Back to Reality

Lake Louise

Last Friday we officially made it back home from our wonderful trip. Although it’s only been a week it feels so long ago that we were cycling the west and snuggling into our sleeping bags at night.

The last time I gave an update we were in Nanaimo. From there we continued westward on Vancouver Island to check out Tofino and then spent a few days in Victoria, where we reached 2000 miles. We took a ferry back to the US to Port Angeles, took a hike on Sunset Ridge in the Olympic National Park, camped for the last time at our very first campsite (Manchester State Park) in Port Orchard, and finally went back to Seattle to catch our flight home.

my dad skipping stones on the ocean in Tofino

my dad skipping stones on the ocean in Tofino

taken at the Butchart Gardens

taken at the Butchart Gardens

more Butchart Gardens

more Butchart Gardens

over 2000 miles!

over 2000 miles!

beautiful Victoria!

beautiful Victoria!

Sunset Ridge

Sunset Ridge

This really was a trip of a lifetime and I’m so incredibly grateful that my parents and I were able to make it happen. I’ll never be able to thank them enough for bringing me along on this trip. I’m not sure I’ve ever been as happy as I was during those six weeks. It was like we were in our own little bubble of unreality where we didn’t have to think about real world problems. I’ll definitely miss the adventure of it all, that satisfying feeling at the top of a mountain pass, not knowing exactly what the next day will bring, and cracking up with my mom while secretly taking pictures of my dad sleeping … no, Dad, I won’t post the pictures. 😉 Heck, I’ll even miss getting lost from time to time.

I’m naturally a very practical person. I do the things that are expected of me in life and rarely spend my money on things outside my necessities. However, I don’t want to live my life being boring and not experiencing the things I dream of. This trip really made me realize that we only have so much time on this earth. We’re not guaranteed the next day in life so CARPE DIEM!

What’s next for me? I’m starting my senior year of college (I know, crazy!). In terms of athletics, I’m getting back into my normal running routine. I was able to keep up some mileage when I was biking and got a lot of practice running on tired biking legs. I know I’m fit right now, but biking fitness isn’t the same as running fitness. The sports use different muscles, so I’m planning on gradually building up this fall and possibly doing a couple of shorter races in October or November. My long-term focus will be on the Boston Marathon. Registration opens up in mid-September, so hopefully I’ll get a spot with my qualifying time.

at the beginning of our journey

at the beginning of our journey

Advertisements

Rocky Mountain High

IMG_2255

Fast forward a week and we’re already on Vancouver Island! Tomorrow we’ll be headed towards Tofino on the western side of the island as we hear it is absolutely gorgeous. From Lake Louise we made our way up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper, Valemount, Kamloops, Pemberton, Whistler, Vancouver, and now Nanaimo.

The Rockies were incredible and my parents and I agree that it was our favorite part of the trip so far. The ride from Lake Louise to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway was incredible. It was just miles and miles of amazing views.

IMG_2251

 

my dad and I trying to wade into the glacial water. We made it up to our knees!

my dad and I trying to wade into the glacial water. We made it up to our knees!

IMG_2256

It was also interesting for me to see a mountain that would be impossible to climb up unless you were an experienced rock climber. I probably should’ve realized that earlier when I was researching about the Canadian Rockies, but it’s just so foreign to me. All the mountains in Vermont and even the bigger ones in New Hampshire might have a few tricky spots, but are definitely climbable. Those are little dinky hills compared to the massive mountains out here, though!

the icefields in Jasper

the icefields in Jasper

Taking pics. Don't want to drop your phone off that ledge!

Taking pics. Don’t want to drop your phone off that ledge!

We did a short hike to Lake Kinney

We did a short hike to Lake Kinney

IMG_2259

We didn’t even know it, but British Columbia actually has some desert. It seems like after only a few short days after leaving the Rockies we found ourselves surrounded by dry desert and then canyons. None of us were really expecting that and found ourselves a bit surprised… especially after finding out that one of the campsites we were supposed to stay at was in the middle of an industrial park in the desert. Needless to say we decided to skip through that one and go ahead to the next one. It’s funny how some of the most expensive campgrounds we’ve stayed at have actually been the worst while we’ve actually had some really nice $10 ones.

