September 7th- 8th
Canmore and Banff
After a full few days of climbing harder and more consistently than usual, I felt the need for a rest day or two…or a week as the rain just started inexorably rolling in. After Sept. 6th the weather in the Canadian Rockies turned to just cold, cold rain. It was easy to become depressed, and after a day in the Canmore Public library, freezing my ass off and gnawing away at my lack of “knowing what to do with my life,” I had reached my peak of depressive thoughts.
As many may know, a remedy for depressive thoughts as well as a cold body is exercise, so I kicked myself in the ass and put the road bike that had been hauled all the way from New Hampshire to use.
There is a paved trail that parallels Route 1 from Canmore to Banff called the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail that is a popular roller ski and bike ride. The pathway is practically new, very smooth, and is relatively easy, with very little grade change along the way. So, with the dark clouds hanging low in the Bow Valley, I pulled my bike (aka “Storm”) off my car, strapped on my little hydropack, plugged in my earbuds and headed out from Canmore for the 22 km jaunt.
The ride was smooth and flat enough for me to sing along to my music, which I’m sure made for an entertaining show for the hundreds of cars roaring by on the highway right next to the trail. On the few occasions the trail headed into the woods, it made an excellent winding path that was super fun to navigate, but other than that, the path was straight as an arrow. It’s a good thing the views were so good, or else I might as well have just been riding rollers inside.
Once I reached Banff, it seemed foolish not to go all the way up the the Banff Upper Hot Springs. I had no plans to stop in at Banff again, wanting to avoid the tourism as much as possible, so I figured that it was now or never. It was a grueling ride up the mountain, and though there were plenty of other cyclists along the road, I have to say that the massive tour busses were less than polite while passing. One bus tore past me going at least 40 mph and I definitely could have thrown my hand out and touched it. I haven’t been that pissed in a long time, and I had some special hand gestures to give to the driver of that bus…
The ride down the hill was a great time, of course, and was more than half the reason I got my butt up the hill in the first place. By the time I arrived back in the town of Banff, however, I was chilled to the bone, and just had to stop and grab a hot chocolate. That drink kept me going enough to get the rest of the 22 km back to Canmore and my car, so it was an excellent call on my part (*pat on the back*).
Once back home at the Canmore visitor center parking lot, I ended up sharing a picnic table to cook dinner with two other people, Carris and Sean from England. They had been travelling almost nonstop for several years, touring most of Southeast Asia, and were now using their two year working visas to travel around Canada. They made great company, and it was nice to have a laugh together, which left me warm in heart, though chill in body for another cold, rainy night in the car.
The sun was out the next day in Canmore, and I was tempted, very tempted to continue checking out the climbing around the valley. I had only climbed in Grassi Lakes, but there were endless other opportunities around Cougar Canyon and Bataan. “But,” I thought, “I’ll just do a quick hike up the East End of Rundle across from [the majestic and eye-catching] Ha Ling and then head out to Lake Louise.”
Once up at the trailhead, however, I found that my right quadricep was, in fact, ruined by my bike ride the day before, and although the path up to the top was less than 3 km away, it was a brutal, scrambling 3 km. Under other circumstances, i.e. warmer weather or a fully functioning set of legs, maybe I would have finished the hike. As I reached the halfway point, however, and could see where the path was heading, I decided, “NOPE,” and turned around.
There is an interesting phenomenon that is happening in me as I move through Canada. I feel as if I have found many places where I could stay and be happy for a long while. I’ve been thinking about finding work in places such as Canmore or Jasper, and I know that I could stay longer if I wanted to. There is so much to do in all these places, but there’s also a voice inside me that is telling me to move on. As much as I want to stay, it’s more important for me to go, though I cannot explain why.
Those are the feelings that I’m using to guide my travels. I am working to do what feels right and not question myself too much. With that in mind, I left Canmore, sure that I would be back again.