Fernie to Pincer Creek - Waterton and Glacier - CycleBlaze

June 17, 1990

Fernie to Pincer Creek

Over Crowsnest Pass

We awoke today after spending our first night together in our new Walrus tent.  It is quite a bit better suited to our needs than the smaller Moss we traveled with before.  It has more floor space and much more headroom.  It makes a much more pleasant refuge in which to hide out from mosquitoes.

We found breakfast in Sparwood, nearly twenty miles to the east from our campsite.  The ride, continuing along the Elk, passed easily and quickly.  The entire valley is beautiful, green and lush; and is flanked to the north and south by modest ranges.

Entering Crowsnest Pass
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Mount Hosmer
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In Sparwood we visited a small, pleasant café and enjoyed a simple but satisfying breakfast.  Rachael had a cheese omelet with bacon crumbled on top, and I ate an English muffin with scrambled eggs and ham topped with cheese sauce.  After breakfast we continued on toward the summit of Crowsnest Pass.  The climb to the 4,500' summit was surprisingly simple.  It was a sufficient limb to interest me in stopping to photograph the increasingly impressive surrounding peaks, but we really didn't labor too much at all.  It filled us both with confidence that we will be prepared to conquer Logan Pass in a few more days.

Crowsnest Lake
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Crowsnest Lake, bear the summit
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Crowsnest Mountain
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Crowsnest Mountain
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The ten or twenty miles to the east of the pass are dotted with a series of about a half dozen small coal mining communities that together comprise the Crowsnest municipality.  Their setting is dramatic: they are flanked closely on both the north and south by rugged snowcapped mountains; and the valley floor itself has quietly dramatic appeal as the Crowsnest River meanders through farmland and town, paralleling the highway and the railroad right of way.

Crowsnest Valley. This photo has been on the wall at our condo ever since we moved in here.
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Evidence of this community's mining history is everywhere.  The hills rimming the highway are scarred from past excavations.  Mining adits, coking ovens and abandoned factories are ubiquitous.  Frequent roadside signs warn of underground fires and the dangers of cave-ins.  The region's history is touchingly portrayed at the Frank Slide Illlustrative Center, which we visited after a short but quite steep two kilometer detour.  The center featured a short film summarizing the miner's fortunes and the history of the valley.  It is located on the margin of the 1908 landslide that buried half the community of Frank.

Crowsnest Valley. I think this shot was taken from the Frank Slide Center, but I’m not certain.
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From the exhibit we continued eastward, coasting along the Crowsnest River as it dropped into the prairie.  We were powered by an immense tailwind.  The entire forty miles from the summit to our destination for the day, Pincer Creek, took only minimal effort.  The ride was marked by an abrupt change of terrain as we left the Rockies and forest behind and entered the prairie.  Suddenly the land opens up, and small towns and communities can be seen from miles away.  We made only a single stop as we sped eastward: at Lundbreck Falls on the Crowsnest, where we enjoyed a brief break from our saddles.

Entering the prairie, east of Crowsnest Pass
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Lundbreck Falls
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We arrived in Pincer Creek hot and somewhat saddle-weary.  This was quite a hot day (about 90 degrees), and even with a tailwind seventy miles is quite a long ways to cover on bicycles loaded for touring.  We were ready and willing to eat anything reasonable we could find; but happily we found much more than we hoped for at the Front Range Restaurant.  We devoured a great thick-crust pizza and a large Greek salad.  A terrific meal!

Only two blocks away was our campground, a pleasant and peaceful site in town and on Pincer Creek.  After taking badly needed showers we made a short-lasting attempt at reading before dozing off.

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Elevation gain:today, 3,300’;for the tour, 6,100’

Today's ride: 77 miles (124 km)
Total: 130 miles (209 km)

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