Since the last update we’ve had over a hundred holes put into our tent, ridden to the head of the mighty Colombia River, camped with Neil & Ali, rejoined the Kootenay River, said goodbye to Neil & Ali, been five miles from the US border, ridden alongside the enormous Kootenay Lake and taken a car ferry across a lake. We’ve had sunshine, wind, grey clouds, rain, drizzle, showers and we’re now back to sunshine. We’re currently camped in pretty Nelson, which is a bit Scottish like (well we are in the Selkirk Mountains) with tree lined hills rising up from the water, but in Scotland it would be a sea loch whereas here it’s a lake at over 500m above sea level.
After drying our tent in Edgewater on our rest day we went to pack it away to discover one large rip in the fabric of the outer and around hundred holes of varying size. This is the new outer that got shipped to the Gold Coast and had been used for eight nights. We had pitched the tent in Val’s garden to dry it out and we think a local cat must have started playing with the guy ropes that were swinging in the wind. We patched it up as well as we can with some ripstop nylon, although it didn’t stick all that well. And all this time Philippa had been worried about bears ripping the tent….
On Tuesday we set off from Edgewater to Canal Flats, riding through the impressive Colombia River valley, past Windermere (that adds to our collection of Lake District names, the other places being Ambleside and Langdale). The roads were quiet, the views were massive and we had lunch on a perfectly placed bench on an empty road overlooking Columbia Lake. After pitching our sieve tent in Canal Flats we found a $5 tarp in the local supermarket and our tent now has a hat, or cone of shame. Ali & Neil, whom we’d last seen in Lake Louise, joined us at the Canal Flats campsite and we all spent the evening cooking, eating, chatting and hiding from the rain in the laundry room. Happy days.
Wednesday was an easy peasy day, just 65km along Highway 95. There were about ten bends, a tailwind, hardly any climbing and we ended up in Fort Steele before lunchtime. As we had a bonus ½ rest day we went to explore Fort Steele. It was a weird open air museum from when Fort Steele was a gold rush town. We quickly returned to the campsite and Neil taught us all euchre. There was drizzle overnight, but with the aid of the tarp we stayed dried.
On Thursday we said goodbye to Neil & Ali, although we may catch up with them again on the Pacific Coast. They were heading to the US border whereas we were heading west across British Colombia. We rode through Cranbrook, which was much bigger than we’d expected. A lady in Canal Flats had given us the contact details for the three outdoor shops in Cranbrook, but we’ve decided to see how we get on with the tarp. We like the amount of space we have in our Nordisk and are loathe to buy something smaller. (Neil & Ali have a Hilleberg Nallo 3 GT that looks really well made, but it isn’t as roomy as our Oppland 3LW.) After Cranbrook the highway was busy with traffic heading to the US border and initially the road was pretty dull, although things improved when we got views of Moyie Lake. We were aiming for the provincial park in Yahk, which meant no showers and pit toilets and therefore we were happy to discover the Hay U Ranch RV resort just outside Yahk as they had a riverside setting, showers and flush toilets. All for $20, so less than the provincial park. However, like lots of Canadian campsites there wasn’t anywhere to wash up our dirty pots and pans, which is just weird. There was more rain overnight and the tarp once again kept us dry.
We set off from Yahk in drizzle that progressed to rain. The first 45km to Creston were downhill along Highway 3 and it was pretty soggy. After the first 5km the traffic thinned out as the majority of the vehicles carried on to the US border. In a straight line we were about 8km from the USA and we then turned north. We got to Creston at about 11am, too early to stop but we didn’t fancy another 55km to the provincial park beside Kootenay Lake that was the original plan. We found another campsite, Bayshore Resort, that was a bit closer. Kootenay Lake enshrouded in cloud was quite impressive, although it would have been nicer with blue skies. We cycled on and on along Kootenay Lake, eventually arriving at Bayshore Resort. It turned out to be 100m before the Provincial Park. Hmm, we thought it was 10km before the provincial park. Oh well, they had showers and we had our first Canadian campfire. We were pitched right next to Lockhart river and spent the evening listening to it rush beside our tent.
Today was a two part day. Part one was along Kootenay Lake to Kootenay Bay before taking the ferry to Balfour (how does one get a massive vehicle ferry to a lake that’s 500m up in the mountains?) and part two was carrying along the other side of the lake to Nelson. The first part was much of the same, with grey cloud hiding the mountains and a few rain showers. We dried out on the ferry and then had a few more showers on the way to Nelson, but finally the weather has cleared up. We’re now camped in the smallest pitch in the world underneath a pick up truck. Tomorrow is a short day to Castlegar where we’ll stay with a Warm Showers host for two nights to give ourselves a rest before cycling to the Okanagan Valley, either via the hills along Highway 3 or the Kettle Valley rail trail.