Powered by last night’s dinner of “Hot Damn” Pepperoni Sticks, Chicken Fajita Beef Sticks, Ritz crackers, and PBR, our day began with about 10 miles of singletrack through the beautiful Banff National Park. We eventually met up with the scenic Smith-Dorrien/Spray trail, which delivered us to the Boulten Creek Trading Post. Here we encountered two treats: larger-than-our-head ice cream cones, and a lesson on beavers from a friendly park ranger. Among the things we learned were (no joke, we didn’t make this up):
- The correct way to pet a beaver pelt is with the back of your hand.
- Some people think beavers have many similarities to fish and consider beavers part of the fish family.
- In order to facilitate underwater eating, beavers have two sets of lips.
Our stomachs full of ice cream, we were ready to tackle our first Great Divide crossing at Elk Pass. We cruised down the road to the Elk Pass trailhead, where we were promptly greeted by a shotgun-wielding, antenna-holding forest ranger (obviously, he had a higher pick in the park duty assignments than the previous ranger). After being warned that a grizzly sow and her cub were within 200 meters (we’re in Canada), the three of us all agreed we felt comfortable tempting fate with the trail ahead. Our plan was to make as much noise as possible while in the “danger zone” and get away from the bear. We pedaled quickly, but were quickly foiled by a virtual wall and forced to (uncomfortably) push our bikes up the hill and away from the bear. Even with all the pushing, as we crested the hill we spotted the grizzly and her cub about 1/4 mile down the hill. Call us shameless, but had this particular grizzly mama and her child decided to create a scene, we were completely prepared to mace her and the baby. With the adrenaline pumping from the encounter with the grizzly, we cycled to the top of Elk Pass and over the Great Divide into British Columbia.
Tonight we were lucky enough to score the first-come, first-serve Tobermory Cabin, which might serve as a serial-killer training room on other nights of the week. Despite the creepiness, the cabin was warm and comfortable, and we spent the evening playing 3-person Euchre and a seemingly never-ending game of Bullshit.