MAY 28 & 29 – Crossed into Canada on Monday from Idaho’s Hwy 95. The weather forecast was calling for rain through Fernie. So I threw on my rain gear when I stopped to fuel up in Cranbrook. It was cold through Fernie, about 10 degrees celsius and combine that with the rain, it made it very uncomfortable having that cold wind hitting my wet gloves. By the time I made it to Blairmore for the night, my hands were in pain from the cold. Had to warm them up for a few minutes in the hotel lobby before I could even give the woman at the desk my credit card and write my information down. I was chilled to the bone and took a long time to get my feet warmed up under the blanket when it was time to go to bed, but I did sleep well.
The next morning headed downtown in the small mining town of Blairmore to find the only restaurant that served breakfast in the area. The restaurant didn’t even have a sign outside and ended up circling around a couple of times before I pulled over and asked this elderly man crossing the street if he knew where it was. He pointed at the building behind him so I parked the bike and he came over to chat. He was originally from Calgary but moved to Blairmore to retire. I asked him how he liked this place and he smiled and said he should’ve done it a long time ago. Curious, I asked him what he liked to do with his spare time now and he said that his hobby was solar energy. He said his entire living room was powered with solar energy and that he had cut his power bill by 50%. He says to me, “I drive a smart car believe it or not! Have you ever been in one?” I said no and he insists that I walk over with him and sit inside. It was a lot more spacious than I had expected and had a great big sun roof that took up almost the entire roof. We got on the topic of goals and dreams and I asked him was his next project would be. He sticks out his arm past my right shoulder and points to something behind me. “I want to climb that.” He says. I turn around and see that he’s pointing at Crows Nest Mountain! The man must’ve been in his 70’s I’m guessing and he impressed the hell out of me as I could tell he was serious about it. The mountain is about 9,137ft in elevation and takes an average of 6 hrs to complete the 10.6km hike round trip. You could tell he wasn’t the ‘hiking type’ so where this one would be typically moderate for most, it would be a big undertaking for that fellow.
After breakfast, I continued along the Crowsnest Hwy, stopping at Frank Slide and the Limber Pine to take some pictures. I have travelled all over Alberta and have seen the Rockies from South to North and for those who don’t know; the Mountain Scenery changes considerably through out the province. I keep forgetting how beautiful it is down here in this area. In this particular section, the mountains sneak up on you if you’re coming towards them from the East in the prairies. It’s difficult to articulate but in my opinion this area all the way down to the Montana border through Waterton National Park, is Alberta’s best kept secret. This area is full of old mining towns, ghost towns, wild west history and Cattle Ranches that have survived for generations.
Frank Slide is a fascinating piece of Alberta History. In 1903, a massive rock slide sent 80 million tons of limestone rock down Turtle Mountain, burying a portion of the mining town of Frank. 70-90 people died and most of whom still remain buried underneath the boulders covering the area today. You can clearly see the portion of the mountain that came down and the hwy was built right through the rock slide path so you see nothing but boulders on either side. There’s a great interpretive center here as well.
Here’s a video about the Frank Slide:
The Burmis Tree is a Limber Pine that died back in the 1970’s, finally toppling over in 1998 but after the local community’s influence, a partnership formed between the federal / provincial government, local businesses, community groups and private citizens to raise the tree back to its original place and stabilize it permanently for future generations to enjoy. Known to have the longest life spans of any tree in Alberta, and grow in the harshest conditions where other trees would die, this particular Limber Pine has become a symbol of endurance for the people in the area.
I continued North on Hwy 22 to Calgary and watched the Rockies from the Crowsnest Region slowly disappear from my mirror behind me, but caught regular glimpses of the mountain range to the West of me. Lots of rolling hills and grassland in this area, popular with cattle ranches that have been established as far back as the 1880’s. I’ve never been to Scotland but for some reason I keep thinking this area would look much like it.
I have a little over an hour left till I’m home and I realize how incredibly lucky I am to be living in such a beautiful part of the world. I have seen many places since I left for Phoenix last fall, but this place never fails to take my breath away every time I come back. It’s good to be home.
Here’s a video of Alberta created by Alberta Tourism. Please take the time to watch, it’s brilliantly made and gives me goosebumps every time I see it. Maybe it’ll give you a better understanding of what I’m talking about:
So the final odometer reads 16,130 kms. I started at 5,300kms when I left for Phoenix last fall so that brings me to 10,830kms. Not much for all you hard
core riders out there but a milestone for me as a solo rider. The bike has taken me through, canyons, mountains, forests such as the giant Redwoods, deserts, gorges and coastline. Hail, snow flurries, rain, lightening, hard wind to hot sun. And cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Francisco. I’ve grown pretty attached to this bike. Maybe a little too attached….I’m told I get too attached to inanimate objects so as part of my ‘therapy’, after a lot of thought… *sniffle….I’ve decided to sell this bike in pursuit of a different style of riding; A
dventure riding. Met some interesting people who have inspired me to steer in this direction, so I’m going for it. I’m looking at Enduros. Haven’t decided what I’ll be getting yet. Any suggestions, tips or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Stay tuned….