Day 24, Banff to Coleman leg.
Morning dawned like a somewhat twisted version of Disney’s Seven Dwarves. We were all Sleepy, Groggy, Chilly and Soggy; the weather was Sunny and Frosty, but we were all Happy because, as unpleasant and unfortunate as last night's events were, Peter had caught the horses.
Peter often says, “The Trail is Life” and it’s so true. Sometimes unexpected, lousy things happen. It may really suck and nobody’s asking you to like it, but you just have to deal with it as best you can, with the resources you have in that moment. The important thing is to get back in the saddle and carry on. So, that is what we did. By 9:00AM, we were saddled, and on the trail, ready to take on Allenby Pass.
For the next 6.6 km we steadily climbed nearly 500m to peak elevation of 2422m and over spectacular Allenby Pass. Like Pipestone, it’s another spot I’d flagged for a high grizzly population; we saw plenty of sign, but no bears.
More amazing views as we ride down the south side of Allenby Pass and into the valley. Over the range to the west of us the province of British Columbia and the fabulous Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. We’re hopeful to see Mount Assiniboine, also called The Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies. I’ve been there, but never seen it from this side. Sean said if the day is reasonably clear we should have a good view of it from Bryant Creek. We see it, but it’s Matterhorn-esque peak is shrouded in cloud.
Peter’s leather boots and socks are still wet and cold from last night’s adventure. He’s wearing my spare pair of pants, plus whatever spare dry clothes we can cobble together that reasonably fit. He’s got spare boots and clothes in the trailer, so we scour the GPS looking for the best spot to meet up with Peter G and the Mother Ship. Mount Shark trailhead looks to be the best option. It’s a 6 km detour off our route for us, but a long drive from Canmore, up the rough Smith-Dorrien Spray Lakes trail, for Peter G. and the Adventure Rig. We contact Peter G via Garmin InReach messaging and arrange to meet up. Having a flexible, reliable and highly capable support vehicle driver is worth its weight in gold. Huge shout-out for Peter G; couldn’t imagine having done this trip without him.
We arrive at the Mount Shark trailhead shortly after 4:00 and wait for Peter G. We turn the horses out on a good patch of grass to graze. They’re tired and hungry, so it probably wasn’t necessary, but we hobble them anyway. After last night, we’re not taking any more chances. 32 km travelled today.
Peter G arrives a couple hours later, and like the Rock Star support vehicle driver he is, he’s got steaks and beer for us, to go along with Peter’s change of clothes and grain for the horses.
Camping at trailheads is not permitted, so we set up on an offshoot down the trail a bit. Tina cooks the steaks to absolute perfection over a small campfire and we feast. A Park Ranger, coming in off the trail, passes by our camp. We exchange pleasantries and she doesn’t say one word chastising us for being there. With full bellies, and horses fenced on a great patch of grass, we crawl into our sleeping bags for a much-needed sleep.