Milestone

Monday, July 30th.

A milestone day, or to be exact, a day we passed the 6740 mile mark in our westward journey. Two months ago on June 1st, we set out from South Florida and headed to the Angell’s cabin in Paradise Bay on the Olympic Peninsula. We arrived today! This is the furthest point west we will reach in our travels this summer. From here, one month from now, we will start looping back south and east, heading for home.

Leaving Sedro-Woolley this morning:EB76E49C-E913-4E88-834B-06CA6B6676F8

On the car deck of the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry:7039EE31-1252-4D74-BB6A-7189D7C92203

We have arrived!2F00D8E1-4D7D-4CA7-B706-12A944696AF8CD1FBA80-CA41-4459-97A4-715D77752ECC

By the numbers:

  1. Tomoka Lake State Park, Ormond Beach, FL
  2. Blythe Island County Park, Brunswick, GA
  3. Swamp Fox CG, Florence, SC
  4. Morrow Mountain SP, Albemarle, NC
  5. Peaks of Otter CG, Blue Ridge Parkway NP
  6. Bear Creek Lake SP, Cumberland, VA (Yogaville)
  7. Cunningham Falls State Park, Thurmont, MD
  8. Promised Land SP, near Hemlock Farms, PA
  9. Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch, Woodbourne, NY
  10. Winding Hills County Park, S. Fallsburg, NY
  11. Margaret Lewis Norrie SP, Staatsburg, NY
  12. Cowanesque River ACE Park, Tompkins CG, Lawrenceville, PA
  13. Taughannock Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY
  14. Cayuga Lake SP, Seneca Falls, NY
  15. Four Mile Creek State Park, Niagara Falls, NY
  16. Sauble Falls Provincial Park, Wiarton, ON
  17. Bruce Peninsula National Park, Cyprus Lake CG
  18. Chutes Provincial Park, Massey, ON
  19. Lake Superior Provincial Park, Agawa Bay CG
  20. Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, Rossport CG
  21. Davy Lake CG, Dryden, ON
  22. Turtle Crossing CG, Brandon, MB
  23. Wakamow Valley River Park, Moose Jaw, SK
  24. Gas City CG, Medicine Hat, AB
  25. Dinosaur Provincial Park, Brooks, AB
  26. Dinosaur RV Park, Drumheller, AB
  27. Bow Valley Provincial Park, Canmore, AB
  28. Lemon Creek Lodge, Slocan BC
  29. Curlew Lake State Park, Republic, WA
  30. Pearrygin Lake State Park, Winthrop, WA
  31. North Cascades National Park, Newhalem CG
  32. Riverfront Park, Sedro-Woolley, WA
  33. Angell’s cabin, Paradise Bay, WA

Sedro-Woolley

Saturday-Sunday, July 28-29th.

Easy drive out of the Park to the town of Sedro-Woolley and Riverfront Park, the town RV Park on the banks of the Skagit River. We had no reservations this weekend so we’re lucky there was space for us. We’re here to do chores like laundry and getting the truck serviced. Also, there’s a Planet Fitness 20 minutes away in Burlington. Worked out, used the showers. Went grocery shopping at Fred Meyer. 

Another plus is adequate cell signal and WiFi, so we were able to enjoy a video chat with Matthew! E3D58ACD-EF8B-47AB-A54C-F781B38B0D21Caught up on email, Facebook. Cleaned up the trailer. B0798DAA-48E0-441A-995C-659078C177CFGot a movie from Redbox, Lady Bird. Pleasant, lazy days!

Monday, taking the Washington State ferry from Edmonds to Kingston en route to our friends the Angells in Paradise Bay on the Olympic Peninsula for the month of August!

 

North Cascades National Park

Tuesday, July 24th. NOCA, day 1.

Set up in our beautiful pull-through campsite, Loop C, #113 in the woodsy Newhalem Campground. Drove to the Visitor Center to get hike descriptions, maps and recommendations. There are many short hikes in the Newhalem area. As the sun lowered and the air cooled off, we took the River Loop trail, a 1.8 mile loop that starts near our campsite and leads through old growth cedar as well as a more recently logged section of forest to the banks of the Skagit River.

Wednesday, July 25th. NOCA, day 2.

On the recommendation of Zoe, the Visitor Center Park Ranger, who said this forested Trail was likely to be cooler than trails on sunnier more exposed slopes, we decided to take the Thunder Creek Trail to Fourth of July Pass Trail. It is a 10 mile round trip with 2300 foot elevation gain, but we didn’t really expect to go all the way to the Pass. This is what the Park brochure says about this hike: “Thunder Creek is a beautiful old growth forest hike alongside a glacial creek. The trail crosses Thunder Creek on a suspension bridge at approximately 2 miles… For mountain and glacier views, turn off onto the Fourth of July Pass Trail 0.1 miles beyond the bridge…” 

6B7C28AF-E8F4-46A0-BF56-10A62D115284We thought we might just go another mile or two past the bridge, only until we saw some of those mountain and glacier views, so we only had 2 liters of water and some pumpkin seeds for snacks. On the trail:

 

As Scott used to say in his SCUBA diving days, “Plan the dive; Dive the plan.” We did neither. 

Somehow the momentum of the hike took over our brains as this cool morning turned into a hot afternoon, and we continued plodding upward, on the steep, winding, rocky, rooty trail, convinced that the Pass would soon reveal spectacular views. 72C30B92-9DDF-4144-AE80-5D7165B506DCWe did see many pretty vistas, but the Pass itself was anticlimactic, overlooking a tiny mountain lake. E032E810-C71D-45D6-B50F-09DC4111FF50And then we had to wend our way down the steep, winding, rocky, rooty trail, the downhill much harder on the knees and hips than the uphill. Plus, we were by then out of water. Did I mention it was hot and sunny?

130C83A0-71F0-4E87-8C62-F981BAEB1E86Finally, we reached the suspension bridge and the trail continued for the final 2 miles, thankfully in the shade. Scott ran ahead to the parking lot at the trailhead, grabbed my jar of tea, and hoofed it back up the trail to meet me with welcome hydration. We drove the 10 miles back to the campground and spent the rest of the evening gratefully drinking room-temperature beverages – no ice, didn’t care!

Thursday, July 26th. NOCA, day 3.

Miraculously we both could walk this morning. In recovery mode, we decided to take short, road-based walks today.

Diablo Lake Overlook. Making the most spectacular scenery accessible to those in tour buses, or just passing through. Information kiosks all around describe the geology and history of the mountain and lake vistas. CBDDFEAF-DDAA-4470-B80A-E640CD5C6C37

See Scott at the overlook?946DD59C-A027-4357-B170-D51372C04EDD

North Cascades Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake. A10503EC-4CF6-4E8B-A922-C18940B070FAThey offer programs and tours. For $65 per person you can stay overnight in bunkhouse accommodations, take a program, 3 meals included. Nice book and gift shop! To get here you have to drive across the bridge spanning Diablo Dam.4FE11C93-0BE3-424B-A01B-9C137B7D72C0

Diablo, an old Seattle City Light company town. Not many people live here anymore, but there’s a beautiful Creek.267A14D1-45C9-44D1-B99A-A7E4B1AFB30FFCD6ADD4-CA8F-4A89-8049-F752A322F50C

Gorge Creek Falls and Gorge Dam Interpretive Trail. 

 

 

 

 

Newhalem, a larger and more active Seattle City Light company town, with a store and visitor center. We treated ourselves to ice cream bars at the store, and took a tour of the town co-sponsored by Seattle City Light, the National Park Service, and Skagit Tours. 3C30C54D-0414-48A9-A020-DE6A55544BA8Then, took the short loop Trail of the Cedars and another Newhalem area Loop walk to Ladder Creek Falls starting across the suspension bridge behind the Gorge Powerhouse. We missed the Powerhouse Visitor Center by 5 minutes – it closes at 4 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

7FF9450A-B910-494E-8BD4-B092DED25835Went back to the store, bought a bag of ice, returned to camp and amused ourselves by chilling and drinking various beverages. We are easily amused!

Friday, July 27th. NOCA, day 4.

Again on the recommendation of Ranger Zoe, we decided to take the Cascade River trail to Cascade Pass. She described it as mostly wooded, hence cool. Apparently this is a traditional First Nations Trail, and the nearby mountains were considered sacred. The nps.gov NOCA website says that artifacts associated with ancient campfires reveal that native crossings of the North Cascades began at least 9600 years ago. Cascade Pass is the oldest well dated Alpine archaeological site in the state of Washington!

To get to the trailhead, we drove 13 miles west on WA 20 to Marblemount. We got fuel there and were hoping to make some phone calls, but there’s no cell signal there. Then, we drove 23 more miles up Cascade River Road, the first 10 miles of which are paved, the final 13 miles a rough, steep, dusty winding gravel washboard. It took nearly an hour on this road to get to the trailhead. This is the view from the road, before we even got to the (packed) parking lot:2EF40FC6-8B14-41B0-82DC-4017B76DB88F

 

 

 

 

We pulled into literally the last available spot at the side of the road, not in an actual parking space, and we were on our way. 6B111EEA-1370-4A79-9A77-1B766964F4B3

The Washington Trail Association website (wta.org) has a wonderful, accurate description of this trail: “At Cascade Pass, the wow factor far exceeds the “ow” factor – perhaps no other trail in the state delivers as much reward for the effort. From the high peaks on either side of the pass, verdant meadows curve down to a saddle that offers sweeping views of nearby valleys, glaciers, mountains, and passing wildlife. Sedately climbing a little less than 1,800 feet in 3.6 miles, it is the perfect hike to show new hikers the extraordinary places their feet can take them. 

The epic scenery begins before you even hit the trail. The unpaved section of Cascade River Road skirts massive old growth trees on the way to the circular parking lot tucked underneath Johannesburg Mountain, towering more than 4,000 feet overhead. 

As you travel through the 30-some switchbacks that define the first 2.7 miles of trail, Johannesburg (a malapropism of the nearby Johnsberg mining claim) continues to make its presence felt, even when barely visible through the trees. On warm days, snow and ice from its hanging glaciers break loose and boom down the mountainside. (Note: we heard that! Also, see that dark, jagged black line on the map below? Those are the switchbacks! You can also see that the Sahale Arm Trail continues 2.2 miles from Cascade Pass, and a hiker we met on the Fourth of July Pass Trail said that the Sahale Glacier hike is her favorite… but we’ll save it for another visit!)588FF559-332D-4EC5-B2E6-BDD6ED31BB47

“Once you round the final switchback, you have one mile to go, proceeding more or less straight for the pass. The trees grow steadily thinner as you reach open slopes and the pass comes into view. After crossing a long rockfield, the trail makes a few final bends and arrives at the pass, where a post marked for Stehekin points the way into the lush valley below. But don’t be fooled — the little community of Stehekin lies at the head of Lake Chelan, nearly thirty miles from where you currently stand.

