Saturday, August 22, 2009

Biking the Kootenays - Ymir to Nelson

The Burlington-Northern-Santa-Fe Rail Line between Salmo and Troup Junction was built as the Nelson and Fort Sheppard Railway by the American railway developer, Daniel Corbin in 1893. Apart from providing access to the mining towns of the Kootenays, this rail line ferried passengers between Spokane and Nelson. By the 1940s passenger service was withdrawn and the rail line mostly carried wood products for the rest of its active service up until 1989.

The corridor is set to become a part of the Trans Canada Trail, and the Regional District of Central Kootenay is now managing it as the Great Northern Trail.

While the trail goes from Salmo to just past Nelson, we're doing just the Ymir-Nelson part. We rent bikes in Nelson and get a cab to ferry us to Ymir, which has a lovely historic hotel:

The trail access is right across the street.

The day is hot, hot, hot and the insects sing while we sweat along the trail. We make lots of noise because it's berry season and the bears are out. No sightings, but lots of fresh scat!

Its about 18km to Apex, the highest point on this section; a slow 1% climb up. There is a lot of whining from the kids due to the heat and the unknown territory ("how much longer?"), but eventually we get to the summit. And the fun starts! A 6km, 2.5% downhill cruise into Nelson...I think I pedalled twice...we pass a lake, clearly a favourite swimming destination for the locals (remember for next time: bring swimsuit!), and zip down until we are above Nelson with lovely views of the lake. Do watch out for the single-track riders who can come down out of the bush very suddenly!

The trail continues another 5 km or so to Troup, to a swimming beach on Kootenay lake, but today we don't have time to explore that far...for next time!

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