Day 26: Drumheller to Carolside

Distance: 111 km

Elevation: 522 m

Date: August 27, 2022

I had slept like a baby. I even did not hear the howling of the coyotes that my neighbors reported.

I went over to the edge of the nearby horseshoe canyon and watched the sunrise. Quite amazing.

Horseshoe Canyon

Thanks to my wonderful colleague Barbara I now have a quite nice place on the ViaRail train leaving Saskatoon an August 31 arriving in Toronto on September 2. This will be my longest train ride ever. I just have to get to Saskatoon now in time which means about 125 km a day. Doable but there is still the weather in the prairies.

I was on the bike by 9:30 AM and went to Drumheller to see Dinosaurs. There was a place on Google Maps called “Largest Dinosaur worldwide”. I really thought I would see a dinosaur skeleton there like in the Senkenberg Museum in Frankfurt. But instead I paid $5 to climb up 100+ stairs to get to a visitor platform looking at the town. Only then I realized that the stairs where part of a large plastic dinosaur. I felt both stupid and annoyed.

But what was interesting though were the badlands, a landscape that looks so alien it could from a different planet.

Drumheller is kind of the entrance to the badlands coming from Calgary. Badlands are an area of soft sandstone in Eastern Alberta that got eroded by water and wind, creating unbelievable rock formations. Have a look at the video of today.

Due to the erosion down to very old geological layers, a lot of dinosaur fossils are found here until today.

The Badlands

The route followed the Red Deer River for quite a while and there were a lot of stunning sights along the way. Temperatures climbed up to 30 degrees again.

As my front derailleur is broken I decided to put my chain from granny gear, that I had needed in the Rockies, to the middle chainring so that I could go faster in the flat terrain. After I had done that there came a nice little hill which I had to push up as a consequence. You live and you learn.

Back in the Prairies it was really warm with a lot of headwind. I moved slowly and also drank too much water. So my supply shrank quickly.

I tried to ask for water at a farm but the place was somehow abandoned. Shortly after that I saw a real Coyote in the field.

As I approached my campground for the night, I suddenly saw a huge shield cloud behind me. These clouds are very rare in Europe. This one was huge, round, and surrounded by an aura of light like an UFO. Flashes would light inside it all the time. It moved quickly in my direction against the wind. Not sure how this even possible.

500 m before reaching my campground the thunderstorm started to unfold. I have never seen anything like this before. The rain and wind were so strong that I was soaked within seconds. I almost was blown off my bike. The temperature fell sharply to single digit.

There was a toilet building right before the campground and I searched cover inside. The storm was so strong that I was scared the roof would fly off. It was so loud that I was protecting my ears with my hands.

Water and hail were coming in from everywhere. It also got really cold really quick.

After about half an hour there was a knock at the door. I opened and a totally wet fellow cyclist said “how is your tour going?”

It was Alex from Montreal who had also come to camp here but from the opposite direction. We both hid in the washroom for about an hour freezing and being scared regarding the severity of the storm.

Then he ventured out into the storm to see if there was another shelter at the actual campground. There was. One with working oven, benches and firewood. That combination had almost never happened before.

We were both totally wet and shivering and concentrated on getting the fire to work and making tea. Here the fire starter that Mitch had given me came in handy. Next was drying ourselves and the clothes for tomorrow.

The thunderstorm continued for hours. But with a warm fire and a shelter it is less threatening.

I took a shower in the rain and got into dry clothes to get warm again. A very nice feeling.

We shared tea and food and tried to chat. But it was so loud that we both had to yell at each other. Later the storm got a little less but it rained the entire evening.

We set up our tents inside the shelter next to the fireplace. Since I had not stocked up properly in Drumheller, I was down to my emergency reserve: Beef Jerkey.

We set around the oven to stay warm, the wind howling around us all the time.

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