Into Alberta

Somehow this trip is already coming to a close. It’s difficult to keep up to date with blogs (and keeping in contact – sorry friends) when my life is so focused on traveling, finding food, and setting up camp. Things have really flown by, and I’m now in that awkward place where I don’t want to be done but I’m also anxious to start the next exciting thing that is clearly in sight.

We arrived in Canmore yesterday. In between then and my last blog post we passed through Yoho National Park, ate lunch in Field, ascended Kicking Horse, traversed Banff National Park, and visited Lake Louise. We didn’t have to pay any park fees (despite chatting openly with parks staff and an RCMP officer), and we camped “discretely” twice.

I had issues with my clips a few days ago, so I had to decide between riding the flat side of my pedals – limiting my muscular efficiency – and forcing my clips in – risking being unable to detach myself from my bike if I had to stop. Clips won out. I’m clearly a convert now. When I’m attached to my pedals I feel like my bike and I are one living, reacting creature. I think this is kind of what having a horse would feel like.

I don’t even know what to do without my bike anymore. I’m sure I haven’t spent more than four consecutive waking hours off of it at any time in weeks. Getting back on it is like floating on a tranquil lake. It’s the moment when you step your ice skates from the rubber walkway onto freshly Zamboni’d ice. It’s dropping your backpack and peeling off your socks for an afternoon in a park.

I don’t know how to recap everything that’s happened over the last four days in a way that could effectively convey what we’ve experienced, and I can tell I’m avoiding it, so I’ll just speak to a couple portions of what has happened.

Climbing Kicking Horse
This was our last mountain pass, and it was actually a decent challenge. I don’t really know what a challenge is any more, though. I can either do something or I can’t. The in between is only a matter of time. Regardless, Coady, Sarah, and I decided to make this one harder for ourselves. We’d picked up suit jackets and neckties to wear as we summitted and crossed into Alberta.

So. Hot.

Coady and I geared when we left Field. As we approached the threatening mass of the hill, we stopped to slash vents in our jackets. We also put bouquets of dandelions in our breast pockets.

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We looked like businessmen who had been mauled by bears while rushing to a meeting in Calgary

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The group detoured off the highway to take the old Great Divide Trail that Coady and Doug had mushed dogs on all winter

Rain
Well, we’d made it this far without rain being a real factor, but it had to happen sometime. The night that we spent near Lake Louise was a soaker. We all awoke with soggy shoes and soaking tents. From there it threatened rain all the way to Banff. Some people dodged the showers, but Dom and I got poured on for a good hour and a half, spoiling the alternate clothing set I’d changed into that morning. Banff to Canmore was dry, though, so my positivity was restored.

Rebound Cycle
These guys are letting us all camp in the studio above their shop. Not only that, but when we arrived last night they kept plying us with free beer off the tap in the back room. We sat at the store counter, having our glasses continually replenished while the other staff helped customers. They wouldn’t let us leave until we’d finished off four pitchers between five of us. These guys are awesome.

Crossing into Alberta
We just bicycled across an entire province. Not only that, but we had to ride over mountains for most of the way. Much of the trip hasn’t sunk in yet, but I know this is something I should be proud of.

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The mountains are giving way to Prairie grass again

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Even parking lots are beautiful in Canmore

Tomorrow we go to Calgary. I won’t return to my house that night because I’m not ready to separate from the group yet, so I’ll camp in somebody’s friend’s back yard. Saturday night is the pot luck/house show that my band, Locomotive Ghost, is hosting for Ocean2Ocean and friends. I’ll try to sort my head out before then.

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P.S. This cafe is playing folk/bluegrass covers of old Modest Mouse songs. Tubular.


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