Thursday, May 25, 2006

Friday May 19 2006

Today saw us travel from Grand Forks to New Denver on the east side of Slocan Lake. From Grand Forks we traveled over Paulsen Pass into Castlegar then we turned north up the Slocan Valley to Slocan Lake. Spectacular! River levels were very high and there was a flood warning for local residents. We had considered this area to live in and there were some great hobby farms for sale but the lack of flat water paddling and limited road riding made us carry on to New Denver. New Denver is a terrific little town. It sits on the east shore of Slocan Lake. Valhalla Provincial Park to the west with the New Denver Glacier hanging off the front of the mountain peak. We camped just outside of town on Wilson Creek. Paddling was terrific. Imagine kayaking on the lake in the first Lord of the Rings movie. Waterfalls dropping into the dead calm water. Deer browsing on the cliffs above. Hundreds of streams and creeks cascading down into the lake and me, the only one on it. The lake itself is about 2,000’ above sea level and the peaks above are about 8,000’. New Denver is centered between 4 provincial parks which incorporate parts of the Valhalla, Purcell and Monashee mountain ranges. Arguably the best back country skiing in the world.

Saturday May 20 2006
I rode the Wilson Creek trail. Flows really well with some good climbs. A solid cross country ride. As I crossed a cut block about 100 meters down slope I am sure I passed a grizzly bear. It must have been 4.5’ at the shoulder. It glanced over its shoulder at me as it casually browsed on some grass. I have had many bear encounters in the woods but this is only the second time I have encountered a grizzly and I can tell you they scare the shit out of me. I had hoped to mtn bike the Wakefield Trail off of Idaho Peak. This trail starts at 2205m and ends at about 600m. It traverses alpine meadow avalanche slope and rain forest. I will have to return in a couple months when the snow is gone.

Sunday May 21 2006
We have decided to move one mountain range east to the small village of Kaslo on Kootenay Lake. Virginia drove and I cycled over the 55km pass over the Kokanee Range. The first 25 km's climbs about 600m in steady fashion. To the right I passed Idaho Peak, Selkirk Peak, Mt. Payne and Reco Mountain. This is old mining country and I passed many mine building circa 1800. I climbed above the snow line and was gratified to have brought my vest and arm warmers. On the descent into Kaslo I rode beside the Kaslo River as it tumbled towards the lake. In several places the water was lapping the side of the pavement. I could hear large boulders banging and crashing underwater. This is one of the most beautiful rides I have ever done. 55km’s and I saw 2 cars.

Kaslo is very cool town. Built about 1890 as a terminus for the mining industry and serviced by the lakes paddle wheelers it was one of the most populated areas in western North America rivaling San Francisco in size. As the gold veins ran out the town downsized to its 700 permanent residents. It has a terrific mayday parade (For you American readers Mayday is the day we raise a cup of tea and celebrate good Queen Victoria’s birthday). The parade travels down the main street and if you missed it the first time in turns back and does it again. We rented a cabin by the lake as the weather is a little rainy. I did a little running and paddling but mostly I laid back and read my book. We spent some time looking for property but did not find anything suitable.

Tuesday May 23 2006
We have decided to move on to Nelson, about 70 km’s south of Kaslo. The lake branches just to the north of Nelson which sits on the west arm. The drive is very twisty and climbs and drops with at least one single lane wooden bridge. When we get settled I think I will ride the Nelson – Castlegar – New Denver – Kaslo – Nelson loop. Nelson is a mountain town. I love it here. The population is about 10,000. Built about 1890. The main street is a wonderful collection of heritage buildings. We have looked at a house built about 100 years ago. Check out WWW.MLS.CA reference #116786. I rode with the Nelson Cycling Club in the afternoon. Another hammer fest east along the lake. The ride leaves Gerrick’s Cycles on the north end of Baker Street at 5:30PM. I joined the Nelson Cycling Club (costs $20.00) for insurance purposes. This club is composed of both mtn and road cyclists. They are registered with Cycling BC and lobby locally for trail access to forests and local cycling issues. There is a great Triathlon here on August 6th. I hope to have a place here by then. On Friday we are off to Salmo to look at a small ranch on the river. More to follow!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday May 15 2006
7:00 AM We left Penticton and turned south and east to Grand Forks. Virginia led some seminars a few years ago when she was a consultant with the federal government and we had picked it as one of the places we would like to investigate to see if we would like to live there.
But first………….
We drove through Osoyoos and climbed Anarchist Pass. Up and over into a marvelous little village called Rock Creek. The countryside is similar to the Okanagan but not so open and a little steeper. I jumped on my bike at Rock Creekand rode through Midway and Greenwood to Grand Forks. Greenwood is a very cool little place. The road climbs quite a bit. Most of the ride was through ranch land. Very dry and very beautiful. Square log ranch houses with red tin roofs and old brown post and beam clapboard barns. I saw many white tailed deer. There was very little wind and except for the climbs the pace was pretty good. The last climb finished at Eholt Summit above Grand Forks then a fast descent into Grand Forks for about 10 km’s. The valley emerges below with the Kettle River running west to east along the medicine line and the north south flowing Granby River converging with it at the east end of town. I rode through the town where I met Ginny at the Overwaitea parking lot. Some delightful Victorian detailed houses shaded by large willow trees on the main road.
Ride difficulty: 7 out of 10 (approx. 110 km’s)
Enjoyment factor 8.5 out of 10

The two of us walked through the downtown which is composed of mostly older heritage style buildings. We walked by the usual combination of clothing, hardware and bookstores. I dropped into the “Chain Reaction” bike store where I met Anton. We talked a bit and he invited me to attend their Wednesday night mountain bike time trial. That sounded pretty cool as it looked like it would be in terrain that I would never have found myself, you know, the stuff only the locals know. I thought I recognized Anton but didn’t say anything. Camping in town was not great so we carried on to Texas Creek on Christina Lake. Very nice site with good access to the lake. Ginny and I set up and then returned to the grocery store (Huckleberries) for supplies. Dave Stimson the former head joinery instructor at BCIT was standing in the aisle and we exchanged pleasantries. Then back to camp for a dinner of curried chicken on a bed of butter lettuce, grape tomatoes and green grapes garnished with mango chutney and coconut flakes. Did I mention what good cook my wife is?

Tuesday May 16 2006
6:15AM The lake is like a mirror as I slide the boat into it. No one is around. We had the campground completely to ourselves last night. The plan is to paddle the east shore northwards to the end of the lake. Then back southwards on the west shore. The lake is very high due to high temperatures which is bringing the snowmelt down from the peaks above via many streams and creeks. Almost all are at capacity and create a strong cold current hundreds of meters into the lake. These flows twist and rock the ski. I can feel the eddies and whirlpools grab the rudder and turn the boat sideways. Then just like that it’s back to the calm and serene. I have been told this lake is very busy in the summertime but right now it’s just me on it. Time 3.5 hours
Difficulty 2 out of 5
Enjoyment factor 5 out 5

Wednesday May 17 2006 9:00 AM Deer Point Trail. The trail head starts in the provincial campsite. The trail traverses the mountainside northward in Gladstone Provincial Park. The first 25 minutes is a substantial uphill. I broke out the trekking poles and trotted up the best I could. I should mention I have 4 litres of water, a first aid kit, long sleeved polypro shirt, matches compass and a whistle. Virginia and I have discussed my route and that I would turn around after 1 hour 20 minutes. It is agreed she will call 911 after 4 hours 30 minutes of my leaving. This is a very good trail to run. About 18” wide it is well maintained. It swoops around the gulleys on log bridges over streams and creeks. The ascents and descents can be run without an anaerobic effort. In a couple of places it traverses cliff faces and avalanche slopes with big drops to the lake below. About 10 km’s in length. I drank all 4 litres of water as the temp. was over 30 degrees Time 3 hours
Difficulty 3.75 out of 5
Enjoyment factor 4 out 5 (not a five because I am such a crappy runner)

5:00 PM Somewhere in the bush north of town. Grand Forks Cycling Club mountain bike time trial. I arrive and the only guy there is kitted out to the nines riding a team edition S-Works with all the SRAM goodies. The next guy shows up. He has obviously been working on the farm as he has his work shorts on and no shirt, I think he is a Doukabour but I am not sure as he won’t talk to me and only looks at his shoes. He does have a top of the line Santa Cruz Blur and 0% body fat. I pre ride the course with these two guys and within 200 meters I am in cardiac arrest. It’s about 36 degrees out and the sweat is pouring into my eyes faster than I can blink it out. Parts of the track climb up and around the dry clear draws and gulleys and other parts are incredibly fast descents through lodge pole pine forests. These always are followed by a sharp vertical switchback which I am always in the wrong gear for which facilitates an enormous effort to catch up to the guys ahead. The guy with no shirt is not even sweating when I get back to the start line. I on the other hand am weeping and wondering how I can back out of this gracefully. By now about a dozen other racers have shown up. I recognize Anton now, you know him too, he is the guy that always finishes races about and 1 hour in front of you. I manage to finish in the middle of the pack behind a 14 year old girl and just in front of a 65 year old blind guy. Length of course 5kms. They seem to think I am OK as they invite me out for their Thursday night sprint interval ride. I hope I can recover in time Time 16 minutes
Difficulty 4.75 out of 5
Enjoyment factor 4.75 out 5

Thursday May 18 2006 10:00 Paddle to the south of the lake. I have changed my foot position to raise my knees slightly and I am delighted to find I have a lot more power. It seems easier to sit up straight and reach forward to spear the water on the paddle entry. I loose a little stability but I think I will become accustomed to the new position. Fartlek interval with emphasis on stroke technique. Very hot Time 2 ½ hours
Difficulty 3.5 out of 5
Enjoyment factor 2.75 out 5

5:30PM Its 36 degrees as I meet up with the boys. The route leads up the east side of the Granby Valley then loops down the west side with a 15 km cool down along the border. There are 7 marked sprint zones. The winner of the previous sprint leads out. Some zones are as little as 200 meters in length or as long as 1200 meters (this being the final one). We ride at a comfortable 30kph between them. I completely missed the first sprint and am last. Anton wins and leads out the second sprint, I follow his wheel then jump to another as it passes by. I manage to pull around this fellow and win the second sprint. I am now a marked man and for the rest of the night I can manage only seconds or thirds. What a great workout. Very disciplined group, everyone kept to the proscribed schedule. The pace was quite fast but I never seemed be in trouble. The route was beautiful. Very much like Penticton’s Green lake road only a little twistier. We were chased by a dog and one of the guys remarked that the group had been chased by the same dog for 12 years and that he was getting a little slower. About 80kms. Time 2 3/4 hours
Difficulty 4.5 out of 5
Enjoyment factor 4 out 5
May 5 2006 The day has arrived.
Bill and Virginia’s Most Excellent Adventure begins. The movers arrived at 8:30 and finished at about 11.00. Officially we have no home! The last 2 years have been very stressful for the two of us. Virginia had worked seven days a week 12 hours a day caring for her elderly father. Peter passed away in January after six months of rapidly declining health. He passed from this world with Virginia holding his hand. His shallow breathing becoming softer and slower until it gently stopped. She had kept her promise to him that he wouldn’t die in a nursing home. Now you would think that in spite of the sadness we felt we would feel less stress, instead we felt more. Virginia and I continued to awake in the night at every noise. I always felt that financial security would make me happy, I was wrong. We needed to get out of that house and make a move, have an adventure and live something besides the 9 to 5. I quit my job. We sold most of our stuff and we are hitting the road! We have one rule on this trip which is that we have no rules. We have no have-to do’s. That afternoon we arrived at Haynes Point Provincial Park in Osoyoos that afternoon, set up camp and tried to digest what we are embarking on. The campsite is about 15’ from the lake which is like a mirror. Saturday May 6 2006 6:00 AM-. I carry my surf ski down to the water and slide into the seat. No sounds except the odd fish jumping and the sound of my paddle dipping into the lake. I follow the east shore of the lake south well into the USA. After an hour I turned the boat west to the other side of the lake then back north to the Canadian side of the medicine line and our campsite. Virginia is cooking up some pancakes as I stow the boat and gear. What a breakfast! Sitting in the early morning sun. California quail and mallards running through the camp.

