Whitefish or Bust: 4 Days In...

When we last left our rag tag group of adventurers, they were rolling out from Banff with cool weather and cloudy skies threatening to up the “Adventure” quotient of their ride.

As luck would have it, the skies would open up shortly after tire met trail, and with only a few kilometers behind, a random shifter failure would introduce the first mechanical of the trip. Another shifter was sourced in short order (and by sourced, I mean dropped off by a riders wife…) and installed trail-side.

36km relatively uneventful kilometers later and we would see the group (and a large amount of rain…) spend the night at the Spray Lakes Campground, where moral was high (and reportedly, night time snoring was loud).

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Day 2 would begin with more rain, and a group decision to shift the route to the Smith Dorrien up to Mount Engadine. As 22km of rain would see the riders break for tea, and an additional soggy 38 km would take them to the next camping spot. As one of the riders put it, “Horrible relentless rain made it a horrible experience”. The sad reality of bikepacking is that it isn’t all sunshine and glory, and the cold and wet conditions proved a strain on the groups ability to all push thru, with only five of the seven riders making it to Boulton. With everyone and everything soaked, camp was set up in the rain, and everyone prayed for a break in the moisture…

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Day 3 saw the return of the sun, and the riders made quick and uneventful work of the 81km over Elk Pass and down into Elkford, BC. Camp was set up in the Elkford Municipal Campground, and everyone had a chance to relax, clean bikes, dry gear, and source food. Moral was high after what could arguably be the first “Fun” day of the trip…

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Day 4 was off to a good start with the group crushing the big climb out of Elkford. A bit of a navigational “whoops” lead to a “bonus 20km” of riding for the five of them, and then later in the day some large washouts gave everyone a chance to hone their “bicycle portage” abilities. By all accounts, four of the riders did very well, while WLC’s own Jason Zerk somehow ended up in the river. ;) The day concluded with everyone rolling into Sparwood, BC, for baths in an A&W washroom, food, and a much needed resupply. Known scheduling conflicts would make this as far as the road would take one more of the riders, and the remaining four would ride out a few hours further, logging a 93km day, before setting up camp once again and waiting to see what adventure the next day would provide…

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