While taking down our tents we discussed the routes we could follow depending on the forest-fire situation in BC, John favoring via Nakusp and the ferry that we'd used on the first day, so I put that into my GPS which gave an arrival of 1822, but later I just tried selecting it to "take me home" which gave an arrival of 1413 via BC 3 and BC 33 - FOUR hours earlier! EVEN if a fire that had closed BC 33 still had it closed, I figured maybe an hour more via Osoyoos and BC 97, so STILL three hours better, but we'd wait on a decision till getting some up-to-date info on the fires.
We pulled out at 0800 (0700 BC and ID time), VERY smokey at the beginning, riding N thru Idaho, but the smoke lessening as we neared the Canadian border, blue skies and clouds occasionally showing thru the haze.
A few minutes at Customs then we were headed into Creston to check weather reports, but stopped for John's breakfast at Tim Horton's where I saw a 'cherry' '33 Ford Vicky hot-rod
as well as the fires we'd seen on the 16th, STILL in evidence...!
The only reports we got were from some fellows having a coffee. They told us that the Kootenay Pass (on BC 3) was open,
so our "make-a-decision" point became Castlegar, an hour or so ahead. We rode thru a few showers, the temps cool, as I made my mind up that, to save 3 or 4 hours, I was going to continue W, while John indicated he'd go N to Nakusp when we stopped for a 'pee' break after the Pass.
Just S of Castlegar I missed turning N - saw John turning in my mirrors - then did a 180 back to BC 3, but wasn't catching him as I went thru some of the HEAVIEST wind gusts I've ever ridden thru, on the hill descending into Castlegar, just as I became aligned w/ the runway.
IF you can imagine flying from THAT runway... there are some SERIOUS hills all around it! I only ever operated into and out of there once while on a C-130, and it was... interesting...!
The ominous rain-clouds and showers just in the NW of that pic convinced me to stay w/ BC 3, so despite NOT catching up w/ John, I knew he would know where I'd gone (and IF he'd decided to avoid the rain I'd see him again, further W!) as he headed N into the rain.
Just a mile W, outside of town, I rode up to an RCMP cruiser, lights flashing, a tree blown down across all but the left shoulder. I motioned my intent to ride around the tree, he gave me a "thumbs-up", and I was on my way, tho' I stopped a few minutes later, getting back into rain-gear as intermittent showers again began.
A few miles before Christina Lake, at Bonanza Pass, I saw this
then I crossed the bridge to THIS!
Thankfully the road wasn't blocked, and tho' I saw fire-fighters working up the hill from the road, I was able to ride thru. Another bend or two, and I stopped for this view of Christina Lake
with smoke from the Washington state fires in the distance.
Riding thru town I could NOT get over the apparent lack of concern on people's faces, then rode W
thru Grand Forks (where I gassed up), still wondering whether BC 33 would have been opened yet, 74 kms ahead.
A few miles further I saw an old-style ranch, took these pics....
I was close to 33 when I saw five burned-out vehicles at a service center, then rolled up to Rock Creek (NO evidence of fire...!), and saw barriers stopping traffic from going N on 33, THEN evidence of fire everywhere!