Tag Archives: silveryslocan

Almost a circle

So here’s how I felt on the third morning: revolting.

Jittery, feverish and nauseated.

The first day was amazing. I had rented a kayak from Smiling Otter in Slocan (my paddling destination) and brought it home the night before, depositing it on the lakeshore. I was on the trail before six for the short run to the lake, catching the first glints of sun sneaking through the Carpenter Creek valley.

First sun: my shadow crossing the Carpenter Creek bridge

It was a hot day but the lake was still in shade and I kept to the east side all morning, tucked into the shade of the mountains. I’d rented a solo touring kayak, much sleeker than our tandem, and made really good time. I’d allotted six to seven hours for the 27k paddle, and finished in four and change. Along the way I saw bald eagles, great blue herons, ospreys, mergansers and countless plovers, swallows, killdeers and such. The lake stayed completely calm until mid morning when some wind blew up. It was pushing me on my way, but the swells and chop were getting rough just as I was passing the cliffs at Cape Horn and knew I had nowhere I could tuck in. I kept checking behind me for the telltale “black line on the lake” that can arrive in ten minutes and capsize unwary boaters who don’t take shelter, but it didn’t come. I pushed hard the last few kilometres just in case, to the river’s mouth, and all was well. I let the river current push me the last couple of kilometres, returned the kayak, donned my shoes and pack, and set off on foot.

Lake mostly shaded by low morning sun

I took the afternoon’s run along the rail trail at an easy pace. I arrived in Winlaw by mid afternoon, hung out by the creek to cool off, then had an extended lunch/dinner at Sissies. Eventually I barefoot-jogged the 4 km to my B&B for the night. My chronic ankle problem had really flared up on the trail, and I wasn’t feeling too optimistic about the next day’s 54km run, but I had a deep sleep and woke up the next morning feeling a lot better.

Rail trail along the river

Rail trail along the river

The next 25k was also along the rail trail. I stopped after a couple of hours for a snack and was very surprised to pick up an unsecured wifi signal, presumably from a nearby house, though I couldn’t see anything. So I had a fun little chat with Fiona. Thanks, whoever you are!

I met a couple of skittish bears and a tiny fawn and a few toads and snakes as well as making a positive ID on a Lazuli Bunting, thanks to my iBird app. Love that app! It also lets me talk to the birds by playing recordings of their songs. They get very intrigued and usually come closer.

Lots of giant black slugs on the rail trail in the morning

Lots of giant black slugs on the rail trail in the morning

The southern part of that day’s run was amazingly hot. The forecast when I left home had been for cooler weather but the thermometer at Taghum at 3:30 that afternoon was in the 90’s. I was in full sun for most of the last four hours and although I stayed well hydrated I felt worse and worse. I suspect I was pretty close to getting heat stroke, as I ended the day nauseated, headachey and feeling weirdly feverish. Couldn’t stomach the idea of dinner. I couldn’t sleep, either, which was odd because I was definitely running a sleep deficit from the two previous nights.

The next morning I decided to do what I’d been toying with the night before: take the bus to my bike, rather than running the 30 km along the west arm of Kootenay Lake. I was still too nauseated to eat, which meant all I’d eaten in the previous 36 hours was a small bowl of granola, a salad wrap and a couple of Luna bars — despite having run more than a marathon. I knew I couldn’t run until I could eat again. I worked into the morning gradually, drank more electrolyte stuff, and more water, and some coffee, sat around a bit, and then hopped on the bus.

On the ferry

On the ferry. My very old bike is awesome, but is currently in need of some TLC.

I jogged to my bike, feeling a little better, and rode back to the highway. This involved a side trip across the Harrop ferry to my friend’s place, which was a nice diversion. A few kilometres later I stopped and managed to eat a bit of late breakfast.


Near the summit of the pass, looking towards home.

The rest of the day was fine. I felt better for the food. The ride to Kaslo was tougher than I expected, the hills more numerous and steeper. I’d been preparing myself for the big pass between Kaslo and home, but as it turned out the hills before Kaslo were steeper (5-10% grade) than the long slow climb over the pass (3-5% grade mostly, and no problem at all). But it was lots cooler on the third day and occasionally drizzly and made for perfect biking weather. I love that road over the pass anyway, thinking of it as my very own highway since it’s the one that our property is on, and I run on it all winter. There are no utility poles most of the way, so it feels high and lonely and wild. The descent was glorious and I whipped along at up to 50 km/h. Cutting off the morning’s run meant I got home in time to pick Noah up from work, cook dinner, eat (yay!) and get Erin to her gig. Watched an episode of The Newsroom with the younger three kids and went to bed before ten.

I’m still a bit nauseated today but except for that I feel pretty good. A couple of blisters here and there, and that yummy feeling of having done something very long and difficult with my body, but pretty much my usual self.

So yeah. Almost a circle. Not going to beat myself up over a small missing arc.

Circle Route

Circle RouteThis circle route is one of those off-the-beaten-path gems. We live at the northwest corner of it. Once they widened the road at Cape Horn (at km 25 on the map) in the early 1990s, the motor homes began trundling through in ever greater numbers. Motorcyclists discovered it a decade or so ago and from the May long weekend until Labour Day we hear them droning by on the highway in clusters.

When we first moved here I used to think about bicycling it. Could I do it in a day? I never tried. Life was too busy.

In the depths of last winter, while bemoaning the fact that I wouldn’t be able to participate in SufferFest this year due to family conflicts, it suddenly occurred to me that I could turn the circle route into an endurance triathlon of sorts. Rather than taking roads the whole way, I’d do my first day on the lake in a kayak and day 2 would be a trail run along the Slocan Valley rail trail. The next day would be road-running from the bottom of the Slocan Valley over through Nelson and up the north shore of the West Arm of Kootenay Lake. And the last day would have me on my bicycle heading through Kaslo and over the pass back home.

I had originally hoped to carve out time at the end of June. But family and SVI responsibilities piled on. Then I had be around to get Erin when she got back from Europe, and then Fiona was asked to help out with the Music Explorers program, and had the Dance program to do, the combination taking up two weeks. So here we are in the third week of July already and I haven’t set out, nor have I really committed to doing it. Until today.

I’ve worked really hard to get the SVI administrative stuff done. Noah is solid with his work schedule. Sophie has just started her job, but she’s confident she can get back and forth by bike or on foot as needed. Fiona and Erin will be having a low-key few days at home. Erin has one gig, but I’ve organized a ride for her. Chuck will be on call. Provided I stock the fridge and pantry with lots of food, I have their blessing to leave. So I booked a place to stay for the first night and arranged to rent a kayak and — gulp! — I think I’m going.

I have no doubt that I can manage each leg of the challenge on its own. What worries me is putting them together in the space of three or four days. What will I feel like on the morning of the third day, having run 70 kilometres over the previous day and a bit, facing 35 more and then a bike ride over the pass?

I suppose I’m going to find out.