the desert

the desert

more desertville

more desertville

The beautiful weather at the beginning of our trip definitely spoiled us and we’ve now had a few odd weather days. In Pemberton, BC we were really looking forward to a nice hike the next day, but that just wasn’t an option when we woke up in the morning. The valley was all hazy with smoke from a few wildfires surrounding the area. Now we’ve had a few days filled with rain off and on, but we still are having a lot of fun. We went to a little local fair today as well as a wildlife recovery center, which was really interesting.

the slugs seemed to all emerge during the rain when we were in Whistler

some giant slugs seemed to emerge during the rain when we were in Whistler

One thing I’m looking forward to when I get back? Reliable wifi. I accidentally published the last post as a page instead of a post and didn’t realize it until just now. I apologize to anyone whose comments got deleted! I’ve got things figured out and that won’t happen again. I definitely am not in any rush to get back home, but a decent Internet connection is something I am really looking forward to. In some ways it’s been kind of nice because I’ve barely been online and it feels good not to be plugged in all the time. On the other hand, I know I’m going to have a bunch of real-world stuff to deal with when I get back to school.

Wildlife spotting! We had the amazing opportunity to see a wild black bear in its natural environment the other day. It was pawing through some nettles to reach the abundant blackberries growing in Squamish.  The only odd thing was that it had on a bike helmet as well as bike gloves…

my dad, the rare black bear

my dad, the rare black bear

Okay, but in all honesty we have seen three black bears so far; two adolescent bears crossed the road a ways away when my dad and I were biking and then we spotted a pretty big one eating some berries on the side of the road when we were driving. We also saw a caribou just chilling and munching on some grass.

IMG_2258

It’s hard to believe that our trip comes to a close in less than a week. I remember us wondering if 6 weeks was too long for a trip, but we’ve been having the time of our lives. We’ve never done anything like this before and we’ve been making some amazing memories. That’s all for now. Happy trails!

Grizzly Country

IMG_2141

We have now biked safely away from the wildfire in St. Mary’s and are now in the exact opposite weather; cold and wet. From St. Mary’s we traveled into Canada to Pincher Creek, Fernie, Fairmont Hot Springs, and now Lake Louise. Nights have been getting down into the 30’s and it’s rained almost every day since we left Montana. It definitely hasn’t been pleasant biking weather. I’ve been sleeping with 2 layers on bottom, 4 on top, thick smart wool socks, and a hat. Is it really summer?

the praries in Alberta

the praries in Alberta

our humble abode as we call it

our humble abode as we call it

Despite the nasty weather we still have been having a great time and can’t believe the sites we’ve seen. Alberta and British Columbia sure are beautiful, eh? We spent part of yesterday and today exploring Banff. The mountains are gorgeous and the color of the lakes and rivers isn’t like anything I’ve ever seen. It’s a cloudy turquoise that almost looks fake. We are also now REALLY in bear area. You know you’re in grizzly country when your campground is surrounded by an electric fence…

Lake Louise

Lake Louise

 

IMG_2146

IMG_2139

met a little friend while hiking today

met a little friend while hiking today

My dad and I also passed another milestone in terms of mileage. We’re now over 1500 miles and are hoping to make it to 2000, possibly 2500 but we’ll see. We crossed over the continental divide as well; 5382 feet above sea level! We also had our biggest day so far at 115 miles in one day. It’s a good thing that we’re farther north and it stays lighter for longer or else we might not have made it. I have to admit that it’s a little strange going to bed sometimes when it’s not dark yet. A 9:30 sunset sure is different.

The Continental Divide! My dad is in British Columbia and I am in Alberta

The Continental Divide! My dad is in British Columbia and I am in Alberta

Now we’re headed off to Jasper where the weather forecast actually looks sunny and warm for a few days. Hopefully it’s the truth! I’ll update again soon.

