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Published: June 27th 2017
Paul, Mariette and Doris are there amongst the other passengers.
Balfour to Alberta
The longest free ferry in the world is from Balfour B.C. to Kootenay Bay B.C. Paul, Mariette, Doris and I rolled our bikes on to that ferry for the 8:10 AM crossing. Raja and Michele would take the next one once they broke camp at Birch Grove. It was a marvelous day for a boat ride: blue sky and blustery and something grand to look at in every direction. The ride takes 35 minutes and I must have taken as many photos. The road south along the east side of Kootenay lake has a number of quirky little towns (Gray Creek - metric free!) all of them featuring Artisans and Artists of all types. Crawford Bay has a broom maker and an iron forge. Michele bought a whisk for $20 and Raja commented that she could have bought 40 of them for that price in his home town in India. We had assumed the ride along the lake would be fairly flat; It turned out to be up and down all the way with grades of 9% on some hills. It took it out of me and I was gratified to find that Paul found it challenging
as well - it was like interval training, he said. Michele found a place for us in the Mountain View resort and campground on the far side of Creston. Around Creston we saw the reappearance of vineyards and market gardens. The campground had beautiful tall trees and nice facilities, but they gave the site our friends reserved to someone else. Mariette and Michele, the formidable matriarchs of our cycling alliance, went to the office and straightened things out. The next day Michele apologized to the front desk clerk for the rough handling they had applied. Michele is a great expediter for our group as is Mariette for hers.
The next day we travelled 100 km to Cranbrook. Just before the tiny town of Yahk, I came upon a man and his dog. He wore a pack frame and was pulling a 2 wheeled cart with the rest of his stuff. His name was Jean-Yves and he had left Vancouver 4 weeks before. His dog, Leelu, was his protection from bears. He said she scared off a couple of grizzlies last year when he was hiking in the Yukon. Jean-Yves has cycled extensively in the mountains but now he just walks
everywhere - thousands of kilometres. That is how he and Leelu are spending their retirement. I am continually amazed at the feats people can perform.
Cranbrook is a bustling city that was larger than I expected. I immediately screwed up Michele's texted directions by turning down 1st Ave. instead of 1st St. I found myself in a residential neighbourhood with no campground in sight. A friendly group of eavestroughers set me straight and I soon found my way to Mt. Baker RV park and campground. It is right in the middle of the city but was quite pleasant and had the "cleanest washrooms in BC" - that was their claim and I would have to agree - a well maintained campground.
The next day's goal was Fernie. We were getting close to completing B.C. and although we loved all our experiences there, we were longing to bring closure to our first stage. The road to Fernie presented long sections of slow climbing with a couple of steep hills. I saw a building on which someone had spray painted "Art is a Weapon" and I took a picture of it for Michele. After the steep hill before Elko, the way was
almost flat but still quite curvy and with some scary drop offs past the shoulder. At one point there is a short tunnel. We followed the Elk river and then crossed it to enter Fernie. Fernie is a big mountain biking destination in the summer and there were lots of trail cyclists in the campground we chose.
It was a beautiful day but once the sun went down behind the mountains, the temperature plummeted. I put every stitch of clothing on in the morning for the final day of riding in B.C. and then slowly removed them layer by layer as the day warmed up. There was some concern among the group about the difficulty of the Crowsnest Pass, the last pass through the Rockies. I had consulted my brother, Peter, and he had assured me it was not too steep. When I reached Sparwood, my altimeter read 1150 metres and the map said the summit was 1357 metres - only 200 metres to climb! A man named Doug from Missouri took my picture standing in front of what is purported to be the world's largest truck. The Michel creek runs along side the highway and I encountered a young
man named Rick who was bathing in it. Yes it was darn cold, he said, but he was doing it as a remembrance of his grandmother who once ran the no longer existent Michel railway depot. He asked about my trip and told me to put some sunscreen on my nose as it was getting really sunburned.
The last climb was along the side of a mountain above a little lake where there people fishing out of boats. At last I reached the summit, which I believe is also the official border as well. Michele caught up to me at this moment and we ate lunch there.
That is all for now. You will have to wait to find our about Ingrid. Next time I will talk about my wonderful family and a hand delivered picnic, of a little boy riding a bike and imagining he can go anywhere, of a Polish couple riding to Tuktoyuktuk, of Ospreys hunting and of fickle winds and baking prairies.
Tot: 2.169s; Tpl: 0.13s; cc: 11; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0387s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb