All posts for the month July, 2012

With my calf muscle still in recovery, I thought it would be a good opportunity to do some cross training.  Trent has been gearing up for the Bow 80 mountain bike race, so he thought it would be a good confidence booster to bring me out for a ride and punish me.

One would think biking and jogging are similar, both using leg muscles with a dependency on cardiovascular fitness.  But biking muscles and jogging muscles are two very different things (at least in my non-expert experience).

After punishing me on Moose Mountain last week, leaving me with broken self esteem and a broken crank, I thought I would try to keep up this week.  Having Stampede far enough in the rear view mirror means I should at least start getting back to an acceptable level of fitness.

The results from last weeks ride

Trent, Doug, Rob and I decided to run the long loop, I was by far the slowest of the group, but I felt my fitness level coming back compared to last week.  I’m not sure what skill level is required to start wearing spandex, I hope I never get that good.

I thought I was taking video down the long declines, but it turns out the camera was just taking stills.  By the time I figured it out, most of the steep downhills were done.  As always I came back with a few bruises, going over the handle bars once, I’m thinking I need to trade the hardtail in for something with a better suited suspension.

Opps, not set to video mode

At the end of the ride Doug broke his BBQ and we had a few beers and burgers, good way to end the 22km ride.


Two days before leaving for Northover I decided to jog home from work as a warm-up and pulled my calf muscle.  So a day before I went in for some physio and ended up getting acupuncture.  I’ve never had acupuncture before, but figured I would do whatever it takes to be in game shape for the hike.  It ended up feeling great the entire hike, quite impressed.

With the forecast looking unpredictable, we headed out Friday after work and stopped off at the Stony Nakoda Casino for some carb loading.  Adam had 5 pieces of cake and washed it down with a beer, I knew at that point it was on.  Ashley and Lucy joined us for dinner then headed back to Calgary.

Carb Loading

Getting out to the mountain late meant there were no campsites left, so we decided to pitch a tent in a day use area knowing we would be up and out early the next morning.  Friday night it absolutely poured and the wind howled.  None of us got very good sleep and Glen left his hiking boots out in the rain.

The morning was cool and windy, but we decided to head out and see how far we can get.  The Traverse can be very dangerous if its wet or windy, so we knew turning back could be a possibility.  We made a big breakfast knowing it could be our last real meal until the evening.  Knowing that Bears like fish, we stuck to bacon and eggs for breakfast.  I haven’t ever seen Discovery channel footage of a Grizzly taking down a wild pig, so we figured it was safe to cook up.


Up at 5am



At 7:30 we hit the trail, within 20 minutes it was warm and in the trees the wind was dead.


There was a sign before heading out warning that some of the trail was flooded, with a 2 hour detour, after a couple hours in we came across the first stream crossing.  Usually this section crosses over a trickle of water, not even large enough for a bridge, but with all the rain and heavy snowpack in the mountains it was a fast moving river.


We hiked up to where the trail was flooded and found a section we thought we could cross.  We tested the depth and it was about waist deep so we decided to wade across.  The water was freezing and the current strong, but was by no means dangerous.  We saved a few hours by not hiking around, and it was a good opportunity to ice my calf muscle which was doing great.

Adam crossed first


We waded to an island in the middle, then Adam and Glen waded the last section which was much deeper, while I decided to walk the fallen log.  I made it without falling, but it could have been a bad decision if i slipped off.

Across the other side

We missed the fork in the trail due to the flooding and missed the turn to Hidden Lake.  We walked about 1km past before we realized it, but decided to take a small game trail shortcut instead of backtracking.  The trail around hidden lake was brutal, because the official trail was under water, the trail we took wasnt much better than bushwacking.  Every 20 meters was another fallen log(s) to climb over, the forest was thick and wet and mosquitoes were out.  Everyone was hoping we wouldn’t have to come back through this trail.

At the end was the climb to Aster Lake.

Water fall below Aster Lake

Hidden Lake with Upper Kananaskis Lake behind it.

We got up to the last crest before Aster Lake when we hit a few streams to cross, then a large Snow Field.  This year had heavy snow fall, and a cool spring which meant the trail was a few feet under snow.  With a steep grade of around 45 degrees we debated the best way to get across.  Adam, being the most capable climber decided to go across first and see if there was any way around.  We thought we could use the back wall to pull us up, but there was a 6 foot crevass between the snow and wall.  The snow had a waterfall running into it, and a water fall running out the bottom.  A slip and fall here meant you may slide down the snow and over the edge.  After exploring a few areas to get around we decided we would only meet more snow ahead and it wasnt worth the risk.

Adam crossing the drift


Adam with Northover Ridge in the distance

Looking up at the Traverse we saw black clouds and high winds.  Disappointed, but knowing there was cold beer back at the car, we decided to turn back.

By the time we got back to Upper Kananaskis, the sun was out and it was a perfect day, but the you could still see the black clouds over the ridge.


Not Happy

In the end we did about 25km, but never made it over the ridge. In another month (late August) the snow should be melted and we can attempt it again.

Orange was actual route

Before leaving next time we’ll make sure to check current trail reports and area advisories.

Northover Ridge in Kananaskis Country is a typically 3 day hike through some of the most scenic terrain in Kananaskis Country in Alberta.  Being guys we decided it would be a good idea to attempt this in one day.  I figured the 10 days of Stampede partying was perfect training for a 40ish km hike/climb.  At the least it would enable us to sweat out some of the beer that still lingered in our bloodstream.  Our plan is to pack light and move fast, many people have completed this in one day, so I’m expecting the same.

