From the Canadian border north there are two options – the alternate, lower route that goes thru Fernie or the main route that tackles 3 significant passes and traverses thru the Flathead mountains – said to have the highest concentration of grizzlies in North America. Many Dividers go for the Fernie alternate (for obvious reasons) but we had the time (and the bear spray) to take the longer route.
A couple of miles after our passports were stamped we turned off the highway and started the 1500m steep climb up to Galton Pass – good to have some cycle fitness for that one. It was a fun descent, initially on forestry roads then on a rough single track with a quarter mile hike-a-bike stretch that would be even less fun in the other direction. Once thru that it was nice single track for a few more miles before joining up with another dirt road. Continuing our rainfree cycling theme we snuck into our tent just as the afternoon storm broke.
Next day we crossed Cabin Pass, with some lovely mountain views, and then on our third day in Canada we enjoyed the sometimes rough and rocky ascent of Flathead Pass. Earlier that third morning I saw an overweight brown animal heading up the road in front of us – it took my brain a few seconds to compute that we were watching a grizzly bear getting out of our way. We were quite chuffed to have seen one, without incident, but it reminded us that we needed to start up our noisy carry on for the rest of the day.
Sparwood and Elkford were the next two towns – they are both relatively young towns setup for the mining industry that dominates the area. Sadly we were riding in some of the grandest scenery to date but the mining scars of the open cast coal mining were the largest man-made scars of the whole divide route..