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May 23- Day 16

It rained a lot last night, but lucky for me I was nice and dry inside the tent. Haw Haw! Take that you stupid elements! It was raining in the morning, too, but stopped before I got out of the tent at 7:30.

What a morning! This is actually my ideal campground, when nature alone cannot provide one. It's not heavily maintained, like the provincial parks, to the point where it's like an outdoor resort (Bear Park had bloody shower facilities remember!), the camp spots aren't too close together since profit isn't a motive here, the growth here is natural and the camp spots worked around it, instead of the land changed to suit the developer's needs. It's also virtually empty.

There is a huge river down below here, with a steep embankment at the edge of our eating site (we eat away from where we sleep), but there is a trail that will take you down there, and the total decay and growth combination on the way down (rotting stumps overflowing with plant life for example) takes your breath away. The river itself is grey from silt, largely because there used to be a major logging operation here years and years ago. But this is a part of a BC project to repair the damage to the watershed, so hopefully that will someday change.

Both Ilan and Shannon tried out the recumbent today, which was good for a laugh. Ilan took to is quickly, and Shannon less so. I got a feeling I know what kind of bike he'll be buying next.

I had referred to the pair before as my Sherpas. But the fact is they haven't done this trip before, either. In fact, they didn't even train for it. But they did get sponsorship, and have their trip planned out in much detail. We have to reach Banff by Friday, because that's their scheduled pickup for Calgary. I'm cool with that.

Today is the big day. Glacier Park is next, and two huge passes lay within it. Rogers Pass is one of them.

Time spent cycling: 4:11:11

Distance traveled: 66.46 km

Total distance: 954 km

Average Speed: 15.8 kph

Maximum speed: 86.1 kph!

Current Location: A few kilometers past Glacier Park, on a roadside pullout by Highway 1

We made it into Glacier National Park in time for lunch, and camped by the railroad tracks where we got a passing train to hoot for us and ate our respective meals. I had ravioli, sesame snaps, and a fruit bar with Gatoraid to wash it down (I picked up gatoraid powder at Revelstoke). Ilan and Shannon no doubt ate much better.

At one point we spotted a cute black bear cub, and very prudently crossed the road to avoid it. The mother was nowhere in sight, and that's a bad thing.

WHAT A VIEW! The mountains, the forests, the rivers, the waterfalls! It's absolutely amazing! I wish I could just hike out here for a week with someone.

The someone is important. Never again do I want to go on a trip like this alone again. Ilan and Shannon are pillars of support, and just having them around makes everything somehow right. The weather has been perfect ever since I met them, I suppose Grandma might think they're my guardian angels. Maybe they are.

We are victorious! Roger's Peak has been conquered, and what's more, I didn't stop to walk ONCE! 1330 meters of tortuous uphill climb at around 8-10kph, but we finally made it!

To be honest, I was a little disappointed. Maybe I'm stronger now, maybe Allison Pass and Sunday Pass were steeper, maybe people exaggerated the difficulty, and maybe Ilan and Shannon provided the motivation I needed to make it work, but this in the end seemed too easy. I mean, people were telling me terrible things, and it seemed to only get worse the closer we got.

"Rogers Pass? That's a hard climb."

"Rogers Pass? Don't tell me you're going to go there!"

"You're going to need help over Roger's Pass, my car engine overheats trying to get up it!"

"Arrrr... no biker has ever attempted Rogers Pass, and lived to tell the tail!"

Pfffft! Give me a break.

At the top there is a gas station, restaurant, hotel, and tourist attraction. Rogers Pass used to be crossed by the railroad, but it was dangerous and eventually they blasted 8km through the mountain to make a tunnel. So for many decades Manning Pass was never visited except for a few adventurous types. Then the Trans Canada Highway was built and crossed over the same point. So there you have it.

The pictures will do more justice than I can for the view. But I will tell you this. There are three types of mountains I saw. The smaller kind that are still covered in trees. The jagged monestrous peaks you expect to see out here, and one fantastic glacier. The ice is smoothed and rounded and looks like a loose flowing silk sheet.

After Rogers Pass was the most terrifying downhill I've run yet. At one point I was running ahead of I&S and topped out at 86kph! 2 more, a bolt of lightning, and a Flux Capacitor and I could have gone back in time (oh wait, that's miles an hour). Most of the time I stayed behind them, though, and occasionally breaked so as not to pass them, which kept me in the high 70s.

Rogers Pass is NOT the last hill before the Rockies, not by a long shot. We hit several more, but for the time being the downs were longer than the ups.

We saw another bear and later for the first times mountain goats (which are in fact not goats but antelopes). It is still chilly, but when the sun hits you full blast while biking uphill you bake.

Today we set up camp outside of the park on a road side pullout. The view here is great, but it is cold. I'll be warm enough tonight, however. The sleeping bag has not let me down yet.

My speedometer might be off by as much as 5%. It's not in synch with I&S, so I'm going to have it checked in Alberta. I hope it's reading right. Speaking of Alberta, even though we're in BC, we're now on Alberta time. We crossed the time zone shortly after leaving the park.

The most amazing thing has just happened! The two female cyclists I mentioned before that I missed by two hours in Keremeos passed us by! I&S had met them before Manning Park and chatted them up, and in the end they decide to camp here, too. We had dinner in the freezing sunset, laughed and traded stories and adventures as well as talking about what our goals were. All we needed was a nice warm campfire to keep everyone warm (plus fewer mosquitos) and it would have been a perfect evening.

Erin and Linda (the two ladies) are riding for breast cancer research, and are also sponsored. I am so surprised just how much money has gone into everyone's trips, but mine. I've cut every corner possible in my little quest to get this done on a limited budget. Even with sponsors, both of the teams here are expecting to spend thousands in total. And they consider themselves to be cutting corners, too.

I left Victoria with about 800 bucks.

This is going to be interesting...



Onto Day 17...