Monday, August 8, 2011

The Country and Western Adventure

The dark line above the trail is the C&W in the distance
While everybody calls it the Kettle Valley Railway, in fact the old railbed that we chose to ride this year is actually called the Columbia and Western Railway - hence the title "Country and Western".

Two years ago, my intrepid cycling partner Roy and I had made this trip starting from Rock Creek and aiming towards Castlegar.  The idea was first planted in my head on my inaugural KVR trip when we ran into a supported group of cyclists in Rock Creek and their leader told us that their tour had begun in Castlegar.  As well, when travelling on the Crowsnest through Christina Lake, one can see way up on the mountainside the huge blocks of cut stone that were stacked up like Lego blocks to help hold the railbed to the side of the mountain.  As Roy drove and my mind wandered, I began to imagine us way up there clinging to the edge of that steep incline, riding our bikes and exploring that remote trail.

My friend Perry was joining us this year and through some wise planning with our friend Terry T., we determined that the trip this year should start in Castlegar and make its way to Rock Creek and then return.  Three days out and three days back.  Why do all that extra driving and waste important saddle time?

Just like two years ago, it was raining when we pulled into Castlegar and we had some difficulty finding the campground since they don't advertise on the internet and we had to rely on our faulty memories from a couple of years back.  I mean we only stayed there overnight and it was dark when we drove in and early the next morning when we left.

We avoid the rain
The camp host rmembered Roy and since he is such a charmer, she suggested that we pitch our tents under one of the covered picnic shelters.  Since it was raining, all the other campers were in their tents bemoaning the fact that their holiday was being ruined while we excitedly set up our tents on the nice flat (and dry) concrete slab that makes up the floor of the shelter.

We were to find out a few days later that a group of four cyclists were climbing to the summit at Farron while we were nice and dry under the sturdy roof and that it was so cold and wet at the top that one of the group suffered hypothermia and had to be brought down to a lower elevation where it was warmer and dryer.  Their trip had to be altered significantly to accomodate their ill partner.

Once on our own way to the summit, we took pictures of Perry to mark the beginning of his first bicycle camping adventure.  We chose to photograph him at the only place on the KVR/C&W that you can actually see the rails of the old train route.  You get to ride between the rails for about 1/2 a kilometer and we have been told that the CPR may use that railbed again in the future.

What a couple of hams!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I guess Perry will be talking a lot to his family and friends about everything he experienced on the trip!

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