When we rolled out of the tents this morning is was only 45 F (8 C) and it felt quite chilly. So I donned my thermal shirt and wore it as a jacket. It worked quite well. We stopped on the way out of town at Timmies and got a breakfast bagel and large coffees. We also picked up some sub sandwiches to go at there was no place on the route to get lunch. We had also put the trunk bags on the bikes and packed extra water into them as there was no water past mile 11 (18 kms).
After breakfast we rode up to Fort Steele and the big water wheel which is town marker. Fort Steele is a historical re-enactment town which portrays life in the 1865 gold rush era. As I was riding to Fort Steele I was thinking of how many times I have made this run on various camping and bike trips. It also brought back memories of the Rockies I tour when we stayed at Fort Steele. That was a great tour. It also brought back memories of camping there with our first Bouvier De Flanders, Phantom. He was just a puppy and this was great stuff for him.
At Fort Steele we refilled our water bottles being the last opportunity and headed south down the Wardner-Fort Steele Road. This is a little used back road along the east side of the Bull River. It is 18.75 miles (30 kms) of great pavement with no cars and marvelous views. There are three climbs along the route but only one is significant as it reaches 8.3% over less than a mile. The rest of the route is downhill pleasure. Along this road however was the highlight of the day. We had just a short distance to cover when we came up to this overlook of the river and the valley below us. There were three bald headed eagles feeding along the river below us. It was amazing watching these magnificent birds flying and circling. Then one of them flew straight over our heads and landed in the top of a tree right behind us. Soon the female came and landed in a tree next to the first tree, and finally a third male came and landed in the tree. The first big male sat there staring down at the two cyclists, wondering if we were good to eat or if we had anything worth taking. Fortunately my Timmies sandwich was tucked safely away. We watched for maybe thirty minute before the staring down ended with Ken and I riding off.
We crossed the Bull River on the highway bridge and turned down towards Wardner which is only a name on the map. This took us down another little used road which wandered through the hills and provided us with some great views. We stopped at 11:30 Am to catch the eclipse but it was only a small slice out of the orb of the sun and it never got very dark. However we did get an opportunity to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the country side and eat our sandwiches. Not one car passed us while we were there.
Soon enough we were back on the highway and into Cranbrook. By now the temperature had reached around 73 F (28 C) and when we spotted the DQ sign we pulled in for strawberry milkshakes.
It was a relatively short day at only 55 miles (88 kms), however the total climb was 3600 ft (1100 m). However it was a really excellent ride down some very nice roads.
Ken had a great suggestion and that is that we should make this an annual event. There are several wonderful rides out of Cranbrook and the campsite is excellent. I would like to second this motion. All in favor? Passed unanimously!