West Koots

Discussion in 'Canada' started by borscht zanetti, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

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    Someone was asking about the Columbia and Western rail trail.

    From this August...

    Took a ride on the DRZ today. Castlegar to Christina Lake via the Columbia and Western Rail Trail and then on to Rossland via Santa Rosa Road, Cascade FSR and Rossland-Cascade Road. About 150km of dirt.

    Hot day today at 34c or about 95F.

    The C and W rises slowly as it follows Arrow Lake, along trestles and numerous tunnels before turning west and arriving at Christina Lake.

    The first of several tunnels along the way.
    [​IMG]

    Trestles high up along the lake afford a wonderful view.
    [​IMG]

    The going is quite easy but there are some amazing drop offs that inspire careful riding.

    Higher up still one finds a nice picnic table and a great view of alphabetman's cabin on the other side of the lake.
    [​IMG]

    Forest fires would be a constant companion today. This one high in the mountains above Deer Park.
    [​IMG]

    One of the more compelling reasons to ride the former rail bed is Bulldog Tunnel. 900 meters blasted through the mountain in Feb of 1900, the tunnel is dark, curves so you cannot see light at the end and is very cool and damp inside. I also noticed some of the support timbers had fallen to the floor. I wondered what that meant for the stability of this tunnel.

    Emerging, you feel the heat of the day anew.
    [​IMG]

    From here it is an easy ride down to the Paulson bridge. As I got closer smoke filled the air from the fires burning along Highway 3. Someone in Dayglo was waving at me as I rode under the bridge but I chose to ignore and kept on.

    Further along the fires are visible and the Highway reduced to one lane.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Soon the first views of Christina Lake appear with yet another fire in the distance.
    [​IMG]

    Lunch in Christina at the Kool Treat and a great HotDog and Lemonade.

    From there, you take Santa Rosa Road. Great views along the way, mired somewhat by the smoke.
    [​IMG]

    The road climbs up and gets a bit rough in spots. Also a lot of dust as everything is so dry. The road reduced to talc in many places.

    I rounded a curve and met a bear who was happy to have a staring contest. I grinned him but he couldn't see with my helmet. He casually meandered off in search ...
    [​IMG]

    Soon you are at the summit of about 1800 meters and begin the big descent into Sheep Creek Valley
    The talc I had been seeing started to get deeper everywhere. A fine silt that kicked up amazing dust and required standing and steering with my feet. In places it was very deep. Rounding a corner a huge, loaded logging truck could barely share the road and dusted me completely with the fine powder. Glad I had my goggles, but had to wait a while for the dust to clear. The loaded trucks were pounding the road bed into this fine silt and it become deeper as I descended.

    Well over 6 inches deep, you can see the logging truck tracks for some indication
    [​IMG]

    The silt was challenging but the light and nimble DRZ was up for it and I did not really come close to dropping and likely the best I have ridden in such conditions.

    Got to Sheep Creek and washed the dust off my face and had a long and welcome drink. It was quite hot as I climbed back up the easy and well graded Rossland-Cascade rd to Rossland and home.

    Dusty, sweaty fun. And helped make up for not being able to ride the now closed WABDR route.
    #61
  2. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

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    The DRZ is now gone and found a home in Fernie. Replaced her with Elsie ... an LC4 Adventure.

    [​IMG]
    :drif




    Adding a few bits to be ready for an epic year of riding.
    #62
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  3. Lornce

    Lornce Lost In Place

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    Good choice. :thumb
    #63
  4. gunnerbuck

    gunnerbuck Island Hopper

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    I would never own one of those bike, that is why I have two..
    #64
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  5. JayDee24ca

    JayDee24ca Adventurer

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    I did that trip on my Quota, from Grand Forks through Christina/Santa Rosa/Castlegar/rail trail about a month before your trip, and those huge dusty ruts were just starting. Basically caused by running haul trucks over a road that has not been maintained with calcium. Funny that WCB doesn't shut them down for low visibility; they do up north. I had a hard time going though that dust.
    Also, those timbers you mention at the entrance to the 900m tunnel nearly caused me to drop the bike, my eyes hadn't adjusted to to the gloom and I hit them pretty hard.
    JD
    #65
  6. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

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    Hadn't thought about the wcb angle. You are probably right. Couldn't see a thing for several minutes.

