August 19: Day off in Kamloops - The Great North American Sticky Bun Hunt - CycleBlaze

August 19: Day off in Kamloops

Forest fires: the sun struggles through the smoke.
Heart 0 Comment 0

RIDING INTO KAMLOOPS yesterday, we passed a gold mine. We didn't realise it at the time. We guessed at a salt mine because there were scattered ponds in which the water had dried to a white crust. That, it turns out, were the remains of chemicals which those in the know say will cause no harm to nature.

I'd like to tell you there was something to see. I'd liked to have seen sun-wizened men in brown canvas and broad hats, leading mules with panniers on their backs. But nothing of the sort. Just a big white metal shed. Nothing else.

The fact that I can tell anything else is a tribute to Bryan, the husband of our host, Linda. He is a gentle, smiling, fit-faced man who hunts and camps in the wilds. His dream is to spend a year in a tent in the forest. He said the original mine was, as I imagine it from his description, a huge conical hole in the earth. They found plenty of gold but they could dig no deeper without making the cone wider. That was uneconomical and so work stopped.

Time passed and surveys showed a great deal of gold remained, some of it 98 per cent pure. The new plan is to dig or extend galleries, as in a coal mine, until there are 15km of them.

I tell you all this because I have never seen a gold mine, and also because, while I was little inclined to ride back up the hill for a better look, I wouldn't have seen much anyway. Maybe not even the metal shed.

Maybe you remember the mist on the lake at Savona, the mist that turned out to be smoke from burning forests. Well, there are lots of fires and not just one. Today the whole area is drowned in their smoke. From the hill on which Bryan and Linda's house stands we can see little of the town of 80,000 people in the valley. People walk with handkerchiefs to their mouths. Stand in the middle of a street and you no longer see either end to the left or right.

Air Canada sent a plane to Kamloops this morning and the pilot turned back again when he couldn't see the runway. The airport then closed.

The fires are north of Cache Creek. There the smoke will add to the misery of Jürgen and Marianne, who intended to spend the night there before braving the Fraser Canyon and the road to Vancouver.

The fires are out of control. They are about to consume a small township beside the river. The poor people there have problems beyond our imagination but the smoke does force us to think what to do next. We have a few days in hand but we are near the end of our trip and we can't sit out the smoke for long and still make our plane. We could take the train to Jasper and ride from there, hoping we'd still see the Icefields Parkway. But there's no guarantee we would. The smoke has already spread into neighbouring provinces.

We could fly home. We could ride on regardless. The stress is in not knowing. A change of wind would clear the smoke. So would a good rainfall. The fires won't go out - that will take a month, apparently - but the worst would be over so far as we were concerned.

The weather forecasters won't commit themselves. We want it to rain. Maybe for the first time on a bike tour, we want it to rain.

Rate this entry's writing Heart 0
Comment on this entry Comment 0