Day 22: Columbia Icefield to Mosquito Creek

Distance: 106 km

Elevation: 1,282m

Date: August 23, 2022

Since we were at about 2,200 m of altitude the night had been very cold, about 2 degrees. When I made breakfast, Mitch came over and brought some herbal tea from plants that he and Jannika had collected the day before.

We started talking. Mitch had German grandparents who wanted to become farmers and emigrated. He had been raised „off-grid“ on a remote horse ranch in Alabama, USA. He learned to hunt and to live outdoors already at a young age.

When he was 18 years old, he joined the military. He did tours to Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan where he was almost killed by a self-built bomb. He was in a coma for five months. When he woke up he could not feel his legs.

It took him months to find a surgeon that would be willing to take the risk reconnecting the ruptured nerves in his spine. It took many surgeries and a lot of risk to achieve this. Today, he has three artificial vertebrates and a titanium hip. Mitch had to relearn how to walk and is under constant pain. Probably this is what got him into plant medicine.

After that he moved to Canada and started working with police dogs in the area of human remains detection. He and his dog Quill were a team. Quill was super smart but also a trained fighter. He had been tested and he understood 50,000 phrases and had the intellect of a seven year old child.

Mitch would probably know ten ways how to kill me with his bare hands, yet he was the kindest guy. He also gave me some of his favorite fire starter and gave me some tips for making fire outdoors.

Mitch and Jannika

It started raining, so I had to shorten the breakfast and pack up in the rain. This not easy for me and always takes me long time.

After saying farewell to Mitch and Jannika, I went back to the Icefield information center where they had Wi-Fi and the highest Starbucks in Canada. I did some shopping and went into my cycling day.

The route was half downhill to Saskatchewan River Crossing and half uphill to Mosquito Creek which is near Lake Louise.

The clouds were deep and the rain got less and finally stopped. The scenery was beautiful but without sunshine less impressive than the day before.

I came by a dead forest, many lakes and another icefield, the crowfoot glacier.

Along the way, I met a Canadian cycling couple from Canmore. We chatted and they gave me some tips for the route. The guy doubted that I would reach Mosquito Creek today since I had started so late. For a moment I doubted it myself but then I ignored the concern and took the risk.

When I finally arrived at the campground after a long climb, it was after 7 PM. Together with me arrived a guy from Mexico in a Land Rover on his way up North and a French guy on a bike on his way down from the Arctic Ocean.

I invited Hao -Phang, the French guy, to share the camp spot with me since the ground was already full. And I invited Eloy over to share dinner with us later.

We set up our stuff and I took a tree shower. I mounted a water bladder to a tree and put it to sprinkle mode. Very refreshing. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my towel and washcloth at the last campground so I needed to improvise.

When we were preparing dinner, a black bear passed by in 10 m distance. He was not interested in us. This time I got him on camera, though.

Over dinner we talked about everything, mostly experiences going up North. But also relationships and outlook on life. We shared tea, couscous, tequila and a joint.

It became dark quickly and we had to do the dishes still and put away the food. Here the recommendation is to always carry bear spray with you.

Around 10 PM we were in bed.

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