I left Canmore with its towering monoliths seeming ordinary, almost inconsequential compared to the stunning jags that allowed me to see their icy points the last few lovely days in the Canadian Rockies. The steep-walled canyon containing touristy Canmore widened as I pedaled away, coasted and pushed gently by wind, downstream toward the lowland. Rock-bare peaks of the past became forested up to their summits. Then grass intruded below them, pushing dense trees to the tops of hills. Finally, the trees lost dominance everywhere, replaced by rolling grassland. Rocks and glacial morraines of the Rockies became grassy pasture, fenced for livestock. Elk, moose and bighorn sheep stepped aside for domesticated cattle and horses.
As I descended, the air warmed. Off came my yellow Gortex outer jacket, my windproof hood, and knitted head bogan. With higher sun and lower elevation, off came the leg-warming tights and finger-thawing glove liners. Finally even the gloves. All these things I had worn every day, all day, since Jasper.
I stopped in Exshaw for breakfast. I felt happy to be away from tourism and in an almost-town—gas pumps, store, café—all run by a family, food prepared by the owner—twice the food for half the Canmore price. The school bus came while I ate, and the owners’ boy ran out, ran back to deposit his bicycle helmet, ran out again to the bus.
A wide meandering river washes rocks and sand out of the mountains; and, alongside it, a warm nomad. Out onto the piedmont it deposits us on friendly lowland. Here in Cochrane, I will sleep upstairs, over the bar in the 1904 Rockview Hotel, where the bathroom is down the hall. I think the prairie, when it comes tomorrow will be nice.
Sharon Hawley has finished her bicycle trip in Canada for this summer. She hopes to complete the adventure in another year. Please follow her winter adventure at http://sharonswinter.blogspot.com/
- ▼ June (13)