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One last ride for the season!

Bound to leave for a visit to Australia, I wanted to get in one last good ride before we left. Was it Felix who came up with the plan to ride this route? I can’t remember now. But we set off around 8.30 on Sunday morning, up the pass, and towards the High Rockies trail.

I’d been dreaming of trying to ride the further south section, beyond Buller. Sadly the recent snowfall gazumped that plan. But we still thought we may as well see how far we could get.

Seeing how far we could get seemed to involve quite a lot of snow, from quite early on in the day. Turning off Goat Creek, we found the High Rockies trail through the dog sled area was already snowy enough to be pretty hard work. But we’re nothing if not stubborn, and so pushed on.

Soon enough we were through to Driftwood, and onto the fun part! South of Driftwood the single track was mainly bare dirt. But as we rode further and further south, the patches of snow started to take over. By the time we hit the open scree slopes just north of Buller there was a solid base of snow on the trail.

It was still possible to ride, it just required concentration. And then more concentration. And more concentration. We were close to giving in on the final kilometre down to Buller Creek. The fat bike tracks we were following had turned back.

But no! We’re more stubborn than a couple of fat bikers. We kept going.

Then we hit the Buller trail – it was well packed, so we may as well keep going right? Ah, but then where was the turn off to the new trail? Just through the trees there, that must be it. Ohh, let’s just ride a little way… and so we rode uphill in deeper and deeper snow, until finally common sense took over, and we decided to turn back.

We’d assumed it was just hard work because of the snow, but it turns out we were climbing too. As a result, weeeeh, fun descent back to Buller Creek, snow surfing our bikes around corners, flying along! Rather fun. No photos, because we were too busy riding :)

We decided to skip the snowiest sections on the way back though, and instead jumped back on the trail at Sparrowhawk, to enjoy some sweet dry singletrack on our return towards Canmore.

The aqueduct variant is really a nice option, and much more scenic and sunny than the actual High Rockies trail through this section. Recommended.

But then, we hit the pass. We could ride straight back down and go home, but there was still daylight left! And so somehow, feeling already fairly shattered from a long hard day of riding, Felix talked me into doing Riders of Rohan and the Highline as well, just to extend the ride a little more.

Thankfully he got a puncture out near Three Sisters, and so I had a valid excuse for suggesting the river trail back instead of riding Loki’s. Yes, I was that tired. Definitely a worthy final ride before the Australia trip!

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Family High Rockies ride

Mostly about the photos this time round, because I’ve kind of already given the rundown of the High Rockies trail.

We stopped and had a picnic lunch at our favourite mossy spot.

There were a lot of stops to play.

And then also stops where I jumped out and went to take photos of everyone else, then dropped my lens cap in the waterfall and made the wise decision not to jump into the waterfall to rescue it.

Some bike swap action happened. The conclusion was that the boy still fits in his Singletrailer, but noone wants to pull him. And the girl kind of nearly fits on the Streamliner trail-a-bike, but not quite properly yet.

And then we were at the end of the trail where things get scenic, and I couldn’t resist taking the same photo multiple times.

Down through the burnt trees just above Buller Creek.

And then to Buller Creek, to throw rocks in.

After pedalling out to the road from Buller Creek, the menfolk bravely set out on the dusty road to fetch the cars, while the rest of us napped by the lake. And looked for fish in the lake, and threw things in the lake, and got annoyed with mosquitos. The usual.

bikes canada general

I love the High Rockies trail

The High Rockies trail is absolutely wonderful. So far it’s just been constructed from Goat Creek to Buller Creek, although the other half is in progress this summer and is due to link through to Elk Pass when complete.

It’s part of the Trans Canada Trail, which is pushing for completion of a full trail link across the country in time for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations next year.

Eventually the idea is that the High Rockies Trail will be a destination long-distance trail for our part of the world. There will be camping facilities for thru-hikers. There might be shuttle buses and that kind of thing. And there will definitely be a lot more people out there enjoying the ever-excellent Kananaskis Country.

But in the meantime, we have a great trail that is currently unsigned, unadvertised, and really fun to ride.

So fun to ride that I somehow ended up riding it three times in a week. That may have been overdoing things a little – or maybe not!