Cascade Pass offers views of several impressive peaks and glaciers. The ridge from Johannesburg Mountain connects to Mixup Peak and Magic Mountain, in between which lies the Cache Glacier. Back the way you came, the horizon is comprised largely of the glacier-dotted lower slopes and snowy summit arête of El Dorado Peak…” Eldorado Peak below, left. Scott dancing under Eldorado, right.

 

 

 

Love this description! More Wow than Ow! So true! The trail was steep but because there are so many switchbacks, not as steep (or rocky or rooty) as the Fourth of July Pass Trail, and only about 7.5 miles roundtrip. Although I had some misgivings about my ability to get to the Pass, and especially back down again, I persevered, unwilling to deprive Scott of the complete experience, and he would not have continued without me. We took hundreds of photos, none of which can do justice to this overpowering landscape.

 

 

 

Trail over the rockfall, above. At the Pass, below:61AA29F2-23A1-4D48-B94F-BCF7C76DEE8B

The way down was relatively benign, certainly less arduous than the descent from Fourth of July Pass 2 days ago. I (H) even had the energy to break into song, “Everything’s Up To Date in Kansas City,” from Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” in contemplation of the “Sawyer Straw,” a contraption that purifies water as you drink through it, so you can drink directly from a mountain stream without fear of Giardiasis! (Someone told us about this the other day… to file under “Miracles of Modern Technology!”)

 

 

 

FF11ED3A-A19F-4CF3-8D1A-A15B9541BE8C

What a great hike! A fellow hiker told us that this is the overall favorite day hike in North Cascades National Park, and with good reason!

Travel Days

Sunday, July 22nd. Slocan to Curlew Lake State Park in Republic, WA

On our way south and west, we stopped in Castlegar (where there was and still is a large Doukhobor community) to visit the Doukhobor Discovery Centre. There are replicas of their communal houses, set up as they might have been in the early 20th century with original artifacts, a museum tracing their history from Czarist Russia to Saskatchewan and then BC, and finally, telling the story of how they lost their huge land holdings in the Depression. The history is interspersed with cultural elements like menus and recipes, textiles and clothing.

We crossed the border at Danville, WA, and had to relinquish our stash of lemons purchased In Canmore, Alberta, since citrus fruits are imported into Canada from all over the world and may carry insect pests or diseases. The customs agent was particularly concerned about citrus canker. Cherries from Ontario are currently prohibited. Most vegetables grown in Canada are allowed except: garlic chives, chives, green onions, leeks. Bulb garlic must be fully peeled. All tomatoes, peppers, okra and eggplant are prohibited! We drove less than an hour south of the border and stopped at a pretty state park on Curlew Lake. After it cooled down a bit, we walked along the nature trail and admired the landscape.44108870-9BC9-4AAA-B3B5-24B4F5EAC211

Monday, July 23rd. Curlew Lake to Pearrygin Lake State Park in Winthrop, WA.

Scott took a picture of Curlew Lake in the morning light: 254301CE-511F-4B5C-B252-76E58C92181B

We drove out of the mountains into the desert east of the Cascades. Rocky hillsides dominated by sagebrush. Hot! What a difference a day makes! We stopped at the busy crossroads town of Omak and hit the Walmart to stock up for our next 4 days of boondocking in North Cascades National Park. Scott was particularly impressed with their wide selection of tostadas and tortillas. This is only 1/3 of the display!6272779D-E8D0-44AC-BE1D-37F2F727F60A

Without reservations, about 2:30 p.m. we pulled into Pearrygin Lake State Park, where we stayed last year just before the smoke from wildfires chased us further east. We’re in luck! There is one free campsite in the (preferred) west side of the park. After a brief wait for the attendant to finish going around shutting off the sprinklers, we backed into site #9, turned on the AC, and waited out the heat of the day. Once again we marvel at how most of the parks where we have camped are totally packed, even on a weekday! But in general, people are quiet and respectful of others’ space. Looking towards the lake behind our campsite:19585EB8-29C0-40C5-B918-9D1D355DCD88

Looking toward the hillside in front of our campsite:B3601199-EB24-42B6-978F-E01A3A3B0F2A

 

Slocan 2: Idaho Peak and Sandon

Saturday, July 21st.

We were drawn to this area by glowing accounts of the relatively short yet extraordinarily beautiful alpine hikes available. As we were to discover over the few days while here, these short hikes require long and sometimes treacherous drives to get to the trailhead. And, given the steep slopes, heavy snowfall (this year, the valley leading to Idaho Peak got eighteen feet!!) and numerous tumbling creeks and rivers, trails might be closed entirely or practically impassable until late into the summer… if at all.

The accessibility of high mountain areas via difficult forestry roads is a result of the area’s past as a mining and logging center, situated on a long lake. The original paths were carved out for quick and rough transport of a ton or more of Galena ore, dragged by horses and mules, or for pulling logs destined for hastily built homes, offices and schools, etc. for the miners. 

