Needles to Kelowna

I have to start the story of Thursday on Wednesday night as I was setting up my tent. I started to hear a shrieking coming from up the road. The sound wasn’t entirely pleasant and at first I thought it was a bird. Then the source came a bit closer and it started to get loud, so loud that I couldn’t imagine any bird making the sound, and I then started to get my feathers a bit rustled, is that a cougar I could be hearing? Maybe? I then got myself all rather scared and went and found myself a big stick and leaned it up ready to grab at a moments notice. I heard a story once of a guy who fought off a cougar attack with a big stick, I didn’t really want to be a hero, but given the opportunity I’d rather club a cougar than bleed to death which is how they usually kill their prey, they’re not strong enough to break necks of big mammals like lions or bears…

So I’m in the middle of a debate with myself of whether or not I should crawl into my tent or wait until the screaming which was becoming more and more frequent got close enough to see it’s source. It was starting to get dark by this point, dark enough not to ride with sunglasses on if I’d still been on the road, and therefore dark enough for bed-time. I then heard another rather unfamilar sound coming from behind me, not a terribly aggressive one, but startling enough for me to grab the big stick and whirl around. It was a giant owl (had to be a great horned owl after consulting geobirds.com) perched up in the tree directly behind me, a really giant one, and only 10 meters away. I then dashed into the tent to grab a camera and by the time I got it on I had made too much of a commotion and scared it off into the forest.

Turning around again to another shriek from the other side of the road I could now hear with some ‘direction’ that the sound wasn’t coming from the ground, either this cougar was perched up a tree ready to pounce down and eat me or it was another, much smaller, owl. I Identified the owl pretty quickly in the tree, probably one of those screech owls, and after walking over to it I could tell that it was in the midst of harassing the bigger one which was back on another nearby tree. I was caught in the middle of an owl turf war. Following a few lousy attempts at getting a picture, and then a few unsuccessful attempts at scaring the owl out of the tree and filming it fly around, I put some earplugs in to drown out the screeching and went to bed.

Photo from gallery: Edmonton to Penticton 2009

Thursday morning I was on the road by quarter to eight and started out immediately a rather difficult climb up towards the summit of Monashee Pass. The road is only a two lane and there are no shoulders but it was of no issue at all as the traffic was very very minimal. Basically no-one was going my direction and only the occasional truck from DCT, whatever that is, was going the other way. The grade wasn’t terrible but it was a rather relentless climb for the first 20 kilometers of my day, and then all of a sudden I saw a pull-out area for a brake check going the other direction signaling that this was the end of the climb. Another 20 kilometers of relative flat through a valley up top and then I was greeted by the much appreciated sight of a brake check area, this one going in my direction. I checked my brakes, mostly for the fun of it, and then dove off the side of the mountain or so it seemed. The next 20 kilometers blew by in an absolute flash and I was on the outskirts of Cherryville ready to get myself a piece of pie, which I did. The winding and tree lined descent ontinued after my mid-morning break only a while further before the valley floor spread out enough for there to be pastures and hay fields along the way. That also opened things up to the wind and I slowed down from my blistering pace to a much more reasonable one for the roll into Vernon.

Photo from gallery: Edmonton to Penticton 2009
Photo from gallery: Edmonton to Penticton 2009
Photo from gallery: Edmonton to Penticton 2009

Vernon is not a city for cyclists. Neither is the road leading south from it. Seemingly none of the roads I was on catered to the world’s best mode of transportation. I couldn’t help but laugh as I was run off the road by one dumptruck into the sandy shoulder, only to have a fist shaking out of the passenger side window of the following car accompanied by a ‘Get out of my way, roads are for cars’ shouted from it. He couldn’t be serious could he? I was already off of his road. I was lucky though to meet a nice guy on a motorbike, whom I asked how far it was to the Glenmore Road turnoff, and his response was ‘oh about four miles’. When the next traffic light turned out to be Glenmore Road, not 300 yards further up the street, my motorcyclist friend had pulled off to make sure I got the turn correct instead of blowing right through aiming my attention a further 3.5 miles down the street. This world is truly full of all types, thanks for the good ones.

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