A Bear, a Mountain Summit, and a Cabin

by bart on July 11, 2013

20130711-092435.jpgAfter spending a couple of days in Salmo and retrieving my solar charger, which I thought I’d lost for good (see Part 1 and Part 2 of the previous post), I headed towards the Salmo-Creston Pass.

I heard a lot of things from a lot of people I met about this huge mountain pass. One guy said that he found it tough even in his car. I thought that either he had a crappy car, or this is really one tough summit.

The first 15 km walking east from Salmo was easy. Flat terrain and pleasant sunny weather. Along the way I ate sour cherries that I picked in Salmo, and bananas that I bought at half price as they were ripe (and delicious).

When I reached the start of the pass the first thing to greet me was a black bear near the side of the road on my left, on the side I was walking on, but lucky for me he was on a wooded slope, about 15m up from me. First I heard him, as he was standing on his hind feet reaching for and eating leaves off branches.

As soon as I saw him I scurried to the other side of the road and got my bear bangers and bear spray ready. He just looked at me, turned around and slowly walked back into the forest. What a welcome to the Salmo-Creston Pass!

The pass began gently uphill for a few kilometers, and got progressively steeper as I continued to walk up.

The weather was perfect as it was not too hot, and there was cloud cover. And no flies like on the Bonanza Pass, which I walked up before, when leaving Christina Lake.

There were a couple of thunder storms along the way, but I was lucky as they dumped their rain ahead of me, so I avoided getting soaked.

Somehow I reached the summit the same day I left Salmo. I ended up walking 38 km and ascending over 1100m that day.

On the way up I had fantastic views of the huge mountains and valleys around and behind me. Much more breathtaking than any other summit I walked up so far.

When I reached the Kootenay Summit that evening I couldn’t believe I made it in one day. But I had to figure out where I’d sleep. At 1774m elevation it was chilly, even in July, and this was bear country.

I looked around and saw some Ministry of Transportation buildings, a small lake (Bridal Lake, Stagleaf Provincial Park), and to my surprise a cabin.

I walked over to the cabin and it was unlocked, so I walked in. There was a table, a wood-burning stove, and lots of room to spread out my sleeping bag. Again, I couldn’t believe my luck.

I spent that evening by the stove, which I fired up, drinking cups of hot tea, eating a hot dinner, and enjoying a beautiful view from the windows. It was the best evening and night I spent ever since I left on my walk.

The next morning I walked down the summit. I found the views on the east side of the pass much less interesting than on the west, so I kept walking down all day, until I was just outside of Creston BC, in the Creston Valley, where I spent the night by a river, avoiding being eaten alive by swarms of mosquitos.

I had planned on three days to make it over the summit, but ended up doing it in two. During those two days I walked 75 km and ascended and then descended over 1100m. My feet and all my leg muscles ached, and so did my post-surgery knee. But I felt great.

Photo above is of the cabin I had all to myself at the Kootenay Summit.

Below, Bridal Lake as seen from the windows of the cabin, and another view of the cabin.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter July 22, 2013 at 3:59 am

Hey Bart
We are very proud of you! Good luck on the last stretch. We’re looking forward to seeing you back safe and sound in Vancouver.


bart July 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Thank you Peter! Looking forward to seeing you all again soon.


Laurie Kingdon July 16, 2013 at 6:37 am

I’ll need to read your posts more thoroughly Bart. Glad to hear you retrieved your solar charger!



bart July 17, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Thanks Laurie, me too!


Helen Sutherland July 15, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Amazing! Hope the final stages of your journey are equally enjoyable!


bart July 17, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Thanks Helen. I’m on the final stretch. Will be in Alberta in 2 days.


sandro July 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm

That looks beautiful up there Bart. I’m glad to your bionic parts are holding up will!


bart July 17, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Thanks Sandro. It is beautiful, but cold at night, even in July. Glad the cabin was there, and unoccupied.


Christian July 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Wow, that’s quite the feat. Amazing to see the cabin unlocked. How’re the shoes holding up?


bart July 14, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Thanks Christian. Shoes are doing great, and the insoles are fantastic. I have 400km left to walk & I don’t think I’ll wear them out completely. Foot Solutions Vancouver did great work fitting everything!


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