As our 20th wedding anniversary approached, Motoman and I talked about all the different options we had to commemorate our special day. We could throw a big party. We could spend a quiet weekend somewhere special. We could include family. Ultimately, we decided to mark the occasion with a motorcycle ride. We were already planning to drive to Kimberley, British Columbia in late June to pick up our daughter from school. We decided to add on to that trip by bringing our motorcycles with us and taking a 4-5 day tour around Alberta and British Columbia, sticking primarily to gravel and logging roads. We’d spend the night wherever we ended up on any given day.
Day 1 – Kimberley, BC > Banff, Alberta
We departed from Kimberley mid-morning under overcast skies. The planned route was to take logging and Canadian Forest Service roads northeast from Kimberley to Banff. However, within the first two hours, we encountered our first road block. The road we planned to take was blocked and closed for “eco-system regrowth”. This meant a detour to our route, and that more of the day would be spent riding on paved roads rather than dirt. In the process of finding our way through the forest, we ended up on top of a mountain. The clouds parted just long enough for us to snap a few pictures. This was one of the funnest days of riding because we crossed numerous streams and mud puddles, saw bears, deer, and places that many Canadians probably haven’t seen. The route went from Kimberley on Highway 95 to Wasa Lake Provincial Park > Canal Flats > Kootenay National Park > Banff. After dinner in Banff we spent our first night at Two Jack Lakeside Campground. The views did not disappoint.
Day 2 – Banff Area Touring
We packed up our camp and rode to Lake Louise. After taking the obligatory selfies, we hopped back on the motorcycles and went to the Moraine Lake road, which was blocked to traffic. While cars were turned away, we were waived through and had a very traffic free ride to Moraine Lake. Next, we took the Trans-Canadian Highway west to Highway 93 AKA Icefields Parkway. We rode north on Highway 93 to the Columbia Ice Field. By the time we arrived at the Visitor’s Center, the sleet was coming down hard and fast. We had hoped to make it to Jasper and camp overnight, but we both agreed that the weather simply was not cooperating. We turned around and went back to the Banff area in search of a campsite. We got lucky and ended up sharing a site with a young French man making his way across Canada on foot.
The route went from Two Jack Lakeside Campground > Lake Louise > Moraine Lake > Columbia ice field > Lake Louise Campground
Day 3 – Lake Louise, AB > Trout Lake, BC
It was time to start heading West and making our way toward Kimberley. We took the Trans-Canadian Highway from Lake Louise to Revelstoke. Most of the day was spent riding in the rain, so we stopped and warmed up in one of many hot springs along the way. After lunch in Revelstoke, we turned onto a logging road. It wasn’t long before we came upon a small fallen tree. We made it over this first tree and the second fallen tree without any trouble. The third tree was much larger and we paused for a discussion about the obstacle. I learned on this ride when someone asks the question “what’s the worst that could happen?” It’s important to really give that question the thoughtful reflection it deserves. I also learned that Aspen trees are extremely slippery and do not behave at all like the dried up pine logs motorcyclists typically practice riding over. (I hope someday to be allowed to write more about this because it will be a good read!) We decided that 3 downed trees within the first half mile probably meant for a LOT more further down the road. We turned around and headed back to the paved road. Due to the numerous lakes and mountains in British Columbia, ferries are part of the highway
system. As we sat and waited for the ferry, we spoke with the worker on duty. She mentioned a severe wind storm and passed through the area just a couple of days before and had likely blown down the trees we encountered. Eventually they would be cleared, but other roads take priority over the logging roads. It was getting later in the day and she recommended we make our way to Trout Lake for the night. We found a secluded and beautiful campsite on the lake shore for our anniversary.
The route went from Lake Louise > Revelstoke > Shelter Bay > Trout Lake
Day 4 – Trout Lake to Kimberley
Our last day of riding and finally the weather was warming up. We made our way down a fun and winding road along Kootenay Lake and stopped for brunch in Kaslo. After ferrying across the lake in Balfour, we took Gray Creek Road to Kimberley. All in all, we rode approximately 800 miles over four days.
Other Lessons learned:
Motorcycles are allowed to do things cars are not because they are badass, at least according to Motoman. For example, boarding and exiting ferries first (despite the sign that says motorcycles do NOT get special treatment), closer parking (because you can fit in little spaces), taking roads closed to cars, just to name a few.
People are more impressed with a KTM 1290 than a Yahama XT250; I’m not sure why that would be.
Things don’t always go according to plan; be flexible.
Olympia jacket with two removable liners
Mountain Hardware monkey fur fleece
Klim gloves, pants, hydration system
Mom’s silk scarf