By Ambassador Ruby Woodruff

Living in the Rockies is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. One day I’ll see a grizzly bear wandering down the street and the next I’ll be getting chased by a cow elk for unintentionally coming too close to her calf (no joke, in calving season elk are much more dangerous than grizzlies).

Since moving here, my partner (Nick) and I have had limited free time to explore the area together. So when we both got a couple of days off, we figured an overnight trip would help us make the most of them. Packed with two cans of bear spray and not nearly enough food, we pedalled off towards the mountains, unsure if we were ready for whatever came our way.



After a two year hiatus from bike touring I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant at first. I thought I might not be strong enough for the 500m ascent or that I would be so slow that we wouldn’t have time to complete the ride and hike before dark (in my defence we didn’t leave the house until noon). As usual, my worries were irrelevant and the more I pedalled, the more I felt at ease. 

As we climbed higher into the alpine we followed a meandering river and took deep breaths of pine scented air. The forest disappeared as we passed through an area that had succumbed to wildfire. Remnants of unshaven stubble were all that was left on the barren limestone faces.

A black bear scoured the vegetation on the side of the road for food, clueless that it was causing a “bear-jam” of tourist traffic. Further along an eagle sat peacefully in its nest, high above the rock flour filled lake that glowed glacial blue in the afternoon sun.

We veered left away from the water’s edge, towards the trailhead. The bikes managed the first 6km but eventually we had to swap panniers for packs and hike the rest of the way to the campground. Our bags were overloaded with the firewood that Nick had ridden with from town — strapped to his front rack — but it was worth the weight to be able to enjoy a communal fire by the lake when we arrived.
In the morning we filled our pot with water from a nearby stream and made oats sprinkled with the last of our trail mix. On the way back we came across a couple of moose grazing by the lake against a mountainous backdrop. They were unfazed by our presence and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a more stereotypical “Canadian” moment.

Once we reached the bikes, we transferred over the camping equipment and ate the last of our provisions (an apple) before beginning the descent. The “easy” downhill ride back to town was hijacked by a vicious headwind and our energy was soon depleted.

We arrived at the Legion on the verge of “hanger” and ordered three burgers, fries, tater tots and beers to fill our bellies. Feeling full and exhausted is one of my favourite activities after a ride and I was experiencing an overload of both once the meal was finished. My mind, body and soul were all thoroughly satisfied.
When life gets busy it can be difficult to find the time to get away, but this overnighter proved to me that you don’t need a big chunk of time to have a big adventure. The long days and snowless trails exist for only a few months a year in the Rockies so you may as well enjoy them while you can… even if it’s only for a night!