We have just reached the end of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route portion of our route. Everything everybody says about the Canadian section of the GDMBR is true. It's rugged, remote, and incredibly beautiful. We have had rain almost every day so far and temperatures are far cooler than they were in Northern Montana when we were there in May. We're definitely questioning our choice in bringing our summer weight sleeping bags.
The infrastructure along the Canadian route is very conducive to bicycle travel with plenty of scenic campsites and the occasional primitive cabins which we utilized to wait out a heavy rain storm.
There is so much wildlife out here. Moose, wolves, black bears, and grizzlies, are hustling about around us. So far we have only had one close encounter with a grizzly when our group of three were decending a technical hill, and naturally spread out from eachother about 100 feet. Tom was the first one down the hill and quickly passed a grizzly in the woods, and yelled "BEAR! BEAR!" I was behind Tom and wasn't sure if he was just calling out to scare potential bears or if he had really seen one. Our companion, Donny, stopped behind me and noticed the bear growling in the woods beside us. We pedaled ourselves out of there.
Bear encounters are something we are taking very seriously while traveling out here. Some cyclists we met traveling North to South on the GDMBR have had far more stressful encounters. One guy came across a momma grizzly and a cub. When the momma grizzly saw him, she false charged him and stopped some feet away. Taken by surprise, the rider stumbled backwards over his bike and landed on his back on the ground. The grizzly stood on her hind legs, then came down on all fours and backed away from the rider. Poor guy, at the time of this encounter he was just two days into his first bikepacking experience. Despite his encounter, he was in very good spirits!
The bears are not hunting us, just being bears, foraging, eating berries, and caring for young. While we are in their home we avoid drawing their attention with our food and while we are cycling, we have to be extremely cautious not to spook a bear on a descent, or around a corner. The one close call we had happened exactly at the first pause in our constant cacophony of whistles, hoots, and music. We've been reading Alaskan Bear Tales by Larry Kanuit on this trip, which might not be the obvious choice to read while traveling in bear country but we find that between the horrific stories of bear maulings, we are learning a lot about bears and are gaining a greater respect for them. Our favorite line from the book so far is, "If you know what a bear is going to do, you know more than the bear."
The greatest part of riding this portion of the GDMBR backwards is encountering the countless riders heading South. They come in all shapes, sizes, ages, colors, and skill levels. We finally met one other rider riding North just outside of Elkford. We became fast friends with Donny, who pedaled the remaining three scenic days into Banff with us.
As we leave Banff today, we start the next portion of our route where we will follow the Trans Canada Adventure Trail (another dual sport motorcycle route) Southwest towards the Cascades of Washington.