In our never ending quest to avoid traffic, we seized upon an abandoned railroad grade turned into a hike/bike trail leading out of Nelson and taking us in the direction we wanted to go (south.) Nelson is built on a steep hillside and we had to push the Cannondale up the 500-ft rise to the trail because we couldn’t power our oversized and overloaded bike in the usual way. The trail was a little rocky but like all railroad grades it had a constant and gentle slope to the top of the pass.

Several townsfolk had warned us that bears also used the trail this time of year but it wasn’t until we talked to a young mother just before reaching the trail that we realized “bear” means “grizzly bear” here in Canada! Too late to turn back since we had already climbed that danged hill, we started pedaling with two sets of wary eyes scanning the trail ahead. I counted 38 piles, big piles, of bear poo on the trail by the time we reached the summit where the trail crossed the highway and we saw this sign:

20140602-193438.jpgBEAR ACTIVITY!
Past that point the trail was closed due to bear activity. We were pretty certain there had been some “bear activity” on the preceding section of the trail unless those 38 piles of bear poo had been imported by some other creature as a prank.

On we went. Traffic on Highway 6 was very light and don’t think we didn’t appreciate that. Dark clouds started gathering in the sky. We reached Salmo after thirty miles without encountering a single drop of rain and we started thinking we might just outrun those ominous clouds. Half a mile out of Salmo we met a mini downpour so we donned our rain jackets. Two minutes later the sun came out and we started sweating so off with the jackets.

A mile before the U.S. border the rain began again and this time it was serious. Out came the jackets. We were dripping when we pulled up to the border crossing where we were subjected to a bafflingly rigorous interrogation by the agent there. How much illegal trafficking can two people on a bicycle hope to pull off, anyway? I wondered. We were spared body cavity searches but just barely. At least our time there was well spent in one way: we were sheltered from a 30-minute downpour.

We pulled into little Ione, WA about 4:00 PM at the Cedar RV Park. Proprietor Gabe runs a super dooper campground. Tidy as can be, manicured grass, clean shower, complimentary lawn chairs and picnic table, free coffee, laundry, TV, microwave…….everything imaginable. Heck, Best Western has nothing on this place. To top it off, the sun came out just in time to dry our wet things while we watched the locals in our borrowed lawn chairs.