Our original plan was to hike to Gwillim lakes, the road to which started near our campsite. But, undaunted as we were (?) with the prospect of a rough 44km drive to the trailhead, the fact that the road had reported washouts and especially, that the trail itself might be impassable due to downed trees from a particularly powerful windstorm… this put a damper on those plans. Helen had received good advice from a young local man at the “Silvery Slocan Museum” and Visitor Centre, and, after driving the 24km or so into New Denver and consulting with him again, we chose the Idaho Peak trail. For one thing, the access road was straight out of town.

So, with packs filled with tasty snacks, and extra water and cold coffee, we headed up towards Sandon, an abandoned mining town and the beginning of an 11km, single lane dirt road up to the trailhead. “High clearance 4×4 recommended”.BAC14D57-57E7-404B-96FA-B212217EEDF0

In beginning the climb, we did notice the lack of any safety barriers next to the precipitous cliffs. On the other hand, we were encouraged by the absence of any traditional crosses, flowers or other memorabilia for the recently departed. It must be true that speed kills and if so, our 10km per hour max might keep us safe. We did squeeze by 3 descending vehicles on the way up, and the variety of Helen’s exclamations led us to believe her vocabulary to be intact. 

H. has commented frequently this trip on the desirability of having Sherpas. In this vein, we have come to call our little diesel truck Big Red Sherpa. It did great, although an option to narrow the body by 3 feet at will would have been nice. We have a  satellite connection to Chrysler support called Uconnect… it has alerted us in the past to suspect tire pressure, potentially unworthy fuel and, you may recall, it was once used to unlock our truck via satellite at a NY State Park campground dump station. We mention this as we expected Big Red, who has no Union, to call up management to complain of road abuse. But, true to its Sherpa roots, it pressed on, without major complaint.

Ok. So we finally get to the trailhead and find a parking spot, more or less. Cannot call therapist or chiropractor, so porta potty must suffice.

Here is the thing. This hike, a short, 2.5km, pretty steep effort to the top of the fire lookout on Idaho Peak, was stunning, and yes, worth every white knuckle and stiff neck suffered in the ride up. Absolutely perfect weather. In fact, few hikes can measure up for sheer beauty and interest from every angle.

 

Wildflowers blanketed both sides of the trail.

 

Underfoot, rocky in places, often narrow with very steep dropoffs, but in good shape. Nice benches at perfect lookouts, and interesting trail signs.  From the top, all of the local mountain ranges were visible, and to the West the length of Slocan Lake with the towns of Slocan, Silverton and New Denver far below us. It is Saturday, and there are a dozen or more fellow hikers, including one young man who felt compelled to greet the awesome vista with a bagpipe serenade. 07A2779A-5DB3-49DE-BA9F-BADF2F9F44A5He was good at it, if a talented bagpiper were not a sort of oxymoron, and in all honesty, it was short. Often, amid full expressions of the Divine in Nature, it is good to be reminded that one is still capable of murder.

The return hike, affording new angles of view, was every bit as splendid.CC8DBAA0-465A-4D40-807C-99CDA19BE825 And, driving and sliding back down the road did test our sense of equanimity but, once done, seemed ok.

Normally that would have been it for us. But no!!!

The forest service road ends at the abandoned mining town of Sandon which, it must be told, turned out to be a highly worthwhile stop!DA4B8A2B-58B0-4BCA-966F-A758E8207B0E

We came very near to not stopping here. The place resembles a high mountain junkyard at first glance, stretched along the creek that bears its name. We were caught in part by a sign telling of a free tour of BC’s oldest operating power plant!

Turns out, this Sandon has quite a history and many many stories to tell. Strewn about were many pieces of old, rusted mining machinery. Between a few remaining wooden buildings and between them and the opposing hillside ran a fast moving creek, on a bed of multi colored stones. The sound alone was enticing.

4B0D66F5-26D1-482B-BF0B-551BB3E23FB4We plunked down 8 Canadian dollars — Senior pricing — and entered the museum, bursting with photographs, all manner of turn of the (20th) century and earlier equipment of every description, household goods, retail and commercial items, newspaper articles and much more. D35EAD5C-E554-4026-A363-9413EC959B9CA gentlemen took our money, and right away pulled out a photo from 1909, when the town was in its heyday. We expected that at one time the place had a few buildings to support some small scale mining. No way! This place had been a very substantial one, with thousands of residents, all here due to the high concentration of silver in the galena ore concentrated at the tops of the surrounding peaks. The river had actually run right under their main street, ‘flumed’ with an encasement of timbers, some of which were still visible just outside the museum. The river served to send any and all manner of waste downstream, directly into New Denver and Slocan Lake. Fortunes made and lost. Town burns and is rebuilt. River bursts its flume and takes out many buildings. Mining conditions are horrendous. Klondike strike draws away workers. WWI and WWII as well. Lots of fluctuations in the price of silver. Buildings burned, vandalized, but mainly torn up for their lumber. Some locals decide to save what remains… a real labor of devotion and love.

