The forecast for the Bikepack Canada Summit overnighter wasn’t exactly looking optimal – and that’s even with the summit being shifted back a month closer to summer. The forecast threatened a day of riding in snow, and a possible overnight low of -10oC. Given that it’d been sitting above 25oC for most of the last few weeks, it seemed a bit rude.
Nontheless, eleven happy riders and Jeff showed up to the start, enthusiastic to be getting out riding their bikes. Jeff was a bit worried about a repeat of the freezing cold snow camping temperatures we’d experienced in February, and had just been hoping that someone else would pull out so he would feel like he could too.
After riding up Whiteman’s Gap out of Canmore, they’d be riding a combination of the High Rockies Trail, the soon-to-be-closed track along the west side of Spray Lakes (the current GDMBR route), and the Spray Lakes road – to arrive at Kananaskis Lakes for camping.
Ryan, Sarah and I saw the riders off, and then I packed up the car and took to the road to try and hunt the riders down at various points along the course. The weather wasn’t actually THAT bad – it wasn’t snowing! It was a bit chilly, but not freezing.
I parked near West Spray campground and wandered back north along the High Rockies Trail for a kilometre or so. All of a sudden, a peloton of bikepackers wooshed past me – they were travelling in a pack, at a decent speed.
The next phase of bikepacker stalking meant meeting up with Sarah, and then driving in to Mount Shark together. Based on the speed they’d been travelling, we figured we may as well walk the five kilometres into Watridge Lake. We hadn’t met them by the time we got there, so we turned about and started wandering back towards the trailhead.
Riders! This time they were happy for the excuse for a break and a chat, and to let everyone catch up and regroup. Bikes were ogled, and they commented it was a pretty nice riding temperature.
With promises to catch up with them further along the route, we waved them off once more, then drove past and stopped for photos at the Engadine Lodge meadows. Sadly there was no moose standing in the background to create a perfect Canadian bikepacking photoshoot.
We drove a little further down Spray Lakes road to the High Rockies trail bridge that spans Black Shale Creek. It’s right near the end of the road, just before it starts dropping down to Kananaskis Lakes, and it has access connectors on either side of the creek. So if you’re so inclined, you can ride the road and just scoot up for the bridge experience – or if you’re riding the trail and really really hate heights, you can avoid the bridge entirely.
Sarah and I wiled away some time by going to check out the bridge (and deciding it was so awesome we definitely had to get everyone to ride up and check it out). And then we saw a unicorn!
The riders were duly convinced to ride up to check out the bridge – and they even rode up the hill to get to it (mostly).
Yeah, it’s a pretty awesome bridge. Although what it really needs is a few educational panels explaining exactly how they got it in place, and how it’s being held up. Inquiring minds want to know!
The other bonus of biking up to check out the bridge was some sweet singletrack on the descent back to the road.
And there I waved goodbye to everyone, and left them to enjoy their night of camping, and the snowy ride back to Canmore the next morning.