July 30, 2020
Forestry Camp Sight on Old Hadley Road before the smoke.
Gord and I are sitting in our camping chairs watching the orange glow of the sun as small flakes of ash drift down around us. Many are needle shaped – but all ash. Our solar charger is barely charging because the sun is so shrouded by smoke.
I just looked up again and the sun has completely disappeared. In spite of this, it’s still stinking hot. We are continually getting into the river to cool off. Apparently this is smoke from a fire just over the ridge on the American side of the border.
The Similkameen River has always been one of my favourite rivers and it doesn’t disappoint up close. The water is cool and clear with beautiful polished bolders. We are camped in a Forestry Campground on the Old Hedley road. Our neighbors in the campground are also from Victoria and they generously shared beer and peaches with us. Valerie, Perry, Dave and Karry just want to go home after three weeks of smoke. Getting back to the island, however is challenging. Apparently the Ferries are completely beyond capacity and for the first time ever they have shut the road to cars without a reservation.
There are turning points in many vacations and we have had a few today. We left Manning Park a day earlier because it looked like we could make it past East Gate and the fire without too much smoke. Eastgate was fine but just as the climb began the smoke became much thicker. I put on my mask and started pedaling for a few kms when a guy from Calgary turned around on the highway and came back for us. He had a bike rack!!! He took us to the summit when there was less smoke and we sailed down into Princeton.
Our second turning point happened this afternoon when Dave mentioned that a big piece of ash came down still smouldering. Then he said, you know we have room for your bikes in the trailer. In an instant I had agreed for the both of us that a ride heading west was our best option. This mystery ride was turning West.