Glaciers and Wildfires

IMG_3009

The last few days have definitely been eventful. We are currently staying in St. Mary, Montana near Glacier National Park. If you haven’t heard, there’s been a large wildfire that started a few days ago on the eastern side of the park. We planned to bike up and over Logan Pass two mornings ago, but unfortunately the wildfire started the afternoon before. It began as only a few acres of fire, but quickly grew to 1000 acres by morning and has now quadrupled in size. The fire isn’t predicted to die down anytime soon, so we ended up detouring around and are staying in a hotel tonight. The air quality on the eastern side is pretty terrible and we didn’t feel comfortable camping and possibly damaging our respiratory systems. It would kind of defeat the purpose of biking all day, right? There’s no need to worry, though, as we are a safe distance from the fire and will be heading out of dodge early tomorrow.

views of the wildfire on the eastern side of Glacier National Park

views of the wildfire on the eastern side of Glacier National Park

Luckily, we were still able to bike up very close to the top of the Going to the Sun Road as the western side where we stayed for a few days was not affected. The route was absolutely breathtaking and I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The jagged mountain ranges jutted up from the earth with deposits of snow nestled in their crevices. We made it roughly two miles from Logan Pass to where the road was closed. Are we disappointed we didn’t make it all the way to the top? Of course. However, we definitely understand that safety comes first. We feel way worse about the wildlife that’s being destroyed in the fire and are very thankful for the brave men and women risking their lives to keep us safe. We saw a little fox dart across the highway today in the opposite direction of all the smoke and it breaks my heart to think about all of the creatures suffering right now. Our little bit of disappointment at not reaching our biking goal is insignificant in comparison to the bigger problem that is going on. After all, it just gives me an excuse to come back and bike all the way to the top. I’d love to spend a week or two here exploring all of the hiking trails. We feel as if we only scratched the surface for what Glacier National Park has to offer.

skipping rocks on Lake McDonald

skipping rocks on Lake McDonald

more skipping rocks

more skipping rocks

exploring the hiking trails

exploring the hiking trails

IMG_2931

 

IMG_2149

 

Had a very nice neighbor at our campground in West Glacier named Bobby

Had a very nice neighbor at our campground in West Glacier named Bobby

catching the sunrise on The Road to the Sun. Bikers aren't allowed on certain sections of the road between 11-4, so we had to wake up really early.

Catching the sunrise on The Road to the Sun. Cyclists aren’t allowed on certain sections of the road between 11-4, so we had to wake up really early.

met some other cyclists from California near the top

We met some other cyclists from California at the highest point we could go. They closed the road the “Big Bend” roughly 2 miles from the top.

Heaven's Peak

Heaven’s Peak

IMG_2174

more amazing views!

saw a few marmots on our climb up the road

saw a few marmots on our climb up the road

Anyways, the last time I gave an update we were in Baker City, Oregon. As I talked about previously, we made the decision to drive through Idaho over to Missoula. That ended up to be a very smart decision on our part because the biking route was very treacherous! The majority of the route was through Hell’s Canyon with a very windy road and little to no shoulder. DEFINITELY not good biking conditions. We spent 8+ hours driving in a canyon and only opened up when we got to Missoula. Between my fear of heights and getting a little car sick with the windy road I was extremely thankful to get out of there and see some sky. We then biked onwards to Big Fork, West Glacier, and are now in St. Mary’s. We will pass into Canada tomorrow and can’t wait to get to Banff and Jasper where I’m determined to see a mountain goat or mountain sheep!

Funny story: I also learned a very tough lesson the other day regarding Montana’s insects. Our biking route took us over a few miles of dirt the other day and my dad ended up getting a flat tire right at the end. As we sat down on the side of the road to fix it I noticed a caterpillar a few feet away and remarked on how cute it looked, but as we got to work fixing his tire I quickly forgot about it. Sure enough, about ten minutes later I felt a prickly something on my leg. I looked down to find the caterpillar curled into a ball on my sock/ankle. What the heck?! As a reflex I quickly brushed it away. Moments later my leg and finger that touched the caterpillar started burning!!!!! I jumped up and told my dad that the caterpillar stung me to which he replied, “Caterpillars don’t sting.” Well, apparently there are poisonous caterpillars in Montana. Buckmoth caterpillars are no joke. It left me with a few welts on my leg and finger. Lesson learned; stay away from caterpillars!

the evil Buckmoth Caterpillar that stung me

the evil Buckmoth Caterpillar that stung me

Not in Kansas Anymore

IMG_2124

We’ve officially made it into Eastern Oregon. Since Eugene we’ve been traveling East to Prineville, Sisters, Ochoco National Forest, Dayville, Bates, and finally Baker City. The scenery has changed so much and we’re amazed that all these different landscapes are in just one state. The coast had huge cliffs into the ocean with long stretches of beach, then lots of rolling hills and greenery, which actually reminded me a bit of Vermont, and the Eastern part is more desert-like with huge mountains, buttes, and sage. It’s called a high desert and my parents and I agreed that we’ve never seen anything like it. The painted hills were incredible and we felt as if we should be riding horses instead of bikes and wearing cowboy hats, not helmets.

