Day 9 – Kokanee Creek PP to Rosebery PP, BC – 110 kms
The ride on this morning, as far as Kaslo, was rolling, although the rolls got bigger as I neared Kaslo. For the most part I was riding either alongside the Kootenay River or Kootenay Lake after Balfour. The shores of the waterway are full of cottages, and that’s no surprise, as the riverbanks and lakeshores have excellent sandy beaches for many miles.
I only had a bowl of oatmeal with a banana at camp in the morning, so I stopped for a breakfast in Kaslo, had a big feed of pancakes, eggs and English muffins, mmm good!
It was a good job that I did fuel up, as there was a mini-mountain pass between Kaslo and New Denver. There was also a hairy descent where the road had no barrier and quite a drop-off. To “help” matters along, just as I was leaving Kaslo, the skies opened up and it poured rain on me for about an hour. This was riding on Highway 31A, which was an exceptionally quiet road, and just as well, because there was no shoulder at all to ride on. What traffic did pass me, gave me a courteous wide berth. The road is marked as an historic route, in that it follows the trail that was the silver miner’s route to the Slocan Valley during the silver rush in the late 1800’s.
Kaslo seemed a pleasant little place, so after breakfast, I went for a quick looky-loo around town and came across the SS Moyie, the oldest intact sternwheeler in the world, or so they say! After sightseeing, I pedalled off to tackle the short hill leaving Kaslo, which was a brute, then found that the road continued to climb steadily for about another 25 kms after the first steep section. The 25 km climb wasn’t too steep, but a steady grade. I noticed a sign in Kaslo for motorists to watch out for cyclists, as the BC Cup road race was being held in New Denver. Well, I didn’t catch up to any of them 😉 – but I can see why they chose the roads of this area. The downhill runs are full of switchbacks on these narrow roads and the scenery backdrops are spectacular. I took lots of photos, but a camera cannot do justice to what the eye beholds. In a few places, I could look over concrete highway safety barriers (if there were any) and see hundreds of feet down, and then I could just look up and see hundreds of feet of mountainside above me, breathtaking!
A few miles before New Denver, I passed the exit for the town of Sandon. Sandon houses the oldest working hydro generating station in BC. The small town has much history and was home to 5000 people in its heyday as a silver rush town. I was tempted to take the 10 km side trip there, to see the restored buildings etc., but my stomach was growling for food, so I continued on.
On arriving in New Denver, the bike races had just finished with the Glacier Grand Prix event and prize-giving was about to start. I was heading to the visitor info centre at the bottom of the main street and had to ride through the finish line (with BOB in tow and on a touring bike with racks etc., I did not resemble anything like any of the racers) much to the the delight of the bystanders (I told Basil to wave to them, but he remained his usual aloof self!). Our local favourite bike racer from Victoria, Roland Green, was not there though, someone mentioned that he was competing in the Canada Cup mountain bike races in Fernie?
After a sandwich, a chat and some grocery purchases, I set out for Rosebery Provincial Park, which is only about 5 kms from New Denver. Just as I was leaving, I saw a couple of touring cyclists, heading into town. Too bad I just missed them, as they were the first that I had seen since re-entering Canada, and it would have been nice to chat to them. I debated on returning, but decide to push on in the end.
Just outside Rosebery PP, there are a couple of restaurants, which is uncommon for a Provincial Park. What was more unusual though, was that one of them was a Mexican restaurant – virtually in the middle of nowhere! I thought of perhaps skipping cooking later, but I didn’t fancy riding the next day with a belly full of refried beans – and the aftereffects! So rode into the park and found a myself a campsite. I’d just managed to set my tent up when it started raining again, a real hard shower too, and just enough to get everything wet that I was rushing to get under cover! Then it stopped. I got all my gear out ready for cooking, boiled some water, had a clean up, washed some clothes, then guess what? It stared raining again, I was getting annoyed! Anyway, to have some peace, I put up my little 6′ x 8′ tarp over the picnic table, then cooked and ate my dinner under that and managed to stay dry.
I assumed that the constant showers would continue through the night and that most of my gear would be wet in the morning, so I decided then to look for a cheap motel on the next day, and maybe a laundromat to wash some of my clothes properly. Campsite washing/rinsing was keeping my clothes relatively clean, but there’s nothing like running all the stuff through a genuine washing machine with some soap powder! And it smells so good afterwards! – For a short while anyhow!
I was only able to send email on this day, I tried to receive my messages from three different payphones with no luck, perhaps Pocketmail was having server problems? I had noticed that some payphones were finicky, or perhaps it could have been that the phone lines were noisy? Transmission problems did not occur too often though, so it was not a major concern.
Day 10 – Rosebery PP to Fauquier, BC – 108 kms
I found a cheap motel (C$39.00) and there was even a general store, in Fauquier, with a laundromat. So while I was washing out my smelly bike gear, I could write my trip report. The day’s ride had been exceptional, with perfect weather. It was getting pretty hot though by the time I finished riding at 2:00 p.m.
