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My Trip to Sumner, Christchurch, New Zealand
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I left the town of Field at the beginning of Aug. 1999. I left my car at the tourist office in Field, near Lake Louise, after I asked permission to leave it there. The town is in the Yoho National Park in Alberta. I took the bike box out of the car and I packed all the stuff on my bike. I was prepared to camp and I had all my equipment for doing so. A few kilometers down the road it started snowing, raining and the wind started blowing. Welcome to the Rockies, I did not know that it could snow this early in August. The paved shoulder was between 2 to 4 feet wide and after that you have small rocks. When it started raining, I looked for a shelter and luckily I found the tourist gate.
All through the Rockies the scenery was amazing. When you get close to Golden there is many curves and blind corners on the highway. You have to move as far right as possible even if you step into the rock shoulder. I had one guy honking because he was really mad, he must have felt that I was in his way.
After I arrived at the camping at the top of the hill I went to the restaurant just beside the camping. I met some really nice people that even helped me set my tent up in the dark. They could not believe that I was going to Osoyoos.
After leaving Field I realized that I did not have a park pass and my car might be towed away. I crossed my fingers and prayed for the best. When I came back a week later my car was still there. Hoorah!!!!
Day 2, Golden to Rogers Pass, 80 km
On day 2 I had to face a lot of monster hills . It was tough and I was not totally in shape yet. I was not prepared for this kind of physical challenge. After all this was my first serious long distance trip. On some occasions, I walked some sections just to get off of the bike and to save myself from exhaustion. My butt started hurting and burning. Thankfully, I had the scenery to make me forget my pain. I also had the delicious saskatoons by the side of the road as a desert for the soul. Later on, I had to go through many tunnels which are there to protect vehicles from avalanches. I had brought a flashing bike light so cars could see me in the dark and felt safer riding on the sidewalk.
When I arrived in Rogers Pass, I visited the information center, standing at an altitude of 4534 feet. I was surprised to read about the people that had died during avalanches, especially rail workers. In one instance there was over 70 people that had died clearing snow on the railway after an avalanche. Picture source: http://sca.uwaterloo.ca/~praetzel/BC-trip2/Marion-lk.html The Trans Canadian highway through the Rockies and Rogers Pass.
I arrived at the Illecillewat Campgroung in the Glacier National Park. There was no vacancy but they found me a spot. It's a common custom in the National Parks to accommodate tired bikers. While I was looking for a spot, some campers offered me a little place to set my tent. I was touched because those people did not have much room. After I set my tent, I met a Danish man , probably close to 65 years old who had sold his Mercedes back home to finance his trip. He had started in Toronto about 4000 kilometers away. At this point I was thinking that I was a mighty hero because I had started in Field and I had conquered the Roger Pass, nothing in comparison to this guy.
Day 3, Rogers Pass to Three Valley, 87 km
What a joy to be riding! It was all downhill to Revelstoke. I stopped at Revelstoke National Park and went for a walk at the Giant Cedar Trail. It was quite beautiful to see those giant trees approx. 1000 years old. It's worth the stop. After that I went to the Canyon Creek Hot Springs about 45 km from Revelstoke. Nice soak. I felt like a millionaire. I had my wifeís flower-motive tights underneath my bike pants to protect me from the cold. Some people were looking at me funny. It was a beautiful place to relax.
Next I stopped at the town of Revelstoke. I had a nice coffee and cold drink. After I rode to Three Valley. There are a lot of attractions in that area. There is a ghost town and also an enchanted forest. I stayed by the lake in a old motel. I negotiated with the owner and I payed only 30 dollars. I was so happy that I did not have to set my tent for a change. It was great to relax in front of the television. In front of the hotel there was a beautiful lake also called Three Valley Lake surrounded by majestic mountains. I pulled out my telescopic rod and I went fishing but unfortunately I did not catch anything. My dream of catching a few trout didnít happen so I decided to go for supper to the hotel by the ghost town.
Day 4, Three Valley to Vernon, 135 km
After going west for 3 days I finally changed direction and I turned south in Sicamous. I was on the 97 A highway heading to towards Vernon and Kelowna and the beautiful Okanagan Valley. I rode by the Shuswap Lake, a major tourist area and the capital of house boats in Canada. It was great to follow the lake for so long, the view was amazing. Along the road there was fruit stands selling peaches and plums grown in the area. The last time I had tasted fruit that good was in my mom's yard in Portugal. In Vernon I had lunch with a French Canadian guy who had biked all the way from Williams Lake. He told me to use Vaseline for my sore butt and prevent saddle-soreness. I tried it and it worked. Picture source: www.kanada-british-columbia.de/ An incredible view of Kelowna.
That night I camped at the Okanagan Landing by the Okanagan Lake in a small campground( I forgot the name) . I had a swim and enjoyed a beautiful sun set. I had a great meal at the marina restaurant the Blue Heron.
Day 5, Vernon to Kelowna 70 km (Westbank)
I left the camping early in the morning. There was heavy traffic on the 97 in town. There were some big hills to get out of this small town. I stopped a few times to buy more of their amazing fruits. I loved the peaches and the plums especially the yellow ones. There are a lot of fruit stands all over the roadside. The scenery was incredible, there are mountains and lakes all over. I had heard about this area but I did not realize how beautiful this area was until I saw it. This is a holiday paradise. I picked up wild berries by the road. The weather was about 43 degree Celsius with desert like conditions. I did not feel the heat too much. It was not too humid. I stopped for a swim at the city park beach in Kelowna. There were a lot of sunbathers and it was great to see all the boats around too. I went to a Portuguese restaurant and I had a great meal that evening.
Around 6 pm I headed to Westbank. I took the Boucherie road to look for a camping spot. There was a lot of campgrounds but nobody was compassionate enough to find me a spot, somewhere, anywhere just a small piece of grass. Even the Christian camp did not find me any room. Some campgrounds seemed that they had a lot of room. By this time, I was very tired of riding. The moral of the story is to look for a camping spot early in the day or book in advance because Kelowna could care less about tired cyclists. On my way out of town I found a bushy area and I set my tent in a dry creek bed. The soil was hard but I had a good mattress. The base of the tent was in a v shape. I hoped that nobody had seen me because there were a few houses near by. Overall, I had probably biked around 90 km that day and I slept well.
Day 6, Kelowna to Osoyoos, 126 km
I biked through all those beautiful summer villages Summerland, Peachland all the way to Penticton. It is quite a big town .I went to the main beach that was quite long , probably a few kilometers of sand. I had lunch by the waterfront. The restaurant had a look of an old boat. It had a lot of character. I had a great fish dinner and I left really satisfied. I said goodbye to that magnificent Okanagan Lake which ends in Penticton.
On my way to Osoyoos , outside of Penticton I saw hundreds of people going down the slow-moving river on tire tubes. Everyone seemed to be having a blast. Along the way I saw a few outside flea markets selling everything. I stopped for cherries, by now they were old but they were still good and ridiculously cheap. In fact all the fruits are relatively cheap and much better quality than the ones we get in Edmonton, Alberta. Osoyoos is located in the only desert eco-system in Canada. Only the large cactuses are missing.
The highlight of my stay in Osoyoos was when I did some para-sailing. It was scary for me to be so high in the sky. The lake was such a dark color and it was windy. I felt very uneasy because I canít swim.
I stayed in a campground by the lake to rest for the next few days. I even biked to the United States, which was about 20 kilometers away. It was fun. I did some shopping and went to a restaurant bar that looked like a saloon.
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