We then head to the electrical generating plant up the hill.3B218230-5ED6-4F08-BDF9-78406E203FF4 Truly amazing… fully functional, maintained by very enthusuastic and knowledgeable young men. D297B36C-3417-4DAE-97F6-F731F18FCC2AOriginal machines, including original compressors used in the mines. Still putting out hydro power to the remnants if the town and to the valley below. It was a step back in time, and sobering and reflective to think about the many thousands of lives that made this place home, and how very close it was to being obliterated from history.95422FEE-B301-4143-8639-0C8BD5DF891B

Then… drove back into New Denver to get fuel but they were out of diesel, so then to Slocan’s gas station, our last stop of the day. We filled up with their low-sulfur 100% biodiesel, and Scott was trepidacious that the truck would protest, but so far, so good. They do a big business in ice cream too, so we bought a locally made organic blueberry popsicle… mmmmm!53EA8FCC-064C-4226-945B-C2B92510DE81

 

Slocan 1: New Denver

Friday, July 20th.

First thing, we drove 8km into Slocan to scout out the trails in Valhalla Provincial Park. The website of the campground where we are staying seems to suggest that they are affiliated with some backpacking or paddling outfitters. I got this impression based for example on the following: “Lemon Creek Lodge specializes in a wide range of seasonal outdoor adventures, including hiking in the Valhallas or Kokanee Glacier.” Plus, the town of Slocan is billed as “Gateway to the Valhallas.” But when I asked at the Lodge for trail maps or any info about hikes, they seemed strangely vague, and had nothing! It reminded me of those British mystery stories that involve someone going up to the Scottish Highlands to try to solve a crime but everyone is mysteriously tight-lipped and will not divulge any information… sort of like The 39 Steps. But I’m sure it’s quite innocent in this case… We found some info online, and determined that Valhalla PP trail information is to be found at the Visitor Center in New Denver, about 23km north, also the location of the Chamber of Commerce and the Silvery Slocan Museum, all in the historic former Bank of Montreal building.

So we decided to go to New Denver, but first drove into Slocan and tried to piece together the trail maps from a few information kiosks scattered through the town, particularly at the beach on the shore of Lake Slocan. I should back up and say that this is one of the most wonderfully scenic areas we have EVER encountered, and we have encountered many! 3A2AE803-5A9A-4C92-BFA5-FDF010011D2B

I’ll back up a little further and say that the reason we decided to come here is an article Scott found, “The Mountain Trek Guides’ Favorite Hikes Ever,” focusing on this area of the West Kootenays and listing the top hikes including the Gimli Trail and Gwillim Lakes Trail in Valhalla Provincial Park. So we decided to stay here in Slocan, “The Gateway to the Valhallas.” 

One thing we were able to ascertain is that the trailhead for the Gimli Trail is about 24km up a rough logging road which might or might not be washed out, while The Gwillim trailhead is about 44km up a very rough forest service road.3C468677-5A51-4F08-A32A-2DF2DD33F3F1

We drove a few km up the Gimli Trail road to get an idea of how rough it might be (pretty rough), then back down to Rte. 6 and north to New Denver. This beautiful little town is also the only place to get a cell signal for miles around, plus it has the only coin laundry in a 40 km radius. 88C79C6A-DE55-4485-BCEC-76B9B7851662

 

We were lucky to arrive on a Friday morning, when their weekly summer artisans’ and farmers market is in full swing. We started our laundry and walked down the street to the market, admired the beautiful crafts, bought some fresh garlic, scallions, broccoli, and a few sweet treats! Across the street is Rutabagas, the organic market and natural food store, where they have absolutely everything we might want or need, including the very hard-to-find MUGI MISO! 

We learned that many Vietnam war era American “draft dodgers,” AKA conscientious objectors, settled in this area of Canada, helped perhaps by a network of Quakers who were active in the anti-war movement. In the Slocan Museum B52C168B-890E-46F3-97B3-6A2BDE4D288Bwe learned that there is also an earlier history of pacifism here. There was a substantial community of Doukhobors, Russian pacifists and vegetarians who lived communally and who fled Russia in the 19th century to avoid conscription into the Czar’s army, aided by the Quakers and Leo Tolstoy. They settled first in Saskatchewan but moved to BC after the SK government reneged on their agreement to allow communal land ownership. In BC too they were persecuted, the home-schooled children removed from their Russian-speaking families and sent to government school and made to speak English, allowed visitation with their parents for one hour on the first and third Sunday of the month. Anyway, the large community of American anti-war activists here in the West Kootenays helped create a counterculture stronghold with many artists, craftspeople, organic farms thriving in these relatively remote lead/silver (galena) mining regions.

 

A very helpful young man named Kell gave us some trail maps and annotated them with directions. Apparently most of the trails in this area start at least 10 km up rough gravel or dirt roads. We decided to take our Valhallas hike tomorrow. Today, we explored the town of New Denver. Highlights: The lakeshore Mori Trail:

 

Also, the Kohan Reflection Garden and the Nikkei Centre. We learned that in 1942 Canadian citizens of Japanese heritage were taken from their homes in temperate,  coastal BC and forcibly resettled in the mountainous frigid BC interior. The New Denver camp was one of the largest, housing over 4000 internees during WWII. To honor these citizens, the Kohan Garden was created in 1989 on land at the south end of the former camp, right on the shore of Lake Slocan, with the peaks of Valhalla rising up on the opposite shore. EF856599-455D-417F-8989-E192F7D355EDThe Nikkei Centre 2 blocks north is a museum housed in some of the restored shacks where the internees lived. The history of the Canadian treatment of the Nikkei is just as shameful as the US history, including bulldozing most of the remaining shacks after the war in an attempt to erase the evidence of this episode.

