60.96 Miles; 3,321 Feet of Gain; Waterton Lakes National Park to Crowsnest Pass
After a day of long riding in wet and frigid conditions, Janna and I took advantage of what was predicted to be a sunny day to sleep in and commence riding only when rested and warm. The Sun rose early, but we didn't rise until 9:30. Even then, we walked around the area, ate lunch on a bench next to the calm lapping waters of Upper Waterton Lake, and walked along rushing Cameron Creek. We departed at 11:30 am.
Our way out of Waterton Lakes National Park was languid and slow. It afforded us a second opportunity in 24 hours to watch a much larger mother grizzly and her two cubs crest a hill and then brisk down the grass on the other side. They were far enough way that we stopped riding and watched them for about 15-20 minutes. Shortly thereafter, a loud, resonating clicking noise began emanation from my bottom bracket. This because a massively annoying noise over the next few days for it was constant, loud, and played at my fears that something was wrong. Instead, it seems that the intense horizontal power-washing we had received in the storms yesterday has forced water past the grease and into housing on my frame.
We left the Park boundaries and began pedaling north. Our route today would take us along the foothills and rolling prairies once more of the Northern Rockies. We did a gradual climb up through glade-green meadows until reaching the overlook of the Waterton Preservation Area and Waterton Park Front. Apparently, this area is famous for its wild storms, raging winds, and unpredictable conditions. I'm sure the previous day would have provided a strong example. But today, the air was benign and the overlook completely calm.
From there, we headed out onto the green prairies. Mountains lulled away, replaced by flatlands and gentle curves pulsing with bodies of grass pushing for photosynthesis. The mountains become horizon-fodder and only distant silhouettes. We biked our way to Pincher Creek where we stopped at a grocery to resupply and have some fresh produce. The sun was beating down hard now. We avoided the worst of it by sitting in a bench in the indoor mall and eating kale, sourdough bread, and lots of hummus.
We left Pincher Creek and went westward back towards the mountains. As before, the land rose up and we began long and slow ascents first into the foothills, and then into the mountains proper. We turned left onto busy Crowsnest Highway and made our way to our camping spot for the night at Crowsnest Pass RV Park. It was an awesome little place with great showers and a broad lawn all to ourselves to camp on. It turns out that an ultramarathon, the Minotaur Ultra, had just occurred so the campground was filled with runners camping for the night. We ended up talking with many for hours. The night's main conversation surrounded us as Americans and many questions given to us regarding gun culture, school shootings, and beer in pharmacies that baffled the Canadians we spoke to.