Hans Doef and Gresham Veldhuisen chatted with Dora VanderWoude, my hiking buddies, Glenda Wong and Gerry Beitel, and me as we offloaded the bikes and applied sunscreen. Someone asked me a question partway through the application and today my arms are medium rare. Not to mention any names, Gerry, but you should know how my short term memory works. Gresham did say that he hadn't ridden any significant distance since 2008, but he and Hans were soon out of sight. Youth. Sigh!
I had prepared Dora well for the day by telling her about sitting down alone for lunch on this stretch of highway a few years ago only to realize that there was a grizzly snoozing in the sun nearby. A quick and quiet departure had seemed wise at that moment. Then a month ago, experiencing adrenaline surge when a cougar stalked this writer. But my stories were to no avail as she soon left me in the proverbial dust ploughing through grizzly scat on her quest to summit. (Perhaps that is a slight exaggeration. There were indeed bear droppings, but I think she tried to avoid them.)
John Koning recognized Dora on his way back down, so we had a brief little reunion in the middle of the highway. Further along a bearded, grinning Josh Krabbe braked hard to visit with us for a few minutes. Josh told me that he rode an incredible 300 km that day from Canmore over the pass (to Longview?) and back. I am awestruck!
Friends from church, George and Jane Nieuwenhuis, paused for a few words, then continued on their way while we enjoyed a snack break with another hiking friend, Hubert Rielinger. A few kilometers further, Hans and Gresham stopped to say farewell as they headed back down and to let us know there would be veggies from the Doef greenhouse waiting under my car. Absolutely gorgeous veggies, they are. Thank you so much, Hans. I see jars of pickles in my future.
The official summit sign didn't seem to be getting any closer as the road wound onward and upward, but everyone did make it. George had a borrowed bike which didn't quite fit and had shifting problems and a brand new seat. He was really suffering by the time he made the summit, but he did it! Jane had reached the top, then returned to walk the last stretch with George. Way to go! Jane was in pain later, doing the opposite of me with sunscreen on her arms, but not her legs.
We found Neil De Bree and Ary de Jong, also from Emmanuel, picnicking on a hard bench, so we joined Hank Vanderland and Morris Spronk of River Park CRC, Calgary, stretched out on the grass. Shortly thereafter, Gerry and Glenda arrived with their ever-present treats. This time it was macadamia nuts and chocolate. There's a reason I like hiking with them! They and Hubert R were going over the top to meet a ride on the north side of the closed section. We all lingered a while in the brilliant sunshine thoroughly enjoying the company and magnificent views before the clock called us on.
Josh and I exchanged waves as we passed again. Then a little later, a young sheep was racing along the cliff edge toward me. As I readied my camera, he suddenly stopped, struck a couple of poses, then raced away again. LOL!
Some of the annual ride regulars didn't make it this year. We were sorry to hear that Gerald Krabbe, Josh's father and 2005 rider, is having some problems. We wish you a full recovery, Gerald, and hope to see you and Jenny next year. And Fred E (Folkerts), what happened to you? Of course Fred did just pass a fairly significant birthday. I also forgot to mention that it was Dora's birthday. We should have had cake at the top! The day ended with Neil and Ina De Bree joining Dora and me for supper. Thank you, Ina, for the delicious dish and waiting for us.
The day, the ride, the company were wonderful blessings to me. It was a joyful, enthusiastic group and just so special to share some time again with Hans, Gresham, Dora and Josh. Thank you to all who rode and especially to God for giving us perfect weather and wonderful scenery.
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