Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, AB and SK

 
Sunrise over the Conglomerate Cliffs. The positive side of getting here in the dark was to wake up to this amazing view.

Sunrise over the Conglomerate Cliffs. The positive side of getting here in the dark was to wake up to this amazing view.

FREEdom!

FREEdom!

Mathilde is working on a jewelry order (you can visit her Etsy shop here:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/RideItUpJewelry

Mathilde is working on a jewelry order (you can visit her Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RideItUpJewelry

Riding Last Grizzly, a fun dowhill trail in the Albertan side of the park, near Elkwater Lake.

Riding Last Grizzly, a fun dowhill trail in the Albertan side of the park, near Elkwater Lake.

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Riding by Elkwater Lake.

Riding by Elkwater Lake.

Following Julien’s suggestions (in the book Vie de Van, of course!), we headed to the Conglomerate Cliffs for a sweet boondocking site. However, since we were already in the Albertan side of the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park for biking, we decided to cross through dirt roads. We didn’t expect them to be that steep and were too low in diesel for that inclination (and the pump could not pick up the fuel…) Sooo… We got stuck on a hill and had a bit of a moment trying to back up with the Westy attached (we have to be careful backing up with a tow bar and couldn’t unhook the Westy), but made it with the help of a local. JF drove 45 min to the nearest gas station and came back in the dark. As we stayed behind in the middle of nowhere, many herds of cows came to sniff and check the bus. One young bull stuck around for a while and Mathilde turned a stressful situation into a good laugh, saying: Mom! He must be one of Roaditup’s followers! He wants a selfie with the bus! 

We were only 10 minutes from the boondocking site, but driving in the dark on those roads proved dangerous since cows charged the Westy (that I was driving). There are LOTS of free ranging cows here, so driving during the day is strongly advised. The roads also become a mud fest when it rains, so stay away if it is in the forecast of if there had been rain in the last few days.


 

Hike to West Wind Pass and the Canmore Canada Cup

 
Grassi Lake, Canmore

Grassi Lake, Canmore

Spray Lake

Spray Lake

The view after 5 minutes on the West Wind Trail!

The view after 5 minutes on the West Wind Trail!

Getting to the Pass.

Getting to the Pass.

Wow!

Wow!

A well deserved break to enjoy the view.

A well deserved break to enjoy the view.

2,5 km to that awesome view? Hell, yeah!

2,5 km to that awesome view? Hell, yeah!

We get spoiled so much in BC and in the Yukon! On this hike, there are a few trails options and not must signage so it can get confusing. Stick to the trails on the right and you’ll get there. Consider taking poles if you struggle with steep descent. It’s a pretty tame hike by Rockies standard (it’s considered moderate), but the climbing is pretty steep and constant, so just plan accordingly if you need breaks. We got to the pass in one hour and back in 30 minutes. After taking a break at the pass and admiring the view, you can keep hiking all the way up to the Wind Tower. 

Mathilde at the start of her race.

Mathilde at the start of her race.

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Mathilde finishing.

Mathilde finishing.

Mara at the start line

Mara at the start line

Mara at the start

Mara at the start

Aïsha getting down the aptly named Organ Donor trail.

Aïsha getting down the aptly named Organ Donor trail.

Aïsha getting some air!

Aïsha getting some air!

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Well, Canmore was not what I was hoping for. This was for sure not my weekend. I crashed on Thursday during my preride and then crashed again on race morning, bending my front wheel and derailleur 2 hours before my start. We pretty much took a bunch of different parts from other bikes and put them on my bike. When I was finally able to do my race, I didn’t even get 10 minutes into the race and got a flat on my rear wheel. There was lots of experience and learning throughout these few days spent in Canmore, but I’m wishing to get all problems fixed in time for the Horseshoe Canada Cup. What happened to me today was simply bad luck, crashing and flatting are things that are part of cycling and it is for sure not the last time that this will happen to me. Awesome job to everyone who raced today and thank you very much to all the people for helping and supporting me throughout this rough couple of days. What a fun event though, I wish to come back next year and have an even better time riding these amazing trails!

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Even after 5 years on the road, we sometimes forget how fragile the balance of our daily life is. Of course, sometimes we just need to get somewhere and drive a lot, but that also means making sure to get outside and be active for an hour or so a day at least. We are pretty good about keeping our regular (healthy) meals schedules and to keeping a work and school morning routine. However, since we left the Yukon, we haven’t slept in a campsite once and parking lot life does take its toll on all of us. Yes, our bus is big, but throw 5 adult-size person + a giant size dog and it feels very small. Especially after 2 weeks. 

Since there isn’t much external framework when you live on the road, you have to constantly check in with yourself to figure out why you feel the way you feel. It’s one of the reasons people say traveling is a fast track to self-improvement. And a fast track to divorce!!

So, yes, even after all this time, we’re still learning how much of a balancing act this is. After two days in nature, I feel like myself again, ready to cross the Prairies and hit the hot humid and buggy weather of Ontario. Just kidding, I’m so not ready for that. But hey, soon we’ll be in Quebec and spending time with our loved ones and I sure am ready for that!!

Finding free QUIET camping spots in Whistler and Canmore is not an easy task (and paid campgrounds are often full or very expensive). Even the usual trail head spots often have NO Overnight camping signs. We lucked out that our friends found a new trailhead that didn’t have a sign up yet, so we could spend two quiet nights here after the chaos of the Visitor Center (there are huge signs saying NO overnight camping there, but they tolerate it if you leave by 8 am).