Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Into Kootenay, August 31

August 31
We rolled out of our swanky campground and headed to the village of Lake Louise to run some errands.  In the span of a few hours, we finished updating the blog, including a new article I wrote about why we don't carry a stove, we wrote and sent some postcards, sent Tam's pack in to Osprey for repairs/replacement, bought a few things from the sports store, procured the elusive park pass that had made it to the chateau a few hours after we were there, and, since we now had the annual pass, got a refund on the park entrance fee I had paid in Jasper.  Phew!  Then we ate a giant brownie!
A choice lay ahead: take the 1 highway or the smaller 1A?  They went to the same place, the 1 being the big freeway with a fast speed limit and a huge shoulder, and the 1A being smaller, with fewer cars (but still a lot on this Labor Day weekend) but no shoulder.  We decided on the 1 since it was only for a few miles, and it turned out to be a good choice: few trucks and a great shoulder.  So good was the shoulder, in fact, that we were worried cars would mistake it for another lane!  We knocked out the 20 miles quickly and turned towards British Columbia and Kootenay National Park.  A giant hill greeted us; we had gone 20 miles in the previous hour or so, and in the next hour we did 4.  At the top we crossed the Continental Divide and layered up.  It was cold and getting colder.  Freezing rain and wind blasted us as we descended the pass, and we took refuge under the eave of a trailhead outhouse to wait out the squall.  The sun came out just minutes later, then freezing rain and wind for a few minutes, then sun again.  We stopped at a campground during a particularly long burst, finding a fire already lit at the pavilion when we arrived!  Lucas and Julie from Calgary were hanging out with their 9-month old baby, and they were a lot of fun to talk with.  Predictably, the sun came out again just 30 or so minutes later.  Though we had ridden only 30 miles, we decided to stay in the campground since it was the trailhead for a short hike we wanted to do.

After pitching the tent and spreading our gear to dry, we crossed the street to hike the 5 miles or so to Marble Canyon and Paint Pots.  The canyon is a deep limestone gorge with a tremendous waterfall, and we marveled at the sight.  
Paint Pots is  an area with rich iron oxide springs that seep out of the ground, dyeing the soil brilliant hues of red and orange.  It was spectacular as well, like the surrounding mountains, and we got back to the pavilion just before dark.  
A comical sign on the hike

Rice for dinner with soybeans and chick peas and balsamic vinegar.  Lucas and Julie had some extra hot water, and it was very nice to have hot food after the cold rain.

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