July 20, 2013
Considerably the best time I've ever had on a bike. For an approximate total of 26.7Km (53.4Km round trip), this trail is also the hardest I've ever come across. For the first 17.5Km (until the Shale Banks Campground) you'll be travelling completely uphill, and not a slight incline either. This is an unforgiving trail if you're not an avid biker. I would suggest to take your time and camp out at Celestine Lake (5.2Km) before continuing the remainder of the trail.
This was a perfect day, once again just like last year (I've unexpectedly made this trail into a yearly goal of mine to complete). Unlike a year ago the bugs were less (though still extremely large and in mass numbers), which did help with being able to take breaks. However they are still in numbers large enough to cause you to want to get on your bike and get away from them. Although keep in mind you're going uphill and they will keep up anyways.
There were a number of ground squirrels and some pica at various points crossing the trail. I find these little pica very cute and would have loved to capture one on film, however they're much faster than my camera's trigger finger. Finally the last animal encounter was an adult black bear. Luckily we had a good encounter with this bear, as we went by him pretty quickly.
As its evident in these pictures we truly had the perfect day. It was a little chilly at the beginning (2 Celsius), though that was the biggest incline the trail has to offer, in which case we barely felt the chill. In the afternoon it would jump up to around 10 - 12 Celsius. Which was cool enough to keep some mosquito off of us. Also the occasional gust of wind at that temperature felt graceful and helped clear the sweat off our backs.
Some of the bigger changes I've had in comparison to last year was the addition of a companion; which helps in a number of ways, including animal encounters, sharing the weight of the supplies as well as encouraging each other to continue. Also I added a rack and pannier to the back of my bike. This was a huge help as the weight of the supplies were transferred from my back to the bike, in which case it took more out of my legs.
Having completed a total of 38-39 Kilometers (round trip), Sacha and I took it upon ourselves to analyse what may be needed for the next trip. The agreement was an additional rack on his back (with pannier) to help his weight load, possibly some small energy booster drinks (similar to the ones found at +Running Room) and we discussed the option of camping. Though I do want to complete this trail all the way to the waterfall, I'd prefer at this point to complete it in one day. This may take longer for me to bring to you a picture of the waterfall, however it will be done ... eventually.