Monday, 1 July 2013


I thought there were only three mountain ranges towards the East? Perhaps, but as I was cruising through rain and low cloud much of the time, I imagined there may have been more! This is summer in Canada (luckily, otherwise I would have been up to my neck in snow), but even Canadians recognize the change in weather patterns.
The slogan all over the place proclaims the Canadian province of British Columbia to be "Beautiful BC", and I cannot argue with that except that most of the time I couldn't see the beauty due to the rain in my eyes.
So, let me grind out my morbid song (as though I haven't done this before). I had been staying with Gene and Elizabeth in Tacoma, USA, so Gene dropped me off in Burlington, a point to the North of Seattle city which I had previously reached on my bike. Well, that was the last dry day and night which I had for some time to come! That first night I had a comfortable stay at Warmshowers hosts Sherri & Steve, just South of the border. The following morning it started raining soon after I started cycling again, and I crossed into Canada in the rain. (At the border they confiscated my little canister of self-defense spray which I have carted along with me for this entire journey - if it had been labelled "Bear Spray" it would have been ok, and now I'm permitted to purchase a "fire-extinguisher-sized" cylinder of Bear Spray, and that's just fine).
Anyway, I found myself in the town of Hope outside the grocery store, munching on an expensive chocolate and dressed in my soaking filthy rain-gear and shivering like a leaf, when Barry Mansfield approached me to enquire about my circumstances. He subsequently invited me to his nearby house, I discovered that he was a retired schoolteacher, and I was given food, a hot shower, space to do some work on my bike and dry out equipment, and accommodation in the tree-house in his garden (my first tree-house sleep-over, and it included a zip-line to the house in case of emergency toilet needs!). I was inspired by Barry, because, even although he is often in distress due to Altzheimers, he brightens up the lives of other people with his out-going personality, wit and humour. Barry also builds some crazy contraptions, take a look at THIS
Gene (from Tacoma where I had been staying) warned me not to "Go Beyond Hope", but I did. That day the weather was not too bad, although I did have to do some grinding up the Coquihalla Pass to get over the Cascades again. I arrived in Meritt late that afternoon, picked up some water, and was about to head out of town when Stuart recognized the South African flag on my bike and came charging over. An ex-South African, he insisted that I come over to his (and Jason's) apartment, where we had a good chat over a few beers - (I had wheeled my bike into his dining-room, where I also made up my bed on the floor that night, thanks Stewart).
From there on it was again through the hills of Beautiful BC (mostly in the rain), past Princeton and Penticton, into the lake district of Okanagan through the towns of Kelowna and Vernon along the beautiful lakes in the valleys towards the next row of mountains. One of the towns there, Sicamous, boasts that it is Canada's "House-boat-capital", where they rent out all types of boats - some are even fitted with hot-tubs and 3-deck-high water slides!
Anyway, being permanently wet is not all that much fun (sleeping in wet pyjamas, in a wet sleeping bag, on a wet mattrass, in a wet tent, mostly with rain still pouring in, and having pitched camp in the rain, and having to pack up in the rain!). Whenever I could I camped under shelter (thanks Bill in Armstrong for your Gazebo), and I even camped inside an abandoned sawmill, and an empty ministry of transport salt-shed. There are places along the way where the Canadian Pacific Railway has overcome the steep increase in altitude by building spiral tunnels, and the head of the long trains can sometimes see their own rear (I couldn't see it from the bike - the rear of the train, I mean!).
Then it was over the Rogers Pass (I thought I was already into the Rocky's, but as it turned out this was another range, the Selkirk Mountains?). There, at the top of the pass in miserable weather I met a local cyclist moving West - I thought he was a poor man, but he insisted on giving me some money (how bad do I look? - but I was grateful, as for me the basic cost of living here in Canada is extremely high).
Up and over the Canadian Rockies at Kicking Horse Pass (I wonder if the "P" should be there?) - the highest point on the Trans Canada Highway 1. It was "Canada Day", the Monday of a long weekend, and the traffic was fairly heavy (half of BC seemed to be going to Alberta Province, and half of Alberta seemed to be going back to BC).
(Please see the following post re Alberta province for distances cycled).

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