Posted by: Silver | May 4, 2011

Fernie to Sparwood to Hillcrest

Distance: 31 km & 50 km
Ascent: 215 m & 572 m
Cycling time: 1 hour, 33 minutes & 3 hours, 15 minutes

I broke this journey down into two legs because, well, it was the Rockies, eh? It was going to be hard work. So an overnight stop to rest my legs seemed like a very good idea. As it turned out, stopping in Sparwood was a good idea, but not because I particularly needed the rest…

Compared to the mountain passes earlier in my journey, the Crowsnest Pass through the Rockies was honestly a piece of cake. By the time you get to the start of it, you’re already 1000 m above sea level, so the overall elevation change is less than 400 m (compare that to the Coquihalla’s summit, which towers over 1000 m above its base); admittedly, you’re going up for a looooong time (over 50 km), but the grade is rarely more than 4 or 5%, so it’s never really punishing; and – something I’m ashamed to say I failed to truly grasp during my original research – it’s not even the highest pass: Paulson and Nancy Greene are both higher, and the Salmo-Creston pass (which I serendipitously circumvented) is the highest of the lot. I still got snowed on a tiny bit, but it was very half-hearted and not until I’d started coming down the other side anyway.

The break in the journey might not have been necessary for my cycling efforts, but for my efforts on behalf of SOS Children’s Villages, it was a great move. My arrival in Sparwood was noted by no less than three reporters: admittedly, one of them was only checking what time I would be arriving in Coleman* the next day, but by stopping off in Sparwood, I still doubled the number of papers that will (hopefully!) mention SOS Children’s Villages in their pages this week. The shortened journey to Coleman also meant that I was able to arrive there before the local elementary school finished for the day, thus giving me the chance to talk to the children there. As always, most of the questions the children asked were about Ranger, rather than SOS Children’s Villages, but one girl asked how they could help, and I think they will 🙂
My favourite ‘question’, however, came from the young man who put his hand up simply to say, “your bike’s really cool…” 😉

* Coleman is the first community in the municipality of Crowsnest Pass, which also includes Hillcrest, where my host lived.

Yes, I took a picture of the road: it was wide, smoothly-paved, rumble-strip-free... and short-lived 😦

Sparwood is a proud mining town, and that means lots of men. And that means trucks. Lots of trucks. This was just an average Sparwood parking lot

The Crowsnest Pass summit: the lake may still have been frozen, but the weather was the most clement of all the passes I pedalled

I'm finally in a new province! What with winter and everything, I was in British Columbia for a long time: feels like the journey's really moving on now!

And finally, the required 'pretty scenery' shot: one of my first views of the Alberta side of the Rockies



  1. Miss, miss, I have a question!

    HOW and WHEN do you do all the other things that aren’t biking related: finding places to stay, liaising with press & media, finding places to speak? You’re clearly doing amazingly well and I’d love to know how you’re practically arranging it all!

    • By being terribly, terribly efficient 😉 And by sending *lots* of emails. Sometimes, the people I am staying with help me with the speaking engagements (for example, the lady I stayed with in Hillcrest works at the school in Coleman, so she set that one up for me), but basically, I’m just a very busy girl! Fortunately, many people here in Canada seem to have wifi, so I’ll often spend a couple of hours sending emails before breakfast (like I’m doing right now!)

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