Golden, BC to Calgary, Alberta!
26.05.2008 - 01.06.2008
We're taking a breather after 6 consecutive biking days starting from Revelstoke, BC - passing through and stopping in Roger's Pass, Golden, Yoho National Park, Banff, Canmore, and now Calgary!
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The ride to Roger's pass was made much more pleasant by a light rain (preferable when climbing a mountain in comparison to hot sun on your back). We kept expecting the climb to get worse, and although it did take some pushing to make it to the summit, Mary Anne and I both agree that climbing the Rockies just don't compare to the coastal mountains of BC after Hope on the number 3 highway. I just can't describe how beautiful the mountains here are - blue blue sky, grey black mountains, pure white snow, dark green trees - yikes. Hard to keep focused on keeping your tires pointed forward when these gorgeous peaks are begging to be stared at. On the way up the mountain we dodged and saw many things on the road, in this order: a group of black, slimy slugs; a group of earthworms; about 10 snails; tire bits from transport trucks, and pee bottles from truckers (gross! these things are everywhere. Can't they just stop driving??!!)
We also learned some valuable lessons on the way up to Roger's Pass.
1) seeing a wolverine disguised as a bear cub is an excellent motivator to increase speed.
2) Laughing and biking up hills are two completely mutually exclusive activities. Unfortunately, the sensation of a wiggly bike after you start laughing just gets funnier. I've had several close calls this week laughing so hard I can't breathe on my way up a steep climb, JUST getting my feet out of the clips before I teeter over sideways onto the shoulder.
3)We are very poor judges of sane amounts of couscous it takes for 2 meals. BUY LESS COUSCOUS.
4)It is often possible to pee on the side of the road, sans bushes, without anyone actually stopping, or looking.
5)There is an un-ending variety of poo present in Glacier National Park.
Number 5 leads into where we spent the night - 13 km past Roger's Pass (and the snow!). Sarah had recommended staying at the trailhead of Beaver Valley hiking trail. We saw at least 6 varietes of poo at or near our intended campsite, including fresh bear scat, moose poo, and a very large canine variety. We were a bit nervous (more so when we were cooking dinner away from where we had set up the tent, and the last hikers of the day casually mentioned to us that they had seen a "beautiful wolf checking out your tent!" ) but we decided to stick it out and sleep close to the bearspray. We emerged the next morning unharmed (not counting a few bites from the biggest, peskiest mosquitoes I have EVER SEEN in my life) and headed to Golden.
Now, some people will tell you that the road from Roger's pass to Golden is all downhill. This is not true bikers! We fought our way up some wicked hills, but the views that day were unBELIEVABLE. I was so glad I was on a bike and able to pull over and savour some of the more breathtaking mountains and valleys from the highway. When the road finally started to slope downhill, we felt like we were in a movie - it was unreal.
Our stay in Golden was made very pleasant when we hapenned upon a heated pool near our campsite - swimming feels absolutely delicious after a long sweaty biking day!
On our way out of Golden there was this MASSIVE climb to get out of the Valley, which led to this little narrow road snaking through and up and down the mountainsides. Mary Anne and I listened to music to get us up the big bad hills, and got a lot of good laughs out of this trip: pretending to be the road workers ("Gee Jim, looks like we need a brige over this gorge here." "Well that's right Sam, but there's nothing to attach it to on the other side!" "No worries, we'll just BLAST a hole in this giant mountain!"). We climbed a hill called "10 mile hill" and were rewarded with amazing views of the rockies on either side.
I'm so lucky to be biking with Mary Anne, who laughs at all my jokes and tells me jokes that make my stomach ache by the end of the day.
We stayed in Yoho National Park that night, where we spied on ground squirrel and crow politics, and gazed up at towering, rocky mountains with the yellow evening sun missing the campground, but pouring its last rays all over those high peaks. We met two guys, Chris and Luke, visiting Canada from Switzerland. We had a beer with them and a great chat - so good to talk to other people our age!
The next day we headed into Alberta, and climbed Kicking Horse Pass (otherwise known as the continental divide, 1650 m elevation). We got to the sign for Alberta and realized we had done the pass - there are no signs! Too bad. The worst of our hills over with, we happily coasted towards Lake Louise and Banff. Mary Anne stopped to take a self shot of her and the mountains, and I suddenly noticed a mama bear and cub (black bears) on the side of the road munching on some grass. We finally got to take pictures of bears to prove we have seen them (they make the count up to 7 bears so far on the tour!!)
In Banff we stayed in a hostel (Luxury!) and explored the town a bit before heading to Canmore. We actually saw elk grazing on lawns on the town outskirts! Crazy. I ate a HUGE breakfast in Banff consisting of 2 slices of toast, 2 slices of thick French toast, 2 slices of bacon, 2 sausages, 3 scrambled eggs, and a pile of hash browns. Our waiter said he was "surprised and impressed" that I finished.... that's how we do it on a bike tour!!
Our bike to Canmore was short, downhill, and with a tailwind. We ended up cleaning our bikes for 3 HOURS that night (there is no end to cleaning a bike, only a sigh and a "that's it! I can't TAKE it anymore!!") and enjoyed the comforts of my cousins the Newton's home (unfortunately they were all gone, but were very generous with offering us their home for the night!). The next day we tailwinded it to Cochrane, a town on the outskirts of Calgary. My friend Dave from my frisbee team at Acadia came to pick us up to drive us through the city limits and into the city so we could avoid getting nailed by careless drivers on the busy city streets. Mary Anne and I have split up for the first time in two weeks (gasp!) and she is staying with two friends from high school and university while I am getting Dave to show me the sights of Calgary. I finally got to throw a frisbee around again in the park, we went for a nice walk along the Bow River that we've been following from Banff, and I've eaten plenty of good Calgary food!! It's a great rest before we hit up Drumheller, dinosaurs, and flat FLAT prairie coming up. I can't wait!
Here is the sad ending of this entry:
I have been composing a song for my father (that's you dad!) ever since I lost something in Penticton, and here goes:
Oh I lost my knife sheath in Penticton
While eating our lunch in the rain
I realized my loss in Summerland
Oh the grief, the woe and the pain!
Oh that knife sheath was a thing of beauty
My father made it for me
Eagle, crescent moons, and leather
It fit my knife perfectly
So I made a new knife sheath in Summerland
Cardboard and duct tape, it's sad
Oh I lost my knife sheath in Penticton
Oh make me a new one, oh dad!!!
So dad, that is the sad story of how we ate our lunch under an awning of a men's tailor store in Penticton - usually my knife just goes right back into the sheath, but this time it was reallllly peanut buttery and jammy and my knife sheath got left on the ledge and the knife into my tupperware - the sheath was most likely picked up by someone homeless that sleeps there, says the manager of the store who I called in a panic the next morning. At least I still have my knife!!! Sigh.