Day 8: Yahk Provincial Park to Fairmont

Western Canada tour

The Rocky Mountain Firest District

Another warm day. I rose at 5:30 and left Yahk PP at 6:45. I started the morning not sure of how far I would ride/where I would end up — partly based on the disturbed sleep of the night before. I was buoyed by the impending site of the Rockies, something I not experienced since 2001. I entered the ‘Mountain Time’ zone at 7:40/8:40am, and soon after passed the sign welcoming travelers to the Rockiy Mountains district.

I stopped at the Moyie Store at 10am (34km) for a quick snack and to pick up some more sport drinks for the day ahead. It is a nice little store and specifically provides a table and grassed area for cycle tourers. It was already starting to warm up!

After another hour of riding I caught my first glimpse of the Rockies — shortly after leaving the [Moyie River behind. From there it was on to Cranbrook and an attempt to find some lunch. I arrived around midday, stopping in at the tourist centre on the southern side of town. I inquired about food options and was advised, as it was a Sunday, that most stores in the ‘old’ part of town would be closed. I ended up at the large supermarket, picking up supplies and whatever I could find for lunch that did not require me unpacking my gear to cook/prepare. It was getting quite warm...

I pushed on, and found that there was a ‘new’ part of town that was basically a strip of big box stores for a number of km’s norther of the town. It reminded me a little of the garish sites on entering the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

I was starting to have my first feelings of wanting the ride to be over — a clear sign I needed a rest day, though one I did not note at the time. I had considered taking an alternate longer route via Kimberly, though pressed on with the more direct route to Wasa Lake. I was interested to see the buildings in the Heritage town of Fort Steele. As I closed in, thew road conditions were quite good, though I had my second experience with an abusive driver/passenger — another car from Alberta. The passnger climbed half out the window to shout abuse, with the car crossing lanes to get closer to me... I stopped at a gas station prior to the climb into/past to old town of Fort Steele, starting to suffer from the heat. As with previous days, the water/sports drinks in my racks were turning into a rather unpalatable warm concoction very quickly. In trying to finish/not waste one of these before restocking, I almost vomited.

Given the impacts of the heat, I was strongly considering a shorter day and camping at Wasa Lake. I hit Wasa Lake shortly before 3pm (105km) and stopped to refill my water bottled. It had turned into a very hot day and I enjoyed the shade where I stopped, utilising the garden house next to the bottle shop/beer store. I began looking for the Provincial Park or another option to camp. Nothing looked promising and given there were still anumber of hours in the day, I pressed on towards Skookumchuck.

I reached the store at Skookumchuck (124km) at 4pm — (not really a town at all). It was quite busy, though I did not note where one could camp, contrary to advice. I relaxed with the ducks, squirrels and frogs out the front of the store for a short time. It was starting to cool a couple degrees and a storm was brewing (see photo’s). I pushed on towards Canal Flats, hoping to find a place to stop and shelter from the storm if it did hit. It seemed that the storm passed me twice, either receiving a few drops or crossing wet roads. Canal Flats provided no services at all, and as I approached the climb to the north side of the ‘town’ the storm hit me with all its intense, if short, fury. Given the heat of the day, I was cooled a little by the rain. My shoes became reservoirs, though from previous experience, I knew they were relatively quick to dry out.

By the time I reached the Columbia Lake lookout, the road was dry and I was close to it. It was a nice view to stop and enjoy, albeit without a nice grass verge or similar to rest at. I was closing in on Fairmont Hot Springs and, whilst I would have liked to make it to Radium Hot Springs to be closer to the Rockies, I was settling on Fairmont Hot Springs as the day ended.

I was feeling pretty beat and settled on the first camping place I noted - an RV park with showers advertised as near the river. There was no one at the front gate, so I heading in and parked my bike and walked towards where I expected the river to be - which I did not find. I do not like RV parks and this was no exception. I had done a lap on my bike looking for a suitable place to camp, and came up with not many options. I decided to find one as far away from the dozens of RVs and with something other than RVs in my line of sight. I set-up near some other tents, showered, had some food and set about avoiding having to pay for the ‘privilege’ of being near so many RVs and all that goes with them.

random sign, somewhere near Moyie Lake ??
Moyie River (looking north-east)?
Moyie River (looking south-west)?
first view of the Rocky Mountains
a storm approaches
Columbia Lake and sign, looking south
bluff in front of campground, Fairmont Hot Springs