Day 27

Belly River, Alberta to Crooked Creek, Alberta
$7 :: campsite
23.7 mi :: :: :: :: 1782 mi

The day could hardly have been better. Slept late, got going around 9AM. Was at the head of another tour group: Cycle America. They had an awesome food station set up at one of the pullouts, which they invited me to raid. I made sure they really meant it, then had fun. Veggie pita sandwiches. Burritos. Cookies. Trail mix. Gummi bears. I had to stop myself from really making a scene of gorging. Talked to tlots of nice cyclists.

Then a screaming hill, I’m sure I got up to 45 mph or so, the road wide and smooth.

On the park map I had noticed a trail to the top of one of the smaller peaks, Vimy Peak at 7,805 ft. It looked a little too long for a day hike, but I stopped to take a look anyway. A pleasant surprise – the sign said bikes were allowed on the trail. No hesitation, I just took off on it gear and all. The SPL is no mountain bike, but it did the job.

Not long before I run into 3 young ladies, bikes parked, staring at some device. The middle on explains to me it is a GPS – she’s getting the coordinates of some bird observation sites. It’s a little bigger than my cell phone and weighs about 2 lbs (sans battery). We chat – the two younger girls are totally silent, French speakers maybe? She reminds me not to leave my food for the bears.

I continue about five miles through tall, thick plants that overhang the trail and whack my hands & arms, a small stream crossing where the panniers get a little wet, nothing too steep. The trail to Vimy Peak has a no bikes sign, so I stash the bike, hang the food, and take off at a good clip on foot. A beautiful climb of at least 3,000 ft. First aspen & thick green plants & flowers, then evergreen forest, then timberline creeks, and finally the rocky ascent to the summit. The view is astounding – glacial peaks, valleys, and snow to the north, west & south. East the plains stretch out like an ocean 3,000 ft below. My future.

The descent tires me out. I have a burrito when I reach my food. It’s wonderful & reminds me that I have very little food left & never bothered to get any Canadian money to buy more.

The ride back on the single track is just as fun as it was coming in, but the GPS girls are gone. Back on the road I soon reach a campground & the attendant helps me solve my currency problem when I’m about to ride 15 mi. to Waterton Village & back. Just use a credit card, and you automatically get the correct exchange rate. Ha.

An old couple lets me eat their leftovers for dinner & makes me a cup of coffee. Everyone seems super friendly, with me and each other.

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