C – Well, what a night! As we knew our camp was in bear country, we moved the bikes away from the tent as we keep all the food in Rosies well sealed top box. We have some alarms which we attach to both the bikes, knowing that if a bear or other animal did happen to smell the food and try to get into it, the alarms would be triggered and hopefully scare the crap out of the bear, which will then flee, never to return.
After watching some Friends on the lap top and reading a chapter of my book, I snuggled into my sleeping bag for a warm, cozy nights sleep. At some point during the night (it was dark and starry, with a full moon and icy air) I was awoken by Todd saying ‘Channy, can you hear that?’ I then realised that the alarm which had been sounding in my dream was actually Mabels alarm sounding. I made some grunting noises, attempting to communicate that if there was something there, it would be long gone by now, and the bikes were a fair distance from the tent. I then rolled over and went back to sleep.
Todd shoved me awake a little later, with the alarm repeatedly sounding. He had shoved his head out of the tent, but couldn’t see the bikes as they were parked under some trees and therefore in shadow. He tried to convince me to go and check the bikes, but there was no way I was getting out of my very warm sleeping bag. However, I could tell he was never going to get back to sleep and I suddenly realised how much the alarm was echoing across the whole valley – if there was anyone else free camping in the area I’m sure they would have wondered what the hell was going on!! So, I rugged up and ventured over to the bikes with Todd, after him having sounded the air horn of course, with me holding the air horn and Todd carrying the bear spray, already cocked and ready to go.
We approached the bikes with Todd yelling and screaming like a banshee, by which time I was just finding the situation funnier and funnier. Of course, there was absolutely nothing there. But we did realise it was Rosies alarm, not Mabels, that was going off. After a trip back to the tent to fetch her keys, we got the alarm off when all the excitement was just too much for Todd and he accidently squeezed the trigger on the bear spray, right past me. I mean RIGHT past me. I turned and high tailed it back to the tent, before I got a whiff of the stuff. I am SOOOOOO glad that I was not standing a few centimetres further forward!!!!
I went straight back to sleep, knowing that after the alarms, air horn and banshee screaming that there would not be a single animal left in the whole of the valley.
T – I just want to add that my poor Mabel was in panic mode. Something big and hairy and breathing fire and acid was trying to attack her. The first 3 beeps that woke me up was Mabels alarm. Obviously Rosie decided she needed more attention and then started howling as well. I laid there half asleep wondering what the hell was going on.
Then the alarm went off again. Now these alarms have something like a 140 decibel rating on them, so they are damn loud! I knew for certain now that something was pawing at Mabel.
“Leave my Mabel alone” I shouted, from inside the tent, sheltering in my sleeping bag.
I tried to convince Chantelle to come with me to see what demonic thing was touching the bike, but she just mumbled something and rolled over to go back to sleep. Then the alarm went off again. This time I knew that I would have to go and scare off whatever was lurking in the darkness. I had visions of tackling something akin to the alien from the Alien movies. All jagged acidic frothed teeth and sharp claws. I know what the bears look like in these parts…
Chantelle passed me her head torch. Which thanks to its nearly flat batteries only managed to cast a few shadows directly in front of the tent. Useless.
In the end I stepped out of the tent. Prodding Chantelle in front of me, I gripped the bear spray and released the safety catch.
I screamed and yelled and made a heap of noise. You could probably hear me in Calgary. Then as we got within 5 meters of the bikes, the frigging alarm went off again! I totally crapped myself.
In the end there was nothing there. Nothing had touched the bikes. I don’t know why the alarm kept sounding but it was all clear. I was so relieved. So much so that my trembling hands let rip a shot of bear spray right past Chantelle and into the back side of Rosie. Whoops!
C – The morning came with a clear blue sky and a warm, warm sun. We had to wait for the tent to dry off, so enjoyed breakfast and a hot coffee in the sunshine.
The ride today took us to Jasper, then down the Icefields Parkway and onto Highway 11. The road into Jasper and then the Icefields Parkway did not disappoint and it was an amazing ride. We met a few bikers along the way, chatting all things bikes, and just generally enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and the typically beautiful Canadian scenery.
We travelled this road about 8 years ago and when we reached the Columbian Icefields, we were shocked at how much the Athabasca Glacier has appeared to recede since we were here last.
As we hadn’t planned on taking Highway 11 until this morning, we decided to fuel up at the junction as we were not entirely sure how far until the service station. We bumped into a father and son (Gym and Wende from the Harley Owners Group in Wisconsin) riding duo who we had chatted to earlier in the day, with Gym asking if he could treat us to a late lunch/early dinner. It was such a kind offer and we joined them for sandwiches and coffee. They were such interesting guys! Thank you for the conversation and for shouting us the meal – we hope to see you again soon.
All too soon it was time to hit the road and start our journey down Highway 11. The lady from the Hinton Visitors Centre assured us that this was a beautiful highway, and man o man is it ever! We rode along in complete awe of the mountains, sky and glacial blue waters of the rivers and lakes.
We happened upon an incredible free camp area and decided we definitely needed to wake up to a view tomorrow!
After a stroll down to the river to feel the icy waters on my bare feet, we set about enjoying the sunshine and view from our camp chairs.