Reflections and images from my travels

Archive for October, 2018

Nelson BC

I awoke early this morning for a training run. It was raining steadily but still nice. Good things I brought the lightweight raining jacket. There was no one on the streets. I really enjoy running in the rain.

Afterwards, a quick shower and down to the local cafe Stumptown Coffee Roasters for a post-run latte (with art!) as well as breakfast.

I will drive back to Calgary today taking my time. Originally, I was going to spend the morning here, but, it is very overcast and the rain will probably not let up. Best to get home. I have a busy schedule for the Monday at home.

Before I drove back to Calgary, I walked around Nelson and took a few pictures. It really is a lovely city.

Southern BC was quite rainy as I drove through Salmo, Creston and then Cranbrook. The sun peeked out in the Kootenay Valley briefly. When I got to Radium Hot Springs the road right by the Hot Springs was blocked by a truck. Apparently there was another accident on Highway 93 and I would have to detour through Golden! I often wonder how people drive on the highways. The weather and road conditions were quite good in this area. As you recall, on my way out on this adventure, Highway 1 was closed due to an accident as well.

I finally arrived home around 6:30 PM and got some laundry and other minor tasks done. I crashed early as I always find driving long distances exhausting. Also, I need to get my truck in early in the morning to the local dealership to get that check engine light issue dealt with! This truck has had a few issues lately. It is old and I have had it for twelve years! Perhaps a change in vehicles is coming?

It was a lovely week exceeding expectations. Full of relaxation and I was thrilled to experience a true Fall with beautiful colours. I still have one week of holidays remaining and will try to get out for some local adventures.


Kaslo BC to Nelson BC

I was up a little later than expected last night watching Netflix and finishing yesterday’s blog post. There were a lot of photos.

Today was going to be quieter. Even though I stayed in Kaslo for 2 days, I really did not spend much time exploring it. After a quick breakfast and checkout from the Kaslo Hotel, I set off to rectify the situation.

I decided on an early morning walk along the Kaslo River Trail. It is easy but quite beautiful. It is noted for it’s two volunteer constructed beet coloured bridges. A great way to start the day.

I then set off to the Wardner Street Viewpoint. A short but steep climb. The view was not as good as expected but I enjoyed the workout.

Kaslo itself has some nice churches, a historic City Hall and of course the famous sternwheeler the SS Moyie.

Next, it was off to Nelson. However, I wanted to stop in at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park which is about 20 km out from Nelson. I had very fond memories of camping there previously.

As I was driving there, the check engine light in my truck came on. Great! The good news is it was not flashing which would have been a “pull over now and stop the vehicle before you really wreck it”. The vehicle seemed to be running fine, but I thought it best to get the code diagnosed in Nelson. When I stopped at Kokanee Creek I was able to Google an establishment called “The Garage” (an appropriate albeit simple moniker for an auto repair establishment). It was open on Saturday unlike most of the repair shops in Nelson. The beach picnic site at Kokanee Creek was beautiful so I snapped a few photos before I continued on to Nelson.

“The Garage” was easy to find but the proprietor looked about 17 years old (I am sure he was not). I told him my sob story and he was really attentive and knowledgeable. The prognosis was good. The vehicle would make it back to Calgary no problem and he told me the three potential issues. He even gave me a deal on the diagnostic as he understood my anxiety. Nice guy! I drove off feeling relieved.

I took a quick walk through the Main Street of Nelson (it really was as I remembered it) and then found a hotel for the night at a good price. It promised to be an adventure as it was called The Adventure Hotel. The receptionist was very pleasant and had just moved from Calgary. Small world.

I decided to go back to Kokanee Creek Provincial Park for lunch, even though I quite like Nelson, as I found it too busy compared to the quite trails I had been on over the last several days. Besides, I still had some camping food left and it was relatively sunny today. I had made note of some nice beach front picnic tables on my initial stop in.

Lunch was a very good Pad Thai and tea as I gazed out at Kokanee Lake. Afterwards, I enjoyed a lovely walk around the closed Sandspit Loop. Again, the fall colours were spectacular.

At one point, as I was walking, a breeze came up and started to make leaves fall all around me. It was a most magical moment as I looked up and enjoyed the performance. I was able to capture a short video clip for you to enjoy as well.

