Back to work this week: bread for sale in Wells Tuesday evening, and bread delivered to Green Tree Health & Wellness and Bouchie Lake Country Store Wednesday morning. We’ll see you at the Quesnel Farmer’s Market on Saturday.
More news from the last stretch of our bike tour:
We left Oliver in the heat (!) of the morning and climbed over 1600m up the gravel road to Mount Baldy Ski Area – nothing like a good challenge to test our slightly weakened constitutions. This was the toughest day for me on the whole trip – I even pushed my bike for one steep section where the gravel was deep and lose. Yikes. Pushing a loaded touring bike is harder than riding it. Sunburn, sore bottom, heat rash, sore feet, migraine, numb hands, residual cramps, sore legs: cycle touring at its finest! The treat at the end of the day was another closed provincial park: creek-side camping all to ourselves! (Oh yeah, but the picnic tables had no tops or benches on them. Minor detail: after hammering in the rusty old nails that were sticking out, we sat on the table’s stumps).
We spent two days in Grand Forks with friends – laughing, catching up, eating, and watching the Kettle River rise. The mountain-pass-of-many-names was our next challenge: Paulson, Blueberry, Bonanza, Blueberry-Paulson. Whatever it’s called, it isn’t too hard and Tim and I had both climbed this pass previously on our cross-Canada trips. All the passes we climbed still had snow at the summits – in the bush and ditches – which was hard to believe considering the high temperatures we were riding in. It was nice to feel the cooler air at the summits, and the evenings were delightfully cool as well.
We camped that night at Nancy Greene Provincial Park, also closed, and had to find a place in between snow patches and dog shit to pitch our tent. We made use of the shelter in the morning to drink our tea and eat breakfast – it was a tad damp. Another little pass to get over in the morning (we had most of the elevation in the bank on this one), and then down into Rossland. Now Tim and I were both in parts of the province we had never seen before and we were excited to check it out!
We were officially in the Kootenays now, and loving it. Lots of rivers, mountains, cool little towns, and people who stare at cycle tourists. When you’re touring if someone stares at you, they are interested in what you are doing, are jealous that you are on holidays and they are not, and probably cycle tour themselves. Or at least dream of it. If they pretend you are not there and brush by you at 100km/hour in their over-sized pick-up truck, they are not interested, and they don’t bother with a second thought beyond, “What’s that brightly-coloured bit of vermin doing on MY road?” That happens a lot near Kelowna.
In Nelson we talked to several people who gave us tips for the next few days – good places to camp, and things to see. After turning north at the Balfour ferry, direction Kaslo, Tim and I were again in new territory. We had a pretty spectacular time for the next few days:
As we neared Vernon the traffic got heavier and more obnoxious. We spoke to some cyclists and got news of a side-route to a provincial park on the shores of Kalamalka Lake. Interesting place – a load of docks and parking and jetties and ramps for launching motorized water-craft into the clean and clear water, and a meagre 5m stretch of rocky “beach” barely cut out of the brush for PEOPLE to access the murky water of a small bay. I did manage a small dip in the water, however difficult they made it. May 1, first “swim” of the season!
We had a disappointing visit to the new MEC in Kelowna. That store is just not what it used to be! We did talk to a cycle tourist who gave us some good info for the next day’s adventure: in order to avoid busy highways we opted to cycle from Kelowna to Pentiction on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. This first required us to climb some 900m up a steep gravel road to get to the trail – we left Kelowna quite early in the morning to beat the heat, and were at the trail by 10:30.
Our trip ended with visits with friends in Penticton and Oliver and a road-trip home with all our gear and bikes in Helene’s roomy car. All in all, giardia notwithstanding, we had a fantastic trip. We are, erm, glad to be home and to be busying for the work season ahead. One thing we are truly excited about is to be at the Quesnel Farmer’s Market this coming Saturday. Can’t wait to see all our market buddies and to buy some good fresh tasty food!