British Columbia 2
||Fri, July 9
||My uphill climbing is getting noticeably stronger. I found a camping chair bag by the side of the road, and have made use of it as a rain-protective cover for our therma-rests. I wanted to do 100 km today. Literally the first 99.5 km were uneventful, then the proverbial sh** hit the fan. Bill stopped to do something and said to keep going and he would catch up. I went further (uphill, around a bend) to a flat resting-place and pulled out my camera to take a photo of Bill coming up the hill ... after a while, I put away the camera ... then I heard a shout "El!" (which I imagined to be "Help!") and acted on an urgent compulsion to jump on the bike and go look for Bill. Turns out he had yelled "Michelle." His chain was contorted like a Cirque du Soleil performer. Fortunately, he was able to fix it, with me holding and lifting his bike. Late in the day, we were glad to finally arrive at the sign for Fintry provincial park campground, and were increasingly alarmed as we went way down, down, down a steep hill to get there, realizing we would have to go way up, up, up just to get back to where we already were. When the campground turned out to be full, I was angry at the administration for not putting a "Full" sign at the top and having no office or representative to speak with, and angry at each huge vehicle with plenty of room for 2 bikes and 2 people that passed us on the way back up. If everyone were required to spend a day riding a bike uphill, they would know better. There were only two reachable campgrounds on the map, so after another 10k we arrived at the entrance to the second one. It went way down too, on a lousy gravelly road! While weighing the odds of the trek, a truck came by. I asked if they were going to the camp. Turns out the woman driver was the camp owner. She assured us there was room, and offered us a lift down. I took the lift with Bill's bags, and he rode his unweighted bike down. At the camp, she picked up my loaded bike from the truck and put it on the ground - that woman was strong! There are no showers or drinking water here, but there's a nice little walk down to the lake. As soon as we finished off our peanut butter supper, it rained, so we hastily assembled the tent and were happy to rest.
|A nice little walk down to the lake
||Sat, July 10
||We had a late start (8 a.m., compared to 6 a.m. yesterday), which was fine as the day's cycling was pleasant and not demanding, mostly flat or downhill. Climbs meant "change gear" rather than "pain." While previously the landscape, left to right, was: mountain, cars, us, cliff, water, this day it was different, with mountains on the right or both sides, and sometimes, left to right: mountain, field, cars, us, field, mountain. The flat farmland in a valley surrounded by mountains on both sides seemed idyllic, like Shangri-La.
We saw a front yard full of goats, lots of sheep, and llamas for sale. Just under 100 km we reached Sicamous, found a motel, did laundry and groceries and enjoyed a roast chicken, spinach salad and huge tub of fresh blueberries. Tomorrow: Revelstoke.
A friendly llama
||Sun, July 11
It was a cold and rainy morning. In the pouring rain, we passed and waved to a guy walking west on the highway wearing a huge backpack. Later we learned he was Mark Nightingale from England, who has been walking across Canada for several summers. I was quite soaked when we stopped to see the Last Spike on the railway line and have some coffee and chocolate. I was looking forward to visiting Miniatureland, as I collect 1:12 scale miniatures, but was sorely disappointed. The best thing I can say about it was that when we left, it had stopped raining. Going in, I asked what scale the miniatures were and the guy said 1:24, but none of them were 1:24, they were 1:45 "O" and 1:90 "HO" train scale, and large ugly moving dolls, like the world's worst Eaton's window display. Everything smelled of mildew. Apparently it's been the same for over 20 years. How sad that people can make a living with so little taste and effort, from one-time tourist customers. Then we visited the "Back to Nature" herbal tea and coffee house in Malakwa, a nice place run by nice people, and the day notably improved. It's been a gradual uphill climb all day today. We're spending the night at a KOA campground east of Revelstoke. Tomorrow: Rogers Pass.
||Mon, July 12
|The mountain view at Rogers Pass
While previous campground showers merely trickled and required hurrying to avoid paying more money every few minutes, KOA's showers were excellent and free. Their pancake breakfast was good too. Today was a long uphill ride in the hot sun. My chain came off the front chain ring and Bill's hands got dirty putting it back. We waved at a passing train's engineer, and he threw us a package, which turned out to be a hand-washing kit! Very timely.
Bill facing the railway track, holding the engineer's hand-washing kit
After the summit, there were no towns or campgrounds, so we were glad to come across the Heather Mountain Lodge, where we enjoyed excellent accommodations, a fine dinner, and good conversation with the owners. As summer is their off-season, they gave us a good rate. In the winter, they offer heli-skiing. Apparently 85% of the world's heli-skiing is in this area. There's a good 22-pitch rock climb nearby called Sir Donald.
Heather Mountain Lodge, front
Heather Mountain Lodge, back
Heather Mountain Lodge, goldfish pond
||Tue, July 13
Steve Sandberg and Sarah Anderson from Minneapolis, Minnesota also started their cross-Canada trek on July 3 in Vancouver, after selling their old car for $40 to the border guard's son ("No, you can't sell that in Canada, but my son can take it off your hands.") They've taken exactly the same route as us, including highway 3 and the Westside Road, where we first met them, and also spent a night in Sicamous, where Bill spotted them going by while he was doing laundry. They're Scandinavian, young, tall, fit and very slim, with very nice racing bikes and cycling gear. Steve lugs all their gear (about 70 pounds) in a trailer behind his bike, as that was their deal. Since I'm slower riding uphill than they are, but they like sleeping in, we're travelling at the same pace. We camped on adjacent sites and it was nice to have friends to chat with in the evening. These are our first friends that we've met as a couple. Steve's a teacher and marathon runner, Sarah's a grad student, and they're cycling to Thunder Bay, then south to the U.S. for a family event. Our camping neighbours on the other side offered us hot water for tea, and we all chatted. An enjoyable social day.
Steve and Sarah