has been Cancelled for the Time Being
As a continuation
from my last blog entry, riding along the Kettle Valley Railway
(KVR) trail to the so-called Mile 0 in Midway, British Columbia,
then picking up its sister railway, the Columbia & Western
(C&W) which runs another 175 kilometres to Castlegar in
the Kootenay region of the province, and finally, a short section
of the old Great Northern railway which traveled between Salmo
there are very few bikers this time of the year, there were
plenty of fantastic people to share the experience with along
the way, resulting in the usual pleasantries and share of odd
but wonderful encounters you often have while traveling.
delight greeted me on the last stretch to Midway, where a handmade
replica of a caboose lies at the side of the trail, south of
the town of Beaverdell (in a hamlet called Rhone), announced
by signs as "Cyclist's Rest". It is here that a local
man, Paul Letard, a vetern of World War II, saw many hot and
weary bicyclists traveling by his front door each summer, and
decided to build a shelter with cold water and warm hospitality.
Paul is nearly 90 years old, but still greets each passing bicyclist
with his dog, Stubby, giving a tour and offering shelter in
the caboose, which is outfitted with beds and a wood stove.
Perfect Washboard Road
Invigorating for the Bladder!
arrived in the evening in the pouring rain, looking for a place
to pitch my tent - and Cyclist's Rest was like an oasis! However,
the caboose was locked and there was no sign of Paul - even
after I rang the bell he had left out for visitors. No doubt
the sound was drowned out by the rain. I pitched my tent amongst
his picnic tables and camped for the night. In the morning,
just as I was packing up to hit the road, Paul and his son appeared
(with Stubby, of course) and apologized - had I knocked on his
front door, he would have certainly unlocked the caboose and
built me a warm fire.
Paul is getting on in the years and is planning to move to a
retirement home in Midway. His property is now for sale, but
the market is slow even for the hub of all action in the hamlet
of Rhone. No doubt everyone, including Paul himself wants to
see the property sold to someone who will keep the tradition
going. There is one catch; Paul has plans to return!
Cyclist's Rest, Rhone BC
his tour, Paul took me to a large, conspicuous rock about 2.5
metres in height and the same in diameter, surrounded by a concrete
base and standing in the middle of the driveway entrance beside
a flag pole with the Canadian flag. On the rock is a bronze
plaque commemorating the citizens of Rhone who fought during
the War (some losing their lives on D-Day), including his two
brothers. "I've already ordered this year's flowers",
Paul said. "Yep, 250 dollars worth, and they'll be arriving
in a week."
motioned for me to come around behind the epitaph, where there
was a small pipe protruding from the concrete base. "That's
where my ashes are going when I die", he told me, and with
that, he stuck his hand (and a good portion of his arm) deep
into the hole to demonstrate how deep it was. His son smiled
at me politely, probably having been through this portion of
the tour countless times before. "He has a morbid fascination
with his death", his son whispered to me.
epitaph certainly isn't going anywhere, though the future of
the rest stop itself remains questionable. No doubt Paul's intention
is to oversee the next generation of cyclists passing through
Cyclist's Rest - warming themselves next to the fire or quenching
themselves with cold water on a hot summer day. Let's just hope
the new owner shares that same interest and generosity - and
remembers to place new flowers at the foot of the epitaph each
Encounters of the Furry Kind
Cougar on the Trail
nothing like a little encounter with the furry and fanged type
to spice up your day! On the final few kilometres of the C&W
line, I was racing downhill, eager to stop for lunch in Castlegar.
Suddenly, I spotted something large (and moving) ahead on the
trail about 50 metres away and getting closer by the second.
I quickly clenched the brakes and came to a sliding halt. There,
looking back at me was a COUGAR, walking forward with a confident
swagger! Apparently he was interested in some "Meals on
waved my arms above my head and yelled at the top of my lungs,
hurling abuse and insults, but the cougar held its ground. I
took inventory of my available weapons, grabbed my bear flare
from its holster on my handlebar and fired. The explosion ripped
through the forest and echoed off the cliff on the other side
of the lake. I just stood there for a few seconds, stunned and
deafened by the blast. I looked up and the cougar was gone.
After reloading the flare, I cautiously biked forward, yelling
and ringing my bell, but the cougar seemed to be long gone.
Whew - alive to bike another day!
a cougar was a fairly scary experience, but in hindsight, it
was an incredibly special experience that I will remember for
the rest of my life. I consider myself a very lucky person to
have been in the right place at the right time!
the trails eastward. But first.. a little R & R in Nelson!