 

By now it was about 3pm so we returned to our campground to wait out the heat of the afternoon and have a late lunch. 

We drove back into Slocan about 5, parked on the east side of the bridge, and started up the Evans-Slocan Lake Trail. This runs 7.5 along the west shore of the lake, past some private cabins, through mossy Hemlock forest, under towering steep rock cliffs that plunge to the lakeshore, with lovely views up the valley to the mountains in the north, and across the lake to the sunset-lit rock walls on the east shore. We walked for about an hour and then headed back. As it turned out, this was the only hiking we did in Valhallas Provincial Park. 

Tomorrow, instead: Idaho Peak, just east of New Denver, with views into Goat Range Provincial Park to the north, the Valhallas to the west, and Kokanee Glacier to the south.

Windshield Vistas

Thursday, July 19th.

One of the essential aspects of this way of traveling, especially when you are on something of a schedule, is that, if a park or site does not suit, you can easily take off and find another. On the other hand, if you become enraptured with a place, you must eventually move on, and that can be difficult. 

In just a few short days, we had become very attached to the Bow Valley. The park itself is so well placed, and right on the Bow river, and our site was big and shaded, with a trails beginning right outside our door.

But, leave it we must, and the reluctance amplified knowing this would be one of our longer drives. To get to Lemon Creek, south of New Denver and Slocan would be, as the crow flies, a relatively short jump across the Kootenays. But, we must go 326 miles along mountain roads.

So much for diminished expectations. We did have to stop a few times for road construction. But, as with many of these driving days, the entire trip was one scenic wonder after another, through the windshield, as we traversed through Banff and Yoho and Kootenay parks, on a glorious summer day.2E30C108-B222-4AB6-B656-00625E79DC3E

A major highlight and piece of good fortune was the ferry crossing from Shelter Bay to Galena Bay across upper Arrow lake..without pushing it, we were the last vehicle on the 12:00 pm, which leaves hourly. A highly pleasant way to take a break!

So, we got into Lemon Creek campground before 3:00, and had plenty of time to set up and rest.

Bow Valley 2

Wednesday, July 18th. (More Pictures of Mt. Yamnuska and Canmore coming soon…)

Rain was predicted for later today so we decided to take a hike first thing. There are several trails in this park. One of them, Moraine Interpretive Trail, is literally 5 steps from our campsite. This is a very interesting, diverse and beautiful short (1.4km) trail that climbs to the ridge of the moraine left when a remnant glacier retreated from this area 10-12,000 years ago. Helen on the Moraine:102B340E-0CDA-49D7-80DA-CB8356B0ABFC

Gorgeous views of Mt. Yamnuska from different angles emerge as we climb and as the trail twists and turns.

The trail connects with the Middle Lake Trail at Middle Lake. More incredible views in all directions, especially of Mt. Yamnuska reflected in Middle Lake. We marvel at the beauty of our surroundings, and of the day. ABF65D40-E336-4613-9F06-B56447198B06

We discuss Plans to return… and looked at campground reservations for the fall of 2019. Alberta Parks start taking reservations for 2019 in February… it was Feb. 20th in 2018. Tentative plans for September to go to Yoho first for 2 weeks (Kicking Horse CG, first come, first served), followed by 2 weeks in Bow Valley PP again. Campsites we liked: C-11 is a pull-through right on the river. Also good: C-7, C-9, C-25, C-29.

After lunch, we drove to Canmore, replaced iPhone charge cord at Canadian Tire,  checked out the Save on Foods grocery store across the parking lot. Then we walked over Policeman’s Creek into Canmore. We found the Canmore Museum & Geoscience Center. This is housed in the town government building, new and beautifully designed with a stuffed bison in the hall next to the restrooms, apparently having something to do with plans to reintroduce the bison population. The Museum is an excellent introduction to the history and geology of the town, although admittedly (by docent Leslie) lacking in any representation of indigenous peoples. She also told us that she married a Canmore native and when they decided to retire here, people said “oh, you’re going home,” to which her husband replied, “no, that’s gone; this is a different town.” She did say there’s been too much development, but that she lives in the southeast, quieter part of town and she’s stopped taking her morning walks because of the high frequency of bear encounters. The coal mines, which were the economic lifeblood of the town, closed in 1979 and for a while the town languished. But then when the Olympics came to Calgary in 1980, they cleaned up the coal dust and built the Nordic ski practice facility in Canmore and things took off from there, when the incredible mountain vistas surrounding Canmore were broadcast around the world.

Extractive industry still plays a major role in the life of the town, with limestone and aggregate mining and the big LaFarge facility a few kilometers down the road in Exshaw. There was an interesting video in the museum about how when LaFarge expanded and built the new facility, they basically bulldozed 50% of the hamlet of Exshaw.

Had veggie panini at Mountain Mercato Cafe with 15% discount from Museum admission. Stopped across the street at a wonderful used Book Store and Cafe with vegan cauliflower cashew curry on the menu for $6.75! Too bad we just had the panini!

