Another chilly morning and it took me a little extra time to break down camp. Had to pack up just about everything I own because it was hanging on every available hook, nail, post, seat back around the cabin to dry out.
Was on the trail at 9:00 and despite the feeling I was getting a late start this morning, I was quickly in a groove and all was good. About 30 minutes in I meet my first other GDMBR rider but she is going the other way. Her name is Allison and a northbound rider that started in Antelope Wells NM. I congratulated her on her trip and she said: “I’m not done yet”. I told her, hell you’re almost to Banff so heck yes congratulations. We talked for about 20 minutes with her giving me a heads up on the passes I will need to cross on the route and basically saying the “bear bell” tied to my bike was essentially worthless.
About 30 minutes of riding after leaving Allison, I came across a pack of about two dozen horses. They belong to somebody, all were shoed and some had bells around their necks (apparently not to ward off bears). Just had to stop and visit with a couple of them.
From there the ride went pretty uneventful and kind of easy, losing about 1500’ in elevation. I could feel my breathing improve as I watched the altimeter on my GPS slowly count down the altitude. The rains were off and on all day.
About 2:00 I rolled into the first town I’ve seen since leaving Banff, and this would be the town of Elkford, BC. The first sign of commercialization that I came across is a campground and there I see a cyclist, no bags or anything on his bike so I ride over to ask “where is a good place to eat?” In a strong German accent, he replies “I don’t know, just got here”. I asked if he was riding the Divide? When he told me yes I asked where is his gear? He was camping here for the night and just took everything off his bike to explore town.
He name is Andreas and came all the way from Germany to ride the Divide. He is on his 4th day of riding (my third day on the bike). After talking a bit, I had to bid him a farewell as I was starving and need to find a place to eat, fast!
Found a little restaurant that served Chinese as well as the typical American (Canadian) fare. I ordered a Cheeseburger, fries and a vanilla shake. I have never been so happy to see a cheeseburger in all my life.
What a site I must have been shoving that burger down because without asking the waitress brought me extra napkins. When that was done I turned on my phone to discover I had coverage for the first time since Banff as well. The messages from the past couple days started rolling in quick and soon I had a lot of replies to make.
Still a little on the hungry side a display case of pies catches my eye from my resting spot at the restaurant, so I ordered a slice of Pecan.
With my hunger finally satisfied I took out my maps to decide just how much further I would like to travel for the day. There was a detour off the route that existed right out of Elkford due to a bridge out. This necessitated a ride on the highway for roughly 20 miles, my guide material does not show services along this highway, such as places to camp. I decided that even though it was early yet to stop riding for the day, that maybe I’ll stay in Elkford.
I ride back over to the campground to find Andreas and see if he’s willing to share his camp spot. He welcomes the company and I get right to setting up my tent. With that done I have to tend to a pressing issue. The huge rip in the crotch of my shorts that happened earlier in the day swinging a leg over my bike. So glad I brought needle and thread, and black thread at that.
After a visit to the local grocery store and some dinner later, it was nice to have a warm shower and wash the mud out of a few clothes. As I was leaving the showers, two cyclists ride into the campground right up to the office to discover it is already closed for the evening. I walk over to the two only saying the universal, “Great Divide?” Both turn to say yes. “Me too”, I reply. I tell them there are two of us here and where we are set up. After the customary introductions, they ask where the nearest store was, just as I did to Andreas earlier.
When these guys came back to the campground they had enough sweet snack stuff to put Grizzly bear into a sugar coma. After putting those away in short order, then they fixed dinner. I learned they started their ride in Banff this morning. Holy Crap! No wonder they put away food like they hadn’t eaten in days.
These two young guys, Jeff and Coburn were from Canada. It was great to spend an evening talking about riding, gear selection, and share a few laughs. Glad I decided to end my ride for the day early and stay in Elkford.
The funniest thing of the night is when Jeff told how he thought the trail started in another area of Banff. At the wrong trailhead, he asked a bus driver; “Is this the trail to Mexico?”