Headwaters of the Columbia River

Golden BC Mike 1 sm

(October 5, 2014) As I wrote in a recent blog post, on Day 7 of our British Columbia (BC) ride Mitch and I rode through Glacier National Park (US) on our way to Canmore, Aberta. We rode on US 2 west to US 95, just north of Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho. We turned right and took US 95 north to the Canadian border. We continued north on BC 95 and made a stop at the Harley Davidson dealership in Cranbrook. I needed to purchase some oil to replace what had leaked from my primary chain case.

In Cranbrook, routes 93 and 95 combine and we rode them north along the Kootenay River, past Columbia Lake, through Invermere, and on to Radium Hot Springs, where we turned east on BC 93. What we failed to appreciate at that time was we were riding alongside the headwaters of the Columbia River. I did not make the connection between Columbia Lake and Columbia River.

For the only time on the trip, we stayed two nights (days 7 and 8) in the same place, at the Mountain View Inn in Canmore. We spent Day 8 separately: Mitch rode north to Jasper National Park while I rode east to Calgary, where I visited a Harley Davidson dealership to make some repairs on my bike. (My visit to Kane’s Harley-Davidson in Calgary is a story for another time.)

Mount Revelstoke Mike 3 sm

On Day 9, we left Canmore and rode west on the Trans-Canada Highway (Canada 1) to Spokane, Washington by way of Osoyoos, BC. We made a large west-south-east arc out of Canada and into eastern Washington State. Just an aside: At Osoyoos, we were only four and a half hours from Vancouver, which was about 246 miles driving distance west of us. This is the closest I’ve been to the Pacific Ocean so far. Someday I shall actually reach it!

Between Canmore and Osoyoos, we saw great natural beauty in the many mountains, lakes, and rivers we crossed or passed. Once again I am reminded how true is the BC license plate slogan, Beautiful British Columbia.

As we made our way west before turning south, we passed through Revelstoke, British Columbia. (Refer to the map below.) It was at Revelstoke that I noticed a sign for the Columbia River and realized that it was the same Columbia River that passes through Washington and Oregon. 

Revelstoke map Google sm

When we first encountered the Columbia River, on Day 7, as it drained from Columbia Lake, the water flowed northward. On Day 9, we crossed it as it flowed north and south. At Golden, BC (first photo) it was flowing northward, but just 92 miles to the west, at Revelstoke (second photo), the Columbia was flowing south. The river had made a U-turn in the mountains to the north.

Later that same day, we turned east off of US 97 south and crossed the state of Washington on WA 20 (Sherman Pass Scenic Byway). Route 20 crosses the Columbia where 20 converges with US 395 near Kettle Falls, Washington. At that crossing, we could not help noticing the Columbia, it was much larger at this point in its winding path. I’ve included a photo from, below, to give you an idea what the Columbia looks like at Kettle Falls.

I’ve seen the Mississippi at Bemijdi, Minnesota, where it’s a small creek you can wade across. I'm grateful I noticed the sign along US 2 that identified the otherwise unnotable stream. Every river has to start somewhere. Now I’ve seen where the Columbia starts. In the future, I plan to slow down and enjoy the experience a bit more...maybe notice more of the seemingly small things I pass.


-The Long Rider 



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