I'm surrounded by lavender, unicorns and estrogen
The Whole Park to Ourselves

September 19th-21st, 2014

What happened…

Andrew writes: It’s weird. We picked what I thought was a decent wild camp site, yet had we continued up and over the hill and down the road maybe another 500m there was an awesome spot right beside a rest area, right on Tatogga Lake. Ahh well, it rained off and on overnight, but it was really quite windy too; so much so that everything was dry in the morning. The sun was shining and it looked like it would be blue skies most of the day. It was SOO windy (headwind) all day that we thought we would take it easy. We stopped at the Tatogga Resort for a bite to eat (butterscotch pudding!!) and to use their WiFi, except it wasn’t working. I think that if it had been, we would have pulled the plug right there and then and called it a day after 10km. I’m tired. It’s been over a week since our last rest day. Instead of taking a full day of rest though, today we rode about 50km with a headwind the entire time. It was nice sitting and having lunch at Kiniskhan Lake, sheltered from the wind by the trees. I sat and read my book after lunch while Amanda went down to the boat dock and struck up a conversation with a guy who caught her doing yoga (downward dog) – awkward. After lunch we kept riding into the strong wind until we reached the Eastman Creek Rest Area. It was kinda neat at this stop because there was a little path in the trees that lead to an area where we could setup the tent, away from prying eyes.

It rained all night again, and it was pretty windy, but we were sheltered by the trees. When we woke up to the rat-a-tat-tat of raindrops on the tent, we had to make a gut-check. Did we want to sit inside the tent until the rain letup? Maybe it wasn’t that bad..I hopped outside to start breakfast while Amanda stayed inside the tent. I didn’t think the weather was that bad. I also wasn’t about to be “ruled by the weather”, as Amanda called it. I told her to pack up the tent and let’s get the show on the road. By the time we were ready to go 3 hours later, we were soaked to the skin. The wind was just as fierce as the day before. “Ok, we’ll just ride for a few hours since we’re packed and dressed anyways.” I said to Amanda. She nodded. I couldn’t see her very well as she was crouched into her jacket, her face obscured by her hood, and a few minutes later she came in close for a hug. She’d been crying. “I didn’t want to ride in this. I’m cold. This isn’t fun,” she admitted. Still, we set off into the grey, riding south down the Yellowhead.

Everything was shrouded in fog or cloud. I rode in front to shield Amanda from the worst of the wind. It became apparent that all of our “waterproof” gear was definitely lacking in the “proof” department. Gloves, jackets, pants. By the end of the day it all went into a bag for when we could dry it all out; whenever that would be. We skipped lunch so as to keep moving, and stay warm. While riding up a particularly grinding uphill section, a car pulled up to us. “You ok?” asked the young woman in the passenger seat. I wasn’t sure how to respond. I just stood there for a moment with my mouth open, and then replied, “Sure. Couldn’t be better.”

After about 4 hours we reached the Bob Quinn Rest Area and decided to ride no further. I attempted to flag a passing vehicle to see if we could hitch a ride 50km to Bell 2, where we could get a warm meal, and dry out some. No such luck. Most of the trucks around here are either work vehicles, or they are all loaded up in the back for hunting (ATV, freezer, guns, beer etc.) so there just isn’t any room for our stuff. Plus I’m sure that it didn’t help that Amanda and I looked like what the dog brought in. The rain slowed from a torrential downpour to a drizzle long enough for us to eat dinner before retiring to the tent at 6pm. I think we were asleep before 8.

Waking up on Sunday morning, it wasn’t raining. We quickly broke camp, ate a hurried breakfast, and got onto the road, determined to make the best of the good weather. Despite the grey sky, we could see the tops of all of the mountains around us, and they were filled with little pockets of glaciers. It was really neat to see! The ride today included the Ningunsaw Pass, which is full of five avalanche zones (Echo Lake, Ningunsaw River Flats, Beaver Pond, Snowbank, Bell-Irving) that can really wreak havoc during the winter, but as near as I could tell, were just about 35km of 2% uphill. Ergh.

We reached Bell 2 after about 4 hours of riding. It’s $25 for a tent site, and our burgers at lunch were $15 each. We made our own dinner to try and save the budget. Internet usage is capped at 50MB. I didn’t even bother asking for a login code. Amanda was able to wash and dry our clothes, we aired and dried out the tent, had a shower, watched some football…all was well with the world; and then it began to rain. Again. Ahh well, tomorrow is another day and maybe we’ll make it to Meziadin Junction (94km away) or maybe we won’t.

Amanda writes:As Andrew said the morning we woke up after the wind, I could still hear the rain. We had talked about the day before that we should take a rest day soon and as I listened to the rain on the tent I thought why not today. It wasn’t glamorous, our tent nestled in the woods in the middle of nowhere. But the wind the day before had been so hard and the rain just seemed to keep coming. I offered Andrew his book in the tent to see if he would give in to the idea. Instead he went outside to check out the situation.

He came back shortly after and reported that the rain wasn’t that bad and sounded worse in the trees. And so I packed up the tent and put my rain gear on and emerged from the woods into a monsoon! At first I laughed and wondered if he was joking that it wasn’t that bad. It was like Vancouver in January. I was up and dressed and the tent was packed up so we would ride. As we continued to pack up our bags and bikes it hit me that this was going to suck. I was already cold and I just didn’t want to do this. I was so confused because just a few days before Andrew had his big conversation about slowing down; what’s the rush. We have all the time in the world, we don’t need to ride when the weather is super shitty. Especially when we haven’t had a rest day in over a week.

And such is life. Andrew and I are partners and he said he wanted to ride and so we rode. It was wet, cold and hard; but we rode together. We were smart and talked about our plan of attack in advance for when we arrived at our camp spot so that we could get dry. The day wasn’t fun but hopefully we will learn from it and not push so hard when we don’t need to. Yes rest days might be boring but then we might be well rested for the next hard day.

And the next day was so nice to ride without rain and dry things out after we arrived at the lodge. I did laundry and dried everything. And sure it will get wet again but at least now we have options. As we sit here watching NFL I feel like everything is just fine. It helps that we are inside a lodge while it is pouring rain outside but we’ll be fine. It’s just rain.

Today’s Photographs

I'm surrounded by lavender, unicorns and estrogen
The Whole Park to Ourselves