    Always loved the Quota! What colour, I will keep an eye out for you.
    #66
  7. JayDee24ca

    JayDee24ca Adventurer

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    black with silver tin bags.
    #67
  8. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

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    Just bumping this up as the nice weather the last few days has me thinking of insuring and getting out on the KTM.
    Sunny and 9c is feeling awesome to me.
    #68
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  9. shuswap biker

    shuswap biker Been here awhile

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    Hey BZ, next time you are up at the bull dog tunnel (I think thats what its called?) have a look for a place on both sides of of the tunnel where it looks as if a spur line juts off-I heard that originally the tunnel would take to long to build so they went higher on the hill (steeper grade mindya) and built a temp tunnel?
    #69
  10. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

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    Interesting and first I have heard of that. I was eyeballing the rail bed from across the lake on the weekend and trying to see how high the snow was. Be a while till it is clear to the tunnel and it takes a bit longer for the ice inside to clear.

    If you are interested in the Bulldog Tunnel, a friend of mine from Victoria sent me this a few years back.

    Got an email from a friend and fellow rider from my days in Victoria. Dennis is an interesting guy and well traveled, but I had no idea his travels had taken him to the rail bed tunnels of the Kootenays as an "Ice Miner".

    Hope you enjoy this tale as much as I did.

    Posted with permission. Thanks Dennis !!

    " Hello Jim,
    This past summer, Michael forwarded me your "KLR" email with photos from your rides. I really enjoyed your photos of riding the old Kettle Valley Railway right of way, including the long tunnel. It really brought back memories of the winter of 1974 / 75, when I went "Ice Mining" in that tunnel...

    My first job after immigrating to Canada (Christina Lake, 1974) was with the CPR in Grand Forks, as a "sectionman"...just general repair and maintenance labor on a defined "section" of railway. In the really old days each section was about seven miles. The section foreman and crew lived in small clusters including a "section house", where the foreman lived with his family, a tool house, and a bunk house where the crew lived. If the section included a long climb, such as westward from Castlegar or eastward from "Cascade" (just south of Christina Lake), there were also water towers to replenish the steam engines as they made their way up the grade. These, of course, needed to be near a major source of water, so not necessarily next the section house. So every seven miles would be another section house, etc. By 1974, the branch line west from Castlegar was slated for shut down, but there was still two trains a day: one heading west to the mine near Beverdell up the Kettle River, and returning next day to Castlegar. The Grand Forks section (part of Boundary Subdivision), where I worked, covered approximately 70 miles...from Eholt (summit between Greenwood and Grand Forks) and eastward to Coykendahl (not sure of the spelling...sounds like "corkendale"), above Arrow Lake west of Castlegar. That long tunnel you rode through was in our section, and we made periodic visits there during winter. The tunnel cut through some subterranean streams (just trickles, but constant) near the west end. The water would seep out high up and run down the tunnel wall to a small drainage ditch at the wall's base, then out the mouth. In winter this seepage would freeze up after it came out of the rock and into the tunnel, but of course the stream would keep flowing, eventually freezing again over the previously formed ice.
    Eventually, ice would build up high enough to cover the rail...obviously a very dangerous situation for train traffic...and it was our job to ensure the train could get through every day, no matter the conditions!

    Since our section was so large, we maintained a remote station with extra speeder and tools, at Coryell. Coryell was up McRae Creek
    valley, about half way between Christina Lake and the Paulson Bridge.
    When we had to go to "Tunnel", we'd drive the big Ford crew cab from the Grand Forks station up past Christina Lake to a turn-out off Hwy 3 opposite Coryell. After parking the truck. we'd hike down to the creek, cross it on a log bridge (to which had been nailed a crude hand rail), then up the other side to the railway and Coryell. Since our only reason for going there was to clear the ice, it was always winter, so we'd be slogging through snow all the way, usually at least knee deep. Once at Coryell, we'd take out the speeder from it's shed and place it on the rails (using a portable turntable device always carried with the speeder), climb aboard (4 men), crank it up, and head out for Tunnel, about 15 to 20 miles away (seemed like about 45 minutes, I think)...a steady climb up the valley, under the highway
    bridge and upward to the summit at Farron, then down the other side.
    The speeder was totally open, with just a plywood wind shield with a small glass window set in so the operator could see up ahead. Of course, he (usually the foreman) had to keep his head up, looking
    through that window, and taking the full brunt of the cold and snow.
    The rest of us just hunkered down the best we could to endure the long, cold ride.