We can’t get over the incredible changes in Canmore from a depressed and gritty mining village to an upscale yet unpretentious and welcoming tourist town and outdoor recreation Mecca in the 44 years since we were here!

Tomorrow: long drive from Bow Valley to Lemon Creek Lodge in Slocan, BC (326 miles, 6hr 26min).

Sentimental Journey

Tuesday, July 17th.

This entire trip is one long pilot project… beyond the experimental, and still testing final designs before full scale production! We have decided the broad outlines of future long term trips, but a lot of details remain. One of the constants has been our love of the Canadian Rockies and, although we knew this leg would afford us only a brief stay, we know that, cosmic forces allowing, we will return.

This is our 4th time in these mountains, but the first since 1980, and something of a make up trip, as we had intended to recreate some of our very first trip, 1974, as part of a 40th Anniversary visit; that fell through so we here we are instead, 44 years after our honeymoon trip.

In 1974, just after getting married and preparing for what would be a 6 week honeymoon, we were treated to a slide show of a hiking trip in Kootenay Park, by some close friends of S.; Frank and Bruce were students then at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. We were so enthralled by their descriptions of the famous Tumbling Creek to Floe Lake trail that we knew we had to do it. 

We pooled every last dime together, and after spending 10 days in tne Jemez mountains of New Mexico, we flew from Albuquerque to Las Vegas, took a side trip to the Grand Canyon, then flew from Vegas to Calgary and took a bus to Banff. We had everything in our backpacks… no car, no credit cards, no phones of course. We hitched and walked everywhere.42B6E305-8BE8-4ABA-B9D3-57E26E13DAEF

It was early June in 1974, and it was a late Spring that year. After camping at Marble Canyon, we got to the Paint Pots trailhead on our way to Tumbling Glacier. We were the first persons on the trail for that year and when we registered for backcountry camping, notes indicated that conditions would be challenging and asked hikers to report back on trail conditions. We had 35lb. packs and the start of the trail was wet, but passable. We hiked up to the point where the trail was to cross Ochre Creek. The bridge had been washed away and was just gone; the creek was swollen, ice cold and fast. We rigged up ropes and eventually, got across, but it was difficult and at one point, S. thought H.  might be swept downstream, and he realized that he had miscalculated and that, if this happened, he would not be able to catch her in time. He remembers the fleeting thought: what will I say to Helen’s parents? 

Anyway, this was only the beginning of one challenging adventure after another, as the late Spring meant that the entire upper valleys were covered in snow. After we had forded Ochre Creek, we started the real trek up, following the cascading Tumbling Creek, which was more of a torrent. We had planned to stop overnight at designated sites on a gravel bar near the creek but we pushed on, thinking we might get flooded out by a burst of water since it had started to rain; our new plan was to get to the meadow above, on reasonably flat ground. We reached a high bluff near 11 at night just as the light faded, totally bushed, and found ourselves in deep snow, with no trail. As we approached what should have been a flowering meadow below the moraine of Tumbling Glacier, we were shocked to see an endless expanse of ice.

The trail had been marked incorrectly on the map, shown on the opposite side of the creek, and was under snow in any event. At times we slogged through hip deep snow and had to traverse great cracks in the glacier. We had to pitch our tent on the ice and spent two nights on the glacier itself, one during a tremendous lightning storm. There were tremendous explosions of sound as giant pieces of ice and rock fell into the lake behind the moraine. Long story short, we eventually found the trail, hiked out over Numa Pass down Numa Creek only to find the great bridge over the Vermillion river was gone. With great good fortune, we found most of the bridge where it had washed away and lodged, tilted, a little ways downstream and, by clambering over the logs jammed against it and jumping into the water near the other side, we were able to make it out. 

Fast forward to today… So it was with minimal day packs but some heavy emotional baggage that we drove first to the Numa Falls parking area, hoping to visit the site of our 1974 emergence from the backcountry over the Vermillion River bridge. Guess what? The Numa Falls Area is CLOSED BECAUSE THE BRIDGE IS OUT! What else is new??? So off we went to the Paint Pots parking lot. Our plan was to hike up to the Ochre Creek bridge and back, a round trip of about 5 miles.

 

 

Imagine our mixture of surprise and irony when looking at the trail head postings… the Tumbling Creek trail was not accessible as the bridge at Ochre Creek was closed! Of couse, we took this as a sign that we were destined to reach this point, and up we started…85D1FBB1-9623-4D58-85C0-CEAB1013F290

So, this little day hike was very special for us. Being mid July this time, the weather was perfect. We walked through areas, often remembering our first impressions of 4 decades earlier. In general, though, the trail seems older and more worn down, and the mountains themselves, drier and less fresh. The passage of time? Climate change? BB195D50-F104-47E2-9A95-E482378B25E6We both remembered an area of open meadow where 40 years ago the trail was covered in snow. Today, this meadow is covered with giant Queen Anne’s lace and bright red Indian Paintbrush. (Update: Paula suggests that what I thought to be giant Queen Anne’s lace is actually Cow Parsnip, also in the carrot family. After a little research, I think she is right – thanks, Paula!)E904B4A4-4665-4B53-BF69-FCAC3D1144A2After 2 miles or so, we reached the trail junction where the Ochre Creek/Tumbling Glacier trail went left, and the longer Helmet Creek trail to the Rockwall went right. And here, the left fork was blocked, roped off, with a sign saying we could not go on due to the bridge out at Ochre Creek.5FA2A677-EED3-4EB6-8860-0F61D41D6A14 Scofflaws that we are, we ducked under the tape and proceeded on for another .5 km, finally reaching Ochre Creek. We were surprised to see a beautiful, sturdy, seemingly new suspension bridge across the creek! Perhaps it had been knocked a bit off kilter by floods, and was hanging a little bit low over the creek, but was passable. If this had been the only problem 44 years ago, crossing the creek would have been a piece of cake!304C0665-7D3E-4E99-9A89-CB3310A3044A