It’s a wide, machine built trail. Not wide enough that you could ride side-by-side, but wide enough that passing others isn’t really an issue. And although it’s wide and easy riding, there are still some steep or rough sections that are harder than you might be expecting.

There’s plenty of climbing – but that means plenty of fun descending. And it rides really well in both direction (although for slightly more downhill, head north).

The most scenic section is the few kilometres north of Buller. That’s where you’re out in the open, crossing scree and talus fields.

Most of the rest of the trail is in the forest – it’s still fun and beautiful, but most of the photos you see are from those few kilometres near Buller Creek.

Driftwood – Buller Creek (34km return, ~878m gain)
Canmore – Buller Creek (80km return, ~1760m gain)

bikes canada general moosling snow trip reports

February adventures: Fatbiking and skiing slush

An exciting round up of a random selection of trips that now get crammed into one post thanks to the fact that it’s now a month after the fact and I’ve almost forgotten what happened. Welcome to the exciting world of me having an un-injured knee again! (For a while) (It’s actually hurting again right now and I’m not sure why, but am attempting to pretend it’s fine, and that I’m not worried) (I’m actually a bit worried)

Adventure 1 was a fatbike trip from Canmore to Banff, via Goat Creek. With little snow and lots of warm days, Goat Creek was getting glazed and fast, easy riding conditions, and perfect for towing the trail-a-bike along.

We’ve actually hacked up our Tout Streamliner now so that it has a 2.4″ on it instead of the skinny tires it came with – downside is less gears available, as we had to remove half of the cluster to get the tire to fit.

As most of February has been, it was a gorgeous day, and nice and warm. There wasn’t much other traffic about, either on the road, or on the trail.

And so we rode our bikes, and mosied along, and the trip was uneventfully peaceful and pleasant. We may have sung Bohemian Rhapsody (or as the boy calls it, “the Mamalayo song”), and Everything is Awesome. Loudly, and with little regard for accuracy or tunefulness.

Not pictured is the end of the trip, where we arrived in Banff and descended on the Wildflour Cafe like a plague of locusts. And from there headed to the Roam bus stop, and the very friendly bus driver helped us load our ungainly pile of bikes onto the bus for the ride back to Canmore. Success!

The next random adventure was me deciding to ski the Cookie Race in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. I’d signed up a couple of months earlier, back when the snow was still good, and the promise of 42km worth of cookies seemed like a good deal. The shorter 24km race costs the same amount, but there are obviously less aid stations to pass through, and thus less home made cookies. I am not silly, and so opted to maximise my cookies.

When the day came, waxing conditions for classic skis were verging on ludicrous, and I set off hopefully with a couple of sticks of borrowed wax, hoping I wouldn’t have to double pole the whole course. On the plus side I opted to wear my rainbow fur gaiters and unicorn rainbow leggings, which at least made the suffering more entertaining. I definitely had a lot more conversations out on the course as a result, and received a lot of cheering on from random by-passers.

But in short – it was warm, waxing was terrible, I survived. I finished the 42km and came second in my category through virtue of the fact there were only two in my category. I did however win the most awesome outfit category, so there is that (note for accuracy – there was no such category). The cookies were great though!

Adventure number three was a ride of the High Rockies Trail. We started at Driftwood, rather than riding the section from Goat Creek which I’ve done a few times now. Starting at Driftwood and heading south provides some glorious well packed single track, and it was in great condition.

Pictured above is me concentrating furiously on not falling off the bridge and down into the precipice of imminent peril. Certain doom awaited.

Incredibly fun trail, highly recommended winter fat bike ride, and much more moderate than some of the epic climbs that are required on the trails around Canmore.

And so that was February!

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Family fat biking

We got out on Saturday morning to wander about on the north end of the High Rockies trail, which basically means exploring a few convenient little loops of snowshoe trails, sled dog trails, and the heavily travelled east end of the Goat Creek trail.

The High Rockies trail travels along the western side of the sled dog loop. We did well on the portion that had been travelled by snowshoes, but once we hit the less packed surfaces, we started to have issues with the skinny tyre on the trail-a-bike. It just doesn’t have the float that the fat bikes do. We either need to attach a ski, or find a way to rig a fatter tyre.

We turned back without having got terribly far. Still a fun wander, and it’s great beginner fat biking territory out there. And the scenery is pretty nice too.