CATAWOPINO

Welcome to bear country !

Since our last post, we saw Marlene and Lorna again in Wawa, at a BBQ organised by Bev, Richie’s sister. The following day, we all went to the Pow-wow of the Michipicoten first nation (an annual ceremony). That evening, we had the pleasure of seeing Richie play live, all dressed up like Elvis. We had lots of fun ! At 3:30 am, after the concert and a fantastic week in Wawa, it was sadly time to say goodbye to Violet, who insisted to stay up with us until the bus arrived. To everyone in Wawa, thanks a lot for everything !

The 2 nights and 2 days in the bus went by quicker than expected, and after seeing the prairies through the window, we are so glad we didn’t cross them by bike. Unfortunately, we arrived in Calgary before the tandem (which we had sent 6 days earlier).As the box hadn’t been scanned, it was impossible to know where the bike was. We were therefore a bit worried when going to the hostel, loaded like mules. Good news the next morning, the bike is there ! We got the box in a pretty terrible state (the tandem suffered a bit inside) and to add a little bit of spice on top, we decided to be stupid enough to forget the pedals and wheel axles at the hostel (30 minutes away by bus) … In the end, we managed to put everything back together, and Clement took the remainder of that day to put a new rear chain on and a new front tyre (the old one didn’t look too good).

Just after our departure from Calgary, while we were enjoying thoroughly the Trans-Canada highway at peak time under the rain, we realised that the strange « cling-cling » sound we had been hearing for a couple of minutes was actually a broken spoke on the rear wheel, derailleur side. After an hour trying to dismantle this bloody free-wheel by all the means we could think of (apart from using the appropriate tool of course, as we did not have it…), Tracy left to find some help. She found a good Samaritan who brought her to the nearest bicycle shop, wheel in hand, so that we could finally get the cassette out. This story ends with a new spoke, a perfectly balanced wheel, and 2 very wet cyclists.

After a while, we got out of the highway to find a nicer secondary road parallel to it. We then found a very nice spot to wild camp, with a wonderful view on a little river. This ideal scenery compensating for the very uneven terrain and the mysterious animals who smelled our tent all night 🙂 We then took the very scenic Bow Valley Trail to go to Canmore, where we thoroughly enjoyed the services of the lodge where we stayed thanks to Lorna and her sisters (Lorna’s son, Mike, works there) : hot tub, washing machine and dryer, queen-sized bed, etc. It is very well rested that we leave for Banff the next day !

We had a blast going through Banff National Park. The landscapes, wildlife, scenic roads, everything was exciting ! Lake Minnewonka, Johnston Canyon,… our first national park experience of the trip was a great one. The wildlife really got more present as soon as we entered the park, and we saw in one day : mountain goats, several deers, and a black bear 1m from us on the side of the road. It is currently berry season and bears, who need to gain between 100 and 150 kg before hibernating, eat a lot of them (including those on the side of the road).

Once we arrived in Lake Louise, we learned we couldn’t access the lake itself as the road was momentarily closed due to the presence of grizzly bears. To reassure us even further, we then saw a sign explaining wolves have had a bolder behaviour lately, and have been spotted roaming around campgrounds and even down-town looking for food. We thus decided to forget about the idea of doing wild camping, and go straight the next campground of the national park. At 11pm, someone from the park authority came to see everyone to make sure all food was stored in the bear-proof boxes : a black bear had just been spotted on the campground. Good night !

We are now in Donald (small village located 30 kms after Golden along Highway 1), where we have taken a day of rest before attempting the climb to Roger’s pass, in the Glacier National Park.

And to finish this post, a few statistics :

It has been 48 days since we left Montreal and we have cycled 2230 km already. We have been extremely lucky with the weather, with only 7 days of rain (which explains our beautiful tan). We paid 22 times to sleep (18 campgrounds, 2 hostels and 2 motels), we spent 12 nights either wild camping or camping in someone’s garden, 11 nights in beds generously offered by people we met on the road (many many thanks to everyone who hosted us), 2 nights in a bus, and 1 hotel night offered by Lorna, Marlene and Nancy (many thanks again for your generosity !). Just for fun, we went on a truck scale, and the two of us + the bike + all our luggage = 210 kg !

One thought on “Welcome to bear country !

  1. Lorna

    Wow! You guys are amazing! You are experiencing more of Canada than we have in our lifetimes! Wasn’t it too scary about the bears and wolves?! I hope you made it safely across the Rockies and are now enjoying beautiful BC : )

    Lotsa love,

    Lorna

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