Friday, July 6, 2012

Nakusp - Halway River - Salmon Arm

The rain arrived as promised on Tuesday morning in Nakusp. At first it was just a drizzle, letting me make my oatmeal for breakfast and pack up the tent without getting too wet, but then a thunderstorm came over with great crashing and banging and the torrents started. I took shelter in a covered dugout at the ball field next to the campground for an hour and a half while I waited out the rain, then headed out onto the highway after it had subsided to a mere trickle.
Three of four cars passed me heading out from Halfway River hot spring as I crept up the rough gravel road with the bike and trailer, a hopeful sign for getting at least a bit of solitude in the hot pools. There were still a few groups camped near the springs, but I got to soak alone for a while after I got my camp set up in my secluded spot up the hill. I met a young man named Light who was celebrating his 30th birthday at the springs, and a young woman named Ashley who was camping there for a week or two. We soaked and talked for a while as more rain came down, then Light invited us to the camp spot he shared with his friend Riel, and older French-Canadian guy. They had a tarp set up over their fire circle, so we could cook rice and tea without getting wet. Riel made some flatbread in a pot on the fire, kind of like the damper my cousin Richard made for us in Australia. We all went back to soak for a while before heading off to our separate camps to sleep.
The next morning I got up early (as I tend to do when camping out), ate some breakfast and went down for another soak in the riverside hot pool. The river level was higher than I'd ever seen it, and there was only one small hot pool above the river, but a larger pool outline could be seen just under the water. I took a bit of time to build the wall back up so the river wasn't roaring through the pool, and it started to warm up immediately. Later in the afternoon I came back and Light had built the wall up further with a tarp he had found near the camp sites, and now the large pool was good and soakable. The water had to be constantly stirred, or a layer of super-hot water would burn your shoulders as your butt froze in the cold water that settled to the bottom of the pool. Light also showed me how to do a tonal chakra meditation, which was interesting. (I also learned that rubber-soled shoes are bad, as they deprive Mother Earth of the electrical currents that flow through our body systems - the things you can learn at B.C. hot springs!) I soaked a bit more in the pool and wooden tub before heading back up the bank to my tent for an early night, as I knew I had a big day ahead of me.
Thursday morning arrived clear and sunny, so I made the rest of my oatmeal for breakfast and packed up my  tent and gear. I resisted the urge to go for one last soak, as I knew that could lead to a serious delay in getting started down the road! I timed the trip from the camp to the ferry almost perfectly - the ferry was just docking as I rolled up to the back of the line of traffic. The hills on the road between Halfway river and the ferry and from the other side to Revelstoke wore me down a bit, but I got to Revelstoke just after noon and stopped at a pub to order fries with lots of salt and ketchup. Back on the bike, I rolled slowly and painfully up the hill to Three Valley Gap, where a stiff headwind wore me down and made me doubt whether I'd make it all the way to Salmon Arm that night. The long descent past the Enchanted Forest made me feel a bit better, and I wasn't feeling too bad as I pulled into the rest stop at Craigellachie. I went in to the washroom to fill my water bottles, but the sign above the sink said "Untreated water - not safe for drinking", so I headed off with no water to try to find some down the road. The first place I came to was the Raceway cafe, where the sign on the door said it was open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but the door was locked and the lights were out. I found the washroom at the side of the building open though, so I filled both of my water bottles and was back on the road. At Sicamous I stopped to buy some Doritos for the salt (700mg of sodium per 90g bag - really bad for you if you're sedentary, but good if you're sweating your butt off on a ten hour bike ride!), but the sign at the Husky station said "Do Not Drink our Water!" so I asked the guy at the counter where I could get drinkable water. He said at first "I dunno...ride to another town I guess" which was not really an option for me, but eventually he remembered that there was a tanker truck full of water parked by the Rec Center supplying free drinking water for the town after the recent floods had contaminated the town's water supply. I filled up both bottles and my hydration pack, ate my Doritos, drank more water, and headed off up the hill from Sicamous. I was resigned to my torturously slow pace up the hill by now, so up I plodded and eventually reached the top before a good fast coast down until the next climb, then a nice long gradual coast back to lake level and the last hills through the center of Salmon Arm. As I rode the final few hundred meters, a familiar green Subaru Forester passed me - my dad had gone out to check on me after seeing some strange position locations reported on Google latitude.
I'm tired after the final 189km day of my bike tour, but I don't have to ride today. My dad and I picked some weeds out of the garden to increase the ratio of carrots to weeds - looks pretty good.

So here are the final stats on the bike tour:

Start Finish km
Calgary Banff 125
Banff Mcleod meadows 118
Mcleod meadows Invermere 46
Invermere Fort Steele 117
Fort Steele Creston 127
Creston Nelson 122
Nelson Nelson 0
Nelson Nelson 0
Nelson Nakusp 151
Nakusp Halfway River 36
Halfway River Halfway River 0
Halfway River Salmon Arm 189
Total 1031


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