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Erik and I awoke to clear skies at the Boulton Creek Trading Post. Erik found a water spigot at the back of the building so we were able to top off our water supplies. Just down the road was the climb up to Elk Pass, the first pass of the Continental Divide. This was the supposed to be the first real encounter with snow. Word was that there a lot of snow up there. We hoped that by hitting it early in the morning it would be easy to walk on. For the most part we were lucky and that that was the case. In some parts we were even able to ride on some of it! That was pretty awesome. Would’ve been better with a Salsa Mukluk though.
The climb up to the pass was pretty straightforward. Some riding, lots of pushing, but the snow was never that bad. This was the first time I saw some huge bear tracks. They had been walking along the same road that we were traveling. That was kinda scary.
This blurry picture is of the top of the pass. The camera was fogged up so it didn’t come out very good, and there was no sign, bummer. Pretty awesome though.
Once we started heading down the other side the snow got a little worse. This was my first time post-holing, and it was slow going. My shoes kept coming undone. With every step the velcro straps would lift up. Once the velcro got wet there was nothing to hold them tight. This was not going to work if we had much more snow. I would deal with this problem later. For now, it was just a matter of getting through the snow.
Part of the way down I came across this cabin. It’s there for people to use in a first-come, first-served basis. There was a bed, wood stove and table inside. Pretty awesome. It was a nice place to hang out for a little while. I spotted a former Tour Divide racers name inside there too.
After the cabin it was long descent, mostly, to Elkford. I pulled in and saw Erik’s bike in front of a cafe. He was done with his meal, but hung out as I ate mine. After lunch it was a long climb up a paved road with lots of mining traffic. The trucks were flying up and down this stretch. I was feeling really slow and down on power. This became common as we left food stops. Trying to climb while you’re still digesting your meal is tough. Better to keep moving forward though, even at a slow pace, than to sit around.
We were quickly separated on the climb and so I rode alone for the rest of the day. The day was long, as there was only one dirt section and a lot of pavement. We were officially on the alternate route now, which was all paved. In Sparwood I saw the world’s largest truck! I finally made it into Fernie, and was surprised to see Erik again. I thought he was much farther ahead.
This is where I made my first big mistake. The plan was to make it to Elko, about 20 miles farther. I thought there was food and services in Elko, so I skipped picking up a meal in Fernie. Erik had already eaten so I didn’t want him to wait for me. We pushed on together to Elko, arriving about 11pm, just as the sun went completely down. There were no services available, so I went to bed with only a granola bar as a meal. That was tough after having just ridden 130 miles. Second lesson learned. Know where your’re going and when you need to resupply! Study your maps!