Day 13 – Golden to Kicking Horse Campground, Yoho National Park

Day 13 – Golden to Kicking Horse Campground, Yoho National Park. 

I had a lovely message this morning from Jane Lodge, FOTB and Head of Music at Beechwood Park School,,:

“There are comments made every day from the pupils, asking where you are now, so I’ve put up a map of Canada on the Charity notice board and a ‘Mr Buckton is here’ arrow which I’m gradually moving along! We’re all right behind you! 🚴🎶xx”

I love the thought of being a moving arrow. It sounds like progress! Thank you Jane for getting the kids involved like this. (A moving arrow and a map for each student might also be useful for finding them if they’re ever late for their violin lesson at breaktime!)

  • Today’s Distance (miles): 37
  • Time in saddle: 3h 35
  • Max/min temp (°c): 20°/5°
  • Climb/descend (feet) : 2,756 / 1,223
  • Calories used: 1,783
  • Cafe time: to the max

There’s a beautiful Paul Simon song  called “Train in the Distance“, which I thought of last night (and just listened to on YouTube) as I was awoken by the far-off wail of a freight train, making its way up the Columbia River valley. I listened to it for a while, imagining the terrain I’d ridden the day before, and drifted happily back off to sleep.

I’m now in a very cool cafe in Golden, Jita’s Cafe, sitting out the rain and listening to some high-end mountain bike guys chatting about sponsors, competitions and the entertainment circuit. Every other guy in here this morning has been a biker, meeting up to drink lots of coffee and plan their day’s routes. This is not a place where people will ask you about riding your boring old road bike. Not enough suspension to discuss. Mind-boggling to think of off-road descending in this weather. I’ll stick to the asphalt, thanks. Although I failed yet again to get through to Susie, I had a long FaceTime call with my lovely mum and dad back in sunny Cambridgeshire (sorry Dad, you’ve been cut off!):

Once the rain let up a bit I set off for the highway, with one important stop in town first:

I’ve been thinking a lot about a book I haven’t read for quite a while – Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. He died a short while ago and I kept meaning to get another copy having long ago given mine away. They didn’t have a nice battered second hand copy (the owner scoured the store for me, upstairs & downstairs), so I splashed out on a new one. Books are absurdly expensive in Canada. Of all things to be pricey, eh? I fully intend to batter it up a bit on this trip.

The low cloud was looking ominous but I launched myself up the first climb of the day, known as “10 Mile Hill” (beating the road out of Hope by one mile!). As it transpired it was wet, but not like the other day. The problem was the cold. I wish I’d remembered my British trick of plastic bags over socks and into the shoe (I don’t think it went above 6 or 7° all day).

The mountain views were haunting today, with the very tops often obscured, or veiled in a fluffy white mist that looked curled up at the edges, as if it was being unfurled over the snowy peaks:

This was a shorter ride, owing to the length of the climb (very like the first day out of Hope) but in the end I felt I could have gone further. If you’ve ever had a holiday when you cycle for a few days of the trot, you’ll have noticed that after a few days you suddenly find the going gets easier. This happened to me a few days ago, when my “climbing legs” kicked in, and I stopped dropping down into the smallest gears, and each pedal stroke somehow had more oomph. It’s a lovely feeling, and a reward for the preparation before the trip, but you have to be careful not to go crazy! So I’m still in fairly cautious mode until I’m done in the mountains next week.

I was travelling through the Yoho National Park, going over Kicking Horse Pass then down to the tiny town of Field, just 4 miles from my home this evening, Kicking Horse Campground. A highlight of the day was deciding to venture off the highway and explore Field. I was so cold by now (mainly toes and fingers) that hot coffee and somewhere to dry off a bit was all I wanted. I found my way to such a great cafe/bar/restaurant/liquor store, called The Siding, where I parked my bike and settled in for several free refills.

The staff were all very friendly and chatty, and I had the very good fortune to meet Dan and Craig (originally from Wells and Glasgow) who arrived with their lovely wives and kids whose names I didn’t get, sorry! There were loads of kids of all ages who were clearly intent on hot chocolate. Dan was a keen cyclist, doing Canada coast-to-coast as well, but the “virtual workout” version! He and some pals were riding the distance on spinner bikes. They live in Calgary and seem to have a great time exploring the area, skiing a lot and cycling too of course. One of the young lads, Dan’s oldest I think, went to check out my bike with dad, especially the dynamo hub that powers all my gear. “Why have you go so many rags on the back?” he asked when he came back in, a sorry reflection on the hard life my flags are living on the road. When I arrived at the campsite later I discovered that they had added a headband, I think, to my flagpole! Great gift, thank you family!

Once I found the campground I set up, showered and got firewood. Snow had been forecast all day, but in the end it stayed off and even brightened up. The fire was damp and slow but the site “ambassador” dropped by for a chat, bringing some dry cedar sticks, and then it roared away keeping me nice and warm whilst I cooked and ate then played some fireside uke.

This is a stunning spot, deep in the heart of the Rockies. It’s going to to be a chilly night, so I’m off to bed now with every layer going! I’m off-grid of course, so hopefully I’ll post this tomorrow from Lake Louise, Banff or Canmore, where I’ll be reunited with Stewart & Gill.

One What Is It, Sam?, this stunning little red flower:

And a sign that made me wonder, did Sting ever have a holiday here?

8 thoughts on “Day 13 – Golden to Kicking Horse Campground, Yoho National Park

  1. The Rockies look so atmospheric and mysterious…

    Did you manage to get anyone to sing along with you at your campfire uke sesh?

    I’m afraid I’m stumped with that gorgeous little alpine flower. I can speculate as to why its leaves are so red, however – a number of alpine plants accumulate red anthocyanin pigments in their leaves, and when the pigments absorb UV radiation, they re-radiate the energy as heat, which keeps the plant warm in the harsh alpine climate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It looks a bit like a sort of stubby Indian Paintbrush. Or almost like an euphorbia, with a red bract rather an a proper flower? But I dunno.Interesting fact re red pigmentation, what a lot I’m learning from this blog and comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Ben,
    Do send my love to Banff and Lake Louise. Amazing part of the world. It’s beauty has stayed with me all these years…..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Ben,
    Could be a Castilleja or Paintbrush.A Hemiparasitic on the roots of grasses.
    What do you reckon Sam? (I’m not that clever but my neighbour is !)

    Glad you’re having such a good time despite the freeze. We are enjoying the photos here at home.
    Pedal Power !!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the curling mist , and good news about climbing legs. The pic of you in Canada and David or a bit of him in the studio in U.K. and me gardening beyond is mindblowing surreal

    Liked by 1 person

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