Day 5: Johnstone Creek Provincial Park to Christina Lake

Western Canada tour

The entrance to Johnstone Creek Provincial Park

If yesterday was a tough day, today was not the most enjoyable. The distance ridden was not large, and the climb quite gentle, but it was very hot, with the heat hitting as I closed in on Grand Forks. Today surpassed the heat of the previous day. I did get to finish with a swim in Christina Lake, which aided in my (mental and physical) recovering.

I was up early, after a restful sleep at the tranquil Johnestone Creek Provincial Park campground. One the move just after 7am I passed through Rock Creek before stopping for a break at Greenwood, about half way up the day’s climb. The scenery of the morning was the Kettle River valley—in BCs Boundary Country. As would be expected, there were more mountains in view, down the valley. These were different to the other side of Anarchist Mountain and previous passes, with more rock amongst the trees.

It was not a stressful mornings ride and a quick run down to Rock Creek and on to Greenwood, though I was starting to feel some saddle soreness set in. This was different to any soreness I had experienced in the past, being more irritation on the inside of my legs, roughly where my bike shorts creased/folded over themselves. It was on both legs, though more of an issue on my right. Nothing like the constant rub of salt against skin to cause some irritation. I started to treat it daily, having noted reference to lube on many a touring log. The damage was already done, and all I could do was attempt to prevent it getting any worse...

Greenwood was an interesting ‘small city’. There are remnants of the mining past with massive slag piles—more like a long ridge running along the west of the highway. They were the most prominent feature when entering the outskirts of town. I took some time out to read the signs about the city’s history before getting back into the saddle for the rest of the climb and subsequent decent into Grand Forks.The final part of the run down was good and consistent. I could feel theheat hit like a wall, and increased as i closed in on the town.

I was under the impression that Grand Forks was a larger town and that I would be able to find good food relatively easy. I had also decided that I would wash some gear and seek out a hearty lunch. Arriving at 12:30 and noting the digital display at the Grand Forks Credit Union showing 40ºC (104ºF), I decided to try and wait out the heat. After some time I located the unattended Laundromat and started on search for some food—which proved far from successful. I do not know if it was because I was so close to the US border, or the age of the town, though I could not get past feeling Grand Forks was a hick town and I did not enjoy my several hours there at all. This was influenced by the lack of services, poor/no real food options and the almost non-existence of internet facilities (2 computers). The town just seemed hick—not in the tourist town sense at Osoyoos, though still hick.

The contrast of the environmental surrounds was profound. On the north side of the highway, the mountains were dry and somewhat barren. Looking south towards the US border, the mountains were quite green in contrast. Aside from my hick town thoughts, this was my other memory of Grand Forks—until I was given a history lesson later in the day.

I held out for several hours for the heat to pass, though find when leaving close to 4pm, the digital display at the Grand Forks Credit Union was still showing 40ºC (104ºF)—whether it was still, or that it had climbed and was coming down, I do not know (probably the latter). I pushed on for Christina Lake hoping for a quite site to camp and a swim to cool off.

When I finally cam to the sign for the turn-off to the Texas Creek campsite I was pretty much over riding. I had read that this was a busy campground, and that it quite often filled up. My uncertainty of whether I would find an empty site was exacerbated with the campsite being a 5km ride off the highway (which would require a 5km ride back). Sure enough, there were signs listed the campground as full. Not wanting to push on up the substantial climb to Paulson’s Summit and look for a spot to camp, I decided to chance it.

I did a lap of the campground looking for either an empty site or one in which I could ask who ever was set up there if they were open to sharing. I was in luck in that the first person I asked, Terri, whilst initially resistant having come out the Christina Lake from Grand Forks for some quiet and alone time relented after I advised I would be gone at sun-up. As soon as my tent was pitched I headed off to the Lake for a refreshing dip.

Terri, who’s site I was sharing, was also gracious enough to fill me in on the history of Grand Forks (I did not mention my impression of it as a hick town). She detailed how Doukhabors, Russian Pacifists (she is a descendent) had set up communes in the area after The Russian governments failed attempts at persecution. The government in Canada also sought to impose their ways on them, taking back close to a third of their communally held land. I found the account interesting—and it provided perspective on what I had seen. It also helped me to wind down.

looking west down the Kettle River valley
Greenwood, BC
Greenwood, BC
It's a hot one, late in the afternoon
Kootenay Lake at dusk
Christina Lake, BC
Christina Lake, BC
Christina Lake, BC—Texas Creek campsite