Biking Across Canada Day 17—Beechy to Danielson Provincial Park: It's About Dam Time

The dam’s spillway seemed to go on forever

I knew I had a short day so I let myself sleep in. Since Beechy's campground doesn't have a bathroom I'd have to wait for the gas station to open, anyway. Combined with last night's early bedtime, I finally feel caught up on sleep. I should do this more often.

Who says Saskatchewan is flat?

Even though I didn't have a lot of distance to cover, it still seemed to take a long time. Today was the first day with a moderate headwind, and I find headwinds more draining than hills—at least every hill has a summit; winds are unrelenting. I kept inventing reasons to stop and take a break. "Maybe I should oil my chain? I should pump up my tires. Is my brake pad rubbing? I should true the wobble in my rear tire." Fortunately I had stretches where I was heading west instead of north, so it wasn't all into the wind.

After a side trip though Lucky Lake for a picture, and a stop in Birsay for ice cream, I arrived at the Gardiner Dam atop Lake Diefenbaker. This is where all those rivers I'd been following (the Bow, Elbow, Red Deer) end up as the South Saskatchewan River, which I'll follow to Saskatoon. This dam is massive. Something about the shifty rock underneath meant they had to make it long and wind instead of long and tall. The spillway and turbine tunnels are over a kilometre long! Lake Diefenbaker itself has over 500 km of shoreline.

The dam is so big it’s hard to capture in a photograph
If you’re scared of Daleks you won’t like this place

Next to the dam is part of Danielson Provincial Park. Possibly the best part, it has an interpretive centre, a restaurant, and my favourite, a beach. I finally get to go swimming after two weeks of biking! I'd had chances before, but the glacial waters in the mountains were too cold for more than wading, and all the ponds I'd seen in the prairies were either fenced off or too marshy. The water was still quite cold, so I only went in for a few minutes, but what a treat!

Lots of families enjoying the giant sandy beach
Going swimming let me check on my biker’s tan: an inch around the wrist, plus my knuckles. Everything else still pasty white.

After drying off and having lunch I biked a few more kilometres to the campground entrance. They put me in the "overflow camping" area down by the lake since all the electric sites are booked up (fine with me), and only charged me $20 (also great) for a site with flush toilets and warm showers nearby. This is the first campsite I've stayed at with showers this trip, and I'm thrilled. I seem to be the only person staying in the overflow area, so it's nice and quiet.

Some beautiful thistles dotted the campsite
Just me and the lake tonight
Watching the storm come in

After setting up my tent, I went for a ride to the camp store and showers. I'd forgotten how differently my bike handles when it's not loaded with gear. So nimble! I went for an extra ride to explore the other camping areas since it was so much fun to ride unencumbered and helmet-less.

I think I'll have another early bedtime. I may have a headwind heading north to Saskatoon tomorrow.

Today's Distance: 87 km

Cumulative Distance: 1946 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle