Grand Forks, Canada - Polarsteps

In Midway we packed up and stayed by the river for coffee and breakfast until the hardware store opened, successfully got the bolt we needed (and several spares for next time), quickly fixed up my seat post, and headed on down the highway to Greenwood; after our bit of rough trail experience we wanted to get some advice before riding it again, and especially before committing to the long stretch between Christina Lake and Castlegar, where the trail would be far away from the highway with no option to head back to the road. We'd come up short on up-to-date trail information online, or on information about its surface on particular stretches; between the vagueness of the TCT website and the limited usefulness of 8-year-old blog posts, we had no idea what we could expect up ahead. So in Greenwood we went to the visitor centre to fire up the Human Internet, which it turns out is delightfully intact and many, many times more effective than a Google search. The sweet visitor centre volunteer didn't know how the trail was, so she gave us a business card for Ciel, the president of Trails BC, and handed us a phone. Ciel picked up and talked with Kini about the trail, then actually biked over to find us where we'd stopped for lunch by the visitor centre. She wasn't sure about the current state of the trail up near Castlegar, so snapped a photo of our bikes and sent a message to Richard, a Warm Showers host and hub of the local cycling community up in Castlegar, who then got in touch with other cyclists who had recently been on the trail, and word eventually filtered back to us that the trail was open the whole way and that our bikes and tires should be good to do the whole stretch (in this entire chain of events, too, we would eventually end up at Richard's house for the night when we got to Castlegar). We talked with Ciel for a while and got a fuller picture of the huge challenges and political complexities surrounding the trail system. The trail organizations are run by very small groups of people with very limited funds trying to get a lot of work done. As we'd already discovered, motor vehicles can do a number on the trail surface, and the enforcement isn't there to stop them and the money isn't there to repair the damage. We also learned that in 2015 the logging companies won permission in this area to turn huge parts of the rail trail into logging roads (their attempts to build their own routes weren't working out, and the trail routes were appealing to them. This was petitioned locally-- we later met some older cyclists on the trail who had worked on lobbying against it-- but as it tends to, resource extraction took priority over anything else). We took the highway to Grand Forks, which ended up taking us over another mountain summit-- Eholt Summit, 1028m. The descent was a really, really good one: long, and at the exact grade where you don't need to pedal or brake. We had been in touch with John, a Warm Showers host in Grand Forks; he was away from home for a while but had kindly put us in touch with his daughter, who was taking care of his house. Jenni welcomed us to camp in the backyard and left a door open so we could shower; this is such an amazing situation to arrive to at the end of a cycling day. Kini cycled down the road to get us a pizza, and we had a quiet, comfortable night under some fruit trees. -Sara After making coffee, tea and breakfast on the sandy shore of the Kettle River I went to the hardware store to get dome bolts, nuts and washers to fix Sara's seat post. I walked in and the hardware store was playing old country music, the good stuff. The shop keeper was Gayle; a fifty something country gal donning a late 80's/early 90s haircut (bangs with shoulder length hair) complimented by larger glasses with bifocals and a purple tint, a grey plaid shirt and blue jeans. She helped me find what I needed and introduced me to the shop cat Lacey, a long haired, fluffy black cat. Gayle had rescued Lacey from the middle of a road of winter a few years back, nursed her back to health and took her to the hardware store to live full-time (minus holidays). Gayle was a delight and if we had made it to the store a day eariler I would not have met her because she doesn't work weekends. It was such a small town that Gayle knew everyone who walked in the door. After fixing Sara's bike seat we were on the road again; we briefly saw another couple cycling full loaded. One had a trailer with a rubbermaid full of supllies and the other a trailer you use to pull kids or a dog around in. I was certain I had seen a small head, with a helmet on, bobbing in the back. We wouldn't to be able to confirm anything until later that day when we caught up to the two and talked with them; they had not one but two kids in tow! Amazing! They had been cycling from Princeton to Grand Forks to visit a relative, planning to take to KVRT the entire way but it wasn't possible with the trailers on current state of the trails. Sara explained why the trails are in need of repair and cannot be done earlier, which is too bad. The default to industry and motorized vehicle culture is so apparent here; folks who cycle, hike or horseback ride can't even have one route to ourselves. I wonder how this will change as we shift out of fossil fuels and when these unsustainable industries eventually falter. I can't wait until North America (hopefully) catches up to Western Europe in regards to prioritizing infrastructure that isn't car centric. Greenwood was a sweet time warp of a little town. I was tickled to walk into the info center, be given a business card and use the landline to connect with Ciel. Tapping into the human internet was such a delight. After reaching Eholt Summit, a suprise to us, we had a great downhill into Grand Forks. We stayed in the backyard of our host, who wasn't even home. She gave us access to showers through the basement door; the trust in one another is part of the Warm Showers culture (there are also references from hosts and guests on the website). It feels good to be part of it. -Kini
  1. derailed
  2. 🚲 Bike Jaunt 🚲
  3. Grand Forks