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Edmonton, AB to Camas, WA

October 21, 2006

It won't belong before Winter arrives in Edmonton and there really won't be many opportunities to keep riding here, so I decide to take the bike back to Camas, Washington for the Winter. I get back to Camas about once a month, and will be back for about 2 weeks over the Christmas holidays, and I figure that will still provide more opportunities for rides than keeping the bike in Edmonton.

I had originally planned to ride from Edmonton to Camas over the weekend of Oct 28, but the weather reports were not looking promising for crossing the mountains (Rockies and the Cascades) during that time - below freezing temperatures and snow in the forecast. So I decided to ride back the weekend of Oct 21 instead. It was still going to be COLD, but at least the roads would be clear of snow.

Saturday morning, Oct 21, I woke very early and started packing the bike. It's kept in a heated underground garage at my apartment building so it's warm so far. It had been cloudy and raining during the week, but the forecast had called for clearing by Saturday morning. I was a little disappointed to look outside and see that the clouds were still around. I knew it was going to be cold and as I left the apartment at about 7:45am to begin the journey, the temperature was a cool -3 deg C (27 deg F).

About to leave the apartment in Edmonton about 7:45 am - it was cloudy, dark and cold.

I head west on Hwy 16 out of Edmonton towards Jasper. Immediately, I begin appreciating the heated handgrips on the GS. It's definitely cold! I really don't have a pair of warm riding pants, so I wore my rain pants over my Levi's and Helly Hanson ski underwear. I have a nice Kilamanjaro 4.0 jacket with the fleece liner that I wore over my turtleneck and HH undershirt. Riding at about 75mph, the wind chill makes the temperature feel about -14 deg C (4 deg F). Surprisingly, I'm actually staying pretty warm.

An hour out of Edmonton, the clouds finally break up and the sun is starting to shine. It doesn't really make things any warmer, but it sure is much prettier. About 120 miles west of Edmonton, I stop in Edson to get gas, and head to Smitty's for breakfast. It's warmed up to a balmy -1 deg C (30 deg F). As I'm getting off of the bike, a nice family stops to comment on the bike, and ask me about the cold and where I'm heading. When I tell them, I'm going west towards Jasper and over the Rockies, they look at me like I'm nuts - but wish me well anyways.

I eat a quick breakfast, and then it's back on the road. As I near Obed Summit on Hwy 16, I can begin to see the white tips of the Rockies ahead of me, so I pull off the side of the road for a picture.

Near Obed Summit on Hwy 16.

As I get back on the bike, I start to make a sharp U-turn and the the rear wheel spins suddenly. I catch myself in time before crashing, but definitely make a mental note to myself to remember that at below freezing temperatures, cold tires and cold pavement is a very slippery situation.

Still heading west, I pass through Hinton and then enter Jasper National Park. The scenery is just beautiful here, and I stop for a few pictures but it's just too cold to want to stop very often.

Jasper National Park

Although I could make it to Valemount where I was planning to stop for lunch before refilling on gas, I decide to make a quick stop in Jasper to refuel. With the cold, I don't like running the gas tank too low, and the temps have just finally risen to about the freezing mark. After getting gas and stretching the legs, I continue west. Just outside of Jasper, there's a familiar sight by the side of the road.

At the edge of the road, just west of Jasper.

I continue heading west, leaving Jasper National Park and entering Mt. Robson Provincial Park. The mountains are still majestic.

Mt. Robson Provincial Park

Just a few miles past Mt. Robson, I hit Hwy 5 and turn south. As planned, I stop in Valemount to grab lunch. The temps have risen to about 6 deg C (43 deg F), and it's feeling much more comfortable. After lunch, I get gas and then head south on Hwy 5. Just outside of Valemount, I see the first other motorcyclist of the day.

Pictures from Hwy 5, just south of Valemount

South of Valemount, Hwy 5 begins to follow the course of the North Thompson River. This is a nice twisty road - fun to ride. The river is running pretty low at this time of the year, but is still scenic so I stop for several pictures along the way.

North Thompson River

Continuing south, I reach Kamloops. Originally, I was planning to stay in Kamloops for the night; however, it was still early (especially since I gained an hour with the time change into British Columbia) and decided to keep riding. So I ride another 45 minutes and reach Merritt, BC. I find a Super 8 Hotel, and I'm set. As an added bonus, attached to the hotel is the Homestead Diner where I enjoy one of the best beef stews I've ever had. Today's ride was about 550 miles. Tomorrow, I continue the journey.

October 22, 2006

I wake up about 7:00am, and start getting ready to head back out on the road. I take a shower, get dressed and repacked. As I go outside to put the pannier cases back on the bike, I notice the GS is covered in a pretty thick layer of frost. I'm starting out again with the temperatures below freezing, only this time the bike is also very cold (it had been in the heated underground parking the day before). Although the temperatures were about the same as the previous day, it just felt much colder as I started riding. I'm not sure if perhaps the air was a little damper, or just that the bike had been left out overnight but I just felt much colder than the day before. A little bit south of Merritt, I leave the highway and stop to take a few pictures.

Hwy 5, just south of Merritt, BC

Well, those are the last of the pictures of the ride. I had taken my gloves off to take the pictures, and my hands just froze. When I started riding again, even with the heated handgrips, my hands just would not warm up. Hwy 5 south of Merrit begins to cross through the Cascades, and there's plenty of really beautiful places to take pictures but I just couldn't warm up enough to want to stop. So I just kept riding. I'll definitely have to get some pictures of this area next time I ride through.

About 40 miles south of Merrit, I take Hwy 1 east towards Abbotsford where I stop for breakfast. Even after a couple of hot chocolates and hot food, I still can't seem to warm up. But it's back on the bike, and I cross the border at Sumas. Then it's Hwy 9 south towards Bellingham, Wa and I-5. About the time I reach Bellingham, I'm finally warming up from the morning. From there, it's the I-5 super slab south until just north of Vancouver, where I branch to I-205 and then a few back streets to home in Camas. It was about another 440 miles today, so just about 990 total miles from Edmonton.

Waiting for me when I arrive is my new Sargent seat. I certainly could have used it on this ride, but the timing didn't work out to have it sent up beforehand. Anyways, the next day I wash the road grime from my bike, and put the new seat on...

Home in Camas, bike is clean again, and the Sargent seat installed.

I'll be back in Camas over Thanksgiving, and another chance to ride...