I woke up in my Canmore cabin at 4:00 am and stared at the ceiling for half an hour before deciding that since I wasn’t going to get any more sleep, I might as well hit the road. I loaded up the bike and was on the road at 5:30 as the sun was coming over the mountains.
It was an early start, but here’s the thing, before I can turn around and start heading south, I have to go north; a very, very long way north. I figured I might as well get started.
Inuvik, where the road runs out near the shore of the Arctic Ocean on the Mackenzie River Delta, is the spot where I plan to turn around and head back south (not many other options, really). It sits at 68° North latitude and is 2200 road miles away. Incredibly, it is 400 miles farther from Canmore to Inuvik than from Canmore to Tijuana, Mexico. It’s a long haul.
The good news is that the road to Inuvik passes through some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery on the planet.
I rode through Banff National Park as the sun crested the mountains in the east and gradually flooded the Bow Valley with sunlight. At that hour of the morning, I had the road to myself. This was to be short-lived, however, as the summer tourist traffic began to appear in droves and I was soon sharing the road with an armada of cars, RVs, buses and fellow motorcyclists. This usually isn’t a problem until somebody does something stupid.
As I rounded a blind curve, I found myself facing the rear end of a Nimitz Class-sized RV, stopped in the middle of the highway, its occupants aiming cameras at a family of bighorn sheep. I was able to pass them on the shoulder (where they should have been) and continued on. I reminded myself that most drivers are probably paying attention to the scenery and not the road and decided to ride with that fact in mind.
Soon I was out of the mountain parks and into rolling forested foothills, then following the plains along the eastern edge of the Rockies toward British Columbia. I passed timber mills and oil fields, farms, factories and mines. I reached Dawson Creek, British Columbia at the end of an 520-mile day, and although I’m exhausted, the ride didn’t feel that far at all; which is a good sign, I guess.