Part 1: Riding Canmore to Kananaskis Lakes – solo!

My very first solo overnight trip! For all that I’ve done plenty of solo daytrip adventuring, I’ve never headed out to sleep alone somewhere. Because the night is dark and scary, and full of wolves and axe murderers.

The plan was to ride my bike on Thursday evening from Canmore to Kananaskis Lakes – about 70km, mainly on dirt roads.

I left work early, with my gear nearly all organised, and got on the road around 5pm. Of course, then my bike bags started rubbing and misbehaving, so I spent some time organising them and redistributing my load. And then riding up the enormous hill of enormousness. It’s much smaller and easier when you’re on an unloaded bike, with friends, on a still and sunny day with clear blue skies. This day was not still and sunny. The wind kept gusting up, and there were dark patches of threatening weather lurking around the mountains. The weather forecast had been threatening showers, and before I left, people had been making helpful suggestions like “Why don’t you put it off for a day?”.

But I made it to the top! This was goodbye to cell reception for the next 20 hours, so with farewell messages and photos of myself looking slightly concerned, I rode up and over the pass, and into the relative wilds of the well-travelled roads of K-Country.

With a dubious forecast and threatening clouds, I had all of my rain gear handy. This conveniently seemed to repel the worst of the weather. I was caught in a couple of brief snow-showers, but they never lasted long, and were very much in the ‘easy to brush the snow off and forget about’ category. Obviously my weather girl powers have not yet failed me entirely.

Soon enough I hit the Spray Lakes Reservoir, and it was snack and photo time. Travel was fast and easy, and there was very little traffic around to throw dust in my eyes. I hadn’t seen any bears, and the whole thing was starting to settle into standard bike riding rhythm, instead of panicked “Help, I’m alone and going to be eaten by a bear” rhythm.

The clouds that had been atmospherically winding themselves around the mountain tops began to dissipate, and the patches of blue sky were multiplying. It was actually turning into a nice evening!

I even managed to take a photo of myself riding without dropping the camera. Still looking worried, but that’s mainly because I was concentrating on not dropping the camera.

Then, my 70km nearly complete, I arrived at the final hill which would drop me down to Kananaskis Lakes. Still with plenty of daylight to spare! I’d seen an elk (my designated spirit animal of the trip), a few deers, and a few squirrels, but no bears. So I carefully picked my way down the stony road, keeping an eye on the speed to avoid silly crashes within a couple of kilometres of finishing for the night.

I pulled onto the asphalt of Kananaskis Lakes after safely negotiating the loose and stony hill of doom. Winding my way into the complex of campsites there, I tried riding the cyclist pathway for a while. The still-closed campsites towards the northern end of the lakes were a bit spooky though, so I opted to pick my way a few kilometres further south, into the relative civilization of the handful of other campers who were about.

After wolfing down some cold leftovers (quiche, mmmm) I put up my little tent, and dived in for a good nights sleep. Phase one of Mission Ride To Fernie was a success!

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