9th June report, Nancy O’Higgins Victoria/Fort Langley, B.C. to Jasper, Alberta

The agony and the ecstacy, that’s how Mary Herlt sums up the Coquihalla for the Shore to Shore 2004 group heading for St. John’s, Newfoundland. The agony was the burn of the never-ending climb and the ecstasy the view along the way seen in brilliant sunshine.

Six of us started a few days earlier in Victoria at Mile 0, while others in the group did the island part earlier in the week. The six, Mary and her husband David from South Carolina, Harold Bridge from Port Coquitlam, Sandra Larson from Duncan, George Fralic from Brooklyn, Nova Scotia and me, Nancy O’Higgins from Port Clements in the Queen Charlotte Islands with Eric who will rejoin us in Fredricton, N.B.

We met the others in the group at Fort Langley at the Hub and Spoke. They are chief honcho Ken Smith, Burnaby, Harry Balke from Pender Island, Frank Thompson, Richmond, Dave Mann, Burnaby, Brendan Kennelly, Surrey, Irene Hanson, Tofield, Alberta, as well as Marina Bakker-Ayers, Qualicum and Al McLean, North Vancouver . We were saddened to have Art Jackson from Courtenay withdraw after the first day to Hope when health concerns forced him to leave.

After this in this journal, I will call everyone by their first names, having arbitrarily decided Dave is Dave, David is David, Harold is Harold and Harry is Harry.

The trip to Hope was livened up by can-can dancers at the Albion ferry shouting their encouragement while many other CCCTSers rode with us to Mission.

The Coquihalla on the official third day was the brute it was always worried about, but the group met at the summit to clap and shout for the last ones to whinge their way the top. Every single person made it without resorting to the support vehicle driven by Wayne Hand from Maple Ridge.

We are a lucky tour with not just one but three support vehicles. Sandra’s husband Duanne only intended to stay with us for a few days but had enough fun to stay until Jasper. Chris Chan who is riding a recumbent bike on the tour isn’t considered official because he is sleeping in a luxurious motor home with his wife Anita every night and not in a tent like the sufferers.

Some of the highlights of the first few day ‚ Dave who wore his shorts backwards for a whole day without noticing, as well as the same Dave who got in a panic after the truck was packed trying to find his bike lock key only to discover in a high-theft area that he hadn’t locked it after all.

Faye Wilson in Merritt drove back along the route to see that everyone was all right and said she would bring dessert to the campsite. We persuaded her to let us order pizza and beer and eat it in her backyard followed by a sensational rhubarb crisp with ice cream. I even begged a long, hot bath from her before our dinner.

Lunch the next day was an accidental treat. Most of us met at a spot on Stump Lake and ate our packed lunches with our bare feet in the water. None of us can get over the quantity of what we are eating. One of the campsite was 100 metres from a Dairy Queen so dessert was an ice cream cake with “Happy Trails Shore to Shore 2004” on it.

Now in Jasper, the bear warnings have us all clustered with our tents close together even though we are paying for widespread sites. The truck was loaded with bags full of shampoo, toothpaste, vitamins, overnight and locked overnight – $2000 fine for leaving those things in tents.