 PM

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