Today we were ready to enter the wilds of British Columbia. We were headed to the Flathead Valley. The Flathead Valley was recently made off limits to mining and other energy industries, which means that it’s been relatively untouched by human development, which means that the valley is an unfiltered example of Canada before whitey showed up.
Before we reached the Flathead we had to ride about 20 miles of paved roads to a coal mining site. The irony is thick here. If it weren’t for the coal and the timber extraction, the roads we’d be riding on wouldn’t exist. After the imperceptible ascent to the mining facility, we turned right and headed for the promised land.
Our first order of business was to tackle Flathead Pass, which was an easy task. On the other side of the pass, the going got rougher and wetter. Because of the heat wave we’ve had up here the snow is melting quickly, turning rivulets into creeks and creeks into rivers. During many sections of the descent, our forest road had become a forest creek. Carrie and I had fun splashing into and riding through sometimes bottom bracket deep water. Not good for the bikes but oh so good for us.
We were really enjoying this section of the ride, so we decided to ride further than planned. We finished the day with about 45 miles under our belts. What’s crazy is that some of the best Tour Divide racers camp around where we’re camped after only one day of riding. From Banff to our current campground is around 200 miles!
We also got to practice our bear hang skills again. The first time at Spray Lakes we did pretty well using the counter balance method, where you find a rock of roughly equal weight of your food supplies and suspend it and the food from a branch. It works but it’s a bit fussy to get right. With the power of internet access at the Sparwood Visitors Center, we learned of an easier way to hang food. So tonight after dinner I was eager to try it out. After a couple of attempts to get the rope over the right branch, we finally got the hang to hang. It felt good. Now I know two new knots and an essential back country skill.