Friday, August 3, 2018

Our Selkirks Cycling Tour, a Mostly Canadian Adventure

We left Portland with a treat from our friends Lance and Laura: hoshigaki, dried persimmons that Laura had made. We drove to Newport, Washington and got ready for our cycling tour.

Day 1: Newport to Colville, 101 km, 1,236 m of climbing
Here we are with our tandem bike loaded and ready for our nine day trip. 

Our route started along the Pend Oreille (pronounced pen du ray) River. The old poles in the river were the first of many reminders of how important timber has been for this area. Here logs used to be floated down the river and they corral the logs with the poles near a saw mill.

We were riding on the International Selkirk Loop, a 450 kilometer scenic byway that winds its way through the Selkirk mountains of Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia.

We could smell the pine trees as we rode.

Our first climb went up to 49 Degrees North ski resort in the Colville National Forest.

It was interesting to notice that the temperatures were warm at the beginning of the climb but became cooler as we reached the Flowery Trail Pass at 1,265 meters.

The 15 kilometer descent was a blast but it got hotter as we went down. Then we rode slowly so as to try to not overheat and enjoy the pastoral scenery of barns, cows and hay rolls with forested hills for another 50 kilometers.

It was a toasty 36 degrees centigrade when we arrived in Colville. The hotel where we stayed had a lobby decorated with the owner’s fishing trophies.

Day 2: Colville to Rossland, BC, 105 km, 1,520 m of climbing
The next day we started early to try and beat the heat. The morning was great, rolling through more pastoral scenery that gave way to pine-covered hills.

This bridge would soon take us across the Columbia River.

We stopped for coffee and juice at the Noisy Waters store and noticed this cool Native American sculpture out front.

We cruised along the banks of the Columbia on a quiet backroad.

We climbed up and the views of Lake Roosevelt (part of the Columbia River) were great.

We continued cruising along the Columbia into Northport and stopped for a snack of cantaloupe that was perfect in the heat.

We crossed into Canada, continuing on the International Selkirk Loop.

By the time we rolled into Rossland we were cooked. Fortunately a shower and the restaurant across from our hotel perked us up. We started with cool, fresh salads.

We both ordered trout for our entrees. We were happy that Idgies served it with lots of vegetables.

After dinner we walked around the cute town of Rossland.

The importance of winter was apparent, with banners and a statue of Olaus Jeldness. He was an avid skier originally from Norway who immigrated to Canada in 1894. He popularized downhill skiing in the area, becoming something of a local legend.

St. Andrew's United Church is one of Rossland's picturesque landmarks.

There were a number of sculptures that we liked as we strolled. This is Rusty by Cedar Mueller.

Carl Schlichting’s awesome Sphere of Influence was identified as leased from the Castlegar Sculpture Walk, and we would learn more about this walk the next day.

We knew Pete’s sister Csilla would like this migrating geese sculpture so we sent her a photo. Csilla was keeping an eye on us to make sure we made it safely each day.

Here’s a big shout of thanks to Csilla for being our bike spy for this trip! (She changed her title from bike angel to something she could better relate to.) This photo was taken at Ocean Beach in San Francisco with her Mom who is also Csilla. To be clear we refer to them as OC, Original Csilla and LC, Little Csilla.

Day 3: Rossland to Castlegar, 63 km, 871 m of climbing 
It was a shorter day of riding so we were more leisurely in the morning and started riding about 9 am.

We rode up a quiet highway with beautiful trees, although we also saw some areas that had been clear cut.

We climbed up to Nancy Green Summit at 1,575m.

There was more traffic on Hwy 3 and the rumble strip in the shoulder made the descent a lot of work for Pete. We liked the crow on the highway sign.

We rode into Castlegar and went straight to lunch at Roots Modern Health Food. Pete had the falafel bowl that was tasty.

They also served excellent fresh juices and smoothies. We ordered a few of their special smoothies with delicious ingredients like beet, ginger, and sweet potato.

After lunch we kept riding into town to do the Castlegar Sculpture Walk. We stopped for a photo at this colorful bike and flower area with Kristina on the tandem.

On the walk there were a few sculptures we liked, including Romeo by Lawrence Cormier.

Our favorite was Inside Passage by Angellos Glaros, a 3 m high bronze sculpture of bull kelp fronds swaying in the current with sea animals hidden among the fronds.

Regeneration was the 2015 people’s choice winner so the city of Castlegar bought it and made it a permanent statue here. Kristina sat in Regeneration to get the full effect of the piece by Spring Shine and Christopher Peterson.

We went back to Roots for dinner. This time we walked, and Pete posed on the tandem.

We first heard about the Selkirks from our friends Tim and Nancy, who had ridden the loop a few years ago. We are so glad that they shared what they knew with us! Last summer we rode a loop on Vancouver Island with them, and this photo is from that tour.

Day 4: Castlegar to Ainsworth Hot Springs, 101 km, 1,603 m of climbing 
The town of Castlegar is in a beautiful location on the Columbia River.

There are rocky areas that can be scaled by climbers. The formation behind us is aptly called the Lion's Head.

We had a lovely ride through Slocan Valley with its small communities that we think were originally settled by the Doukabhors, Russian pacifists who immigrated to Canada at the end of the 19th century.

The Slocan Valley also became home to US war resisters starting in the 1960s because of the Vietnam War.

Frog Peak even has bikes that they let people use for free. We stopped for a second breakfast at the Frog Peak Cafe, a hippy haven that opened in 2005.

Although we are not hobbits, second breakfasts are one of the pleasures we sometimes get on our cycling tours.

Yes, sriracha is a staple at breakfast, even in Canada.

Frog Peak had an old volkswagen van in front of the cafe. We couldn’t resist photographing ourselves in the van.

To avoid some of the highway traffic we took an alternate route on Blewett Road that included a nice climb and an even better descent.

We rode into Nelson for refueling.

The bottled water was called happy water. We couldn't resist.

And the watermelon was sweet, so eating it made us happy.

Our friend Edward sent us this photo from Malaysia. He went back for another durian tour and was eating lots of this delicious fruit, which we are positive made him very happy.

It was getting hot as we continued, even though we were skirting Kootenay Lake.

It felt cooler by this river flowing into the lake.

We cruised into Ainsworth Hot Springs and hit the water for a nice soak. Today Ainsworth Hot Springs is run by the Ktunaxa First Nations peoples.

Our rest day was wonderful and rejuvenating, and included two soaks in the hot springs. This photo was taken early in the morning before the hot springs were open.

The thermal hot springs flow in through this cave, so part of our soaking experience included soaking in it.

We also enjoyed coffee at nearby Betty O’s, which has their kitchen in a converted school bus.

Day 5: Ainsworth Hot Springs to New Denver, 69 km, 1,191 m of climbing
Our ride started along Lake Kootenay.

We were expecting to see other cyclists on this beautiful loop, but it wasn't until the fifth day that we saw other riders. These two were riding out of Kaslo.

We rode into Kaslo to have a look at the historic town.

Pete is in front of Kaslo’s restored City Hall.

We stopped for “perfect expresso” and split a piece of rhubarb pie at Teresa’s “museum” in downtown Kaslo.

We checked out the SS Moyie, the world’s oldest intact passenger sternwheeler and Canadian National Historic Site. A nice Canadian asked us about our tour and offered to take our photo.

Out of Kaslo we rode 30 kilometers along the Kaslo River. Thankfully the road maintained a gentle grade by following the river, but the temperature was climbing fast.

So we took plenty of stops to appreciate the cool breezes near the river.

There was a rails to trails route just off the highway so we went to take a look. It was very narrow and there were biting bugs, so we quickly went back to the pavement.

We took a break at Bear Lake.

We had been looking forward to staying in New Denver because we wanted to visit the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, a museum about the Japanese Canadian internment during WWII.

