Mountains, bears, deserts, and tired little legs.
15.05.2008 - 21.05.2008 -17 °C
Weeellll I'm in Summerland now, enjoying my first rest day since we started biking in Vancouver on the 15. There is nothing quite like biking for 6 days in a row, wow!! Can't really prepare for that sort of thing. Here's Mary Anne and I, right before we left, and Mary Anne dipping her tires into the Pacific!
Getting out of Vancouver was pretty interesting, we had a good map but it was hard not to get lost. We did manage to find some sweet bike paths through the city, some even winding their way through rivers and forest, and ate our first official lunch in the shade beside a beautiful little creek. A few times on the way through the park Mary Anne dropped her bike and couldn't pick it back up again... the first of many times I laughed til I cried. It seems that the combination of biking constantly and being with Mary Anne produces a lot of hilarity.
We went to Mission the first day and stayed at a quiet little campground, where the woman warned us offhandedly that the bears were coming down the mountain, but don't worry, they wouldn't bother us. We thought she was just kind of showing off, and we decided to camp near the outskirts of the campground where it was prettier. I joked when we were setting up our tent that the little path beside the tent was where the bear trundled up and down to check out the campsite... but then a bear DID trundle down, when we were eating our dinner. We just froze until it walked away and then looked at each other, not really knowing how to react - eventually we decided to just hang our food, clean everything up as much as possible, and sleep in our tent which was a mere 5 feet away from where the bear had been... but it was all good, we weren't bothered at all.
Here's where the bear was. Oh yeah.
The next day we left to go to Agassiz, where we stayed with some organic farmers who had 30 horses, a huge house, indoor arena and viewing room where we stayed, complete with our own bathroom and kitchen!! They made us a big dinner that we ate together with their parents, who also live with them, in a separate part of the house, and a few other relatives that were visiting. Later on the husband of the house, Claus, took us to the hot spring pools in Harrison. We were so happy to stay in such a beautiful place, and Miel and Claus were so young - it was really inspiring to see how they had set up such a successful farm in such a short time.
On the way to the horse farm
Miellie Meadows, the horse farm.
The next day we rode 35 km into Hope, where we were warned that we should probably start the climb into Manning Park in the morning, not after lunch, but we decided to go for it anyways for some reason.
You start climbing as SOON as you get out of Hope, and I mean CLIMBING. The grade was pretty steep, so we were only going 6 km/hr (I walk at 5), and it was 33 degrees in the shade. I surprised Mary Anne with a tiny portable stereo that a friend donated before I left, and it saved us up that mountain. At one point, we stopped at a mountain stream to dunk our heads and shirts in the water to cool off.
It's too bad you can't tell from these pictures how steep it was, but we went for four hours at that pace - many stops! ... including this one here, at the no stopping sign... we did technically stop BEFORE the avalanche zone... heh heh... ahhh.
Eventually we realized we weren't going to make it the last 20 km into the park, (42 m to about 1200 m elevation was good enough for that day), and we were originally planning to camp on the road, but then we saw a group of cars up ahead and went to go see what was going on and if we could get a ride (it was 7:30 by this point and getting cold). When we got there we realized that everyone was gathered to look at - you got it - two bears on the side of the road. We used the, "we're tired and we're biking and there are BEARS" line with great success and a really nice couple loaded our bikes into their pick up truck and drove us into the park, where the lady at the front desk gave us the conference room to sleep in, and insisted that we used their showers, pool, and hot tub. Yes, please!
This is me at the park being too tired to get up and get my water:
The next day we climbed the Sunday summit - to about 1200 m again (you go down into a valley in the park and then shoot back up again). It was a hard climb, but not as hard as the day before. We biked beside the Similkameen river, which was broiling and muddy with spring runoff. It was the highest most people had ever seen it, and we even saw two growing trees being RIPPED from the bank into the river as we watched!!
(here's my, NO MORE HILLS! face)
We came into Princeton on the biggest downhill I have ever had the pleasure to ride down. 5 km of just, DOWN. I was screaming my head off down that hill the whole way, I'm sure the cars heard my happy yodels!! When we got to the sign for Princeton we did the "we're still going down!" pose.
Next day we biked from Princeton into the "desert" of BC, into Keremeos, where I did a 10-day course when I was 16. Keremeos is full of scrubby mountains, rockslides, and a LOT of sprinklers.
We stayed at the Eagle Campground, which looked like it was about to be swallowed up by falling rocks above!!
There was a bit of a climb out of Keremeos, but the scenery was AMAZING. Cows and horses everywhere, mountains crowding the road, and neat little plants dotting the landscape.
We met with another beautiful hill on the way to Penticton with Kelly, from Otesha, who took us to his home in Summerland. We love these signs. I realized later I had gone 69 km/hr down this hill! Woops... sorry Mom :S
So we are very happy to be resting today - our legs are definitely feeling the last 6 days of biking - and our backs, bums, and hips too!