We just got back from a wonderful weekend away camping with friends. Back in April or so we made plans to go on a small group camping trip. We picked a day that seemed to work for people and we were off. It ended up only being Nate and I and another couple Cam and Lauren (L-or-en) because unfortunately our friend Nat in the other couple came down with the flu.
We all arrived Friday evening in rain, and of course I made the assumption that it would rain the rest of the weekend – I mean last year thats what it meant every time. We made these wonderful pizza stuffed pitas which we grilled on the fire and were delish. We brought our dogs and surprisingly they got along wonderfully – though Molly might have picked up a few bad habits from PK. Though I think PK was a bit jealous that Molly could fit in our laps while in front of the fire.
The following day, Saturday, I had wonderful plans. Lauren and I would go for a nice little bike ride, then come back and get some sun on and read a book – I was planning to stitch my Hocuspocusville block. We had found a map that had a loop that was marked a 37km and the trail head was nice and flat. We thought it would be a nice flat, dirt path and we could get it done in about 4 hours. Perfect, back for lunch and some sun.
WE WERE WRONG! REALLY WRONG! SERIOUSLY IN DANGER OF NEVER LEAVING THE WOODS AGAIN WRONG!
I had a feeling we were in trouble when we started biking up our first hill. It wasn’t super steep, but it wasn’t exactly flat. We soon discovered that it was going to be a very hilly, rocky trail. GREAT 😦 Our second clue that this wasn’t going to be easy was at a creek crossing where we meet people warning us that there would be a lot of people on the trail in the Banded Peak Challenge, a bike/hike race. If this course was for a bike/hike race there was no way this was going to our wonderful flat, dirt path. It wasn’t. We went up and down tremendous hills, over sharp rocks, roots and some rocky terrain.
It was challenging and exhausting. Three hours felt like 10 and because of the terrain 5 kms felt like 10. We met some friendly people along our ride, telling us that we only had a little ways to go. LIES! All LIES! We had hope that we were making progress. I remember how excited we were when we went down this massive hill (we might have been more happy that we didn’t have to go up it.) We thought that we were on the home stretch, that we would ride along the river for a while then make one more assent to the main road and be back at our camp ground – the end was in sight.
THEN A FLAT TIRE! I rode down another sharp rocked hill, then we had to walk up another hill which would have been very tricky to ride up, I was getting ready to ride down the other side to discover my back tire was flat. I was yelling for Lauren that I was in some trouble but the hill was a good one and she coasted quite a ways. She waited for me, as she did much of the ride 😦
Once I reached her, I flipped my bike over and we started our repair. Good think Nate had traded camel backs with me. His had all the tools I needed and spare tubs. We read the instructions on the packages and went to work. A man stopped and asked is we needed help. We said we would love to make sure we did it correctly. He checked our work and we chatted about the trail. He asked if we had heard him calling as he had done the ride earlier in the week and a warden told him bears were in the area and informed him to make noise as he rode. Great, now not only did we worry about where we were, how much further we had to go, but also bears. He told us we had quite a long ways to go and showed us on his GPS where we were on the trail. We weren’t even at the half way point. He said it was a challenging ride coming up. We would have a large section of hills to go up and steep ones, ones to walk up, at the top there would be a junction to continue the loop or left into a campground.
I was DONE. D.O.N.E. DONE. I didn’t think I cold go on any more. My knees where sore, my legs cramping, I had a spasm on my quad. I just didn’t think I could go on any longer, but it was either keep going or be stranded. At some points I didn’t know if we would get out. We followed a trail, but with no markers saying where you were it was hard to know if we were still on the trail. We met another couple of bikers who said that we should just turn around and go back – but it took us forever to get to that point, we weren’t sure if we would make it back before dark. So we made a plan to get to the campground and see if there was a way we could get out from there. Either convince someone to get us to our camp ground, an info centre so we could contact our park warden to reach the boys so they could get us, or camp the night.
Just before the junction we meet two more riders. They said the junction was about 2 km. We noticed that they were wearing a KM counter and they said they had ridden about 25km already. We were trying to do the math in our head 37 kms – 25 kms = 12 kms. There was NO WAY we only rode 12 kms. But according to what we read – that was all we did. What a horrific 12 kms.
