Another day of great cycling has ended in another unique campsite overlooking a reservoir of water. We are now in the depths of Wyoming and, according to our camping neighbor who has been moving from one RV/campsite to another for years, the most unpopulated state in USA. Tired of living in RV sites, she is now trying to tell her husband that enough is enough and that she wants a home to live in. The campground we are in has 54 spaces but besides us, there are only a couple of RVs here.
Yesterday our own ‘super cyclist’ Nina, who last year came in 2nd at the Cape Epic cycling race, had a most unusual experience, an experience that seemed to have unnerved her. The North American Epic Bicycle Expedition route crosses one wonderful national park after another, one wildlife conservation area after another, several national forests, protected areas and zones. Cities such Helena, the capital of Montana, which has a core population of 45,000 are a very rare sight for the riders.
We cycle through these unpopulated areas enjoying superb vistas. Along the way we are warned about wild animal crossings, warned about being in bear country and have been rewarded with sighting a whole spectrum of wild animals. Just now as I am writing, a couple of flocks of Canadian geese fly over the reservoir making their distinctive call.
So yesterday Nina arrived at lunch and in her German/Norwegian intonation said: “I am all shaken up”. When Nina says something like this we all listen. “About half an hour ago while cycling at about 25-30km per hour a couple of deer jumped in front of me, one made it across the road, the other was hit by the car that was overtaking me. The loud bang was awful. I stopped to see the deer, but it was already lying immobile, dead. The driver stopped the car a bit down the road and was inspecting it for damages. He was not even slightly interested to see what happened to the deer.”
Another road kill statistic – actually not even a statistic. If there has been one thing that has been unpleasant, dare I say painful on this tour, it is how much road kill we have come across in these beautiful areas. The signs maybe there, but the drivers seem to care little about the animals. Any cyclist can attest that many vehicles are driving way beyond the posted speed limits. Hundreds of thousands of people, should I say millions, now flock to the National Parks to catch a glimpse of a wild animal, yet at the same time the road kill continues unabated.
Several weeks ago at the gate of Jasper National Park I stopped to take a picture of a road sign. It said: “Wildlife highway Mortality in 2012 -107, 2011 – 132. Record 1990 – 149.” These are the killing fields of only one National Park where animals are supposed to be protected.
Two and half years ago when cycling across India on our Indian Adventure, I was overwhelmed by figures dressed in white walking the roads. They were Jain pilgrims and each had a kerchief covering their mouth, so they would not inadvertently swallow a fly or a mosquito and thus kill a life. Such a wondrous respect for life, such amazing reverence for creation. Can anything of such magnitude ever arrive on this continent?