Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Canada Here I Come!

The temperature was in the upper 30’s when I woke up early at Tully Lake Campgrounds.  I knew the temperature was going to be cold the night before so I went to bed wearing long underwear and flannel pajamas.  I was nice and warm in my down sleeping bag.  Only four nights ago I took off my tent fly for the night because it was too hot.  The weather in the mountains is much colder in July.

The Northern Edge of Canal Flats
I crossed the Canadian border around 9 AM north of Eureka, MT on Thursday, July 5th.  This was the first time I crossed into Canada since a passport was required to return back to US.  The border guard asked the usually questions, "What do you have to protect yourself with".  The guard did not seem happy with my answer, "Myself" and started listed all sorts of weapons which I answers, "NO".  The next question was where I was going to visit.  So here is my agenda for traveling through Canada up to Alaska.  Kootenay, Banff and Jasper National Parks then travel west on Canada's Yellowhead Highway, Hwy 16, to Stewart Cassiar Highway, Hwy 37, where it connects to the Alaska Highway just north of Watson Lake and up the Alaska Highway to the State of Alaska after that he finally flagged me through.

It was an interesting listening to Canadian CBC News programs while driving toward Kootenay National Park.  I knew the Midwest in the US was just in the beginnings of its worst drought since the 1930s but I was unaware that area west of the Rockies in Canada and Alaska were having record rainfall causing masses flooding.  I was aware that the Alaska Highway was shut down in mid-June due to a record rain fall on snow packed mountains which caused a flash flood but did not know that it was region wide.  The Alaska highway was closed for 5 days in June between Watson Lake and Whitehorse.  I consider myself lucky that I did not encounter any problems from the excess rains during my trip north.

Columbia Lake
My first stop was on the north edge of Canal Flats on Hwy 93/95.  The wetlands and mountains in the picture was the reason I stop.  I did not know that the Columbia River headwaters were located very near here and you can hike to it on a trail called "Source of the Columbia Greenway" located in Canal Flats.  The research I did on Canal Flats came up with some interesting information.  The Columbia and Kootenay Rivers are only a mile apart from this location.  Canal Flats is on a geographical high point where the Columbia flows north and the Kootenay flows south.  A canal was build between the two rivers just when rail was taking over and rivers were no longer the highway for commerce.

The Old Coach Trail runs betweeen Radium Hot Springs and Dry Gulch along Hwy 93/95.
I stopped for lunch at a rest stop a few miles north of Canal Flats with a great view of Columbia Lake.  After lunch I kept traveling north along Hwy 93/95 admiring the meadows that lay between the mountains and Columbia River.  I took a break from driving at turnout near Dry Gulch this is the southern trail head for the "Old Coach Trail".  I walk around a little to stretch my legs and take pictures.  The north trail head starts in Radium Hot Springs and is a 9 km (6 mile) walking or biking trail that runs along the Columbia River.  If I had the time it would have been fun to do a little hiking.  I found a pamphlet for anyone who might like to hike it one day.

Mountains from the Old Coach Trail
The Overlook above Radium Hot Springs with the
Columbia River flowing along side.
I left "Old Coach Trail" head and continue north on Hwy 93/95 to Radium Hot Springs.  Just before reaching Radium Hot Spring there is a large rest area which overlooks the Columbia River and the town below.  Looking down you can see great white cliffs along the river it makes for an interesting picture. Radium Hot Spring is where Kootenay National Park begins.  I reached the entrance at 2 PM and will tell my adventure through Kootenay Park in the next blog.

Another view from the Overlook above Radium Hot Springs

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