Saturday, September 5, 2015

Soakin' Valley

On our way home from last year's bike-packing trip,we saw a paved cycling trail that followed the Slocan River.Consulting my Kettle Valley Railway guidebook, we discovered that there was in fact a rails to trails route that was 50 kilometers in length called the "Slocan Valley Rail Trail".
Last year's trip

Wanting to do a bike-packing trip this summer, Chris (the boy) and I decided that since he was out of shape, we would try that trail as it looked flat and the guidebook confirmed that there was no appreciable grade.This time the boy had a much better bike and he had finally listened to my advice to ditch the cotton t-shirts and wear moisture wicking shirts. (Forget him wearing cycling shorts!).

My wife who is a sensible individual, suggested that because of the health risk that the recent forest fire smoke presented, we should consider another place to ride our bikes.Being males, we disregarded the wise advice. Although the smoke seemed to get worse the further south we traveled. Then it began to rain.

We told ourselves that it always rains in the mountains and sure enough, by the time we reached Slocan the rain had stopped. Visibility was still limited because of the tremendous clouds of smoke coming up from the southern end of the province. It also seemed that there must have been a lot of marijuana burning as we imagined seeing a pulp mill that upon closer inspection turned out to be an outcropping of rock. The bright lights of an RV coming toward us were not the ferry that would take us across Lower Arrow Lake...
Slocan gold

The campground at Slocan had only two other campsites taken so we chose an isolated spot that had a waterfall tumbling steadily behind it. The stream below the falls was clear and cold so we stashed a couple of tall cans of beer in its pristine waters.
Rollin' and tumblin'
It was hard to tell if above us was rain clouds or if it was forest fire smoke. It was rain clouds.Just after starting off from the trailhead, it began to sprinkle. This would be the driest we would be for the next several days. The boy and I had rain gear and after such a long drive and much preparation, we weren't about to turn back now.
Here comes the rain
We made it to our destination at Winlaw without a great deal of effort and we found that this place had everything we could want. A family - run bakery, a hardware store, a crunchy-granola food store and just as importantly, a gas station that had a liquor store. (We had forgotten the beer in Slocan  Creek). Once again, the campground was virtually vacant and we chose a secluded spot.

The ever-present rain made me think of the 1960's Alan Sherman tune:

Hello Mudda, hello Fadduh,
Here I am at Camp Granada
Camp is very entertaining
and they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining

I went hiking with Joe Spivy
He developed poison ivy
You remember Leonard Skinner
He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner

Now I don't want this should scare ya
But my bunkmate has malaria
You remember Jeffrey Hardy
They're about to organize a searching party

Wait a minute, it stopped hailing,
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing,
Playing baseball. gee that's better,
Muddah Fadduh kindly disregard this letter.