Castlegar – Last adventure before returning to the grind

Monday

A very early start for an 11 1/2 hr bus ride to Castlegar where Raquel very kindly had me to stay for the week. It’s my last week before I start work so thought I should make the most of it. This was also my first trip to the interior, so was looking forward to exploring. I was also just in time to tick the trip off list as the bus route is stopping at the end of October.

It was a very long bus ride so going to keep the notes brief.

It was my first excursion into the cities east of Vancouver, Langley is not somewhere I will be visiting, nothing there, looks very old and industrial.
We then moved through farmland and it began to rain, this was with me for the rest of the trip.
Still amazed by the size of the trains and one I counted had 125 carriages.
As you approach Chilliwack you follow a river in to the foothills of the mountains, the scenery is impressive but would have been more so if the weather had been better but that’s not often the case. The clouds did give it a very atmospheric appearance.
As you move in to the Okonagan there is a wide variety of scenery, rolling hills, mountains, flat planes, forests and grass land. We got up to the snow line but luckily we didn’t get any new snow as the pass can be very tricky.
The main stop was Kelowna which looks like quite a fun place (where most the Canadians I have met seem to be from). It’s set around a beautiful lake in the mountains that looks like an excellent playground. There are also lots of vineyards, this is where a lot of the BC wine comes from (so far all the wine I have tried has been excellent).
After an hour break we continued and I’m sure I missed some things as kept falling asleep but the scenery became more like alaska. Lots of trees, mountains and rivers. The trees are beginning to change colour so are never boring and could clearly see where there had been damage from old forest fires.
There were some great looking rivers for fishing and I was starting to get excited about the fishing to come over the next few days.
We finally entered the Kootenay’s where the scenery continued to impress but given the cloud/rain I wasn’t able to see very much.
We went through a town called Greenwood which could come straight out of a film set but will come back to this later.
These towns were seriously remote and I wondered what every one does but later found out that this serious forestry and sawmill territory.
I eventually arrived at Castelgar and its a located in the mountains at the meeting point of the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers.

Raquel met me and we went straight to the local pub the The Lions Head. It’s about the best pub I’ve been to in Canada in that it’s a real pub! We were joined by Raquel’s daughter (Emily), sister (Robyn) and her friend. My burger was excellent and I worked my way through a few beers before treating myself to a nice whiskey. We then played jenga with a twist, every piece has a truth, dare, never have I ever, categories etc which I thought was a great addition!

Tuesday

We had a very chilled morning, I just worked on my triathlon coaching course and Raquel did some work. The weather didn’t start off great but it cleared up and one of Raquel’s friends (Jack) dropped by with a fishing rod so I could have a crack in the afternoon on one of the rivers or lakes. I had my own kit but didn’t have the local set up so was very grateful for the pointers as I am all too aware of that fishing the wrong techniques leads to no fish.

After lunch Raquel, her friend and baby, and I set off for a small walk to a waterfall by a lake so that I could then fish. It was the most beautiful afternoon and a fun little waterfall but the water level is so low I don’t think it was as impressive as it could have been.

We then sat by the lake fishing for a couple of hours which was stunning. For more info on the afternoons fishing have a look at the below link but I managed to catch some :)!

After this taster I was then very excited to do more fishing over the next couple of days.

I went for a run through Castlegar before dinner and explored along the Columbia River before Robyn and joined us and we spent the evening sat round the fire pit drinking wine. It was nice to finally have a my first fire as while I have been in Canada there has been a fire ban for most of the time. It was also still just warm enough to be outside till about 11 although the fire was definitely needed. We heard some rummaging just outside the fence which the dogs didn’t enjoy and I was assured it was a bear just eating the walnuts from the tree in the garden. Raquel had gone to bed a bit earlier but the next day she pointed out that when Robyn left it might have been nice to walk her (and her dogs) to the car rather than sending them out to face the bear alone!! Got a way to go to perfect my Canadian manners and bear etiquette!

Wednesday

First thing in the morning we went for a beautiful short hike from the golf course up to a mountain top look out. The views were absolutely stunning and this time of year is amazing. The trees colour is turning, the mist on the river as the air is so cool and the snow tipped mountains.

Jack, who had lent me a rod, then took me fishing for the rest of the day on the Columbia river. We had an excellent afternoon and for more details on the fishing please see the link below but the Columbia river is such a beautiful river.
Raquel and I went in to town for happy hour and some wings at Boston Pizza before going round to Emily and Chris’s as Emily had to try on some outfits before her pageant this weekend (which she smashed). This was a new thing to me but quite interesting find out what is involved. Very different training to triathlon but potentially more challenging, not necessarily physically but definitely mentally as the drive and control required is definitely more than I could manage!

We briefly went down to Robyn’s coffee shop to hang out. I had to try the cinnamon bun which she had assured me the night before were excellent and it didn’t disappoint, I would highly recommend them.  The three of us went back to Robyn’s to hang out and have a drink but after a long day none of us lasted that long before retreating to bed.

