NOLA to Canadian Rockies 2018-Day 15

Steve Kinchen, Sr/ June 29, 2018/ BMW R1200RT, New Orleans to Canadian Rockies 2018, Touring/ 0 comments

Day 15:

Departure Location: Banff, BC

Time: 06:30

Weather Conditions: Low 40’s and overcast

Daily High Temperature: 67F ( in St. Mary, Montana)

Destination: Whitefish, MT

Daily Miles Logged: 361

Arrival Time: 18:10

States Visited: Banff, British Columbia, Montana

Daily Highlights:

  • Glacier National Park
  • Going to the Sun Road
    • As the only road to cross Glacier National Park from east to west. The epic Going-to-the-Sun Road carries travelers through some of the most spectacular scenery the park has to offer. This engineering marvel spans more than 50 miles across the park’s interior, takes passengers over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, and treats visitors to some of the grandest sights in the Rocky Mountains.
    • Along its course, the road passes glacial lakes and cedar forests in the lower valleys, and windswept alpine meadows and sweeping mountain vistas atop the 6646-foot pass. Several scenic viewpoints and pullouts along the way provide motorists with ample opportunities to stop for extended views and photographs. Some drivers (and passengers) might be a little intimidated by the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Portions of the route hug the mountainside as it traverses over steep drop-offs and steers through tight curves. 
    • (From the ride plan) For mountain climbers, reaching Mt. Everest is the ultimate claim to fame. It is in a remote area and very difficult to get to, its known for its cold and snow, and it provides some of the most challenging climbing in the world. For motorcycle riders, this route, Going-To-The-Sun Road is the Mt. Everest of continental US motorcycle routes. It lies in a distant remote part of the United States near the Canadian border. It takes crews two months in the late spring/early summer to simply clear the road for travel. Snow banks up to 8 feet can line the road at certain points as late as July and August. And it has some of the twistiest turns and steepest elevation changes of any paved road in the US. Driving this road won’t disappoint you!!! This route goes from one end of Glacier National Park to the other end crossing through a magnificent section of the Rocky Mountains. The scenery as you can imagine is among the best in the WORLD. You will see jagged peaks, crystal mountain lakes, immense glaciers, unbelievable valley views, waterfalls, alpine wildflowers, meadows, streams, and possibly alpine wildlife (mountain goats, elk, deer, squirrels, gopher, hawks) – some of the countless incredible scenes you will see.
  • Chief Mountain – a sacred site for the Blackfeet Tribe. (bumpy roads leading out of Canada in to Montana)
  • Many Glacier 
      • an area within Glacier National Park which is located in the U.S. state of Montana. The Many Glacier region is located north of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, on the east side of the park. Lake Sherburne is the large lake in the area
      • I abandoned this because the road absolutely sucked!  There were potholes as large as my bike and as deep as my front tire.

Today began in the lower 40’s and with a threat for rain in the later part of the day.  We set our sights on making our way back into the United States and we used the Chief Mountain Highway, crossing point off the beaten path, for the fun in the ride as well as the lack of congestion in the crossing process.

Panoramic view just before you arrive at the border

Few things say “welcome home” better than seeing the Red, White and Blue!

Jon in line to cross

The view from Waterton Lakes National Park

Me and the RT back on U.S. soil and grateful to be back in the USA!

Most of our ride before lunch was related to getting to the “Going to the Sun” road.  As we were making our way down the Waterton mountain highway, we encountered some very rough terrain that seemed to blow Jon’s rear air shock pressure hose again.  He continued on to our next fuel stop and the rest of us turned into the 16 mile round-trip scenic overlook of Manny Lake.

After 5 miles of arduous riding due to abysmal road conditions, I abandoned the scenic stop and headed back towards the gas station.  Randall and Steven Jr also did so, but because the both lacked the park passes needed to enter in to the parking area.

Rolling up in to the Exxon station, I found Jon and Randall working on a temporary solution to at least make Jon’s Harley ridable.  After a few minutes, a group of Harley riders arrived at the fuel station and one walked up and asked Jon what was going on.  His name was Patrick, (St. Patrick as he will always be known from hence forth!) and he happened to be a Harley mechanic from Calgary.  Jon told him about the issue and Patrick said it was fairly common and that he knew how to fix it.  Jon replied, “we need a new hose” and Patrick said, “I have one with me and I will be right back.”

St. Patrick from Calgary doing a field repair on Jon’s bike with the proper parts, in the middle of St. Mary, Montana… Hmmm… I wonder!

 

After Saint Patrick completed the repair, Jon reassembled the bike and we thanked him for what he had done.  He was a kind and generous soul and what he did today will live forever in our hearts as one of the grandest gestures of kindness and servanthood that we have ever seen, as well as another affirmation that our loving Heavenly Father is always looking out for us!

We opted to have lunch at the joint next door where our waitress happened to be from River Ridge, LA… my home town.  It truly is a small world and I don’t think a day has gone by on this trip where we haven’t made a connection to folks back home in one way or another.

I ordered the fish and chips and it was not great… Junior had the “going to the sun” burger, which looked like a regular burger with a fired egg on top.  Also not great, but sustanance.

After lunch, we headed towards the “Going to the Sun” roadway.  Unfortunately, the weather began to quickly deteriorate on us as the temperatures began to fall and it started to pour rain on us.

We managed to ride the entire route, often times stuck behind a train of slow moving vehicles, but we rode it nonetheless.  We also managed to take a few photos along the way.

Randall catnapping at one of the early scenic pull outs

 

Steven Jr not wanting his photo taken again.

And then a smile for posterity sake.

Snow still everywhere in the higher elevations

Matt and Trent trying to hit me with a few snow balls

 

Steven Jr taking a short cat nap at a scenic pull out before the weather started in on us

We made it to the hotel at a reasonable hour and have another early start tomorrow as we continue to make our way home.  We say good-bye to Trent as he makes his way to Portland to return his rental GS and fly home on Sunday.  Jon also informed us tonight that he feels he is being led to end his motorcycle riding season of his life and focus on other recreational endeavors.  Sad in a way, disappointing in others, but not unexpected with the challenges he has faced leading up to and during this trip.  Hopefully, that will not be the final verdict, but, life is full of seasons, and seasons do indeed change.

-Steve

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