I was up early, hoping to make Paulson Summit before the heat set in. My plans were to head for Nelson, somewhere I had always wanted to visit, if I could make it that far and take my first rest day. It turned into a very long day!
It was a pleasant morning on the lake, rising at 5:45am. The early morning view across Christina Lake was a pleasant way to start the day. After a quick meal I was able to pack my gear and leave Texas Creek Provincial Park by 6:30. Following the 5km back-track to Highway 3, I turned awayfrom the lake and headed north-east towards Paulson Summit.
I took a quick break at the McRae Creek rest area, and had a chat with a guy from Alberta who slept there in his car after being unable to get accommodation for the night in Christina Lake. He was woken by a noisy squirrel who was not very happy with presence. I pushed on at 7:20, finding the grade to be quite manageable. The roadside tress and slope provided a good deal of morning shade making for a more pleasant ride. The grade did get up to 8%, though after passing Paulson Bridge (1106m) at 9am (34km, 1 hr 55 mins) they did ease somewhat for the remaining 12km to the summit and heading for the 1535m summit (3hrs).
After cresting Paulson Summit, it was a long decent into Castlegar, where I arrived at midday (73km). It was another very hot day, and I escaped some of the heat in the Visitors Centre, before a failed attempt to find some hearty food. Just as I was getting ready to leave Castlegar, I met a women who had completed a trans-Canada ride. Meeting others who had ridden across part of Canada, or who had friends/family who had, was proving a common occurrence. With some of my frustration of not finding decent food subsiding, I pushed on through the heat for Nelson.
The ride to Nelson was hot, and I was getting frustrated with the incessant heat. A little before reaching town I crossed paths with someone commuting in via bike. This and the view of the west arm of Kootenay Lake picked up my spirits. First stop was the visitors centre for a map, a ferry timetable and to refill my water bottles. I had heard quite a few tales about Nelson, many referring to it as s sort of hippie haven. I was looking forward to it!
The streets in Nelson that ran away from the Lake were very steep. They proved tough after the days ride. The heat of the day had sapped my energy and I began to consider options on where to stay. I was aware of the Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, though this was a few kms out of town nd I was considering taking a couple days rest. I decided to get some food and think on it.
On my way to lunch I dropped into one of the numerous Bike stores and ended up chatting to a guy from Seattle who was in town for some MTB riding. He was sleeping in his car and considering staying at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, also starting to feel a need for a shower.
I was excited to find some good food to replenish. I decided on Jagannatha Express on Baker St. The food was very good, and I met Greg from Cooma (Australia) who was travelling and working in Canada. His full beard and relaxed manner typified what I had heard about Nelson. I was seriously considering a few days in Nelson to relax and recuperate, though the substantial drop in the Australian dollar and my (resultantly) rapidly diminishing funds were causing some serious concern. The food was so good that it had me feeling fully refreshed and ready to ride. I decided to not just push on for Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, but to see if I could make the 7:50 pm Kooteny Lake ferry. I left Nelson at 6:30 and rode hard for Balfour.
It did not take long for the weariness of several days riding in heat to return—it was 32 degC when I left Nelson. My calculations about the distance to both Kokanee Creek Provincial Park and the Kooteny Lake ferry were off. On closing in on the PP I decided to push on for the ferry. I arrived 5 minutes before it was scheduled to depart and hoping I could find a spot to camp relatively easy and quickly on the other side of the Lake.
As it turned out, there was still a good 6km to ride from the Kooteny Lake ferry to the first place I could find to camp. I could have set up on the banks of the Lake, though it was quite dark by the time I departed. I stopped at the first place I noted with somewhere to set up my tent. It was a bar and I considered a refreshing ale—first task was to set up my tent and have a shower. Following a shower and my first shave on the trip, I had no desire for anything other than sleep. I hit the hay for some well earned rest.
On looking back, I wish I had stayed on in Nelson for a few days...