June 10, 2023
Spent a relaxed morning in Nelson and grabbed breakfast before packing the bike and heading out. Crossed over BOB (Big Orange Bridge) at the edge of town and then northwest along the Kootenay River and on to Kootenay Lake. I had originally thought I might continue along Kootenay Lake on BC 31. That route would involve a dirt section, and the same weather concerns as yesterday made me decide to hold off and inquire as I got closer to a decision point.
I had lunch at Kaslo, which is famous (among other things) for the restored steam ferry you can visit there. Or at least you usually can, as it’s currently closed for refurbishment. Instead I asked at a few of the local tours/guides in town about road conditions and came away still unsure. As DeNiro once said “whenever there’s any doubt, there is no doubt.” I decided on BC 31A that is all pavement. It cuts east across the Selkirks to the top of the Slocan Valley, and from there north along the Arrow Lakes to the same destination.
The weather so far was fairly warm and sunny, but I had not yet ventured up into the mountains, and was prepared for worse weather as I headed east, then north.
No regrets about the choices. 31A was gorgeous, twisting along a river the whole way to a summit, then along a different river down the other side into the Slocan Valley. One of the nicest bits of road I’ve been on so far. As expected, weather got greyer and cooler on the other side of the Selkirks. In this area, you have to go east to go north, and east meant “closer to weather.”
From the Slocan, the ride continues uphill to Summit Lake where I made a brief stop. Then I rode down to the Arrow Lakes at Nakusp. There’s a cable ferry that crosses the lake here, but it’s only useful for getting to BC 6, which heads east to Vernon. The ride to Revelstoke crosses further north on a more conventional diesel ferry.
I continued on to the North Arrow Lakes ferry terminal. This ferry is free, as it’s an essential part of the highway from Nakusp north to Revelstoke. Simple thing, it’s just a flat open steel deck and a bit of shelter under the wheelhouse for any non-car users who might need it. We got a bit of rain just as we departed, which was enough to get the steel deck nice and slick. It dried before we arrived at the other side.
I shared the space with a bunch of locals from the Revelstoke area out for a day ride, and a couple of KTM guys who were able to confirm that I made the right choice by avoiding the dirt section of road near Trout Lake, given my street tires. (They did fine with much more aggressive Dunlop Trailmaxes, but were very mud-coated.)
From the ferry, I enjoyed a nice ride into Revelstoke. I watched hockey, enjoyed a brief conversation, and had dinner at one of the many bars, then got to bed.