I saw some of the best scenery of the whole tour so far while riding on this day, and the road was very kind to me without any major climbs. Wildlife too; lots of deer around and I even saw a coyote, I think, it could have been a fox though?
Once again a second breakfast was necessary in Nakusp, due to only having my oatmeal and banana before leaving camp. Nakusp is a very scenic little town on the banks of the Arrow Lakes. I poked around there for a short while after eating breakfast; bought some supplies and set off for Fauquier. On the way, I had an ice cream stop at a (very) small village called Burton. And another ice cream stop when I reached Fauquier. Well it was a hot day!
Fauquier is the end of Highway 6 on the east side of Arrow Lake. A small ferry has to be taken to reach the other side to continue west to Vernon on Highway 6 again. Fauquier’s whole existence seems to be tied into the ferry crossing! Nice little place with friendly people though. Fauquier was moved to its present site by BC Hydro, otherwise the town would have ended up under water when they built the Hugh Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar, thereby creating the Arrow Lake System.
By the way, Kaslo was the most eastern point in my tour, as I was now heading west. To avoid Kamloops, I had planned to ride the Douglas Lake Road in a couple of days time, but I chose nix that idea due to my last experience on the gravel road at Waneta/Nelway. I figured that if the road had been graded recently and not hard-packed, I wouldn’t have much fun for the 50 km plus length of the road. My alternative plan was to continue to Kamloops and then pick up Highway 5A south from there.
After the short five minute ferry ride in the morning, I would have to ride mountain pass number 6, the Monashee. But for this night I had clean clothes, what a treat – life’s simple pleasures! Oh, and a restaurant with cold beer!
Day 11 – Fauquier to Cherryville, BC – 78 kms
My lowest mileage yet, but what a day!…
During the previous evening, there was a thunderstorm with torrential rain for a while, so I was definitely glad to be tucked into a motel room for the night. I snickered at the rain, well I guess that I upset the rain gods, again!
On this morning, whilst I was waiting for the ferry crossing to Needles, the skies opened up and I was thoroughly soaked during the five minute sailing. Then there was a steep climb out of the ferry dock, I’d guess about 12% for 1 km, followed by a bit less of a grade. Between the rain pelting down and sweating from the climb, I was wet from the inside/out and back again!
Then the rain would stop for a half-hour. Then another gray cloud would roll over the mountain top; on with rain gear again. This happened about 4 times while I was climbing some steep grades up to the Monashee summit at 1241m – that’s what the sign said, my map said 1199m? Also a light headwind was an annoying companion to the intermittent rain during the climb.
I must mention that this was the loneliest, most desolate stretch of road that I had ridden so far; together with being very narrow and winding in places. Traffic was virtually non-existent, except for the odd vehicle passing every half-hour – timed to the half-hourly ferry crossings. I was even hoping for logging trucks to go by at one point! – Just kidding!
Upon reaching the summit, I stopped at the rest area for a break and to eat an apple, I was immediately attacked by a legion of mosquitoes who were backed up by the black-fly air reserve – I was… outta there! What next? The rain was starting again, damn, on with raingear again; bike touring really hones your quick change abilities!
So I started the downhill run in pouring rain, taking it easy, as the brakes were not at their peak in the wet, especially down the steep grades. I was wet, cold and remembering the miserable descent down Washington Pass, a few days before in similar weather. About 5 kms down, I thought that I was hallucinating; there was a cafe in the middle of nowhere. I mean for about 55 kms, I had seen dick! Trees, road, rain and the odd stupid little chipmunk who was as daft as me to be out in that weather! The sign said “OPEN,” so I peeled in and thanked my lucky stars for the good fortune. Hot soup, coffee and a sandwich soon put me in a better mood.
I sipped coffee and waited for the rain to stop, then I set off again. In the next twenty-odd kms to Cherryville I was dumped on twice more!
Earlier, I had been considering riding all the way to Vernon, but the weather, headwind and grades made it slow-going, so I decided to stick with my original plan, cut the day short, and stay at the Gold Panner Campground.
What a great place that was, on the site of an old prospectors’ camp and mine. There are trails to old diggings and artifacts etc. A restaurant too, with ice-cream! They had cabins available, but I opted to tent, as the skies had cleared up; mistake – it started raining as I was putting my tent up! Not for too long luckily. I had a nice hot shower (free) and cleaned all the day’s road grime off, which made my feel much better. I cooked up some grub, then afterwards had a nice chat with a couple in the adjacent campsite to mine, who were motorcycle touring/camping.
Then it was early to bed. I was surprised how tired I was, even with the short mileage of the day. But I guess that the weather and climb had taken its toll. Also I still hadn’t taken a complete rest day yet.
Whilst I was dozing off, I came to the conclusion that the private parks were much nicer for camping. They had better facilities and were usually cheaper than the Provincial Parks. Provincial Parks tend to have dark dingy camp areas and lots of hungry biting buddies. It’s also very rare to get a grassy spot in the open when camping at a PP, but the private campgrounds usually always have nice sites.