Straight after lunch it was time for Finnian's first ex utero hike up Ha Ling. The road up to the Goat Creek parking lot seemed markedly better than the previous week & we were hiking by five to one. All the snow that I hiked through last week was all gone & there were heaps of people & dogs on the trail. As we got above the tree line the wind started to get up a bit.
|Megan, Finn hiding, Gill & Alex - looking down Goat Creek (Banff is around the corner to the right)|
We started the last zag of all the zig-zags up to the summit as we layered up a bit. The wind kept getting stronger & stronger. About a hundred metres from the top there were some really big gusts that came close to blowing some of us over. The biggest of all the gusts ripped my sunnies off my face & I last saw them disappearing towards the edge of the cliff. None of us valued getting to the top over not-being blown a few hundred metres down to Canmore, so we decided to turn around.
|Playing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Finn - isn't the summit close?|
|A short photo stop on the edge of the ridge - the wind had great fun messing up the girls' hair.|
As was the case last Saturday, after getting home after the hike/stroll I was still itching for a ride in the sun. This time I went up to the Nordic Center & was pleased to get all around the Orange Trail, Coal Chutes & the exit trails without unclipping. The trails were in sublime condition & being early evening there was no-one around - the only life I had to share the trail with was a curious deer.
Alex bailed on our planned Sunday epic to do a Jumpingpound loop, claiming sickness. Thankfully I had a back up plan - free shuttles at Moose Mountain. The drive down was fantastic - there are even more yellow trees down beside the highway near the Cochrane turnoff & around Bragg Creek. Arriving around eleven, I got on the first shuttle up the hill with five or six others - I definitely had the most puny bike. I followed them all down Race of Spades - it wasn't too steep & I could easily ride all of the trail & keep up with the group. There were some pretty big structures & I didn't hit any of the gaps, but could ride most of the rest - there was a neat bridge up two metres in the trees that wound its way around for a while. Halfway down there was a really steep climb that had all in front off & pushing straight away - I waited for quite some time at the top. Moving off, the second half back to the parking lot was just as fun - if not quite as rocky & rooty. I decided to do one more run to see if I could go any faster - we had a smaller group & it was faster. I rode a few more structures than the first time - one I was told was rollable, it sort of was - but a lot steeper & taller than I was expecting. It was the first time I remember bottoming out my forks so conclusively - quite a loud thunk.
|I was too busy having fun riding down to take many photos - here is some typical trail.|
Back at the car, it was time for lunch before heading out to do a XC loop. The shuttle driver gave me some good tips on how to find the new Ridgeback trail. Once I found the trailhead, it wasn't too difficult as the signage was superb.
This was a one-trail, ridden there & back mostly climbing out. The first section, being so new was really muddy & I met a couple of younger guys riding up. One was on a rather large Scott Ransom while the other was on a hardtail with a broken derailleur (enforced singlespeeding) - this guy was rather strangely riding in white socks & sandals. They showed me the way & half way up we ditched the Ridgeback for the older Tom Snow trail - it turned out that there were some massive mud bogs in. The only consolation of having an almost bald XC tyre on the rear was that I got very little mud up my back - mud seemed to go almost everywhere else. The other guys had to turn around at three o'clock to get back to Calgary to work - so I continued up to the end of the trail to get a bit more climbing in & of course more downhill.
|Riding through the beech trees.|
|Looking out from the top of the ride.|
On the way down I chose the parts of the two trails that I hadn't already been on. For the first half this was the Ridgeback - & it was fantastic (& mostly dry) & flowy. There was a nice big climb for a while, before riding along the ridge & more great down. I was, & still am, quite tired after such a great day's riding.