74.16 Miles; Wasa Lake Provincial Park, BC to Redstreak Campground in Kootenay National Park, BC
Bounded awake by another day of long riding, thunderclaps, squalls, and flashes of lightning lit up the morning dawn. We crawled out of the Eolus into resounding pitter as rain gashed the still air. Janna and I quickly packed up and jumped out onto the Kootenay-Columbia Highway that would serve as main conduit across the river-valleys today. Thick rain mats carpeted mountainsides above verdant grass meadows strewn with ponderosas in this terrain of rain shadow (but raining nonetheless).
Two touring cyclists can belting down the highway the opposite way. We all stopped to talk. They were doing their own road touring version up and around the peaks of the area, albeit a very soaking one given where they came from. After goodbyes, the swollen and rushing Kootenay River slid by us as Janna and I used the Springbrook Bridge to cross it. The rain came down in earnest as we pedaled hard toward Canal Flats. We climbed higher and higher up a pass as lightning flashed overhead and resounding echo-booms rolled the hills. Then, we tumbled down towards the only general store in the area famished from the biting bold and rain. I bought loads of strawberries and sourdough bread; I ate and ate until metabolic warmth furnaced within.
Warm, but facing a headwind, Janna and I rejoined the highway to push north. The southern shores of Columbia Lake stretched out to meet us as we left the highway to careen down side-roads off its western edge. We cycled back onto the highway as dry conditions set in. Near the town of Fairmont Hot Springs, a cliffside of desertscape hoodoos opened up unexpectantly. As the hoodoos receded, we joined the incredibly scenic Legacy Bike Path that took us to Invermere. The path took us safely off vehicular highways through the Windermere Lake Provincial Park. Everywhere, meadows lit up with flowers and wild roses grew thickly. The views were incredible and the miles quiet and smooth along this long-distance bike trail.
Once in Invermere, we grabbed several days worth of groceries for the ride to cross Kootenay National Park tomorrow. After, we rejoined the highway and met a significant headwind that battered us to slow crawl across the landscape. By early evening, the lush and flooded valleys of Radium Hot Springs laid out before us. We turned up a mountain road and began a steeply graded climb to Redstreak Campground - the southernmost frontcountry campground in Kootenay National Park. Our campsite was located at the back of the campground and afforded a sweeping view into the valleys below. We showered and rested. And notably, my knee felt off - very off.