This was a bit of an impromptu adventure. I had vacation time to spare, but hadn’t had the energy to do anything with it earlier in the year. But the weekend bikepack out to Elk Lakes hadn’t actually felt too bad; sure I’d felt weak, and had to push up the hills, but I could keep going. And I didn’t have anything in particular going on at work in the coming week. So I turned up on Monday just to ask if I could disappear for the rest of the week… sure? Excellent.
Tuesday morning was spent packing (which always takes longer than you think it will) and then convincing someone to give me a ride up the pass. If I had to ride up the Whiteman’s Gap hill, I probably wouldn’t have actually gotten much further that day. In the end I found a lift, and started riding from the pass at 2pm. I rode slowly, and it felt hard.
Twenty kilometres in I stopped for a nap, and wondered if I should call it a day. But I should be able to do this. And I wouldn’t get very far this week if all I could manage was twenty kilometres per day. I snacked, and rested, and kept going.
A couple of hours of slow riding later I had another rest at Buller Pond. There had been occasional traffic, and it was kind of dusty, covering familiar terrain on an overcast dingy day. There was even a chance of snow in the forecast. It felt great to be out riding my bike, but it didn’t feel great to find such a slow speed so exhausting.
Then finally, joy of joys, the road started trending downhill, and things got a little easier, and I realised I really would be able to make it to Kananaskis Lakes.
After coasting down the final hill to the Lakes I stopped to cook on the dam wall. It had great views, some wind shelter for the stove, and seemed pretty defensible – at least bears wouldn’t be able to sneak up on me.
I’m always a bit tentative about getting the stove going, it’s just one of those things that’s hardly ever been my job when getting set up at camp (at least not since the good old days when I had a Trangia), and I’m always a little concerned I might do it wrong and it’ll take it personally and explode.
The stove did not explode. I cooked and ate my dinner in a perfectly ordinary fashion, and nothing went wrong and no bears ate me.
The light was fading from the sky and tendrils of cold were infiltrating the air as I found a camping spot and settled into my bivy. I was feeling just warm enough, and finished listening to the audiobook of Tina Fey’s Bossypants as I settled in to sleep – she’s impressive, and I enjoy her feminist rage, even if I’ve never really loved her comedy.
Overnight the wind blew on and off, and when I was woken by the wind I pulled my bivy down, feeling the cold on my nose as I peered at the silhouetted mountains and the stars filling the cloudless sky. My toes wiggled and I squirmed for warmth, but I’d made it this far at least.