When we got to the junction we saw the camp ground – but we didn’t see any cars. It was a back country camp ground, one where you hike into. It was called Tombstone. I don’t need to say anything more then that do I?
A nice man there told us there was another camp site about 7.5 kms. He gave us terrific directions and I was thankful Lauren remembered them all. As we rode we made other plans as well. We figured if we could change a tire, we could also remember how to make a lean to shelter if we needed to camp out. We also were hoping that the boys had figured out a way to get PK out of the vehicle – you see Lauren had the set of keys with her – again we thought we would be back before them.
I was thankful for Lauren the whole way. She walked with me up the steep hills, we rode the sections together that were rideable, and walked the sections that weren’t. She encouraged me as we went and wouldn’t leave me behind when I asked her to – yes I did. I’m not proud of it, but I did it. I had a pity party on the trail. I wanted to be back at the site, having lunch then roasting smokies and munching on smores. I didn’t see an end in sight so I wanted it to end. She also yelled at the top of her lungs to frighten off bears, “HELLO, HELLO, HELLO.” Once bored with that she sang Bible Camp Songs,
“I just wanna be a sheep!
I just wanna be a sheep!
And I pray the Lord my soul to keep
I just wanna be a sheep! (Baa!)”
Then she went back to greetings and tried it in different languages.
Anyways, the 7.5 kms was tricky. It was very rocky and I was nervous of losing another tire. We walked a lot. Lauren gave us a goal too. If we couldn’t find anyone at the camp site we had another 1.6 kms to ride until we hit highway 40 where we could try and hitch a ride back to the camp or to an info centre. Lauren’s goal was to be at the parking lot by 5:30 to try and catch the day hikers on their way back.
The views were incredible – but do you know I didn’t bring my camera along. I was worried that if I fell I would break it. It was a shame too, because they were sights to see.
Once at the next camp ground on a lovely lake we discovered not all people are nice. We asked these guys if they would help us and they said, “NO. We have walked back and forth up and down that hill to our car about 6 times today and I am not doing it again.” So we went to the trail opening to make our way to the parking lot. We met a lovely family, told them our trials and tribulations and asked if they would help. They said they would, if they could but their family of four were traveling in an Acura. Not exactly room for another 2 people plus bikes. But they said they would help anyway they could. Then a couple came down the hill, we asked if they were going to Calgary, they said they were and we asked for help – they said they would be happy to, they had a RAV 4 with a bike rack. Paul and Elsa were their names and were our saviors that day. We said we would head to the parking lot and wait for them, but would try to see if we could hitch a ride. We rode down the hill with the wind in our hair, helmet actually and hollered for joy when we saw Highway 40. When we rode into the parking lot it was the greatest joy ever. We got off our bikes, hugged, and had a snack. We made it by 5:30 pm as well, our goal. As we snacked we tried to flag trucks with open cabs that would be heading in the direction of Calgary. Little did we know that we were flagging the trucks in the wrong direction 🙂 It was pointed out by the nice family once they finished their hike. They offered to call our husbands to tell them where we were and offered to do anything they could for us. We thanked them, but said we would wait for the Paul and Elsa.
Paul and Elsa emerged as our snacks were finished and we were growing cold. They loaded our bikes and took us all the way back to our camp, an hour and a half drive. When we were making our goal I told Lauren I was hoping to make it back to our site by 8:30pm. We did. Paul and Elsa were lovely to chat with on our drive. We shared adventures, good hikes, bad hikes and just chatted. As we pulled into the camp group we saw Nate and Cam with the dogs talking with a park warden. I yelled out the window and Paul and Elsa pulled over. We unloaded there, thanked them millions of times over and we walked back to camp. There might have been some tears.
That night we ate out smokies and smores in glee, got in pajamas early and said good night by 10, an early night by camping standards.
We woke refreshed but not willing to do anything that day. After breakfast, to which the dogs insisted on bothering Cam for,
the boys fished and we stayed in our chairs and read.
That was the trip – in novel form. So my Saturday afternoon of sewing did NOT happen. Oh, well, I had quite the adventure and story to share anyways.
Also, the kilometers on the map were wrong. The first half is 23kms, the second half was 25kms, entire loop is 48kms.
We rode a total of 23km + 2km + 7.5km + 1.6km = 36.1 kms. I don’t feel as bad now, I knew we rode more then 12!