IMG_2121

IMG_2105

IMG_2100

We passed our first 1000 miles today! Woot! We had our first big climbs, which put any hill I’ve biked up before look like a piece of cake. The Cascades are no joke. We’ve climbed up the Ochoco Divide, Keys Crest, Dixie Pass at the tallest 5277 ft, Tipton Pass, and Sumpter Pass. We’re biking mountains! As long as we take it slow and take breaks when we need to we can make it to the top. The Road to the Sun might be a different story, but we’re going to give it our best shot!

There have been a variety of other bikers that we’ve met along the way. Yesterday we passed by Mike from Junea, Alaska who was traveling in the opposite direction. It’s interesting to exchange stories with people and give/get tips for what’s to come on our adventures.

Mike from Juneau

Mike from Juneau

There also hasn’t been much cell phone service on this leg of our journey. It’s been a little unnerving seeing “no service” on my screen all day, but I’m glad we’re traveling together. My mom has been sticking more closely to us because we just can’t contact each other by phone otherwise. It’s been a huge help having her as our support person for this trip. Yes, people bike tour without a support vehicle, but we wouldn’t be able to go as far because we’d be carrying so much more stuff and we wouldn’t have a dry car to hop into when it starts pouring rain. Most importantly, is that she watches out for our safety. We used other touring maps to help plan our route, but some of our route isn’t on those maps and there’s no way of knowing what the roads will be like. Sometimes there are huge shoulders with smooth pavement, but once in a while it’ll be winding roads with no shoulder and huge logging trucks going by. When things get too hairy we can load our bikes onto the car and be driven until it is safer. Other cyclists don’t have that luxury, and for that we are extremely thankful. Thanks, mom! Plus, it’s been fun having a running buddy with me at the end of the day.

We made the decision to skip ahead by car for a few days of our trip in Idaho. That way we can really explore Vancouver Island and maybe see a little bit more of Seattle. We’re more interested in those parts of our trip versus what we would see in Idaho (no offense, Idaho, I’m sure you’re great, but we only have 6 weeks). This way we’ll feel less stressed about getting to the end and will really have the time to explore what we want.

Also, a very important announcement is that my dad and I finally came up with names for our bikes. His is Silver and mine is Brawn. That way he can say “High Ho Silver!” and I can say, “Come on, Brawn!” Your mind goes to some weird places when you’re on your bike for hours on end each day.

A Funny Story: In case you wanted to get your laugh in for the day, I’ll let you in on a stupid story that happened to us the other morning. In the Eastern part of Oregon apparently it’s popular to water your lawns, which is foreign to us in Vermont because our grass is almost always green. I don’t really understand it as green lawns look so out of place in a desert, but whatever floats your boat I guess. The other morning my mom and I were awoken to something hitting the side of our tent. Suddenly, she yelled, “the sprinklers!!!” My mom turned to panic mode and I of course just started laughing. Our tent wasn’t even on the grass, but on the dirt part of our tent site. We hadn’t been warned about the sprinklers and they got our fire pit, picnic table, and tent a sopping wet mess. It was a great morning.

That’s all for now. Happy Trails!

Oh Oregon

The last time I talked to you we were in Hoquiam, Washington. Since then we crossed into Oregon to Warrenton, kept going down 101 to Pacific City, Florence, Coos Bay, then veered off towards Crater Lake and back north to Eugene. The days seem to be blending together and yesterday seems like a lifetime ago because every day is so jam-packed with action.

The Oregon coast was absolutely stunning. I would definitely suggest biking highway 101 to other people because it has a wide shoulder, mostly good pavement, and fabulous coastal views. It was like we were in a different country and felt a little sad to say goodbye to the ocean until we get to Vancouver.

beautiful views on 101

beautiful views on 101

Haystack Rock at Canon Beach

Haystack Rock at Canon Beach

Thor's Well in Florence

Thor’s Well in Florence

As we made our way inland we saw some beautiful views of Oregon’s rolling hills and farmlands. Where we’ve biked there has been a major shortage of rain. No campfires are allowed because of the risk of a wildfire happening. I feel bad for the plants, but in terms of biking it has been really nice.

