Tuesday, August 15, 2017

To BC and back.

For our next road trip, it seemed like a good time to go and do some lake camping in BC.  Much of BC is still very smoky from all the forest fires, but as long as you avoid the actual fire areas, it might not be too bad.

We headed west on the Trans Canada highway into British Columbia.  There were the usual wrecks along the way.

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After a night visiting with friends in Revelstoke, we headed south across the Galena Bay Ferry, then took the road south to Trout Lake.  After checking out a few possible spots on the lakeshore, it was great to find out that my favourite spot was vacant!  The water in the lake was low and getting lower, so there was lots of beach exposed.  The spot is completely private, and small, so once there you know you have it all to yourself.  Perhaps because of the smoke in the area and a fire ban in place, there may have been less people than usual recreating in the area.

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Lots of good exploration and hunting opportunities for Hailey.  She had a blast, chasing the squirrels, climbing trees, and watching the ducks.

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Smoke varied a bit from day to day, but it was always present.

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GoPro went underwater for a few shots …

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The only bugs around were horse flies, and I got pretty adept at swatting them.  The next users will find countless numbers of their carcasses buried in the sand!  Others were drowned in the lake.  Hailey helped out by catching any that got inside.

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The area is completely devoid of any cell service, and I don’t bother bringing my satellite system during the summer, so after 4 days it was time to move on and get updated on the fires, and any other news from the ‘outside’.

We stumbled onto the Jazz festival in Kaslo.

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We checked it out for a while, but it was hot, and parking anywhere in town was virtually impossible, so we decided to move on.  We headed out west towards New Denver, but then spotted a sign along the highway pointing to Buchanan lookout.  Working or not, it seems I am attracted to fire lookouts.  After a 12km climb on mostly good logging roads we arrived at the now closed fire lookout.  The last 2km were a bit on the rough side.

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The lookout has not been used since 1982 Sad smile, but they have maintained it for interpretive purposes.  Although you cannot go inside the lookout cabin itself, you can see in all the windows at the setup that would have been in place when it was last used.

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There was an unused hang glider launch ramp.

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Even after the long drive out of town, and up the logging road to the lookout, it was still possible to hear music from the festival far below on the shores of Kootenay Lake.

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While it was relatively cool on the mountain top by the lookout, next days travel had us back down in the valley bottoms where it was very hot.  I much prefer open windows and a breeze to air conditioning, but eventually it got so warm that I could not resist a refreshing swim in the river near Slocan.

After a few days south of Trail down along the Pend Oreille river, taking advantage of the AT&T signal coming across the line, we detoured around some new forest fires and motored back up through Nelson.  It was hot again, so a brief stop was in order at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park to cool off with another swim at the beach.  Later we took the Crawford Bay ferry across the south end of Kootenay lake.

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Watching carefully for another swimming spot, we found another quiet shore access location on a short, steep 4WD trail near Gray Creek.  It was very close to the road, but because of the ferry, there is only brief spurts of traffic.

Heading back homeward, we passed through Kootenay National Park where an out of control fire has been burning for weeks.  The highway has regularly been closed  to traffic during this time, but it was open when we got there.  Smoke was very very thick through the park where I used to work, and I was glad to keep on moving to Alberta where the smoke was much thinner.  By later in the day, we were unloading at home, for another visit.  It would prove to be a short stay again as Alberta Forestry called up again with a couple of different options if I wanted to get high in the north.  In a tower, that is …

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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Lookout, birds and airshow

After a week on the mountain top looking for smoke, the regular lookout observer returned and Hailey and I were off duty again.  As it turned out, there was a helicopter available, so we were able to get a lift out, and Hailey got to log her 9th helicopter trip.

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Before long, we were setting down at my old fire camp, so we got to chat with a few of the old gang in camp.  They are complaining about a slow fire season in Alberta this year.

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Before long we were at home again, just in time to play host to Don & Donna from Driving Miss Donna fame, as they returned from a recent trip down into Idaho.  It was good to get caught up with them again as our visit down at Lake Roosevelt was shorter than expected last spring.

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With the bird feeders filled, it wasn’t long before the feathered ones were back.IMG_3100IMG_3092IMG_3098IMG_3087IMG_3051IMG_3038IMG_8373

Then it was off to the Wings over Springbank airshow

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After that, it was back on the road again!  Stay tuned …