July 02 2011 - Rocky Mountain Run
Canada Alberta Calgary
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This trip was
another last minute go. I was given my "kitchen pass" about 09:00 and
was on the road by 10:00. This is why I have my bike in the garage ready to go.
For days like this. Fueled up in Valley Ridge (West side of Calgary).
West on highway #1 Trans Canada to Kananaskis turn off to highway 40 south. Watch this road for speed traps and wildlife.
Stopped for fuel at Fortress Junction store. This will extend my backountry range. This stop is exactly 100 km from the gas station in Valley Ridge. A nice way to check your gas mileage. Mine 7.75 litres/100km. Left here around 11:10.
Near the summit of Highwood Pass was a group of cross country skiers on their pavement rigs heading up the shoulder. It was funny looking because they were all in unison and you wouldn't expect to see the "skiing" motion.
I had to stop and take the summit photo. Nice to catch the mountain goats as well.
The area around Highwood Junction is very beautiful. You can tell which valley the Forestry Trunk Road is in if you look south and see the dust rising. This road was very busy due to it being a long weekend. Passing in theses conditions can be a little dicey.
My plan was to head south then pick up the Dutch Creek Road westbound and seek out the Deadmans Pass crossing. Good signage on the FTR, Zumo 550 with Canada Topo, and the essential Backroad Mapbooks all work together and kept me where I wanted to go. Out of the Dutch Creek staging area the road is signed as Dutch Creek Connector Road. It heads northwest to begin with then southwest into some of the most spectacular scenery in the Canadian Rockies. This is another reason I have my bike.
At the Chinook Lake staging area I talked to a fellow that had been on some of the trails in the area. He advised me against tackling the Deadmans Pass trail with such a large bike. When I ride solo, I listen to stuff like that!
Skip Deadmans Pass until I am riding with some buddies.
Now south on Allison Creek road to pick up Highway #3 the Crowsnest. Time to ride slab to Sparwood, take on some fuel and food. Next leg a long one.
A &W has a Husky gas station right beside it. Out of there 15:15.
South on slab to pick up Hartley Pass road just before Fernie. This is easy to find with the above mentioned tools. The ride up to Hartley Lake is an easy dualsport ride. Again very busy due to long weekend. Past Hartley Lake is very remote and untraveled.
The plan is to cross Hartley Pass and pick up Sulphur Creek to Bull river. It is easy to stay on the main road through here. At Bull River road turning north to follow Bull River FSR. This is a very active logging area and with all the wet weather in previous weeks, the road is rough and it looks like they have been working hard to keep it operational for the logging trucks.
Now to try the Quinn Creek route to Whiteswan Lake. I have done the Bull River around to Whiteswan but have heard that this route will do as well. As I travelled a few km's up this road, clearly there were no fresh tracks, just two sets of the same 4 x 4 from before the last rain. That is not a good sign. Next the higher I traveled the more grass on the road, another not so good sign. The scenery up here is spectacular. It is getting late in the day and I am solo. I have encountered several bears today and one very large black bear. So I get to this little creek crossing and think hmmm, if this goes bad I really don't want to be here. Time to turn back. I will take Bull Creek to Whiteswan. I will need to do this route again with some buddies.
Time to head out to Highway 95/93 and head south. Once I hit the slab I figured I had enough daylight to make it over Grey Creek Pass and catch one of the last ferries of the evening to cross Kootenay Lake. Worth a try.
Slab to Kimberly then pick up the St Mary's lake road. Oh Oh, sign says Grey Creek Pass Closed. Well of course when you ride a KLR 650 you often ask yourself "how closed is closed?" so let's go! Hmm well closed is actually closed. As you can see in the picture the avalanche season was a record one for this area. I know some of you riders will look at the pic and say I would ride around that! Well go ahead. This was now 21:30 and I am solo. No way am I taking any chances. Time for another turn around. Back to Kimberly for fuel and to layer up with cold weather gear for the long cold night ride home to Calgary. Out of Marysville Petro-Canada at 22:45. Nice ride on the slab all the way back home with no wildlife encounters Home kinda late but some great ride stats as shown in the pics.