We were warned by those heading south that the views were going to be stunning on the last days of our trip – and they were right. Sadly many south bounders had to tolerate bad weather thru this northern section but in the style we were accustomed to, we had good weather and no rain while riding.
From Elkford we had a long ride up the Elk valley – it was a roller coaster of a road adding extra climbing to an already uphill day. Our reward was a gorgeus lakeside camp at Lower Elk Lakes, and we were ensconsed in our tent as the first drops of late afternoon rain showers fell. The campsite was a mile off route so often missed by riders on their mission south. It was great to have the time to make the most of the mountains here.
Reflections next day were perfect and the ride over Elk Pass steep but fun. When we emerged at the paved road we were whisked off to see a grizzly cub grazing berries close by a lovely Canadian woman and her 3 girls. Very cool to have time (from the safety of a vehicle) to see this magnificent creature.
Because of the wet summer the berries are going off and the grizzly bears were coming into the campsites and camp roads all through this area. Walking tracks close to campsites were closed and the park staff were watching the tagged bears (GPS tracked) and moving them if they came into campsites. We were told a 13 year old sow wandered through our (commercial) campsite in the early hours and was encouraged by staff to move off.
It was a long weekend and the Canyon campsite was chocka – but we were able to share a campsite with a friendly family and enjoy their hospitality – campfire sausages were a treat with our couscous! Next day we had a short day to our final wild campsite on the shores of the Spray Lake – we swam and enjoyed a fire once the wind had died.
Our final day was 20 miles to Banff for breakfast and a further 10 miles to Canmore on a paved cycleway. Banff is very touristy and as we had a contact in Canmore so it was nice to tag and go.
We met Jeff on the trail way back in Atlantic City, Wyoming and he had kindly invited us to stay with him and his family in Canmore. In true style we arrived at his place just before the rain and were warmly welcomed by Jeff, Paula and Peter who made our clean up, pack up and hang out very easy and enjoyable – thanks guys!
We are now back on the river in our little house which feels roomy compared to our tent. Warm memories of our journey and the people we have met help with the temps in the low teens and the low snowline back home in Wanaka.
Time to start dreaming about the next journey..