I drove back to Nelson and stopped in for a flight of beer tasters at the Nelson Brewing Company. A great deal for $6.

I enjoyed an early evening walk through the main shopping/restaurant district of Nelson before heading back to my “adventurous” hotel. As I found out, the proprietor’s actually take guests out in 4WD vehicles for wild, backcountry adventures for days at a time. Sounds…….adventurous.

It’s going to be an earlier night tonight. I want a good, long sleep as I have an early morning run planned here and then will slowly make my way back to Calgary.

Hopefully, I can resist the lure of that scary Netflix series.

The Northern Silver Triangle and New Denver gets a second look!

No trains interrupted my sleep last night. What a relief! It’s quite overcast and drizzling here, but, that did not stop me from going out for my run. I found a lovely leaf-strewn pathway lakeside. The only drama involved a dog getting over enthusiastic and trying to take a nip or two out of me.

I then went for breakfast at the Treehouse Restaurant and pondered my next plans. I really like Kaslo and the hotel I am staying in is fantastic. After pondering a few minutes, a decision was made.

I went back to the hotel and booked another night. Why move? The amenities here were perfect and the Silver Triangle can be explored from this home base as I am already on it. I felt better and prepared to head out to explore the north half of the Silver Triangle today, take some photographs and most likely dip in the Ainsworth Hot Springs. What can I say, it’s a tough life!

My first stop was the Ainsworth Hot Springs. Quite different from Nakusp. I prefer Nakusp but Ainsworth has a neat cave system of about 20 m length where you can go in and really get a sense of what underground springs would look like. It is very hot and humid so they provide a cool plunge pool to cool off in beside the cave system. The body does tingle moving from cold to hot. I spent a luxurious hour soaking away.

Next, I drove back to Kaslo and gassed up the truck for the drive back to New Denver.

Just before Fish Lake there was a small collection of abandoned buildings no doubt from the mining era. A great place to start taking pictures. It was just the day for it as the weather precluded any hiking which I was hoping to do. Oh well!

I briefly stopped at Fish Lake and found out it is an important habitat for the endangered Western Toad. Who knew? Western Toad adults are mostly terrestrial amphibians that have wider bodies and shorter legs relative to body size compared with most other amphibians. They can be a variety of colours and usually have a thin pale green or cream stripe down the back. Females are generally larger than males and have rough skin on their front feet. All adults have large oval glands on their head called parotid glands. The “warts” on the body of these toads are actually glands that secrete a bitter poison that is distasteful to predators. I didn’t see any as they are apparently in the uplands digging into burrows in the ground below the permafrost in order to survive the winter.

I was re-tracing my steps but really wanted to stop in Sandon which I passed yesterday on my way to Kaslo. It is located about 10 km east of New Denver. You take a side road for about 10 km. Sandon is a ghost town (not really there are still about a dozen inhabitants) in the Kootenay region of British Columbia, Canada. Once the unofficial capital of the mining region known as the “Silvery Slocan”, only some of it remains standing.

After the discovery of vast amounts of galena ore here by Eli Carpenter and Jack Seaton in 1891, prospectors flocked from around North America to stake their claims. Sandon was incorporated as a city on January 1, 1898 and for a few years had more than 5000 residents, brothels and a booming economy. Two different railways raced to reach the town first; the Kaslo & Slocan Railway, connecting Sandon with nearby Kaslo, on Kootenay Lake, and the Nakusp & Slocan Railway-Canadian Pacific, from New Denver and Nakusp. Significant acts of sabotage were committed upon both railroads. Well into the 1900s, the hills around Sandon were actively mined by mines such as the Silversmith, the Slocan Star and The Payne. Smaller communities, such as Cody and Three Forks appeared on the map, continuing to provide opportunity to the miners. Like the other silver towns of the era, Sandon faded with the silver prices, and in 1955, a massive flood of Carpenter Creek occurred, destroying most of the remaining buildings. After the flood, looters tore apart the remains of many of the buildings.

Sandon was used as a Japanese Canadian internment camp during World War II.

It was cold and raining the entire time but I really enjoyed some black and white photography here which seemed appropriate. A powerhouses is still in operation since the late 1870’s and there is a collection of old electric city buses from all over Canada. I pretty much had the place to myself except for three young people who stopped in as well for a quick look. Everything was shut down as it was out of season.

Next, it was on to New Denver, which you will recall, did not leave the most favourable impression on me the first time. I was quite hungry at this point and any hopes of finding somewhere reasonable to eat here were quickly dashed. I suddenly remembered I had some dried food left from camping and had all my gear with me so why not picnic? I figured there must be a campground or park here and headed for the lakefront. What a surprise! It was an absolutely beautiful campground (closed of course) and park in full fall colours. Fantastic. There was also a covered picnic area perfect for my late lunch.

Generally, I am not the biggest fan of freeze-dried food but my mushroom cheese risotto turned out perfectly. A nice cup of hot tea and an apple and I was satisfied. I had a lovely little walk lakeside and returned to taking some colour photographs (taken with a cellphone which has an interesting take on dramatic filters!).

Silverton BC was only 5 minutes south so I stopped in and admired the Main Street shopping district and a local mining museum.

It was getting late in the afternoon so I drove back to New Denver and decided to check out another section which had a couple of Japanese gardens I did not have a chance to tour the first time I was here. The Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre was closed for the season (what else is new) but I did get a photograph of the outside and an inside view through the gate.

New Denver was starting to grow on me! Just a little more exploring here….but, it’s getting late….you need to get back! Just a few more minutes….I am glad I took the time as I saw a sign for the Kohan Reflection Garden and discovered a real gem!

There was no one there but it was open. An absolutely stunning Japanese styled garden that I lost myself in for about 40 minutes. The pictures speak for themselves.

I officially love New Denver and take back any disparaging words previously spoken in haste.

It really was time to get back to Kaslo and again I was going to drive Highway 31A in the dark with low lying cloud. Oh well, time to start the jazz CD and enjoy the ride. It really was spooky with mist, fog and the enveloping darkness..

When I got back to Kaslo, I really needed a walk after all of the driving, so, I took an invigorating 6 km night walk, in places, pitch black without the aid of a headlamp. I somehow survived and had a “burger and beer” at the Hotel pub. It was busy tonight.

To finish off, a relaxing soak in the outdoor Hotel hot tub followed by a chilling Netflix horror series worth watching ” The Haunting of Hill House”. Perfect with “All Hallows’ Eve” soon approaching.

Golden BC to New Denver BC……um, I mean Kaslo BC

Bear with me! This rather long-winded title will make sense. You just have to read through this entire blog post.

I awoke in Golden BC in my comfy tent after a……challenging night. It started well enough as I finished 5 chapters of my book and fell into a deep sleep at the late hour of 9:30 PM! I know….night owl!

I had forgotten the one negative of the Golden Campground from my previous journey. At about 1:30 AM I was awaken by a grunting, throbbing engine noise and a mechanical wailing that best can be described as a banshee! You see, across the river from the campground is a CN railway line that seems to be a favourite spot for these huge trains to prepare for their upcoming journey through the Rockies. It went on until 3:30 AM!! You could not sleep through it, it was so loud. My lightweight tent fabric was no barrier. The cacophony finally settled and I was able to fall asleep at 3:35 AM but the racket started up again at 5:30 AM for another 30 minutes before it all ended. I fell asleep again and was up briefly at 7 AM but then laid in my sleeping bag cocoon until 8 AM.

After getting up, I walked into town for breakfast at Jita’s Cafe. A nice, local place with an East Indian flair but with reggae music (go figure) and great coffee. I had a great breakfast that was very filling. With a latte it rang in at $13. What a deal!

I went back to the campground and spoke to the attendant about the train issue. Clearly, I was not the first person she had heard this from. She stated the entire town wants the rail-yards to move but to no avail.

I had a shower at the campground before departing with the lowest flow shower I have ever been in. I felt like I molested the wall the shower head was attached to!

I got on my way by about 10:30 AM and the plan was to initially get to Revelstoke by noon. There was a lot of road construction and reduced lanes (heck, no lane markings whatsoever) as well as very slow logging trucks pregnant with huge piles of logs. This was going to be slow so I put on the tunes and went with the flow….I mean, crawl.

It was quite overcast with low lying cloud and my watch kept giving me storm alerts. It did look like rain.

Just before I got to Revelstoke proper, I recalled a lovely parkway called the aptly named Meadows in the Sky, so I veered sharply onto the turnoff which suddenly appeared. To my dismay, when I got to the gate the parkway was closed for the season. Sigh. As I turned around to head back to Highway #1, I noticed a side road that appeared open. I took it and in 1 km it delivered me to the parking lot for the Nel Nelsen Park.

What a pleasant turn of events. This fellow was an immigrant from Norway who settled in Revelstoke and brought along his passion for (what amongst other winter sports do Norwegians love?) ski jumping! He introduced ski jumping to Canada and in the process about 5 World Records were set here in the early part of the 20th century. I had no idea. He also inspired “girl gliders” to take up ski jumping and one of them was the first female at 16 years of age to go off the B jump without a man holding her hand! I’m not kidding. To me it sounds much more dangerous to go off a ski jump holding any other human’s hand as opposed to doing it on your own.

There was a lovely, steep walk up the slope the skiers landed on with interpretive signs along the way. Here are a few pictures looking down the slope towards Revelstoke.

Believe it or not the skiers had to climb this slope in the good old days carrying their equipment in thigh deep snow if they wanted to jump. The slope was then manually compacted by numerous skiers and their skis to afford a nice hard-packed surface for the ski jumpers to land on.

At the top A jump, there was a brilliant sculpture you could lean into to get a sense of what it looked like from the ski jumper’s perspective.

I found a side trail from the top that took me a different way back and eventually deposited me on the Meadows in the Sky Parkway. Yes, I was going to experience some of it as it turned out. It took me about 3 km away from my vehicle but it did not matter. I had the parkway to myself and it was all downhill. The fall colours were still present here.

I got back to my vehicle and headed off to my next stop, Nakusp BC. I have such fond memories of the hot springs here from many years ago and was looking forward to going back for a dip.

The highway was very quiet and the drive most enjoyable. I got to the Shelter Bay Ferry in good time and just prior to the next sailing. Good timing. It was starting to rain very lightly.

I was most surprised when I got to the other side at Galena Bay and started down the highway south. It was like fall was still in bloom here. There were many larches in their full fall prime colours lighting up an otherwise dreary landscape with low lying cloud. It was magical. It was like a feast for the eyes as I drove along. I also found a new hot springs resort to one day take Anna to called Halcyon Hot Springs!

I finally got to Hot Springs Road (there is a theme here…) and took the windy, eleven kilometre road up to the Nakusp Hot Springs. It was so quiet. Perfect! I had a most pleasant soak for about an hour with wonderful music piped in. As I clung to the side wall of the pool I looked out at the steam from the Hot Springs rising to merge with the low lying cloud. The mountain side was almost enveloped by the fog but one could make out the trees, including occasional larches, appearing and then disappearing like ghostly sentinels. Glorious!

I toyed with the idea of staying in Nakusp but thought it would be better to push on to New Denver BC. I wanted to get as close to the “Silver Triangle” as possible to enjoy the next three days.

When I got to New Denver I was ready to just stay at a hotel.

I was tired from all of the driving today and it was raining and most of the campgrounds here were closed for the season. The problem is New Denver is just not a happening town. No offence but it was dead and everything appeared closed. The accommodation left a lot to be desired. The two motels looked rundown and the one guest house I went into was like a morgue. The community board listed a B&B on Union Street (it took me awhile to figure this out as it was not listed on the community map- it turned out to be the main highway #6 as it went through town) so I went there but there was no sign. I stopped in anyway and a nice middle aged fellow came up to me and told me this was not a B&B but his private home. We had a nice chat and he told me of his family troubles, but, also told me when I deftly steered the conversation to accommodation, that my best bet for a hotel was in Kaslo BC.

It was another 50 km but the road over is the equivalent of a roller coaster ride and it was almost dark. I decided why not, what’s another 50 km? I started one of my favourite jazz CD’s and off I went. This road is punctuated with a SLOW sign every corner for the first 25 km. There are no lights on this road. It is dark-sky dark. The drive is almost hypnotic. I remembered this road well from decades ago when Anna, my brother Ed and I rode this on our bikes touring the “Silver Triangle”. At that time, it was June and the climb in the opposite direction from Kaslo to New Denver was incessant, very cold and wet. I recalled how we were all hypothermic by the time we got to New Denver. Ah….memories. This time I was nice and warm in my truck

I arrived in Kaslo and found the Kaslo Hotel on Main Street and am I glad I did! The fellow in New Denver was right. What a fantastic place!

The room was almost boutique in nature and character. Very comfortable and upscale appearing. The receptionist recommended the pub in the hotel and I was tired enough I acquiesced. I had not eaten since this morning in Golden and was famished. I started with a nice Nelson Brewery Honey Ale and a cup of very hot chicken noodle soup (good for the soul), followed by a spectacular special main of Mediterranean chicken on a bed of risotto. Yum! I had to have (what, was there a gun to your head!) the three fruit crisp for dessert and then went for a night time walk around town.

When I got back to the hotel I asked about the availability of a hot tub (what, an earlier soak in Hot Springs was not enough for you?) and was told of course there is one. She would open it for me. It was on the second floor right by my room. When I went through the entrance door I was surprised it was outside on a patio overlooking Main Street open to the sky and was nice and hot. Rain started to trickle down as I soaked in the tub alone.

What a relaxing way to end another perfect day. I really do consider myself fortunate. I love days like this. Chance recommendations, deciding on a different plan, unexpected new favourite places and the surprise of seeing things you did not expect to see.

Life is good. I fell asleep today as rain was falling, in a comfy bed, with a full stomach and the full expectation not to be awoken by a shrill CN train!

Going to Golden BC!

Another late awakening! I could get used to this.

I was up by 8 AM and again had a leisurely morning. I was on the road by 11 AM and the plan was to just get to Golden BC.

The weather was nice again but more windy and cloudy today. As I was driving there was a highway sign notice for a Highway #1 closure just west of Field BC. Yikes! I decided to take the highway to Radium BC instead of being stuck for who knows how long on the #1. The BC Highways website stated there was a collision and the highway was closed and could not guarantee when it would reopen.

Along my drive on the Kootenay Highway, I thought I would stop at the entry and exit points for the backpack hike I was supposed to do with “the boys” this year. My initial stop was at the Paint Pots Trailhead.

I know such an exciting picture!! The next stop was at the Floe Lake exit. There was a somewhat recent forest fire in this area so it looked somewhat stark!

When I got to Radium Hot Springs I found out my favourite RV Park, which I stayed at with my last bike tour through here, no longer catered to tenters. What a shame! It was somewhat wet and rainy here so I decided to drive north

along to Golden BC. I know the City Campground was still open and allowed tents.

As I drove north the weather improved and sunshine broke out and the light drizzle stopped. I clearly made the right choice. Soon Golden BC arrived.

It was lovely here. I self-registered at the campground and got changed for my training run. I have not been running for 2 years with a right forefoot problem. Despite multiple assessments and investigations nothing could be offered by my medical colleagues so I decided just to get back to 5 and possibly 10 km runs. So far my forefoot has been holding steady so I am thrilled. I thought I would have to give up running permanently. Not an option! I found a lovely running path right at the campground. How fortunate.

It was a lovely trail and great run. Quite the tonic after 3 hours of driving.

After the run, I had a bit of time to tour around a Golden for some impromptu photography and was not disappointed. I found some nice mountain bike trials for my colleague and sent her an email to see if she had ridden them. Reflection Pond lived up to it’s name as I spent some time there reflecting and watching a small group of ducks swim by cackling away.

Afterwards, I went back to town and had a nice meal (I decided I was a bit tuckered and it was getting cold fast with the sun setting). After eating I found a local craft brewery-Whitetooth Brewery- and had a nice Belgian Pale Ale as I composed this blog posting. Very civilized!

Back to the campground for another chapter from my book before I fall into a well deserved slumber.

Until tomorrow……..

A Day of Rest

Even though the days here are warmer than they have been, the nights are still quite cold. I was cocooned in my sleeping bag and did not emerge until 9:30 AM October 23rd 2018. There is something to no time constraints or alarms. Your body awakens when it is ready.

I had the most leisurely breakfast and finished including packing up the tent by noon! Wow! Time moves along when you are really doing very little.

Mount Kidd has a nice, short trail walk to an island in the middle of the Kananaskis River. That was the only plan today besides soaking up the sun, reading and taking a drive up to Highwood Pass. Such an action packed itinerary!

The walk was really pretty and pretty easy. I met no one. The Kananaskis River looked particularly beautiful this morning.

Afterwards, I drove up to Highwood Pass, always a favourite of mine. I usually cycle up, but, the relaxation tour demanded otherwise this time.

On the way down I stopped at one of my favourite views of the Opal Mountain Range from King’s Creek.

The rest of the day was spent in leisure, reading and enjoying the 14 C weather. Life is good.

Road Trip!

Ah….the easiest holiday. Just throw things in the vehicle without the careful weighing of ounces required when one cycle tours. Just what I needed presently. The summer was busy….too busy, so a re-charge of the batteries was required!

I have already been off for one week, but, domestic duties and a mini stay-cation took precedence.

Last time I posted was from British Columbia and Washington State in June 2018. I had a fantastic bike tour at that time.

I was originally going to to go backpacking with “the boys” along the Rockwall this fall but things conspired against us. Work commitments for some and an early snowfall sealed the deal.

This left me with three weeks open! I simply did not want to spend too much time organizing another adventure holiday so the road trip idea seemed perfect.

The summer was too busy so solitude was in order. I do really enjoy being with people, but, sometimes you just need simplicity and your own company. It gives one time to think and to just…….be.

The vehicle was quickly packed (I am sure I would forget a few things and did) Monday morning October 22nd and off I went. Key in the cruising speed, put on the Spotify playlist and go.

The weather has been thankfully much better in the last week and I hoped to do a combination of camping and B&B’s.

I had to stop in Banff first to drop off some backcountry skis for a tuneup and to indulge an addiction. Not trendy CBD but a bud of another kind. It was time to replenish my stash of silver tea from the Banff Tea Shop. The price far exceeds that of CBD. I always cringe when I swipe to pay but it does last about 18 months. If you have not tried silver tea you must! A fine quality one is like a light honey liquor when steeped properly. It always serves to relax me.

I drove back towards Kananaskis Country from Banff and for a moment thought I should really stay at the Ribbon Creek Hostel as I have not stayed there for a long time. This thought quickly dissipated as I remembered solitude was what I required. Mount Kidd RV Park was the ticket. Quiet, good facilities and open all year round. Trust me, it is not easy to find a campground open for tenting this late in the season. Likely, it comes down to economics. Not enough business.

Mount Kidd did not disappoint. The staff looked thrilled as I checked in. A customer!

A Loop it was at a reduced rate. Even better. It was quite warm in the afternoon and I found a nice dry site with the sun beaming down.

I set up my Hillerberg Soulo tent. A guilty purchase a couple of years ago. Like the tea, these tents are expensive! Once you set it up properly the reason for the cost becomes apparent. This tent could withstand gale force winds and is so comfortable and well thought out.

I had a quick lunch and then took off for a walk along the Bill Milne Trail. I had my camera with me and photographed what I saw and inspired me.

It’s often simple things like a tree in shadow, light streaming through forest lighting a path or a stark white capped mountain peak stabbing the intense blue Alberta sky. See for yourself………..

Just as I got back to camp I heard a tapping sound on a nearby tree. A woodpecker (a Northern Three-toed Woodpecker I believe) was hyperactively molesting tree bark oblivious to my presence. Gotcha!

Dinner was quickly cooked as I got back as the temperature was starting to fall as the sun dipped below the mountain tops. A nice cup of hot tea was savoured as I watched the almost full moon rise. Darkness overtook the valley but…..not quite. As I turned away from the bright moon I noticed the east face of Mount Kidd gently lit by moonlight appearing as gorgeous as a diamond reflecting light. This was a reminder of why I do these things. Nature always inspires and surprises.

I crawled into my sleeping bag and read a chapter or two of a good old fashioned book by headlamp. “The Names of the Stars- A Life in the Wilds ” by Pete Fromm. How appropriate.

Until tomorrow………….

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