Monday, 8 July 2013


Actually, to start off with, the Kicking Horse Pass across the Rockies from BC to Alberta province was not all that I had feared, and I floated across on a good highway, surrounded by spectacular mountains, to the touristy Lake Louise "village" in the famed Banff National Park. It was the Monday of the "Canada Day" long weekend, and there was plenty of traffic in the area.
I found a good secluded riverside campsite, and as I was bathing in the rushing creek I noticed a huge paw-print (a bear?) in the gravel embankment, and in the morning there was a smaller fresh print (pic) a few metres from my tent!
All turned out fine, and on the following couple of nights only Elk, Deer, Marmots, Gophers, and giant mosquito's came to visit me. Talking about mozzies, around this Prairy region of Canada these creatures are fearless! (and probably more ferocious than people imagine a bear to be).
In the past I've been accused of "Lending out my Ears" - and here again, people have assured me that once I get East of the Rockies I'll hit Prairy which is so flat that if I stood on a tuna can and looked East I'd see the back of my own head. The West wind would be pushing me so fast that I'd be using my brakes out of fear for the speed, and at this time of year the weather would be nice and dry. The countryside would also be as flat as a snooker table (yes, now and then, but what about the rolling hills in-between?).
It seems that somebody forgot to consider the "thunderstorm factor", a feature of the prairy in summer. The wind is not always West, and the weather may seem OK, but that is no assurance that it will stay that way. The other evening a spectacular storm picked up, blasting cross-winds over the highway in my direction. The truck slipstream "tail" was then hanging my way as those trucks passed in my direction, dragging me off the road - this happens from time to time, and I usually adapt to the circumstances. However, on one occasion as I left the pavement, my front wheel dug into the gravel slope, and now - a few days later - I've still not managed to rid myself of the knee/elbow/back-bruises sustained. That evening I stumbled into the yard of Malcolm Smith's smallholding looking for water and some shelter behind a barn for camping. "Mac" was hosting some old friends, and I was immediately invited to join (and they insisted that I have a nice hot shower - I'm not sure if the shower was for my benefit or theirs!).
Like California in the USA, Alberta has underground oil reserves which are being tapped all over the prairy. They seem to be keeping the whole industry relatively neat and tidy here, with cattle grazing, and crop fields surrounding the occasional long-necked nodding heads of the oil dericks.
Oh yes, here's a bit of a story! I beat my own distance record a few days ago - big deal! For most of the day the wind was up my rear, with just the occasional otherwise gusts to remind me against complacency. At a "nowhereland" village I met a girl in a shop who's mother was South African, and she paid for the cooldrink I intended to buy. By the end of that day, as dark storm clouds cut out the setting sun and I searched for a campsite, I had cycled 207 km. I thought all was fine, got water at a house and camped in a field among discarded agricultural irrigation equipment. As I wound down and ate something, I watched the heavy weather and lightning in the distance, judging that it would side-step my location.
I was rudely awakened in the night, water pouring into the tent (driven by large hailstones), and there was not much I could do other than to pack the sleeping bag away in a dry place, dress in my rain gear, ignore the waterfall inside the tent, and try to get some sleep. At least in the morning the sky cleared, and the scrap irrigation pipes could serve as hanging space for my things to dry out a bit.
Things improved even further when I was able to stay at the house of Bonnie and Doug in the town of Medicine Hat, where I am now. They have been Warmshowers hosts for years, have done various cycle tours, and have just returned from a 10-week cycle tour of Spain. When I leave here I will be heading further East along the Canadian Prairy towards my next Warmshowers hosts in Moose Jaw. (It feels as though I may be playing a game like Monopoly, with pieces named "Medicine Hat" and "Moose Jaw".). Daily distances cycled since my last report from Tacoma in the USA have been:- Lynden (USA) 75 km; Bridal Falls 97 km (Canada); Hope 42 km; Meritt 126 km; Hedley 119 km; Penticton 96 km; Kelowna 57 km; Armstrong 91 km; Malakwa 69 km; Revelstoke 78 km; Quartz Creek 101 km; Beaver Foot 69 km; Lake Louise (Alberta Province) 68 km; Canmore 92 km; Calgary 125 km; Gleishen 88 km; Redcliff 207 km; and Medicine Hat 19 km. The total distance which I have cycled in the USA between the Mexican- an Canada borders is 5 174 km (3 234 miles), and the total distance cycled so far since entering Canada is 1 519 km (949 miles). The total distance which I've cycled to date on this journey is 111 319 km (69 574 miles).

1 comment:

Christin said...

This is awesome!