Saturday, June 22, 2013

Swiss Tour of the Rockies

After Banff Bike Fest, my friend Alex Gisler from Switzerland arrived to Calgary airport Sunday night. Gave just enough time to unload, wash up, repack for 1 week of mountain fun.

Alex is the owner of a Swiss Mountaineer company and wanted to scope the Rockies for future winter tours.

Day 1
Hike on Ha Ling bumping into ERTC Trevor Sorenson on our way down

Hike up East End Rundle Ridge thinking it was a short 2 km jaunt. Ha, it turned into a pleasantly challenging scramble. Even though a thunderstorm came through, I was adamant to get to the peak.

Ventured into Grotto Canyon to see the waterfall. Got lured by the other end of the canyon. Explored the hoodoo cave, and ventured further into the canyon. Long day, so ventured back in search of food.

Day 2
Drove out on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93). Many tourists were out, I was now one of them!

Put on the Kahtoolas and ventured onto the Columbia Icefields

With my new exposure to skimo, I was now enticed to come back to explore places I had only heard about to... Parker Ridge, Bow Glacier, Crowfoot Glacier...

At Emerald Lake, scoped potential trails, checked out the Natural Bridge.

Drove out Moraine Lake road, a first for me, as I've only x-c skied 9 km in. I was wowed by the mountain views.

Scoped Fairview trail until halted by boggy waters. Checked out the Hotel and Lake.

Mad dash back via Hwy 1A. Back on Hwy 1, saw an instantly stopped car which meant bear siting.

Day 3
Tour of Banff area starting with a rainy hike/run at the top of Norquay. The rains had begun today. Did the basic touristy things...  Farmer's Market, main street walk about, museum scope, Tunnel Mtn drive...

I was mistaken that the completed renos of Cave & Basin meant the hotspring was open! Yah, we found out otherwise when we arrived with swimsuits, though took the wicked tour of the hotspring origins. Did dip into the Upper Springs.

Day 4 - Thursday Flood Day
Constant rain since previous night. Socked in clouds. Alex and I were determined to head out to K-country no matter what. We had an action-packed day planned.

Miles, our host, was to leave for a westcoast fishing trip early that morning. We heard him return to the house mumbling "creek overflowing" and "road out".

normally a trickle of a creek
Alex & I dressed in full gortex walked to the creek, which was heard loudly from afar. We meant to glance and walk to the café for some food. Hours later, we stood mesmorized by the power of water and witnessing land disappearing every few moments.

Alex holding a local's umbrella so they could take flood photos!
The town had a ghost town feel when we biked to downtown for groceries. We biked back to Exit 86 to check out the local spring.

Massive amount of flowing water in the ditches. I was concerned. A small rise of a hill prevented any flood waters from affecting the spring. It looked same as usual.

what to do when it floods - jam and sing!
Funny that water was sold out in all the stores when this town has their own pristine natural water source!

Day 5
Still raining constant. With all the road closures, now wondering how to get Alex to Calgary for his return flight home.

Later that afternoon, Alex and I rode our mtnbikes to Three Sisters Parkway to assess. Took the bike path which funnelled onto Hwy 1.

My eyes opened to the carnage to the highway and trails, from every single swollen creek. We thought an escape by bike would be possible.

Picnic table on submerged island covered by water 12 hours later
Back at the house, divvied up all of Alex's gear in a huge luggage bag and a backpack. 4:30 a.m. a strong thought awoke me wide-eyed saying "pack your stuff, pack your stuff" so I packed my stuff into the car.

Escape Day
Early next morning, parked at 3 Sisters Parkway Exit. Rode onto the highway carrying over 70 lbs of gear. Happy to have a tailwind.

Surreal to be the only ones on Highway 1. No construction workers at work yet.

Deadgoat Henry picked Alex up at the end of the highway closure, Hwy 40 at the Stoney Casino. Knowing Alex was in good hands, I rode back to Canmore to save my car and gear.

Returning to 3 Sisters Parkway, I asked the traffic control guy when I could leave by car. He glared at me for coming from the closed highway, and said "get in line now". I managed to squeak in one of the first caravans of vehicles - Timing! and thanks to that little voice at 4:30 a.m.!

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