Day 95-97 of the Journey
Somewhere between Missoula, Montana and the Canadian border, a mere three months into the trip, we passed the 14,000 mile (22,530 km) mark as we headed for Valhalla Provincial Park in Canada.
The best kind of lost in Valhalla Provincial Park
On our way into Valhalla Provincial Park in the heart of the Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia, Canada we got a little Lost. Instead of turning toward the park in Sloan City, we turned in Slocan Park, about 20 miles (32 km) before Slocan City. After driving quite a few miles down a dirt road that just didn’t feel right, the reality of our error set in. Then we began to notice women’s swimsuits attached to power poles along the side of the road. As we drove on we could see that some of the suits are even stuffed to give the impression of curves and many were captioned. A lovely one-piece simply said “Paradise” while a lone pair of bikini bottoms was labeled “Topless”.
We eventually figured out our mistake, found the correct turn, and got ourselves to the Gimli Ridge Trail in Valhalla Provincial Park. Because we’d spent an hour on the wrong road, we pulled up to the trailhead just as a ferocious rain and lightning storm descended. We sat it out, warm and dry in our Silverado, while those who’d arrived earlier got drenched on the trail. Moral of the story? Getting lost is sometimes good.
We met a lot of locals on the trail and one particularly enthusiastic and knowledgeable woman tipped us off to a free five-site campground just a few miles further down the road on Upper Little Slocan Lake. After we finished our hike on the Gimli Ridge Trail, we drove to the campground and discovered a secluded circle of sites just up the bank from a huge, glassy lake and we had the place to ourselves.
As we settled into a site right on the lake, the temperature dipped so Eric built a roaring fire and we scraped some dinner together from found objects and leftovers in the truck. We were tucked into our Coleman flannelly-warm two-person sleeping bag by 9 pm, which was a good thing because the rumble and roar of logging trucks flying down the dirt road that cuts through the park (logging companies built the road and continue to log in the region) work us up at 6 am.
Some say the relationship between logging companies and parks is a symbiotic one: the loggers get their trees and the park system gets some much-needed revenue and some infrastructure (like the only roads into and through Valhalla Provincial Park, including the one we took to get to the Gimli Ridge Trail). Others believe it’s a one-way street with all the real benefit going to the logging interests.
All we know for sure is that it’s no fun following a slow-moving, dust-churning logging truck driven by a man who flat out refuses to pull over and let you pass for the entire 20 mile (32 km) journey out from your campsite to the nearest town at 7 am.
A heaping, delicious breakfast at the Harold Street Café in Slocan City put us in a better mood and gave us a revealing glimpse of the dichotomy of this place. On the one hand: so much natural beauty and so many tree-hugging residents with the splinters to prove it. On the other hand: so many fully-loaded logging trucks. The Harold Street Café, for example, is decorated with pictures of local logging truck drivers along with details like where each was born. Yet the coffee they serve is organically grown.
Here’s more about travel in Canada