    Upon arrival at Tunnel, we'd immediately head to the old bunk house and get a fire going (after securing the speeder off rails, of course). We'd just stand there gradually warming around the big pot- bellied iron stove. Once we could move a bit, we all sat down for lunch. After lunch it was out to work. The tool shed at Tunnel contained specialized tools for the job at hand, including a flat deck rail-wagon we could hitch to the speeder, several long pike poles, the usual picks and shovels, and many bags of salt. We'd load all this stuff on the wagon and head into the tunnel. Most of the ice was near the west entrance (all directional references are based on general direction of the line, so even though the tunnel opening actually faced south, it was the "west" entrance because the line to Castlegar went generally east-west). The ice formations would start high up on the side wall and grow larger as it reached the bottom...all glistening ice in tiered levels and beautiful shapes. A couple men would wield the pike poles and stab and poke at the formations, bringing down huge chunks of ice, the crash resonating and echoing in the tunnel. The other two (myself and another young flunkie) would gather up the ice chunks and load it on the wagon.
    When the wagon was full, we'd push it out the tunnel mouth and dump the ice into the snow beside the track, then return back for more.
    Once all the formations were down, channels had to be carved through the ice on the tunnel floor to provide a path out for the water. We'd lay lots of salt into the channel...it had to be kept clear for as long as possible. Sometimes ice was built up to near the top of the rails. This all had to be chipped away and carried out. Then more salt spread all about. After the west end was clear, we'd hitch up the wagon, start the speeder, and ride through the tunnel to the east end, where there was more ice built up, but not the huge spectacular formations found at the other end. More chipping with picks, loading the wagon, dumping the ice, and salting. When all was clear, we'd go back through the tunnel to the bunk house and tool shed. We'd park the speeder, return all tools and the wagon to the shed, then into the bunk house for another warming and drying break.

    We couldn't take too long a break if we wanted to make it out before the afternoon train came through from Castlegar, heading west toward Grand Forks. The foreman always had a copy of the current train orders, so knew when it was scheduled to depart Castlegar, and would calculate it's travel time to our work site. If we needed more timely information, we could always call the dispatcher. All speeders carried a hand-crank telephone, and a multi-sectioned pole that you assembled to a length sufficient to reach the wires of the old phone and telegraph lines that ran alongside the tracks. A pair of wires ran up along this sectioned pole, attached to brass clips at the far end. You'd clip one over an overhead copper wire, establishing electrical contact. The clip would then disengage from the pole (with the wire still attached, maintaining electrical contact), allowing you to hook another parallel wire with the second clip, thus completing a circuit from the phone to the station miles away. The bottom end of the pole's wires were attached to terminals on the phone box. Then you'd hand-crank the phone to ring the dispatcher, who could then tell you the latest train schedules. Despite this, we once got caught by the train in the tunnel. Working near the west entrance was potentially dangerous for two reasons: First, the westbound train traversing the tunnel would be heading down-hill, with the engines quietly idling as it coasted down-grade (actually braking "dynamically", using the electric motors). Secondly, the tunnel was mostly straight, but made a curve near the west entrance. If we were working deeper in the tunnel, we could see the approaching head light far off in the distance, but if working near the western portal, the curve prevented this early warning...we couldn't hear the train's approach until it rounded the bend and caught us. The foreman would always be listening and watching for the train, and call out a warning if he heard it. Once, we were caught without warning until the train rounded the curve...those close enough to the tunnel mouth just ran out in the clear. Those caught a bit deeper in, like I was, just tried to make themselves as flat as possible by pressing against the wall while the train passed through the curve. If you were on the outside of the curve, the corners of the cars would pass quite close to you. All you could do was just keep alert and pressed into the tunnel wall. Of course, on the other side, it would be the middle part of the cars' length which passed close enough to reach out and touch (not recommended!).

    So after the warm-up break, it was back on the speeder for the return ride to Coryell. After the speeder was secured in the tool shed there, we started our return hike through the snow down to the valley bottom, over McCrae Creek and up the other side to the highway turn- out and our parked truck. The ride back to the Grand Forks was generally uneventful, and after a full day we were all eager to head home. Even after traveling so far to do our job, we were seldom forced into overtime...a testament to the foreman's organizational skills!

    The Boundary Subdivision was shut down just a few years later, and it wasn't long before all the rails and ties were removed, the right of way eventually becoming the trail you rode on your KLR. Others hike or bicycle this trail...something I intend to do myself some day.
    Back then, the low traffic level and impending shutdown of this section rendered technological modernization uneconomical, and I'm glad I was able to experience (relatively little though it was) a bit of the old, low-tech ways of manual railway work.

    Regards,
    Dennis "
    #70
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  11. Mike Ryder

    Mike Ryder Kriegerkuh Supporter

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    Now that's a great bit of rail history, thanks.
    #71
  12. shuswap biker

    shuswap biker Been here awhile

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    Thanks for passing on that great story. my family has some interesting stories as well about the KVR from my great grandmother getting killed on a speeder (above the old time and place bar) when she hitched a ride back to the homestead at Fife around the turn of the century, and the speeder got hit by a locomotive to my granddad working as a section hand out of Eholt- I guess he work mostly the Phoenix spur line hauling out concentrate.
    #72
  13. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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    Yes, Bulldog tunnel.
    I don't recall where I read it but if I recall correctly there was a series of switchbacks on both sides of the "ridge' that the Bulldog goes through but no temp tunnel. Just before the south portal there is a track that heads north and connects with a track that up and over Bulldog Mtn to Lower Arrow Lake. Did it in 2007. Last report (already several years ago) I heard was that the lake side is getting very chewed up by quads.
    #73
  14. rusty43

    rusty43 cruzincariboucountry Supporter

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    I'm moving to Castlegar area middle of March this year. Looking forward to living in the heart of the
    Maybe you can show me around a bit this summer, i'm moving to castlegar area in middle of march. love the twisties there, have done little off roading in the area though
    #74
  15. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

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    Sure, be happy to. Welcome to the Kootenays!

    What are you riding?
    #75
  16. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

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    I hadn't seen any comment on the recent petition circulating the Kootenays, about excessive noise from motorcycle exhaust. They have collected over 4,000 signatures and are urging government to enforce existing laws. Where I live, Pass Creek Rd runs about 200 meters from my house, I can attest to a lot of noisy exhausts out there with the majority being on cruiser twins, though not all. I do not subscribe to the notion of noisy pipes saving lives and so conclude that the only reason for a noisy - read no baffle - pipe is the need for attention of the rider. Of course some will make the switch to aftermarket pipes to reduce weight, enhance performance or eliminate the extreme heat of a catalytic converter.

    I can imagine living on some of the roads we have during summer and the non stop bikes coming through every few minutes. So I have sympathy there for sure. I just don't see how it is enforceable apart from issuing a notice for inspection of some kind. But I am sure the RCMP are rolling there eyes on the enforcement issue and having to acquire sound meters, provide training to members as well as regularly calibrate the device. Which means to me they may well, if compelled by government, to go with an assessment of whether a pipe is legal for street use. Which the vast majority are not including one on my Guzzi, though I do run a DB killer in it and it is very nearly as quiet as stock.

    So once again I see the behaviour of a few putting the many at risk for government intervention when really little if any is required. I am more concerned with bikes without spark arrestors being used in our tinder dry summers. But that is another matter.

    There are many articles out there on this. Here is one from the Nelson Star
    http://www.nelsonstar.com/community/344030262.html

    Editorial hat off ....
    #76
  17. rusty43

    rusty43 cruzincariboucountry Supporter

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    Well, new neighbour on Pass Creek Road, my plated bikes are a 950 adv and an old Goldwing. got a couple of dirt bikes too
    #77
  18. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

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    I live just below Pass Creek Rd in beautiful downtown Raspberry. That is my ex 950 pictured by Le Grand Tetons as my profile pic. Great bikes.
    #78
  19. rusty43

    rusty43 cruzincariboucountry Supporter

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    Nice photo. I'll likely be raring to ride beginning of April once we're moved in. Does Main Jet have decent tire prices?
    #79
  20. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

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    Depends on what you are used to paying. For me, no. I order online. Canadasmotorcyle is pretty good. I will be picking up a TKC front and then a Mitas 07 rear for my KTM. The Mitas from MX1 in Vancouver.
    #80