I lazily rolled out of Calgary and sighted the mountains for the first time. Instant revival. All the prairie induced soul-searching is over; home at last. These broad glacial valleys are carpeted in tall pines, and curtained in sheer rock. They feel like home, at least, for I have been dreaming of arriving here for weeks. I won’t have to bear another over air-conditioned North Dakota truckstop again.
I happened upon some friendly looking longhairs while simultaneously scouting a swimming hole and a campsite. Two kayakers playfully rolled their craft, while a couple of sunburnt Australians welcomed me to their camp. This was, in fact, their place of employment– a river rafting outfitter– but they were camping for the night to attend Kanfest, my first kayak festival.
This section of the Kananaskis River is under authority of a flood control dam which captures water overnight and releases it the following day, beginning about 8 AM. This morning began with a contest to see who could face the growing flow of water. One guy won with the help of female ballast atop his shoulders.
The next event was a several kilometer “race” in which teams must capture and protect a large exercise ball with their team number, and transport it to the finish. The catch, this is a true whitewater river; no hands allowed; and defensive play is encouraged. It’s like capture the flag meets broomball on a raging river. Actually, it’s not like anything.
I rode several kms of singletrack along the river; colorful, human seals nosed and batted beach balls around the river.
Thanks Kanfest: I scored free Canmore-made beers last night, and a full breakfast this morning complete with fruit, coffee, and a couple of pancake and sausage “sandwiches” to go. Bike touring trick #327: meet nice people, go to a festival, and help yourself to a beer and a pancake sandwich.
Those are, as it seems, kayakers entering the river from a mossy 15 ft drop.