I originally had a 4-day Kootenay River bikerafting loop planned for this weekend, It definitely involved hot springs. Life got in the way, and drying out an iPhone that had spent some time submerged, delayed the start and cancelled the 4th day, I set out from Radium late Friday afternoon. My bike was loaded with my packraft, paddles, pfd, 4 days of food and camping gear.
A bit of highway riding got me to Settlers Road FSR and the start of the fun. A quick 15km pedal down the low-traffic gravel road took me to my set-in point near Nipika Resort.
The Kootenay river is not as straightforward as the Bow River that Fiona and I had paddled two weeks ago. It has several challenging rapids, and the flow rate is much higher. I was not ready to paddle something like this with kids. I’m sure they could have managed, but I did not feel prepared for river safety with children without another experienced paddler.
The river did not disappoint. I paddled to the famous Horseshoe Rapids, pulled out, decided I really wanted the provincial rec site on the opposite shore, and paddled across again. I had a relaxing time eating and watching the standing waves in the river.
Saturday, after some quick boat patching,to deal with a slow leak, I hit the river again. What followed, was four more hours of rapids, canyons, cliffs, and sensational river beauty.
Biking After the River
I had a vague plan to visit Lussier Hot Springs, and ride the Lost Elephant Jumbo route back to Invermere. Being short a day, I decided to shorten the route and visit the Red Rock Hot Springs instead.
As I was rolling down to the river to cross to the hot springs, I met a couple in a Jeep (on about the most backroad of back roads) who filled me in on how the “hot” springs were only lukewarm, and covered by the river when the river was high (it was).
I re-routed myself on to the Jumbo route, figuring I’d get some riding in, and camp for the night.
Things Go South
My dehydrated dinners need water to re-hydrate. The pass I was climbing had wet forest all around me, it had hailed on me twice. All of BC has streams and creeks, and rivers, it’s kind of their thing. Unexpectedly, the trail I was on had only dry creek beds. Alternating between pushing and riding because the trees were so wet that I was getting soaked if I rode, and too sweaty if I rode with my paddling jacket, I pushed on for 2 hours without finding a creek. My GPS told me the pass summit was 4 km away, but that was up switchbacks, so it took 18km of pushing/riding.
As it got dark, I finally crossed the high point of the pass I was on and found a creek about 200m down the opposite side. I quickly put up my tarp as darkness settled in and it began to rain. Hurriedly, I tossed my stuff under the tarp, and inflated my mattress. Unfortunately, I then put it down on a sharp stick and had to repair the puncture – and the glue wouldn’t stick to the wet mattress, and the patch wouldn’t stick. It got cold, it was raining, I was having a lot of fun.
I awoke to near 0ºC temperature, fog, but weather that looked like it was clearing. A quick coffee and some food and I was off.
After some great downhill and some wonderful singletrack (Spirit Trails? east of Columbia Lake) I dropped down on to the highway to make time back to Radium to pick up my family.
Note that this route would be entirely possible without a raft since there is an FSR that parallels the river for the entire water portion. It was my alternate route if I had found the river paddling too risky.