Similar to what the Japanese Americans experienced during WWII, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor they were forced out of their homes and into internment camps. This was the community hall, bath house and temple that was built in 1943 by Japanese Canadians interred here. It now houses exhibits about the internment center.

At first the 400 Japanese Canadian families in New Denver lived in tents. There were a dozen other locations and a total of 22,000 people were interred.

The Japanese Canadians were allowed to build shacks, an improvement over the tents during the cold winters. Racism against the Japanese Canadians (most of whom had never been to Japan) continued through the 1950s and over 4,000 were forcibly repatriated to Japan. Others were refused access to their land and property, so they decided to continue living in the shacks, some into the 1980s.

The Japanese Canadians planted gardens, which were important for providing food for the families being interred. And, similar to the US, it took until 1988 for the government to apologize and pay small reparations to the survivors.

Day 6: New Denver to Nelson, 100 km, 1,455 m of climbing 
We started riding before 8 am, and the day started clear and cool. 

As we rode out of town we saw this group of cyclists leaving the New Denver campground.

We had a 5 kilometer steep climb and were rewarded with beautiful views above Kootenay Lake.

Check out this cool dinosaur sculpture.

As we continued in the Slocan Valley we rode into the town of Winlaw and stopped at The Valley Kitchen , a cafe and commercial kitchen. They were serving delicious vegan treats like these faery cakes.

At the end of the day we rode into Nelson and stayed on Victoria Street. 

Day 7: Nelson BC to Ione WA, 104 km, 1,239 m of climbing
It was another early morning start to beat the heat. We climbed about 10 kilometers and at the Apex we met Laura from Vancouver who was riding to Toronto and camping along the way. We had a great time talking with her and sharing stories of our tours.

In Salmo we stopped to check out the stone murals, and our favorite was this caribou. They were designed by Charlotte Planidin and constructed by students at the Kootenay Stone Mason Training Center.

These are close ups of the big horned rams from another mural. Salmo is considered the hub of the Kootenays.

This mural shows the human history of this area, with more than one hundred of years of logging. We found five of the seven stone murals in Salmo.

It was hot by the time we left the town. We soldiered on, drinking lots of water and feeling happy that the next climb was pretty short.

We got a flat tire just before the Canada US border, and Pete changed it without incident.

Back in Washington the beautiful scenery contined.

Along the Pend Oreille River there were bald eagle nests, and some were inhabited. We learned that bald eagles mate for life and use the same nest each year, continually rebuilding and expanding it.

We had a great view of the Pend Oreille from our hotel room. The river looks more like a lake in Ione.

After dinner we went paddling in the hotel’s kayaks, enjoying the warm evening and the beautiful light at sunset.

The lake was so calm.

We saw a few fish jumping as we paddled to check out the Ione Bridge. We rode across this bridge the next day. Through the metal deck we could see the river below, which felt a bit scary.

This was the view of the hotel’s dock as we walked back up to our room.

Day 8: Ione to Newport, 72 km, 374 m of climbing 
Our final day of the tour was shorter without much climbing so we were leisurely about getting going. It was cooler but still hazy with smoke from all fires burning in the West.

Pend Oreille is also the name of the county here that was established in 1911.

We saw another rooster sculpture as we rode near the river and the spruce, fir and pine forest as well as past the occasional homestead.

We thought this would be a good spot for a cafe, but since there wasn’t one we just took a photo and kept rolling. What a beautiful area and what a great tour!

Overall we rode 715 kilometers and climbed a total of 9,489 meters. Here's a map of our route. (If you don't see the map, click here.)

We got into our car the next morning and starting driving south. We got into Bend, Oregon around 5 pm and met our friends Pete and Erin for a delightful dinner at Spork.

Spork serves a fusion of Mexican and Asian-inspired dishes, with many vegetarian and vegan options. It was great to catch up with Pete and Erin, who love living in Bend!

Thanks for reading. Next we’ll be in California for a few weeks.