11:00 AM- Jump on my road bike and head through town to climb Anarchist Mountain on the east side of the valley. This is very similar to climbing Cypress….maybe a little longer. The view is spectacular. At the top I continue on for another ½ hour. Turning back after 2 hours. The wind has really picked up and I find it’s hard to stay on the shoulder of the highway. On one particularly sharp switchback I came very close to riding into a concrete barrier after the wind blew me completely across the road. This is a very good ride and I give it 5 out of 5 for difficulty and road condition.

Sunday May 7 2006
9:00 AM- Still in bed
10:00 AM- Still in bed.
1:00 PM Run north along the highway and try and find a trail. I end up near the High school and take the irrigation canal trail. This is a community project that goes about 3 km’s on gravel road base. Through orchards and endangered antelope sage. I forgot that all vegetation in the desert has thorns. When you ride up to Richter Pass you can see this area on the valley bottom on your right. He trail ends in the middle of nowhere so I turned around and ran back.
Rating 2.5 out of 5. Watch out for rattle snakes.

Monday May 8 2006
6:00 AM Paddle north to the end of the lake. Very calm on the way out. Lot’s of fish jumping. I don’t see anyone else on the lake. At the mouth of the river that empties into the lake I spied what I thought were swans but were Pelicans. Very cool. I had no idea they traveled so far north. I tried to paddle upstream for a while but the river had many shallow sandbars and I had to keep getting out of the boat to cross them. On my way back the wind sprang up from the south and made the return trip a little longer than planned. My ski is considered very stable but it was still a chore to stay sunny side up!
1:00 PM A short run before some serious hammock time. I have never had a hammock before and had no idea how comfortable they were. Hammock time turned into nap time which turned into snack time in the hammock then back into nap time. Virginia got pretty disgusted with me. I think the other campers in the park thought it was neat that a quadriplegic actually got himself into the hammock. I needed a catheter however as the need to pee roused me from my inertia, or maybe it was dinner.

Tuesday May 9 2006
10:00 AM Jump onto my mountain bike. I rode past the High School and to a subdivision above the golf course. I met up with a couple from Invermere who are coffee roasters for Kicking Horse Coffee (Tom and Sue) and Tom’s brother from Victoria who was a brew master (Paul). We rode up a 4 by 4 track for about 2 hours and climbed about 800 meters. The track came very close to the border. It was very steep in sections and occasionally I was forced to push my bike. Tom rode most of it. At the top we faced west to a staggering view of the Cascades (I think) and Cathedral Provincial Park. brown eyed susan’s, cotton woods and ponderosa pines with the ever present antelope sage. Lots of cows, some advice, don’t ride between Mooma and calf unless you have a Tom Boonen kind of sprint. I promise I will never do that again. Lots of long tailed magpies and California quail. I saw deer tracks. This is open country so the views are spectacular! I don’t think it’s possible to get lost. The descent was a bit of a let down as the singletrack was steep but easy. The only obstacle was some deep sandy sections. Note: The top can be reached by 4 by 4. This is a super cardio workout
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (actually a 5 out of 5 for the climb, the reduction on the singletrack)
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
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