a weblog of my veggie powered cycling adventures

17 August 2008

17 August 2008

Welcome to Rocky Mountain district
day 8: Yahk Provincial Park to Fairmont

Another warm day. I rose at 5:30 and left Yahk PP at 6:45. I started the morning not sure of how far I would ride/where I would end up — partly based on the disturbed sleep of the night before. I was buoyed by the impending site of the Rockies, something I not experienced since 2001. I entered the ‘Mountain Time’ zone at 7:40/8:40am, and soon after passed the sign welcoming travelers to the Rockiy Mountains district.

I stopped at the Moyie Store at 10am (34km) for a quick snack and to pick up some more sport drinks for the day ahead. It is a nice little store and specifically provides a table and grassed area for cycle tourers. It was already starting to warm up!

After another hour of riding I caught my first glimpse of the Rockies — shortly after leaving the Moyie River behind. From there it was on to Cranbrook and an attempt to find some lunch. I arrived around midday, stopping in at the tourist centre on the southern side of town. I inquired about food options and was advised, as it was a Sunday, that most stores in the ‘old’ part of town would be closed. I ended up at the large supermarket, picking up supplies and whatever I could find for lunch that did not require me unpacking my gear to cook/prepare. It was getting quite warm...

I pushed on, and found that there was a ‘new’ part of town that was basically a strip of big box stores for a number of km’s norther of the town. It reminded me a little of the garish sites on entering the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

I was starting to have my first feelings of wanting the ride to be over — a clear sign I needed a rest day, though one I did not note at the time. I had considered taking an alternate longer route via Kimberly, though pressed on with the more direct route to Wasa Lake. I was interested to see the buildings in the Heritage town of Fort Steele. As I closed in, thew road conditions were quite good, though I had my second experience with an abusive driver/passenger — another car from Alberta. The passnger climbed half out the window to shout abuse, with the car crossing lanes to get closer to me... I stopped at a gas station prior to the climb into/past to old town of Fort Steele, starting to suffer from the heat. As with previous days, the water/sports drinks in my racks were turning into a rather unpalatable warm concoction very quickly. In trying to finish/not waste one of these before restocking, I almost vomited.

Given the impacts of the heat, I was strongly considering a shorter day and camping at Wasa Lake.  I hit Wasa Lake shortly before 3pm (105km) and stopped to refill my water bottled. It had turned into a very hot day and I enjoyed the shade where I stopped, utilising the garden house next to the bottle shop/beer store. I began looking for the Provincial Park or another option to camp. Nothing looked promising and given there were still anumber of hours in the day, I pressed on towards Skookumchuck.

I reached the store at Skookumchuck (124km) at 4pm — (not really a town at all). It was quite busy, though I did not note where one could camp, contrary to advice. I relaxed with the ducks, squirrels and frogs out the front of the store for a short time. It was starting to cool a couple degrees and a storm was brewing (see photo’s). I pushed on towards Canal Flats, hoping to find a place to stop and shelter from the storm if it did hit.  It seemed that the storm passed me twice, either receiving a few drops or crossing wet roads. Canal Flats provided no services at all, and as I approached the climb to the north side of the ‘town’ the storm hit me with all its intense, if short, fury. Given the heat of the day, I was cooled a little by the rain. My shoes became reservoirs, though from previous experience, I knew they were relatively quick to dry out.

By the time I reached the Columbia Lake lookout, the road was dry and I was close to it. It was a nice view to stop and enjoy, albeit without a nice grass verge or similar to rest at. I was closing in on Fairmont Hot Springs and, whilst I would have liked to make it to Radium Hot Springs to be closer to the Rockies, I was settling on Fairmont Hot Springs as the day ended.

I was feeling pretty beat and settled on the first camping place I noted - an RV park with showers advertised as near the river. There was no one at the front gate, so I heading in and parked my bike and walked towards where I expected the river to be - which I did not find. I do not like RV parks and this was no exception. I had done a lap on my bike looking for a suitable place to camp, and came up with not many options. I decided to find one as far away from the dozens of RVs and with something other than RVs in my line of sight. I set-up near some other tents, showered, had some food and set about avoiding having to pay for the ‘privilege’ of being near so many RVs and all that goes with them.