As one might imagine, we lingered here, talking, reflecting. The Creek was very different this time, with no logjam of dismembered trees. And the creek itself was much tamer, due to it being later in the year, a drier year, perhaps, or the inevitable march of a warming climate, who knows. But, we are still here on this earth, still sharing these moments of peak experience that bind souls together; still feeling our hearts and minds forever linked to this magical place.

At last, we descended back to the road. The parking lot was now thronged, but we found a shady picnic table nearby for a private picnic lunch. Fantastic! D153D6F7-1E0A-47F3-A82B-976CC74C37F6Then, we drove South past Vermillion Crossing and out of Kootenay into Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park. At least, there was a sign for the park at a parking area at the entry road to Simpson River campground. We were surprised to see evidence of huge fires on bogh sides of the road. Once again, the ubiquitous sign announcing closure of facilities, in this case due to fire.A3018550-ECF7-45DA-BC0A-D8B478FDAEB9 We stopped at the Kootenay Park Lodge and learned about the fires of 2001 and 2003, but it was a fire last summer that closed the trails to Mt. Assiniboine; we were able to cross the bridge into the trail head, but that was it.

We were going to stop at Marble Canyon, which we had marveled at years ago, but saw too many crowds there. We moved on and took the backroad 1A from Castle Junction through Banff towards Bow Valley. We stopped at 3 or 4 lookouts and took a short trail down towards Pilot Pond, another example of finding lonely, lovely hikes if you avoid the crowds and are willing to go off into the trail system.7DEE3321-6AA2-48C6-8591-EE8D11FF94A0 The views all along this drive were breathtaking, ever changing, just wonderful to experience. We take innumerable pictures, confronted with the immense natural beauty on display at every turn, we don’t know where to look first.

 

 

Playing the relaxing Spa channel 68 on our Sirius radio adds to the ambience. Could we have imagined such a thing 44 years ago? 

Bow Valley 1

Monday, July 16th. Drumheller, AB to Bow Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, AB (140 miles).

We pulled out of Dinosaur RV Park at 10 a.m. after a nice conversation with a family from south of Calgary who also have a Nash trailer – the slightly bigger model, 24M. They said we won’t recognize Banff because it has become such a big tourist town, but that Canmore is still relatively quiet. 7CBF01F8-7530-4D23-B1CE-7DDB87D90FEEHere is our first view of the Rockies just appearing over the horizon, and then as we got closer to the mountains with a train in the distance.

The drive was pretty easy, just under 3 hours,  but when will I stop trusting Google Maps to make good decisions? It directed us to exit the Trans Canada Highway at exit 118 which would have required us to drive some distance over a rough gravel road (and with no signage to the park), instead of exit 114, with clear signage and good paved roads 7km directly to the park. Happily, we figured it out with minimal confusion, and got to the park at 1 p.m. Here, the attendant informed us that we were checking in too early. Regular check in is at 4 p.m. and we are free to drive to our site, C-6, but if the previous occupants are still there, we are NOT TO TALK TO THEM! Do not ask them when they are leaving! She was very stern! Luckily for us, the site was empty, and Scott backed in like a champ! It’s a gorgeous site, just across the way from the Bow River, with 30 amp power and water hookups. What a difference from our 3 previous (often rainy) tent camping experiences in the Canadian Rockies in 1974, 1976, and 1980! Our campsite:193AC6EE-D52E-4D3E-AE94-A6DFF7FA4D69

The campsite across the road, with the Bow River visible through the trees:97345FF8-5022-4148-AD2E-416B776D1E81

After setting up, we took a walk on the Bow River trail with access directly across from our campsite. We marveled at the immensity and beauty of the views across the river to Mount Yamanuska. The trail runs along the river right next to the campground!045DB6E5-CB32-49E0-A40C-1EE2DBE6CA53

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Very interesting and geologically important! After our walk, we decided to take a drive into the nearby town of Canmore. We eschewed the Trans Canada Highway and took the backroads on 1A past little hamlets such as Exshaw, site of the Lafarge Grotto Hill aggregates mining facility (Jim used to work for Huron Cements in Alpena which was sold to National Gypsum, then to Lafarge/Lafarge Canada. At that time, years ago, Jim visited the Exshaw facility that is 10 minutes from our campground!)

When we were last here, 40-some years ago, Canmore was a tiny mining village on the way to Banff. Things have changed. Now it is a bustling mini-Aspen, with shiny new  ski chalets and condos selling at $500-600K CDN for the studios. Retail opportunities abound! We bought a Kootenay trail map at the sports store, some groceries at the Safeway, and some coolant for the truck at Canadian Tire.65233F90-0ADA-4146-9223-D5994FD0C83A