The day dawns gray and rainy and remains that way throughout. It takes us a little while to get out of camp, but when we do we're immediately warmed up by the large hill we must climb to get out of town. At a viewpoint we are rewarded with a beautiful view of the marshy valley below (there's good birding here!) and we have a chance to learn about the local big horn sheep herd from an informational sign.
The first half of our day is filled with civilization. The British Columbia road signs inform us that we are now traveling through "Hot springs, mountains and vineyards" and so we are. This is clearly a prime vacation area-we're happy we arrived just after Labor Day. The roadside is littered with billboards, condos, and golf courses. Mostly our road is flat, but we hit another big hill right by Columbia Lake. It's a large, gorgeous blue lake that feeds the Columbia river. This river eventually empties into the Pacific in Astoria, Oregon.
After the lake we reach Canal Flats, so named because a guy tried to channel Columbia lake into a canal so that he could access the rich farmland underneath. It seems to me that it's all for the best that this didn't work out. The lake is beautiful as is, and there seems to be plenty of farmland. As far as we can tell farming and logging are the major industries in the area. Most of the small town is off the road but we find a convenient roadside gazebo to have lunch in just as it really starts to pour.
Lunch takes a while because neither of us are anxious to begin biking in the freezing rain, and my front brakes are causing problems again. Despite these setbacks, the afternoon ride turns out to be an enjoyable one. The road is flat, newly paved with a huge shoulder, and we have a bit of a tailwind. We cruise at 17-18mph. We've left the vacation homes behind and instead ride by rivers and quiet farms. When we see a nice rest area by the river we decide to stop a bit early so we can have time to do some bike maintenance and relax. Hoping for better weather tomorrow.
No better weather today. It rained hard all night and all morning, and apparently they need it here because it hadn't rained in six weeks. Finally we got up and rode a few miles, but we soon stopped at a gas station/store in the little town of Wasa (pop. 200). The owners were overwhelmingly friendly and let us hang out for a few hours, as well as array our wet stuff in the back to dry. We entertained ourselves by eating a lot of popcorn (mostly me), writing (Tam), reading the paper (me), and talking with two curious kids who were visiting their grandparents in Wasa (both of us).
We hit the road again a few hours later. Although it was still raining, it was lighter and we rode without issue. A few miles down the road, the rain stopped and we took a break at a family farm advertising "Awesome Pies." How could we not stop?
Then down the road again. At Fort Steele we turned onto a small, quiet road. Country roads tend to be hillier, but we enjoyed the lack of traffic, especially trucks. The clouds started to lift off of the mountains, and it became apparent that a large volume of snow had been dumped at elevations not much higher than ours. We are a little bit apprehensive to be going back into the mountains next week because of all the snow they've been getting.
We stopped for the night at Horseshoe Lake, which had been recommended by someone in Wasa. It is beautiful, situated right under the newly snowy mountains, and it's free. We enjoyed our evening. We called some friends we hadn't spoken with in awhile, Tam did a painting, and I took a walk around the lake and saw a pipit and a spotted sandpiper. Only 23 miles today, but who really cares? We'll put in a full day of riding tomorrow. The forecast says the weather should be better.