Wednesday, July 20, 2016

TD 2016 Never Give Up - Canada

Into Canada, the last part of the trip. Mexico is now nearly 2500 miles in the past and I know I only have two or three nights left. Galton Pass is the first thing up and the sun was out most of the day. It went pretty well, always longer than you think it's going to be and the descent on the other side is never as long as you'd like for it to be. I caught a lot of rain on the descent, actually got pretty muddy in some places and then it cleared up by the time I got to the "wall" between Tembec Road and Wigwam Road. Someone had made a little coffer dam that redirected most of the water so the "slip and slide" wasn't nearly as bad this year as last, but it's still a sketchy couple hundred feet of steep downhill where one misstep could screw up you or your bike or both.
Galton Pass

When I got to the Wigwam Campground area I ran into two big groups of cyclists touring southbound. A group of about 12 and another group of about 15 I think. They all seemed to be having a pretty good time.  I went on up Cabin Pass with the sky getting darker and near the top it started raining pretty good. Most of the rain had fallen earlier and the east side of the pass was a mess with big deep puddles all over. Long and short of it was that I was delayed in getting to Butts Cabin by maybe an hour and a half and I got there around 10 pm. I lit a little candle on the table in the cabin and ate my breakfast burrito that I had carried all day and the rain started coming down. Laid there in my sleeping bag, probably the only person for 15 or more miles in any direction and slept really really well, so hard that I didn't wake up until 9 am the next morning.

Cabin Pass
We're Gonna Get Wet

Sasquatch Junction
Just below Flathead Pass

It was still wet and pretty sloppy out, the road being hard to make headway on, but off for Flathead Pass and a hotel room that I had earlier reserved in Sparwood, BC. I ran into another group of touring cyclists, one or two of whom were going to AW and the others doing just part of it.  It was good getting to pavement and better getting to Sparwood. Again was probably early enough in the day to have continued on to Elkford, but I was pretty beat up from the night before, so any hopes of knocking a 5th day off my time was pretty much out the window.

Left Elkford the next morning and started to Tomeroy the little cabin just before Elk Pass. That was just about right, as I had enough mud and slop on the road that I was more than happy to make that cabin, and again got there just as the sky opened up and we got a hard rain. In the middle of the night I got up to pee, stepped outside and heard something different ... it was a little bit of snow, not much, but the rain had turned into light wet snow, that didn't stick.
North of Elkford
Rainy Day

Right of Way Issue
The next morning was the last morning of the trip, I ate some jerky, some chocolate and began for Elk Pass, on the border between BC and Alberta. As I came around one turn, I saw my first grizzly bear on the side of the road. I took a picture from a distance, put the phone away, got my hand on my bear spray, and blew my whistle.  He stood up, looked in my direction and went back down into the grass nosing around. I started around him on the left side of the road away from him. He moved in a semi-circle and started to come back to the road towards me. I stopped walking, repositioned the bike more between he and I and he stopped.  I waited and he seemed to be stable, then I took a few steps. He stepped onto the road. I stopped and waited on him.  He stopped. I started walking away keeping a wary eye on him and he remained. A few yards later it seemed ok to get on the bike and I had enough distance that I felt I could have my back to him, and I rode away and that was that.  Found out he was male when I overheard some rangers in Banff talking about how they tag the left ear for males and right ear for females. This bear was tagged and probably came from the Park about 3 miles up the road.

Tomeroy Cabin
Grizz is on the right of the road just before the trees

I crossed into Alberta, and the rest of the day was pretty uneventful. Just wet sloppy roads, big puddles of water, slow shifting on the bike and the cassette skipping a little bit now and then in certain gears. I did find out that if I pedaled in complete circles ( pulling up rather than just pushing down ) the skipping was a lot less.

Alberta on the other side of the puddle
Spray River

Path over the swamp around Goat Lake
Done !  At the Spray West Trailhead 

It was good to see some of the familiar stuff getting towards Banff and it continued raining pretty much all day. I spent the whole day in rain gear, wet feet and all and got to Banff around 7 pm about 4 days better than last year.

1 comment:

  1. Great effort Mike! Thanks for the write up. Makes me want to get out there again.