Midway, Canada - Polarsteps
Starting the day at the summit was perfect; we got to cruise right into a long descent that eventually took us into the lush Kettle River Valley-- completely different from the dry, deserty valley we were just in. On our way down, one of the first things we passed was an emu farm, and the emus clustered together to look at us when we stopped to look at them, and then collectively ran along beside us when we rode.
Just west of Midway we picked up the Kettle Valley Rail Trail with the intention of getting from it onto the Columbia & Western Rail Trail and riding it more than 150km to Castlegar. It was immediately questionable; the surface of it was shifting between loose gravel and loose dirt and sand, and it got more difficult as we got into Midway; we were fishtailing along and putting all of our energy into keeping the bikes from skidding out. We were later told by multiple people in the area that, while all the signs prohibit taking motorized vehicles on this section of the trail, there's no enforcement around it and the surface gets loosened up by ATVs and dirt bikes, making maintenance expensive when trail funding is minimal to non-existent.
In the midst of trying to figure out what to do next, Kini noticed my seat had been gradually sliding lower and we stopped to adjust it, and in the process of re-tightening it, ended up stripping part of the seatpost clamp. All we needed to get it fixed was a longer bolt, so Kini rigged it together temporarily with some gear clamps and we headed to the hardware store in Midway, which it turned out was on small town Sunday hours and had closed at 2pm, 20 minutes before we got there. We went and got some groceries and then Kini kept working on it outside the grocery store, trying everything to make it work (the gear clamp solution wasn't going to hold). Nothing worked, so in the end, even though we were itching to move on, we had to stay in Midway; we walked a few blocks away and camped by the river.
We began the day by packing up from our campsite at the rv campground, at the very top of Anarchist Summit, and enjoyed the constant descent to Midway. I have this habit of yelling to Sara when I see something interesting as we ride along (she later requested that if we are in a town or city that I do not do this unless it is something important because turns out it can be quite jarring when you're already trying to navigate around traffic and really dont need to hear that Tim Hortons has a billboard for plant based patties). We weren't too far from where we had set off when I spotted a herd of emus in a corral off to our left. Being a huge bird nerd I was super excited to see these large birdy beasts and let Sara know it! The emus were a bit startled and did this flowy, dance-like run away from us; the way their wings move makes them look like a dinosaur-ballerina hybrid. This reminded me of the animation in Fantasia set to "Dance of the Hours" by Ponchielli; now to just see a hippo and an alligator dancing about to complete that segment in real life.
We stopped for lunch in a rest area at the side of the highway, just before Midway. We were looking for the trail from the rest stop and saw a very rough path which we weren't certain was The Kettle Valley Rail Trail until we saw a group of four trail bike cyclists ride by. We got on the trail where it cut through a lumber yard/industrial area (where I was getting a bit paranoid about getting a flat from a rusty nail or debris); after that the trail started to become super loose and almost sandy. It was very frustrating and much harder than pavement to work through so we decided to abandon that trail for the highway after that (Boo! I wanted to get off the highway!). We pulled into Midway to get groceries and a replacement fastener for Sara's bike seat. We missed the hardware store by 15 minutes (it closed at 2pm), which was also an additional frustration on top of the sandy trail. The fact we couldnt move forward that day and there was nothing I could do about it was a source of frustration; patience is a lesson I still need to learn. Sara was much more level headed about being stuck for a night here which helped me let it go. The truth is that Midway was kind of the perfect place to be stuck; a super small, sleepy town where you know NOTHING much ever happens (but also at the same time can feel like the setting in a Stephen King novel!). The streets where dead by the time we rolled in that early afternoon; so tenting down by the river felt like it was going to be completely fine. We ate potato chips for supper, set up the tent early and fell asleep before the sun went down.
🚲 Bike Jaunt 🚲