It’s been a long time since I updated my blog. I did a side trip to Quebec, to see my family and friends… And no, I did not travel to Quebec on my bike! I flew from Calgary but I am now back on the road.
I had an absolutely wonderful and extremely busy time in Quebec. It would take too long to talk about all the amazing people I saw over the last few weeks, but it made it hard to leave.
Interestingly, yesterday I was reading a book written by Barry Lopez and came across this quote that made me realize that I am not the only one to be torn between spending time with people I love and being on the road exploring (he talks about a painting that he saw in a museum):
It’s enough for me to sense, when I look at this image, that I am being brought immediately into the predicament of departure – the desire so strong to head out, yet at the same time feeling a breach opening, the breaking of a bond that can be repaired only by returning.
What experience might be discovered on the far side of that breach to somehow justify the leaving?
In a way I agree with him, that returning can “repair the breach”, but I also know that you can’t buy time back, we are all getting older, my nieces are growing so fast, and everybody is so busy with “life”… Thankfully these days, we can stay connected with internet. It helps, but does not replace being with people we love.
But the road is still calling, and somehow I left my family again, and flew back to Calgary a few days ago. Laf was waiting for me. Apparently bikes also have separation anxiety because he had a flat tire again. Maybe it was his way of saying that I shouldn’t leave him behind. I was suspicious though, as it was the second flat on the front tire, and sure enough, a piece of wire was sticking out of the tire structure, causing the two punctures that I had so far.
But it was not over, the next day, less than an hour after I left Canmore, the rear tire went flat. That time, it was a small sharp rock that punctured it. So much for bragging about my tires… I guess I will need to replace them soon. A sign that they have been well used!
Luckily it wasn’t raining, and I managed to fix the tube and get back on the road, but was a little nervous about the condition of my tires as I was planning to go over Elk Pass, which is part of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail (GDMBT). So far I only traveled on roads where I could flag someone to get help, but this time I was going to be on my own, and further away from help.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed my first day back on the road. It was foggy in the morning, so I missed a lot of the amazing scenery, but it eventually cleared up and I arrived at the Kananaskis Hostel around lunchtime.
It was too early to check-in, but that ended up being a blessing, as while I was waiting outside, I met two super nice Indian couples that happened to be from Gujarat, where I spent 3+ months, almost two years ago. They kindly gave me delicious Indian food, a treat that I enjoyed a lot! Talking to them made me miss India. To be allowed in the hostel sooner, I helped the manager clean the hostel! Vacuuming the floor seemed exotic!
The next day, I rode south, first on the highway, and then on a nice bike path. The scenery was amazing. Just before I left the road to start climbing Elk Pass, I stopped at the Bolton Creek Trading Post to get a coffee and ate a chocolate bar to give me extra power! I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I heard everything from “it’s impossible” to “it’s steep, but fun”.
Once again, I worried more than I needed to, and the climb went well. It wasn’t easy, for sure, and I had to push Laf up two sections that were too steep to ride, but eventually made it to the powerline, where it was rideable, and after 5 or 6 km of climbing I was at the top.
I heard myself say something like “Yahoo!”, took some pictures, and then went down the other side, on a muddy trail. A realized how lucky I was that it wasn’t raining anymore, and eventually made it to the Elk Lakes cabin, where I spent the afternoon in my hammock, and later hiked to the Lower Elk Lake.
This morning confirmed that it is time to head south. It was -2°C and I had to wear layers I hadn’t been using in a long time. From Elk Lakes, it was another day to reach Elkford, where I am now, on a very bumpy gravel road that brought back memories of the Dalton Hwy. I rode on all types of road surfaces, none of them really good, and what was supposed to be “all downhill” had a surprisingly good amount of climbs. But the sun was shining and I was happy that I took this road, to get a taste of the GDMBT (I can see the appeal…). Elkford has a lovely campground that charges $10 for tents, including a shower…
One funny thing about Elkford though is that the Visitor Centre is hard to find. The sign announcing it is at the wrong place, and by the time I found it (to access the internet), it was closed! Maybe a good strategy to keep tourists away 😉