Nice site on the edge with a view of the river down below. And a patio with grill!
The Columbia River valley, the beginning of the very same river that runs between Oregon and Washington until it empties into the Pacific Ocean, is a stunning natural wonder. From the majesty of the snowcapped surrounding mountains, to the deep aqua of the snow melt lakes, there is nothing but beauty for the eyes. Just next door is Kootenay, one of Canada’s many national parks. I will run out of adjectives attempting to narrate the visuals, but I will also be honest in saying that our experience here was tinged with a whole range of emotions having nothing to do with the location.
The Columbia River rises in this valley to start its journey to the Pacific.
Being alive in these times feels very hard lately. We have our coping strategies: camping (obviously), and friends, escapist entertainment, and certainly being consciously grateful for the beauty of nature. We can just keep swimming through it most of the time. But then there are other times when the horrors of the world, the weight of all that is unjust and cruel, the speed with which we as a species seem to be careening toward the cliffs, is just far too much. We’ve been binge watching Star Trek: Discovery on this trip, and I like that everything on Earth gets better after the Second Civil War and World War III. Sure, humanity almost goes extinct, but it comes back wiser. There is acceptance of all differences and all species (except the Klingons, but that will come in time, and they seriously need to chill). Based on how they depict the Earth, it seems to have bounced back well after the nuclear war. It’s just hard to live in the Before Times. I wish I felt better about my fellow humans, and it is unproductive to walk around carrying fury. But sometimes that can’t be helped, and after a quick succession of blows for God, Guns, and Gilead, this was one of those times. Fun Fact: did you know that Xanax is currently the most prescribed drug in the U.S.?
Sputtering, doggy paddling, flailing, but not quite sinking.
So we staggered, we cried, and we raged. But we got out there too. It is helpful to be next to a national park in your dark hours. During our three days in Radium Hot Springs, we drove and hiked along Columbia Lake, and in Kootenay National Park. I’ll be honest; we did not really enjoy some of the riding or the hiking in the moment. Exercise can dissipate a lot of negative energy though, and doing it in beautiful places does work, even if it is in a “Yeah, ok that was pretty,” kind of way. It helped to calm and soothe, until we were once again present and collaborating with each other as a team.
Top of the Hoodoo Trail
One of the rides Richard did was down Westside Road from Invermere to Fairmont Hot Springs, where we caught the Hoodoo Trailhead. There is a bike trail that whole way, but Richard found that much of it strayed away from the lake and the road was newly paved, so he stuck to the road. The trail was an easy 2-mile out and back up to a viewpoint above the hoodoos. We drove back to Invermere and had dinner at a place called Fuze. That was delicious and healthy food forward. I had a rice bowl with veggies and sweet chili chicken and Richard had a chicken Teriyaki bowl and a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie that he said was unbelievable.
Kootenay National Park
We kicked ourselves out the door the next day, despite forecasts of possible rain, and Richard rode up the Kootenay National Park Road to the Valley Viewpoint, right after Cobb Lake. Richard saw TWO bears! The first he really really saw as he was trying to bike past a forest ranger who was pulled over to the side of the road. He saw immediately that the ranger was actively engaged in wildlife management, using some kind of large stick (Richard was unsure what it was) to persuade a bear away from the road. The ranger saw Richard and waved him forward with one hand while the other hand managed the big stick. The bear reared up and stood to its full height, but the ranger seemed more concerned about moving Richard along on his bike than he was about the bear. Richard, very wisely, did not try to get any pictures for me of this episode. Later up the road, he pulled over at a trailhead where there was a vault toilet, but there was a construction worker in a truck telling him there was a bear about forty feet away. Richard decided he didn’t need to pee that badly and move on until he met up with me at the viewpoint. I saw goats, but no bears or moose, so he wins this round in the Wildlife Spotting Championships.
We saw many goats.
We stopped at all of the viewpoints through the park until we got to the Paint Pots trail. This is a cool thing to see, but the trail was only partially passable without going through long stretches of mud and shallow water. There are some places where there are makeshift boardwalks, and others where people have literally thrown logs onto the ground. I was happy to have walking sticks because I don’t think I would have continued otherwise. The “paint pots” are a grouping of small ponds that have a distinctive greenish hue, which contrasts sharply with the rusty red of the surrounding mud. It was a fun trail and worth the gloopiness.
The other trail we did was along Marble Canyon. That one takes you back and forth on bridges over a deep canyon where you can hear, but not always see, the raging Tokumm Creek far below. This is a canyon formed by the intense pressure of two opposing rock surfaces slamming against each other until they cracked. Kind of a metaphor for current events actually.
The other thing we did on our Kootenay driving day was check out the campgrounds inside. Marble Canyon campground had many sites that we thought could fit Dory. There were no dumps there, but there was water, but you have to boil it. McLeod Meadows Campground also had some site that would fit Dory. There was water there, but again, no dump. They seemed mostly to be first come first served, but we also saw some reserved signs. I noted site K4 and site A7 as being nice in McLeod Meadows. For dinner that night, we went to the grocery store in Radium Hot Springs and just got salads and a delicious calzone from their deli to eat outside. We followed that with ice cream from Screamers. We have actually had a lot of ice cream on this trip. For me, so far, Shannon’s in The Dalles is still strongly in the lead.
Busy busy logging
We liked this place, but we also had a nice site on the edge with a view of the river down below. There was also a massive lumber operation down there, like a scene from Richard Scary’s Busy Busy World. There was great service, full hookups, and a little covered cabana area, with a propane grill! We didn’t use it, but recognize that it might have been fun if we hadn’t been in full rage against the machine mode. There are many other campgrounds in the area, including the Redstreak Campground, which is part of the national park. We did not check that out, but it gets good reviews, and has lots of amenities too.
Total miles from Cranbrook: 98.8, 18.1 mpg, 2 hours 32 min. Excellent cell service, also fast WIFI but not needed. Full hookups. Lots of amenities like showers, pool, recreation center. Key code gated entry.