The Athabasca River travels 1231 km from the Columbia Icefield to the Peace-Athabasca Delta in Northeastern Alberta. It’s waters eventually flow to the Arctic Ocean via the Slave River, Great Slave Lake and the Mackenzie River.

I just stumbled upon this video of a family with two small children who paddled the entire length of the watershed, from Jasper to Tuktoyaktuk, in 100 days.

It’s hard to tell which section of the river is most beautiful – though I am still leaning towards the section within Jasper National Park!

Paddling the Athabasca River:


Slideshow: A Long Paddle North
from Dan Clark on Vimeo
.

 

 

My daily trip to the post office have been more exciting than normal in the past few weeks. I’ve received all sorts of Tour Divide gear in the past week and I’m slowly preparing my Surly Krampus for the upcoming sprint slog to New Mexico.

Preparing my Surly Krampus: an overview of the baddest bike in Jasper National Park.

While I still have a few more weeks to sort out the particulars, the bike is slowly starting to resemble a Tour Divide-ready bikepacking rig.  Here’s a look at what I’ve done so far.

Preparing my Surly Krampus

Cluttered Handlebars:

On yesterday’s training ride, I hit a section of very rocky singletrack for the first time this season. I was ripping along, letting the 29+ Knard tires monster truck over the obstacles I was barely trying to avoid. My mind did it’s lightening fast calculation and figured my handlebars were a touch wide and likely not going to clear the gap between two trees. Sadly, the neuro-messages didn’t relay the message to my brake fingers in time. My right hand smashed into a tree, twisting the bike abruptly and launching my sorry ass half over/half beside the handlebars and into the rocks.

These handlebars are wide, but it’s practically required for all the gear that gets bolted, Velcro-ed or hung in the rider’s cockpit.

Preparing my Surly Krampus: The cockpit includes aerobars, revelate design feed bags, a mec top tube bag, and new grips

  1. Ergon GP2 Grips – it’s been a long time since I rode a fully-rigid steel bike off road. After just a few training rides, I realized my hands were getting punished with the stock grips, so I swapped them out for a set of Ergon GP2 grips. I’ve ridden these on my FS race bike, too, and know they’re wicked comfortable for long rides. The two-finger bar ends help with touch climbs and protect the hands from incoming objects.
  2. Oval Aerobars – I discovered a set of aerobars in my shed, leftover from when I converted my sister’s former triathlon bike into a road specific ride. I decided to slap them on my Krampus to see how they felt. After one ride, I was completely sold. As I am planning 14+ hour days in the saddle, the aerobars provide a comfortable way to reposition, cut headwinds, and ease weight on the saddle bones. They should be considered essential gear for the TDR.
  3. Revelate Design Mountain Feedbag (2) – designed to carry a traditional waterbottle, my Mountain Feedbags will serve two distinct purposes. The bag on the left will house either junk food or fizzy drinks that I’ll want on hand to facilitate a quick energy boost. Think coca-cola, snickers, snoballs, and morning java. The bag on the right will be my camera carrier. I’m hoping that it’ll provide a relatively vibration-free ride and leave the camera easily accessible.
  4. MEC Mercury Bag – as it stands now, I have this bag in place to carry extra goodies; however, I am very tempted to switch it out for a top tub bag like the Sci’con Phone Frame Bag if I thought I could have the iPhone’s USB cable plugged in while riding.
  5. Porcelain Rocket Mission Control Handlebar Bag – I’m still sorting out the packing essentials to distribute weight evenly across the entire bike, but the Mission Control handlbar bag is built to fit a 10L drybag, so it’s a safe bet to hold my sleeping bag among other necessities. The front pocket will act as a traditional handlebar bag and hold my SPOT tracker, wallet, and other essentials.

Preparing my Surly Krampus: the Porcelain Rocket Handlebar bag

Saddle Sores no More

This bike is a beast and it seems Surly thought that meant it required a real brute of a saddle. I rode on the stock seat a few times but one of the first changes I made while preparing my Surly Krampus for this ride was swapping the saddle out for ol’faithful.

Preparing my Surly Krampus: Swapping to my trusted Brooks!

I rode this Brooks B17 Narrow Saddle clear across Patagonia, through Mendoza’s wine regions to the Bolivian Altiplano. It’s safe to say it’s molded to the shape of my backside and provides the most comfortable seat imaginable.

Underneath the saddle is a Porcelain Rocket Booster Rocket Seat Bag designed to both look cartoonishly large for a saddlebag and to hold 11L of camping essentials.

Preparing my Surly Krampus: Everyone loves a muddy reflection.

More changes to come soon, but this is starting to look like a true ultralight setup.

The Icefield Parkway Roadtrip is a 230-km journey that links Lake Louise and Jasper, through some of the most stunning mountain scenery in North America. To make the trip even more memorable, forgo a vehicle in favor of a bicycle. I captured this image while out on a short day ride on the northern end of the Icefield Parkway.

Five wilderness hostels line the route, along with Parks Canada campgrounds, providing more than enough opportunities to slow the journey down and spend days exploring the Canadian Rockies in both Banff and Jasper National Parks. While all the major landmarks, like Athabsaca Falls, the Columbia Icefield and Peyto Lake will stand out, traveling by bicycle means discovering countless landscapes that vehicles go racing past.

Icefield Parkway Roadtrip by Bike

Although local road cyclists complete the 230-km Icefield Parkway in a single day, I believe its a natural three day ride for cyclists looking to enjoy the journey.

Beauty Creek and Rampart Creek Hostels divide the trip perfectly into three stages. Beauty Creek is located 87 kilometers south of Jasper (or 143 km north of Lake Louise) and Rampart Creek sits 135 km south of Jasper (or 95 km north of Lake Louise). The middle day is only 56 kms; however, it does include some hefty climbing and a requisite stop at the Columbia Icefield.

Happy trails!

In 2013, two of my most popular Instagram photos were from Athabasca Falls in winter. This year looks to be no different, as my followers really responded to this image posted, which I posted yesterday.

Athabasca Falls in Winter

It’s so great to see the ice slowly melting around the falls. While I am guilty of saying that the Canadian Rockies look more beautiful when blanketed in snow, it’s been an exceptionally long winter and I am ready for some warmer temperatures!

It turns out that Athabasca Falls isn’t just beautiful in the summer, but its also possible to score a crazy (or is it stupid) adrenaline fix?

 

Skier: James Walter | Photographer: Jeff Bartlett | Location: Skiing Marmot Basin

I spent the past four days skiing Marmot Basin. It’s hardly unusual; I’ve spent over 300 days there since 2011. I might have a skiing habit, only (barely?) superseded by cycling.

Despite my passion for skiing, which has seen me chase storms on three continents; spend winters in Whistler, Termas de Chillan, and Barilcohe; work ski patrol at Marmot Basin; and delay all sorts of mature life decisions for “just one more winter”, I have rarely included winter sport in my photography and writing work.

This season, I put a touch more effort into combining skiing with my craft. Here are 10 links from the past winter: