Great Divide and BC Trail
In Calgary we are once again allowed to stay overnight at a Warmshower host. At Bea’s and Will’s place we meet the two other cyclers from France and we have an entertaining evening and morning all together. From there we cycle along the river to the north and enjoy the beautiful view of Calgary. In the northern part of the city we are welcomed by our next Warmshower Don. On Don’s big TV screen we follow together one of the Tour de France stages😀 After another rest day and after we brought our bikes back into shape with Don’s help, we say goodbye and cycle up to the partly very beautiful mountain bike trail towards Canmore. As soon as we are on the highway, we try our luck again with hitchhiking. Only after a short time Karen stops. To our astonishment and great surprise she makes an extra trip to Canmore just for us. Incredible and what a generous gift! 😀👍
Just above the large cross-country skiing centre, we observe the diligent biathletes in their summer training during dinner. A very rooted path leads the next day from Canmore to Banff. This section is extremely tough, but beautiful and rewarding. By the way, here in North America, practically everyone is armed with a bear spray. Several times we are advised to carry one with us. On this bumpy trail a biker must have lost his never used bear spray, which we see as a sign to carry also one from now on. We hope we never need it.
We haven’t seen as many tourists as in Banff for a long time. After lunch break we set off for Elkford. A few kilometres after Banff we are alone again. We camp at a nice place by the river and the next morning we decide to stay another day, because its so beautiful and we need a rest. The next morning we continue along a beautiful path along the river on the Great Divide. At Spray Lake we cycle on the High Rocky Trail. It is a great trail especially created for mountain biking with some nice steep wall curves, but also extremely steep climbs. After three and a half hours of biking, the GPS shows just 36 kilometres! 😳 Exhausted and tired, we stop continuing on this trail and turn onto the normal road at Spray Lake. We are just too heavy loaded for this kind of trail and the constant up and down is no fun. We find a nice spot at Spray Lake and we manage to pitch the tent just in time before the thunderstorm. The next morning we cycle on the washboard road and are fogged over and over again by the roaring Pickups😢 (Probably tourists, because we have experienced the Canadians as very considerate so far). The landscape is extremely beautiful, but in the thick street fog – anything but enjoyment! We stop at a campsite and to our surprise we also find some coffee 😀👍.
Here we also meet Gianni from Switzerland. He’s on his way to New Mexico on the Great Divide. We drive together over the very steep Elk Pass and enjoy a nice descent until we find a recreation place with a nice hut. The next morning we drive to Elkford and in the late afternoon we cycle to Lost Lake, where we spend the night. A nice flowing downhill, which leads into a gravel road, brings us to Sparwood, where we are amazed about the huge big mine vehicle, apparently the largest truck in the world. Since we want to speed up a bit, we decide for once to ride on the highway. Road cycling sometimes is fun too 😂. So we are fast in Fernie, where we are picked up by Jon on his bike and over a single trail built by himself we reach his house. We met Jon in Whitefish (Montana, 🇺🇸) in a bistro where he offered us a place to sleep when we pass through Fernie. Jon lives with his wife Virginia and their two children in a beautiful selfmade house with garden. Jon is an avid mountain biker and skier. He explains us that alpine skiing is not so big here, as the kids are hard to get excited about slalom training in such good powder snow conditions, which also is reflected in the World Cup success. Apparently there are too many powder days here😂 What a winter this must be!❄ It is also exciting that he is teaching his son very successfully by himself in a homeschool program, which we get to hear again and again here in Canada and the USA. Either they have no confidence in public schools or they see more further potential in homeschooling.