Our route is roughly mapped out below:

Northover Ridge Path heading towards 3Isle then over the ridge

There have been a number of Bear warnings for the area, so along with some basic survival gear we’ll be packing some bear spray.  We anticipate a 12-15 hour round trip, I’ll be bringing the Spot which will be our only method of communication.

Good collection of pics to summarize the trip.  Also I have provided the full Spot GPS dump (in GPX format) of the trip here: Full-Tuk-Trip

Relaxing out at the cabin was great, I spotted one last mangy wild animal.

When I got home Ash pressure washed me down, everything I had was covered in dust.  Its going to get some getting use to being back in civilization.  I have to go to sleep at a certain time now, I cant just stop and take a pee on the side of any road, but I’m going to enjoy not having to setup a tent every night.

The Heidenau K60 tires lasted well considering the conditions I rode on.  I figure I will get around 12,000KM out of the back and double from the front.  The Dempster gravel really wears them down.

Heidenau Tires after 9,000km of heavy load and gravel road

Overall the trip was great, the gear was perfect and the bike performed flawlessly.  One thing I regret taking was my SLR camera, it was just too bulky and I found I didn’t take it out much. Other than that there were a few things on the bike I would have changed, but nothing major.  My immediate thoughts looking back include:

  • Prepare for cold and rain
  • Stick to campgrounds for camping, they are plentiful and cheap
  • Invest in some good tires that will make the distance, consider riding road tires up to Whitehorse then swapping out
  • Bring extra gas, you never know when you are going to run out
  • SPOT GPS was a great way to let people know you are ok, there is no cell phone coverage up north
  • Its easy to do laundry, so don’t take too many clothes, they are bulky

I put a video of the trip together here is a link to the Video.

I never realized just how great this corner of Alberta is, it feels like Switzerland with the rolling green hills and majestic mountain peaks.  Its often overshadowed by the tourist traps of Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper on the other side of this range.

Cool morning

The sheep were everywhere and looked shaggy as they were loosing their winter coats.

Shaggy Sheep

Some friends of mine in the power trading industry wanted me to stop by Nordegg and ‘send a few thousand extra BTUs of natural gas down the Nordegg line’ – huh?  I did get a picture.

I couldn’t pass this area without a stop at Ram Falls.

Ram River Falls

The best roads are those with little maintenance, this stretch of the Forestry Trunk road has narrow winding sections up and down the side of the mountain, not great for making distance, but perfect for dual sport riding.  The weekend party-ers were starting to arrive, by the time I hit Caroline I was navigating pickup trucks with drivers of questionable sobriety piled full of people flying down the road.  In these areas its best to stay off the roads during long weekends.

Trunk Road

Arrived at the lake after 6 hours of riding the Forestry roads.

Alberta Lake

I planned on staying the night at my parents cabin, Ash and everyone had driven out in the morning and was meeting me there for some long weekend festivities.

Ash surprised me with a Welcome Home cake, it was amazing how much detail was put into it. You can even see my rain gear strapped to the back tail bag.  This was made off of pictures I had sent out during my trip, really cool.



It was nice to be off my bike and truly relax with the family for a few days.


Up early in the rain, I slept great after a long soak and was getting excited about meeting Ash at my parents Cabin.  Ed was planning on heading down to the US so we were parting ways and both had a lot of miles ahead of us.

When riding so many hours you think about all sorts of things.  This afternoon I started noticing the style of each caravan/RV that would drive by.  Most are generic white with one or two stripes down the side.  However, Puma  5th wheels have stepped up their game.  Depending on the model you get an airbrushed picture of a Puma on the front.  The deluxe model, have a bad ass looking Puma ripping up the brand logo.  I’m not sure who they are marketing to, but I suppose someone in product development has a love of airbrushed predators on the front of trucks.  It may not be ok to airbrush a wolf on the side of your mobile home, but if you get a Puma 5th wheel you can show everyone you pass how bad ass your Puma RV is.  Before my next trip I’m going to get a spider monkey airbrushed on the front of my helmet.

Aside from airbushed Pumas, there were a lot of other animals throughout the day including Reindeer, Bears and Mountain Goats.

Muncho Lake is blue like Lake Louise

I stopped for coffee and to wait for Ed to catch up, I never saw him pass, I stayed and ate a big lunch and had another coffee, still I did not see him come by.  We had planned on going separate ways today, so I thought he may have blasted by me.  I didnt want to backtrack as I didnt know if he was behind or in front of me at this point so after another coffee I decided to continue forward, hopefully meeting him in Dawson Creek before he heads east and I head west.

Getting this far south I knew I was bound to hit darkness for the first time in week.  I crossed into the Alberta border past Dawson Creek the sky was Alberta blue.  I never bumped into Ed again and was hoping everything was fine with him.

Back home


I love small towns that try to play off their name (like Vulcan) or have the ‘biggest something’.  Beaver Lodge is no different, they have, well, a giant Beaver:

I would have made it more cartoon than realistic rodent looking

Sun Setting


As darkness settles in I found myself in unfamiliar territory.  It was the long weekend and most rivers and campsites were full of people out having a good time.  I was tempted to stop and pitch my tent, but I wasnt tired and wanted to make some miles.  Unlike the north you cant keep taking photos at 1am:

Beautiful alpine valley

Cadomin Mine

Getting into Grande Cache I pulled into a camp ground.  It was dark, cold and quiet.  I was just too tired and didnt feel like setting up my wet camping gear so I decided to splurge and find a motel in town.  Most places were closed, and I didnt want to lug my stuff up to a hotel room, so I settled on the luxurious cinderblock suites of Grande Cache.