On Back roads through the Lake and Kootenay District

The Yellowhead Highway is a popular road between Prince Rupert and Prince George in northern British Columbia. This road is also known as Highway of Tears. The locals tell us a sad story about a series of unsolved murders and disappearances of young women along the 800 km (500 miles) section of Highway 16.

43 girls or young women, aged 14-26 years, who traveled this stretch by hitchhiking, were abducted over the last 40 years. Most of them have not been found until today and are still listed as missing. As we pass the next village entrance, we spot a huge poster with a photo of a 16 years old girl, who has been missing for over 3 months. I freeze, and unconsciously I step faster on my pedals. My thoughts are with all the young missing women, and I hope that this monster will caught soon.

When we arrive in the village of Smithers, our Warmshower hosts are not home yet. We contacted them a few days ago, and asked, if we can stay a couple days at their home. The Warm Showers Community is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. People who are willing to host touring cyclists sign up at www.warmshowers.org  and provide their contact information, and may occasionally have someone stay with them and share great stories and a drink. We pass the time in the local library, often a contact point for travelers. In almost every village, no matter small town, or big city, you can find a local library. In addition to borrow books, they usually offer a free Internet service. Often we can meet here other travelers and can exchange some travel experiences. Thanks to this generous service, which they offer even in remote regions of Canada and the United States, is it possible to contact our family and friends through e-mail or Skype.

Again, we cycle back to the house of our Warmshower hosts. They are at home now and welcoming us as their guests. They have not lived long in Smithers and come originally from Toronto, from Eastern Canada. They have deliberately exchanged the busy city life to the tranquil and manageable life in the small town. Together we visit the local Rodeo and fair. Back home we return the favor with a typical Swiss dish, a potato casserole with salad and homemade bread. During our stay our bicycles, the tent and all the bags get a good scrub.

The rest of the now much busier Yellowstone Highway we have quickly traversed. In the town of Quesnel, we visit our friends Peter and Renee. We met both, one year ago along the road. They invited us spontaneously into their home, where we spend a few relaxing days with the whole family. We continue our journey on minor roads, which lead us through a varied landscape into the “Interlake district”. We reach several beautifully situated lakes, which are all only sparsely populated, and so we can easily and undisturbed pitch our tent, swim and even start a bon fire.

We reach Salmon Arm and visit our friend Patrick; we have met him a year ago in Keremeos. Pat is Quentin’s father and for Quentin we have worked one summer on his organic farm in the Okanangen valley. Pat, who is retired for some time, likes to spend as much time as possible in the beautiful nature. Moreover, even he has a casted forearm he takes us to a great canoe trip. It is a wonderful experience and we enjoy to glide silently through the water and to foil the still intact nature. After an entertaining week with Pat, we continue our journey. We want to cross the Kootenay’s, a beautiful area with innumerable lakes. Several times, we have to use a ferry to get across the lake. A few times, we treat ourselves with a visit at one of the superbly situated hot springs.

There is a great walking -and bike path, named “Galena trail”, which runs from Rosebery to Kaslo.This small path leads along a former railway line. The railway line has been used to transport minerals from the nearby mines. We feel back to the past, as we follow the lovingly renovated path. Often we can still see and feel the old railway sleepers, when we are passing them. We have to cross a couple old bridges, and then a big surprise! There is no bridge to pass the wide stream; instead, we have to use a small hand-operated cable car. That is a lot of work but a lot of fun too! Another highlight of this trail is a ghost town. We easily can imagine the time, when men had work very hard in these mines. Next day we arrive in Creston. In the small border town, we get to know some interested residents and at the end of our stay in Canada, we invited for an interview at the local radio station.

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