We finally got stuck in the rain. I’m glad for the plants, but it’s not very fun biking in the rain. Instead my mom picked us up from a thunderstorm (thank you!) and we’ve been site seeing instead. It really sucks to bike in the rain and we only have six weeks to make it back to Seattle. If we had unlimited amounts of time then I’m sure we could bike the whole thing, but it’s more important for us to be able to spend time at the places we want to see and be together as a family than feel stressed trying to bike our butts off to the next place.

Our next stop was Crater Lake, which was magnificent. Although it was cloudy, the beauty still shined through. I went for a run on the rim trail without really knowing where it would take me. To my surprise I basically ran up a mountain, which would’ve been hard to begin with, but add in tired biking legs and my first time running at altitude and I’m sure my pace was tortoise-like. It was probably the most stunning run I’ve ever been on, but also the most terrifying because I’m scared of heights. My parents and I then went for a nice hike and right as we got to the top the rain let loose… of course.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Eugene was our next destination and we’ve spent today touring around. We saw Pre’s Rock, which is a memorial where he died in his car crash. People leave all sorts of things like running shoes, bibs, letters, etc. there. I left one of my running hair ties and a letter. Then we went on down to Hayward Field and I actually got a short track workout in before they closed the gates. For people that don’t know, it’s like the Fenway of Track and Field. I’ve seen it so many times on television that it felt unreal to actually be circling around.

Pre's Rock

Pre’s Rock

People leave different things at his memorial

People leave different things at his memorial

running around Hayward Field!

running around Hayward Field!

posing with Bill Bowerman

posing with Bill Bowerman

I’m getting some amazing views on my GoPro that I can’t wait to share with you guys. I don’t think I’ll be able to have time to edit a movie during the trip because we’re so busy, but I’ll have lots of footage by the end that I can’t wait to share with you.

We’ve got some big hill passes coming up as we make our way over to Missoula, Montana, which will be interesting. I’ll post again soon. Happy trails!

The Olympic Peninsula

The first four days of touring have been a success! We landed in Seattle on Tuesday, drove to Manchester State Park, then biked to Sequim Bay State Park, Lake Pleasant RV Park in Beaver, Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, and now we’re in Hoquiam, Washington. We’re making our way around the Olympic Peninsula on highway 101.

We’ve seen plenty of other touring cyclists in the past few days. I guess this is a pretty popular route and I can see why. The views have just been spectacular! I’ve never been out west and I thought the Green and White Mountains were pretty cool, but they just don’t compare to the views out here.

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

unnamed

We also saw a bald eagle today on Lake Crescent, which is the first one I’ve ever seen! My mom spotted it as it quickly swooped by us. I didn’t have time to take a picture, but I’ll definitely remember it. After all, the bald eagle is a symbol for our country.
The people we’ve met along the way have been very nice. People have gone out of their way to help us with directions, answer questions, or just be friendly. We had some very nice neighbors at our campground last night.

Jim, Jo, and their dog Bella

Jim, Jo, and their dog Bella

They trained sled dogs in Alaska and Jim even did the Iditarod! It was pretty amazing hearing about their stories, including one about encountering an angry moose during the race. Jo is also a blogger who writes stories of what happens just off the road. You can check it out at justofftheroad.us. Jim also does some beautiful photography, which you can visit at jimwoodphotos.com.

Also, did I mention the drivers here? I can understand why drivers in Massachusetts are called massholes. The drivers here will wait until it’s clear to go around us when we’re biking. At one point today when my dad and I took a break, two drivers stopped to ask if we were okay because they thought we were hurt or something. We assured them we were fine and just taking a break.

The weather has been pretty good as well. Although it’s been in the 80’s, it’s much drier heat than Vermont or Massachusetts. Although I know I’m sweating, it just evaporates and doesn’t stay on my skin. My clothes aren’t soaked at the end of the day with sweat. If I were biking in the 80’s in Vermont or Massachusetts it would be MUCH MUCH harder because of the humidity.

That’s all for now. Happy trails!