Thursday

After helping Raquel with a couple of chores (had to try and make my stay useful!) to, I was allowed to go fishing again with another of her friends Wayne. I borrowed her truck on the promise that I didn’t crash it which I thought wouldn’t be too difficult. However on the 20 min drive to Wayne’s house I had a very close call. I suddenly noticed that up the bank beside me there was a deer scrambling up the bank and then charged down, I accelerated and moved out so I didn’t hit it but unfortunately the car behind did. Having hit a deer last year in Scotland in a very small car I know what that can do. Luckily the rest of my trip went without drama.

We fished a different part of the river and the mist too a lot longer to burn off today which made temperature control a lot more complicated. We didn’t have any luck which was a shame but the fishing report can be found below.

https://adventuresofafishingtriathlete.com/2018/10/11/2-days-fishing-the-columbia-river/

On our way back from the river we bumped in to some people who one turned out to be Robyn’s step father which shows how small the world is. Having grown up in a town where everyone knows everyone I felt very at home with the atmosphere in Castlegar. I’m a big fan.

In the afternoon Raquel and I went to the neighbouring town, Nelson, which is a 30 min drive further into the Kootenay’s. It was a lovely drive and Nelson is a beautiful town on a hill next to a lake.  We drove through town but there isn’t a huge amount to do apart from shopping so we went for a quick coffee at Raquel’s favourite coffee shop. Raquel had warned me that there was a slightly hippie vibe and this definitely played out.

On the way back to Castelgar we took a slight different route that was even more beautiful. I don’t think I will ever get bored or rivers lakes and mountains.The whole region is stunning and like Alaska and New Zealand every corner has an amazing view that you don’t think can be improved until the next corner.

I went for a run up the Columbia river to the dam but it was slightly further than I wanted to go so didn’t make it but it was a beautiful evening for a run.

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Raquel’s friend was coming round so she dropped me off at Robyn’s coffee shop and when she had finished up we went to Rossland, local ski resort, for dinner. It was a fun drive although couldn’t see anything as it was dark which was sad but I had spent all day looking at amazing scenery. The most annoying part was as we drove in to the town we (I didn’t) saw a bear.

When we arrived at Gabriella’s the restaurant looked very closed and we had a slight panic that we had driven 30 mins and weren’t going to get dinner!! However it turned out the only sign you can see is for the cafe which was very closed. Just round the corner was the entrance to the lobby for the hotel and the restaurant. The main restaurant had closed so we ate in the lounge bar. It was a lovely little Italian place with a massively extensive menu which made choosing pretty tricky. The hotel and restaurant has a very ski resort feel about it which is always a good atmosphere. We had a lovely dinner and the food and wine (another BC choice) were excellent. We had an really nice evening and time was flew so we didn’t end up getting back to Castlegar till nearly midnight.  I would definitely recommend the restaurant and was well worth the drive up from Castelgar. I think I am slowly getting used to the acceptable time of travelling for things in Canada which is much larger than the UK).

Friday

We set off first thing for the 7-8hr drive back to Vancouver. As it wasn’t the bus we could take the more direct route along the US border. The skies were clear,  the visibility excellent and I was looking forward to seeing all the scenery that had been hidden in the cloud on the way up.

The scenery for the majority of the drive was spectacular, once you get to Hope you are back on the highway its rather developed and less exciting but you are still in the mountains. Raquel and I had some hilarious conversations and spent most the time laughing. We have definitely created some in jokes that will pop up in some fairly odd circumstances going forward and are fully up date to date on each others lives.

We split the driving and its lucky that the road isn’t that busy as the views can be a little distracting! The road is also one of those that you have to overtake when you can otherwise you get stuck behind lorries for a long time!
The trip took us back through Greenwood which as I said earlier could have come straight  out of a film set. Feels very old school with all the square wooden shops. You could imagine it being in a western or gold rush film.
We also went through Osoyoos which is right on the US border and situated on a beautiful lake in a valley. The fun thing here is that you can go anywhere on the lake but as half is in Canada and half in the US you aren’t allowed to go ashore in the other half.
Osoyoos is quite a large town and looks quite nice but you do go through some very remote towns that don’t really look like places to would want to spend very long in. I should think meeting some of the people in these towns would be quite an interesting experience.

The main industry across there region is logging and we past some serious sawmills. There 10’s of thousands of trees just stacked up ready to be chopped and apparently they have sprinklers all around the mill to prevent fires and try to protect the wood as this is the heartland of forest fire territory.

We finally made it back to Vancouver and after some delicious sushi on Commercial Drive I did a quick turn around as my sister (Sophie) and her husband (Will) were arriving for a weeks visit.

Raquel, her family and friends have all been so awesome and kind and its been such a fun week to finish with before I go back to work. My adventures are going to be harder to come by now that I will be working again but I will make sure I make the most of my weekends, the long weekends (you get lots in Canada) and my very limited holiday (you don’t get lots in canada).

I will definitely be heading back to Castlegar and am already planning my next trip, probably before the end of the year. I just cant wait to get back up there for some more scenery (think the winter will be stunning), fishing (barely touched the surface and need to get in to the fly fishing), winter sports (the backcountry skiing is meant to be epic),the excellent company and of course more bears (although not in the winter)!!

Categories Trips

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