Leaving Edwards, with a side trip on the way to Kootenay Lake

My time at Edwards Lake was done, but my drive to Kootenay Lake would not take that long. I could sneak in one more morning walk to Loon Lake before the drive to Kootenay Lake.

I had exactly two hours planned for my morning walk. That was my calculation of the amount of time I could spend and still have time to drive to Kootenay Lake, with a shopping stop or two along the way. According to the googles, the backroad from Edwards to Loon Lake would take me something on the order of three quarters of an hour – with my faster walking I should have plenty of time to explore the campground a bit then head back. But I set a timer for one hour to remind me to turn around and head back. There was going to be no distractions keeping me longer today.

The backroad was essentially the third part of a triangle set of roads connecting civilization to Edwards to Loon Lake. I wasn’t going to walk all the way back then walk into Loon Lake from the main road – this back road made it feasible to visit in under an hour. The back road was also in back road condition. It started out good enough but devolved into some pretty uneven bits with big potholes. I wouldn’t recommend it for an RV.

Backroad Camp SR600171
Real camp or play camp?

Along the way I encounter this peculiar “camp”. Two spruce bow shelters, and a fire with no break right beside the back road. Keep in mind, you could walk back to Grasmere in about an hour from here, it’s not exactly “remote” camping. Kids or adults practicing survival camping? I doubt it was hunters – they’d be way further out before bothering with something like this. Not to mention, this turns out to only be about twenty minutes walk to either Edwards or Loon Lake campground – I’d bet on kids out summer camping. Next time, learn how to build a fire break – way too many fires this year started by idiocy!

Loon Lake Sign PXL_20211024_145518158
Welcome to Loon Lake Recreation Area sign

I arrive at Loon Lake. I know this is a lot more developed site. For one, during the main camping season there is a charge for this site. But right now the campground is empty and I don’t think you will be paying.

Loon Lake PXL_20211024_150005627
Boat Launch at Loon lake, looking towards campground
Loon Lake from Boat Launch SR600173
Boat Launch at Loon lake, looking away from campground, towards private properties on east side of lake.

I visit the boat launch and day use area first. I can see already this campground gets more maintenance, to be expected for a pay site. There is one canoe out on the lake. They are parked on the far side of the campground by the second day use area. I leave the boat launch and walk into the campground proper.

Loon Lake campground SR600174
Typical Loon Lake camping in the forest

The campground is groomed and graded for a variety of sized rigs. You also have spots in the open right by the water. I’m sure they are full most of the summer. Everything is neat and tidy. There is even a grey water dump, have not seen one of those before. Can’t say I’d find it useful. What is the point if I can’ dump my black water too? Only the smallest trailers that have only a little grey water tank under the sink will find this of use.

My tour of the campground done, I hustle back to camp. I’ve already packed most things, so it’s a quick pack of everything remaining and off I go. First stop, Cranbrook for some shopping.

I am slightly worried about the road out with the rain that had fallen, but it was fine getting out. It is a nice day for a drive and I enjoy my hour and a bit drive into Cranbrook. It has been a while since I have been there. While the Tamarack mall is where I remember, the Overwaiti is long gone – not that I had expected the brand to still be there, but no supermarket in its place either. I buy and rug and broom from the Dollar store – there are a few things missing from my RV still.

Since I was around town at lunch I head to McD’s, across the street from the mall. I assume I can just order where a clerk is standing, but no –  it’s all different now. Most people don’t even order at the “order” sign (which I missed), there is no person there and no line for people ordering. However there are a huge number of people waiting for their number to be called to get their order. Once I figure out where to order, things to come along pretty quick. A sign of age is not being able to adapt to new things as quickly. That being said, being older means having seen it all before. The order system McD’s is using is exactly the same system Dairy Queen has been using forever. Only new thing is the high tech screens to order at rather than talking to a clerk, or pre-ordering online before you walk into the store.

A fuel stop for the RV (21.1l/100km) and I’m on my way to Creston. Creston is a nice sized town, just big enough to have everything, but no bigger to have the bigger city problems. The climate is also quite nice in the winter, Kootenay Lake to the north moderates the climate here to keep away the worst of the cold. I stop for fruit at one of the many stands. Fruit is one of the big industries here, there are orchards everywhere (mild climate, remember) and there is much competition to sell you fruit from the road. I’m not particularly impressed with the pears I get, but I may just be late in the season. Apples galore are there, but apples and me don’t get along like we used to. A little bag of little “imperfect” potatoes is added and I’m off. The potatoes look quite good, not sure what was wrong with them other than they are tiny russets, not the regular size. The cost is cheap, for sure.

My next stop is grocery shopping. This time my previous travel experience pays off and I do find a grocery store where expected. To be honest, after Cranbrook, I checked the googles to make sure this store was still there as there are not any big store options past this point.

I head up the 3a, a winding road with cliffs and hills to your right and lake, often with a sharp drop off to your left. Great sports car territory. RV driving not so fun, I’m recalibrating my driving to learn what the RV can take for corners, which is generally on the very conservative driving when you are worried about all your belongings sloshing about in the space behind you. There is a bit of drizzle falling on and off too – looks like the weather is socking in for some rain.

I make it to the turn off to Riondel, just before the ferry crossing Kootenay Lake. This is a local road, still paved but narrower  with sharper turns. Fewer warning signs about corners too. One corner taken a little too fast for my liking and I slow it down a notch more, no need to hurry at this point as I still have plenty of daylight left.

Riondel Market SR600176
Riondel Market quick shot

I make a quick stop across from the Riondel Market. I know the gravel roads start shortly past the town, so I do a quick check to make sure everything is good after the windy roads, now onto the rough roads. The road narrows, then turns to gravel. It is a main forestry service road, so it’s pretty good quality. Only as I get close to my destination do things get a bit narrower and rougher. I stop when passing someone going out, inquiring about the campground. “You’re going to love it” is the comment I get back.

On I go, crossing a one lane bridge with a roaring creek underneath. I know my turn should be just ahead, and indeed, I see the sign welcoming me to Garland Bay Recreation Area, to my left. Down I go, and steeply so! Will be interesting coming back up this, especially if it is wet… But I get to the campground and find it empty!

This is a medium sized campground, 24 spots some of which are pretty spaced out, but the ones in the main loop are pretty packed together for the most part. I take camp spot #1, out of the way if someone else shows up, but still with a great view of  Kootenay Lake!

Garland Bay Campsite SR600181
Garland Bay view from campsite #1
Garland Bay Campsite
Campsite #1

I have many memories of fishing and spending summer vacations here. It is a bit like coming back to an old friend. The water is familiar. The clouds low over the lake with rain falling here and there are old memories being renewed now. The smell in the air is what I remember too. All of it is good. Whatever may come, I will enjoy my time here!

About ralph

Just another blog to share some thoughts with the world.
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