Day 8 ~ Thunder in the Valley ~ Double Trouble

Picture 6

Cranbrook to Blairmore ~ 167 km, 9 hours 20 minutes

It was a beautiful ride into Wild Rose Country, Alberta. Long sweeping roads overlooked small lakes intermingled in green valleys. We were just over half way back to Calgary. It was a tiring ride into Crowsnest Pass and we were hoping to have a “hotel night”. Not only were all the hotels booked stating “no vacancy”, but the town was overrun by motor-homes, tents, trailers and visitors. The streets were filled with people, moving in masses. It was “Thunder in the Valley” weekend . . . . . . . what were we in for?

It was an evening of spectacular fireworks that lasted almost an hour, set off in the valley surrounded by sky reaching mountains. It was delayed for a short bit due to a fierce thunder/lightning storm with a heavy downpour that lasted 15 minutes.

We found a spot away from the crowds to set up camp in the long grass to hide our biking gear. The only trouble was it was right beside a railway track. We had gone in to town just minutes before it began to rain to grab a bite to eat. Tons of people ran into the restaurant to seek shelter from the torrential downpour. The streets quickly filled up with streams of water. We waited until the storm was over, dreading what we would find back at camp. Would all our gear be soaking wet and there would be no place to stay tonight? When we returned to our tent it was floating in about 3″ of water, the tent, ensolite pads and sleeping bags. Without realizing, we had set up our tent in a very low spot. We couldn’t believe our luck, all our gear inside the tent was perfectly dry, we just picked up our tent and moved it to higher ground.

Thunder in the Valley ~ Crowsnest Pass 2011


Day 7 ~ Creston to Cranbrook ~ Whoa! Mosquitos abound!!

Calgary 2011 + Bike Trip 833Creston to CranbrookStill moving toward the finish! A roadside stop included a short catnap and much needed java. We camped just outside of Cranbrook after crossing the McFee Bridge over the St. Mary’s River. It was a site high atop the river’s bank, overlooking some feeding, moaning cattle and a wide expanse of grassland, with the mountains all around. Thankfully, we were tucked inside before the mosquitoes came out to feed!


Day 4 Princeton to ~ “OOooH” Osoyoos

Princeton to Osoyoos 2 We woke up to rain, so geared up accordingly. The first part of the highway followed along the Silkameen River and was pleasantly flat. What a nice change! We rolled through the old gold mining town of Hedley and could still see abandoned mine shaft entrances high above the roadside in the mountains.

Eventually, Crowsnest Pass ran between two mountains ~ the Snowy Mountain and Mount Kobau. Both protected areas. As the road began to rise toward the sky, we entered the grasslands. We could feel the change in the air, it was an extremely dry and hot as we were approaching Osoyoos, Canada’s desert.

We climbed and climbed before cresting the top of the mountain and found a couple of triathletes unloading their tri-bikes from a van. They were going to practice their downhill descents for their upcoming Ironman in Penticton. Ryan and Doug raced these two athletes down the mountain, the girls on their tri-bikes ~ the boys pulling their trailers. What a sight!

After resting in the center of town by the desert flower welcome sign, we grabbed a bite to eat and began our 18 km. climb out of the valley. The road wound back and forth, back and forth, zig zagging all the way to the top reaching a final elevation of 685 m. It was a spectacular close to the top when we looked back to see where we had come from on the other side of the valley where the sun was shining, behind Mount Kobau . . . . down, down, down, then up, up, up to where we were. We made it up that daunting climb!


Day 2 ~ Mission to Manning Provincial Park, Skagit Valley ~ amazing trees

Mission to Manning

We officially left the flatter, rolling roads and started climbing the mountains. It was a slow steady slog as we conquered the elevation changes. We put in about 50 km before stopping for lunch in the quaint little town of Agassiz. There were beautiful gardens lining the main road that welcomed us, along with an old train station. I was amazed, the food portions were quite large and we had consumed each last morsel. Doug and Ryan had a few beers, which I thought would help me keep up to their pace.

The next 50 km on the #7 ran along the Fraser River and a railway line which brought us to Hope, which lies between the Coastal and the Cascade Mountain Ranges. The roaring Fraser River and the smaller Coquihalla River meet here. Hope is named the Chainsaw Carving Capital. There were over 20 interesting, unique wooden sculptures of all sizes lining the park on the main road. Many movies have been filmed in the deep gorge nearby, one of them was Rambo-First Blood.

Leaving Hope, we continued on Highway 3 ~ Crowsnest Highway. Before arriving at our camp site for the night, we stopped to read about and view the infamous Hope Slide, the largest landslide recorded in Canada which happened in 1965. It is hard to imagine rock, mud, and debris traveling 2 kilometers down the mountainside burying the road and surrounding area 85 metres deep and 3 kilometres wide. “The mass of debris completely displaced the water and mud in Outram Lake below with incredible force, throwing it against the opposite side of the valley, wiping all vegetation and trees down to the bare rock, then splashed back up the original (now bare) slope before settling.” (Wikipedia)

We were so happy to end our day in E.C. Manning Provincial Park. We found a quiet camp area right beside the Skagit River. This was truly a magical place, complete with babbling brook and enormous, majestic trees.

* if you hover your cursor over the pictures you will see their captions.