Day 20: Medicine Hat to Gull Lake, SK 170k

Waking up to clear skies was a nice change from the recent trend of cooler, overcast weather. The route today was up in there air. The guide I was using recommended going only about 90k. I checked some other potential options past that in case I felt up to it.

I was in a generally better mood starting the day, though as it went on progress seemed slow. It turned out that far from being flat and boring, Medicine Hat and the area east of it was fairly hilly. Not like BC of course, but with a full load any hill sucks. Despite adding challenge, the hills broke up the monotony of riding and were a welcome respite from the dreary flats seen in much of Alberta.

And then it hit me. Though it took me some time to figure out just what it was. Until it nearly hit me again. The initial blow felt about the size and weight of a soda can. Having seen the side of the road littered with cans I assumed some ninnyhammer of a motorist had thrown one at me out of ignorance or a perverse sense of sport. I dismounted ready to cry havoc and let slip the hogs of war, or whichever farm animal of war. However with a complete absence of any vehicle nearby which could have been responsible, or for that matter any debris which could have been responsible, I was left dumbfounded. Until, like I said, it tried to hit me again. It was a bird of some sort. Too small to be an eagle, not nimble enough to be a falcon. I never got a perfect look at it, despite its insistence on attacking me repeatedly. It continued to wheel about and dive at me for the next five or ten minutes. I managed to escape unscathed save my ego. Birds are scary stuff. There was a positive side to my avian assailant though. The prairies were finally interesting.

The day went on with mixed sun and cloud as I crossed into Saskatchewan.

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Feeling invigorated and making good time I opted to not stop at Eagle Valley. There may have been a little bitterness against birds of prey involved in that decision making. I decided to push as far as Gull Lake, far less scary than eagles. As the day went on I regretted the decision. Headwinds picked up, the clouds spat on me intermittently. Still I pressed on to  Gull Lake. I can’t put my finger on why exactly, there were other places to stop. It just made the most sense somehow.

The decision turned out to be a good one. The camp site was clean and well maintained, and at a cost of only 10$ was the cheapest I had seen. The staff were friendly and gave me directions to the bar  where I could procure a hot meal and “carb load”. I invited myself to sit down at the only table with people at it. They turned out to be an incredibly friendly bunch.

After swapping stories and a few pints they bought me a drink and one invited me to set up my tent in his yard. Having already paid and set up at the campground I politely declined, but accepted a further invitation for coffee the next morning. I headed back to camp suitably bushed but warmed by the friendliness and generosity of the people of Gull Lake, SK.

More random prairies.

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