After my last blog update, we left the town Hope and made our way up the number 5 highway with the hopes of reaching the town called Merritt. We had about 130 km to go that day, and most of the local were warning us about the Coquihalla grind. The Coquihalla is a section of highway that goes upwards at a 8% grade that is highlighted by a section where there is an avalanche protection bridge. Going up the highway was physically tolling. Downey and I had to pour water down our throat about as fast as we could fill up our water bottles. Everytime we found a mountain run off stream, we would have to fill up our water bottles and we probably drank about ten liters during the day. As well as drinking constantly, we were also eating often. Our biggest point of desperation came right after we passed the avalanche protection building, where we sat down and decided to eat our emergency supplies of one can of black beans, and one can of stewed tomatoes. This meal was eaten straight from the can. The day was 27 degrees celcius, so we didn't see much of a point of cooking with fire.
We somehow managed to bike up threw the Coquihalla grind and finally reached the peak of mount Coquihalla around 4 pm. It was both good and bad news, we were up the mountain, but when we looked down at a map, we had only gone 50 km in about 6 hours, and we still had about 80 km to go until our destination.
We continued along the Coquihalla, breaking freaquently for water and food and finally around 7:30 the hill started to break into a seriouse downhill, were we were able to make up most of the time and distance. At 8 pm, the first signs of life started to emerge, we started seeing houses and finally the town of Merritt was visible in a valley not far away.
Merritt is a cowboy town. It has the rolling hills spotted with the occasional evergreen and everyone seems to own a couple of horses, and if they don't own horses, they still wear the cowboy hat. I was feeling a little awkward in my tight bike shorts and shirt rolling into town.
We stopped at this place called the Grand Bar and Pub. I ordered a spaghetti and Downey ordered a steak sandwich, and we ate like monsters. After our meal we asked the owner if there was anything she could do in terms of lowering our bill (as we do in all restaurants to save money). The owner said she would do us one better, she took out an empty pitcher put twenty dollars in and made one of the watraisses walk around and collect money for us from all the patrons. By the end, we probably had another 80 dollars. We thanked the owner and the patrons profusely and left the restaurant.
A place to sleep was a different scenario. We found a trailer park and figured this place was as good of a place to sleep as any, so we blew up our air matresses and slept underneath the stars on a patch of grass in the RV park. It was not exactly the best sleeping scenario, but we were both so exhausted that it didn't matter and we shut our eyes on another day.