Geobiking Along the Bow River Pathway in Calgary

It seems to be a tradition! When we’re ready for our first bike ride of the year, we head to Edworthy Park where we hop on our city bikes and ride the scenic, almost flat, extensive Bow River Pathway system. Yesterday, our schedules aligned. We both had about 4 hours open in the morning/early afternoon and the day started with blue skies and sunshine. Carpe diem!

Regardless of how thorough we are in terms of finding all the geocaches along the route one year, there are always at least a few new hides waiting for us. Depending on whether we rode along the north or south bank of the Bow River, there were ten caches waiting for us this year. We managed to find six of them and had to post DNF (did not find) logs for three more – maybe that’s a hint that we should get out caching more often.

One of the highlights spotted along the way was the almost finished war memorial bracketing 10th Street along Memorial Drive. Once the landscaping is complete, this would be a great spot to visit for some night photography. The mid-morning position of the sun was problematic, so this time around I didn’t come home with any photographs worth sharing.

Downtown Calgary as viewed from the south shore of St. George's Island (home of the Calgary Zoo). This is a less familiar perspective for me. It allows for clear viewing of both the Calgary Tower and the new Bow Building and the inclusion of a long stretch of the Bow River.

Downtown Calgary as viewed from the south shore of St. George’s Island (home of the Calgary Zoo). This is a less familiar perspective for me. It allows for clear viewing of both the Calgary Tower and the new Bow Building and the inclusion of a long stretch of the Bow River.

One of my favourite stops was on St. George’s Island, where a short walk along the shoreline opened up a lovely view of downtown Calgary.

The new Harvie Passage opened in 2012 - the result of almost 3 years of Bow River renovation near the weir that diverts water into the Western Irrigation District canal. This channel (along the southwest shoreline), is considered a Class II (Intermediate) rapid (i.e.  easy rapids with waves up to one metre high). "Easy" is relative to skill / experience, however. As a result, the Calgary Fire Department has applied to Transport Canada to install the new safety boom upstream from Harvie Passage, in hopes it will prevent those without strong paddling skills from entering the waterway. The Alberta Whitewater Association contends that better signage is a better safety measure. No matter the outcome of the Fire Department's request, it's clear that safety considerations are "top of mind" for all stakeholders.

The new Harvie Passage opened in 2012 – the result of almost 3 years of Bow River renovation near the weir that diverts water into the Western Irrigation District canal. This channel (along the southwest shoreline), is considered a Class II (Intermediate) rapid (i.e. easy rapids with waves up to one metre high). “Easy” is relative to skill / experience, however. As a result, the Calgary Fire Department has applied to Transport Canada to install the new safety boom upstream from Harvie Passage, in hopes it will prevent those without strong paddling skills from entering the waterway. The Alberta Whitewater Association contends that better signage is a better safety measure. No matter the outcome of the Fire Department’s request, it’s clear that safety considerations are “top of mind” for all stakeholders.

I also enjoyed the sound of fast-moving water at the Harvie Passage. Once the park portion of the landscaping is completed, this will be a great place to relax while watching paddlers tackle the Class II or Class III channels.

This Canada Goose family was swimming in the storm water / constructed wetland pond near Fort Calgary. We also spotted a couple of families with up to 6 goslings near the bike path just north of St. George's Island.

This Canada Goose family was swimming in the storm water / constructed wetland pond near Fort Calgary. We also spotted a couple of families with up to 6 goslings near the bike path just north of St. George’s Island.

We made a couple of stops in Pearce Estate Park to check on two geocaches we hid back in 2008. These caches are grandfathered under the City of Calgary geocaching guidelines (introduced in 2012), so don’t have to be archived after 3 years. But we watch the activity level on them and if there comes a time when they go 5 or 6 months without a find, we’ll collect the containers, archive them and open up the space for something new.

Pearce Estate was our turnaround point. Heading back towards downtown Calgary, we stopped to find one more geocache and then again to photograph a Canada Goose family. We spotted several goose and gander pairs shepherding their little gosling families along the pathways, but this was the first group we spotted on the water. K would enjoy watching them for a while (too bad he was in school – but then again he might not have appreciated riding 30 km first time out this year!).

After reading so many glowing reviews of Village Ice Cream on Twitter, we opted to make a short detour to try their homemade deliciousness for ourselves. We opted for the new seasonal flavour - Root Beer, in fresh waffle cones. The detour was definitely worth it!

After reading so many glowing reviews of Village Ice Cream on Twitter, we opted to make a short detour to try their homemade deliciousness for ourselves. We opted for the new seasonal flavour – Root Beer, in fresh waffle cones. The detour was definitely worth it!

Our penultimate stop was for ice cream. Although the official opening time was noon and we arrived around 11:30, Billy (the owner) and the waffle-cone making lady were kind enough to open the doors a little early so that we could fuel up for our ride back to Edworthy Park. Thanks for that! And thanks, too, for the very tasty Root beer ice cream in fresh waffle cones. The total was $14 for one single and one double, in case you’re wondering.

Our last stop was to replace the log in our GC2R0KK Wagon Wheels nano cache. This one is always a challenge to maintain, since there are so many places to hide a nano cache on the sculpture. We were just about ready to put out a replacement container when Mr. GeoK finally spotted the elusive nano. After swapping the tiny log roll, we mounted our bikes for the cardio portion of our ride, moving along at the posted 20 kph speed limit all the way to Edworthy Park.

Total riding distance = 31 km with 6 geocaches found, 3 DNFs and 2 excellent ice cream cones! Have you been out for a riding yet this year?

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