19 July 2012 – Last year at this time, Louise and I rode out to Boulton Creek Campground in the Kananaskis for a bit of a wet weekend with a number of VStrom owners from around Alberta. We’d only met these folks online on a web forum dedicated to the VStrom and took a bit of a chance going out to see them. Our fears were unfounded – they turned out to be a great bunch of folks and we clicked pretty quickly.
So earlier this year, with snow still on the ground, we were excited to learn that there was going to be a Run to the Hills 2012, July 19-22. The location changed from 2011 – it would be held in the Waterton Lakes / Waterton National Park area in SW Alberta. So we patiently waited for July 19th to roll around.
In the meantime, Louise decided to go off on an adventure on her own – see the blog posts on Solo to Sarnia for her story. So it was up to me to represent Team Stephens and mix it up with a bunch of VStroms on my FJR. Lucky for me, they tolerate non-VStroms and welcomed me happily.
I had booked the time off almost as soon as started my new job, but work has this insidious way of trying to screw things up. The Wednesday before leaving, we got into a bit of scrap with a vendor over a project engagement and I wound up having to complete a project engagement document before I left on Thursday morning.
By 11am I had the bike packed, gassed and ready to go. During the morning while working and checking the Run to the Hills webpage, I found out that a couple of the guys were meeting for lunch at Marv’s Diner in Black Diamond, which is about an hour away from our place here. I figured I could easily make there to meet up with them and tag along the rest of the way to Waterton. Finally my work was done and I headed out!
Along the way, just west of the town of Okotoks, I spotted something I’d never seen before! In all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve never driven Highway 7 west from Okotoks to Black Diamond – I’ve been to both towns many times though, just never driven between the two towns. So when I spotted this huge pile on the side of road, at first I thought it was a huge pile of hay bales that had collapsed, but as I got closer I realized that it was actually a big rock. I didn’t stop to take any pictures, but in retrospect I should have. Anyway, here’s a pic from the web and click here to more information on the Big Rock.
Shortly after pondering the Big Rock, I arrived in Black Diamond, found Marv’s, and discovered that I had timed it perfectly … … BigDan and Kay (not sure of the spelling) had just arrived and were already there waiting for Trent. Dan was happy to have me join up, so we all had the special of the day – Cheeseburger and Fries and a milkshake.
Then it was off to the Cowboy Trail (Highway 22) south.
After a couple of hours on the road, we stopped at Pincher Creek for gas, where I discovered I had forgotten to bring micro-fibre cloths for cleaning the windscreen and helmet visor. I suspected the store in the gas station would have some and sure enough – there they were – for all of $1 a piece! I bought two – disaster averted!
Another hour of riding and we were at the Crooked Creek Campground, discovering that Stoney, another non-VStrom owning participant (he has a Suzuki SV650, a close cousin of the VStrom 650), was already there with his trailer setup back in a corner. The campground manager had allocated three tenting sites to the group, which was cool, but the sites were right out the corner of highway and right by the campground sign, which was not so good.
Anyone who knows the area in southern Alberta knows about the wind, so being one of the first on the scene, I decided to pitch my tent right behind the campground sign, hopefully providing a bit of a windbreak. It did and there was also some shade in the late afternoon.
This trip was the first use of the new Redverz Adventure tent. It’s a mid-sized tent with the very cool feature of having a “garage” for the bike! I did’t park the bike in it, but was pretty nice to be able to get dressed standing up straight.
I’ll write up a more detailed review of the Adventure Tent later, but although a different tent than our larger, yet smaller KeronGT, it compares quite well. Might not replace the KeronGT, but it’ll come close. Certainly for solo camping it’s much easier to use than the larger Keron.
Anyway, with the tent set up, Dan, Kay, Trent and I headed into Waterton townsite for supplies. I got some beer. The others got chips.
Back at the site, some more folks arrived and were extremely disappointed that there were no trees for their hammocks. There were attempts to try to make it work …
… but it’s tough to sleep in a hammock when your butt is on the ground.
Eventually, with the riding done for the day, we starting drinking, a couple of beers for me, and lots of various Rums for others. Here, Big Dan sets the fashion standard for the group:
Later, I crawled into the tent, finished blowing up the air mattress and went to sleep.