Cycle day 20 Foremost to Elkwater- 111kms 787 Vertical meters
Tough Day! First 50 kms flew by on lovely fresh ashphalt. Will stop at the Etzikom Museum next time (apparently they have pie!) but we were on such a wonderful roll.
And then it ended. On loose gravel roads for most of the next too many kilometers. That wouldn’t have been too bad, except for the elevation. This is supposed to be Cypress HILLS not mountains. Kept finding ourselves over 1200 meters in elevation, and yes I read that the glaciers left this elevation untouched meaning that it is original prairie grasslands, but honestly, they could have taken it down a notch.
Probably should have taken the (longer) route south into Elkwater, but the grater driver that passed us (!) assured us that the road should be fine ahead. And honestly, some parts were – just not many.
Crawled into our room and would have gone straight to bed, if it weren’t for the “need to feed”. Usually we walk as little as possible in the evening, like we limit our trips to the bathroom, but tonight we walked an entire 1.5 kilometers to the Camp Cookhouse. Owned by Canada’s Top Chef competitor Becky, it was worth the walk. Everyone in Calgary should walk here. Becky also happens to be Patrick and Sherry’s daughter, friends of Steve’s who had alerted Patrick and Sherry about our arrival!!
Cycle Day 21 Elkwater to Cypress Hills 80 kms 1013 vertical meters
The first most important meal of the day was enjoyed at Patrick and Sherry’s ranch – “just 6 kilometers down the road” was what we heard. Actually was just 6 kilometers down the road after you climb your ass out of Elkwater. We were late. So late in fact, that Patrick came to see if we got lost, and because we had passed our turnoff for our easterly ride, we jumped in his truck.
Their wonderful ranch is their hidden oasis with adorably named dogs, cats, chickens, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys and a ponkey – all of them living the Life of Riley. Learned a bit about the history of the area, and that we need to read more. Patrick and Sherry have more energy and passion than most, and we loved our short time with them.
Got on our route before lunch and with some effort, managed to keep the freed mouse from the ranch out of our snacks. Our first 20 kms were on a paved, beautiful road along Reeser Lake.
Then we found ourselves on a dirt road, but with a lot of zigging and zagging, it was bike friendly and amazingly beautiful. Fortunately, we had reams of time to look at it as we repeatedly climbed grades of 13.8%.
We were about 5 kms from our destination when a thought went through my head (first of the day) – we managed to travel dirt roads that had not been grated all day. BIG mistake. Turned the corner, and for the last 2 (felt like 22) kms we had almost unrideable, granade like rocks and loose dirt.
I believe there is one hotel in Cypress Hills in Saskatchewan, and they had told me earlier there were no rooms available for tonight, but we showed up anyways, trying to look desperate (left Jay outside as we didn’t want to look scarey desperate) and they had 1 room.…. Another Camping Close Call adverted. Woohoo!
Our intellectual conversation tonight went something like this:
“What a beautiful room”
“My butt loves this king size bed”
“Does this water taste especially good?”
“I’m ordering the special” “Do you want another beer?”
“We should get one of these raised toilets”
“This is the ONLY way to do this trip”
PS I know you want to know – miniature horse and a miniature donkey gets you a ponkey- who apparently has LOTS of attitude.
Left Alberta and entered our third province with 1843kms todate – about 22% – give or take a lot.
Cycle Day 22. Cypress Hills to Shaunavon 105 kms 637 vertical meters
Chased by a thunderstorm all day, we felt but a few drops. So grateful for that as wet gravel roads are never good on bikes or wives. Doesn’t look like it in the elevation profile, but it was a day rolling up and down in the coulees.
We were admittedly VERY happy to see some pavement for the last part of the trek into Shaunavon and had what would turn out to be a brief moment of westerlies blowing. But how can you say no to Ken at the Eastend Hamlet Historical Tour? We got Ken’s private tour (surprisingly not busy for a Saturday afternoon) of a huge collection of stuff. Some related to the history of the area, some not. Ken, however, was definitely from the area, and would have a lot of stories to share if you didn’t have 30 more kms to cycle. We left our donation in a seldom used, unnecessarily large jar.
Ken proudly threw out his sales pitch as we left: “Come back next year. We’ll have more stuff.”