A day on the Divide washes away the memory of pavement and fast cars. The map reads like a scavenger hunt. We dodge rainstorms and take in the views.
We have friends in Turner Valley and detour off the Divide for a visit. The map says there’s a trail that cuts through some mountain passes straight to Turner Valley from where we are, but 35 degree temps, rain and a small window of opportunity have us considering other transportation methods. An engine and four wheels get us there within hours. We’ll try the off road route on the return, we think.
Turner Valley and Black Diamond have good food and good art. It’s the kind of small town I like. Fresh, local peaches are on sale at the grocery store and we eat mounds of salad and greens from Barb and Henrik’s garden. The Sheep River flows by just across the street.
We ride 40k of idyllic country roads out of town, towards the mountains. Where the pavement ends, the trail begins. The map says this trail will take us back to where we left the Divide.
Ok, here we go. The trail is steep and rocky, but it goes. And then, suddenly, it doesn’t. There’s a bridge washed out. No worry, we wade across.
Two years ago, heavy rain and late spring snow pack caused the Sheep to flood. Evidence is everywhere. Not only is the bridge washed out, but sections of the trail are blown out, too. Bark is scoured off trees where fast moving water pushed rocks and debris by. Whole canyons have been reorganized by Mother Nature.
And the trail? When it’s there, it’s good. When it’s not, well, it’s just not. We push more than we ride. I stumble more than I walk. We hope for something better, but in the end throw in the towel.
Our consolation prize is a campsite beneath a towering peak on the edge of a canyon, with a clear stream for a bath.
We look at the map and come up with Plan B. Somehow or another we will get back to the Divide.