Friday, 18 September 2009

On yesterday, and the day before, and today

Well, I technically started before 9 yesterday, but as I walked out of the motel office in Christina Lake, there was a heavy downpour that seemed like it wouldn't last long, so I waited it out under the eaves of the motel. After getting some sausage rolls and cookies for lunch, I had to wait 10 minutes for the local bike shop to open so I could get the most accurate information about the status of the Trans Canada Trail into Castlegar.
The upshot of this intel was that I took the Highway up (20+ kms worth of up) to about Paulson before getting on the Columbia and Western Rail Trail. The rain had brought with it cooler weather which was a very good thing, given the long climb of the morning. As I left Christina Lake, I passed some road works in progress. When I got to the far end of the site, the flagman asked me if I had seen the two vehicles involved and whether they were off the road yet. Apparently, communication within the unit was not their forte.

A few kilometers along the TCT, I came across Amity, a long distance hiker from Colorado going the other way. We were both relative novelties to each other as long-distance types have been relatively few and far between. Apparently, I was one of the first she had seen since starting in Cranbrook. We exchanged information about trail conditions and went our separate ways.
For the most part, excepting the ATVs, the C&W was in very good shape for bikes and had spectacular views and tunnels.
However, about the last 6 kms or so featured relatively unpleasant large but rounded gravel which was very bumpy. This came to an end about 1 km before a large dam at the lower end of the Lower Arrow Lake, when rails suddenly appeared. At the end of the trail, I came face to face with some actual railway cars! Unfortunately, after taking some pictures, I discovered that my homemade guidebook had fallen out of my map case. I went back a short-ish distance to see if two women walking their dogs had found it. They hadn't. I have since reprinted portions of the guide from my electronic backup memory stick, but I have lost the mileages I wrote down. Memo to self for the future: keep maps and guide data separate.

Shortly after making my previous post in Greenwood, I took the Phoenix road through the ghost town of Phoenix. This reduce the number of kilometers but increased the time as it was a very tough climb up to the town site. Unfortunately, while the town had been abandoned around 1920, the mine had been worked in the 1960's and 1970's using open pit techniques which effective destroyed what was left of the town, except for a cenotaph and a cemetery. Still it was very pretty.
This is heaven for a cyclist
From the point I rejoined Highway 3 to Grand Forks, there is a stretch of highway that is a cyclist's wet dream. I am not sure of the precise length, but it is on the order 10 to 15 km. It was a long steady, smooth and gently curving downhill that saw 40+ km/h occurring for extended periods. It was sunny and glorious.

In Grand Forks, I had a late-ish lunch at a Russian restaurant. The restaurant was in an old hotel that had seen better days and operated on a cash only basis. The other half of the ground floor was occupied by a dodgy-looking bar. Still, what the place lacked in decor, it made for with the food.

After lunch, I biked the short distance to Christina Lake where the motel receptionist was extremely helpful in all things.

Today is a rest day as I am only going to Nelson which something like 45 km from here in Castlegar. A good thing too given the time I am posting this (a little after noon). ;-)

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