The next morning we admire the opposite ski mountain on the fun and flowy Elk Valley Trail. The trail is really one of the most beautiful we have driven here. We are still three with Gianni on the road and have exciting discussions and steady bike comparisons. He cycles a lot lighter with the bikepacking concept. Let’s see if we can adjust our setup again…😀 We have the mountains behind us now and it gets pretty hot in the afternoon. So we long for a cooling swim at the beautiful Baynes Lake, in one of the many national parks. Since we stayed a little longer in the morning in Fernie, we decide to shorten the way on the highway, where we fight with strong headwind. But the jump into the lake and the cosy evening on the lake shore is very rewarding. For the night we drive out of the national park. Funnily enough, we meet three other touring cyclists who had the same idea to camp outside the park and out of four tents three are MSR Hubba Hubba tents😂 (the same as we have).
In the morning we say goodbye to Gianni, because our paths separate. Up to the next village Wardner we master some attitude in the forest on a gravel road. In Wardner we ask a family for water. They recommend swimming at the next lake. When we want to dive into the water, we discover a brown animal on the other side of the lake. Is this our first bear? 🐻 But when we zoom in the animal with our camera, we are disappointed, it is only a brown bull… After lunch we continue our fight against the wind to Cranbrook. The last part is on a beautiful cycling path, which was once a railway line. In Cranbrook we sit once more in a Tim Horton and enjoy a coffee. Then we realize that our Warmshower hosts Angela and Doug do not live in the city, but another 45 minutes out of town. That is why we are looking for a camping site in the city, which is not always so easy. We found a nice place in the Disc Park. At 8:30 someone wakes us up and reminds us that this is not a campsite!😂 Of course we knew that too… After a short drive, our Warmshower hosts Angela and Doug welcome us in their beautiful, new and lovingly self – made home. We’re having an entertaining evening. After breakfast we cycle along the beautiful cycling path, former railway line, to Kimberley. The little place is a sensational place to celebrate Andi’s birthday and in the evening there is even a concert. Whether they knew that Andi was coming?😂 The people are dancing in front of the stage, that the dust just whirls up! Angela dances at the front and later drives us up to the cross-country centre by car. There she works in winter and at the Pisten Bully Garage she shows us a great, undisturbed place. We like this private campsite so much that we stay another two nights. Because we need a break. In the cool coffee, we research, plan and discuss once more our onward journey. And yes, we have to admit a car and two mountain bikes are also under discussion… There is simply in almost every village such a brilliant mountain bike trail network that we often wish for a real mountain bike. But when we are on the road again, we like touring again and are very happy that we once agreed that we never make important decisions when we are hungry, tired or thirsty. And we just can’t imagine driving for days in a car.
It will be a long day with the day’s destination at the lake on the Gray Creek Pass. Thanks to this pass of 2072m we made the great decision to drive the Cross Washington Trail first, because in June there may still be snow here. A bumpy street with short sandy sections leads us to the pass. At the top we refresh ourselves with the lake water and enjoy an entertaining evening with the hiker Tom from Edmonton and another touring cyclist Heidi from Kamloop, both of whom have German background. We get a lot of tips for our further route choice and once again we have a hard time to decide😀. On the bumpy downhill Andi catches a flat tire. Our first one with the new Mondial from Schwalbe. We are positively surprised how good these tires are and are convinced that the Marathon plus is not absolutely necessary. With the Marathon Plus we often had little sneaks. And to be honest, a real puncher is easier and faster to repair😂 It’s not far to Nelson, the next bigger town. The free ferry takes us across the lake. On the other side of the lake an exciting vehicle awaits the ferry: A large caravan with a helicopter, mountain bikes and canoes in tow. 😳 Wow, that is a holiday equipment!🤔👀 If traveling with a lot of material then like this😜 Unfortunately our Warmshower hosts Mal and Mats in Nelson are not at home, but they leave us their apartment for the weekend including two cats. Wow😀👍! Just what we need to heal our travel fatigue and recharge our batteries. The smog from the nearby forest fires in BC, Washington and California are causing us more and more trouble. On the one hand it covers the beautiful view of the mountains, because everything is hazy and in the evening we have the feeling as if we had smoked through a long night.💨 🤢. We hope that the situation improves again.
Max elevation: 2055 m
Min elevation: 497 m
Total climbing: 7783 m
Total descent: -8255 m