Tuesday, September 2, 2008

2008 September 2 - Beyond the Kotenay

September 2, 2008

We coincidentally are the last car boarding the small ferry crossing Kootenay Lake from the smal settlement of Balfor 5 miles to Kootenay Bay.  To the north and east during our crossing we can see the Purcell Range looming above the clouds - which in this case are not low lying.  On one side of the lake are vacation homes and some full-timers - as evidenced by the quantity and quality of the debris  and decorations surrounding the houses.  However, on the east side, settlement is much more scattered and the road winds circuitously around the folds of the wooded mountains as they dive down to the water's edge.   The boat docks here - where they are installed are surrounded by 10 foot high rock cribs held in place by rough timbers - evidence of the rough winter weather that blows down katabatically from the surrounding peaks.  Even then, the boats are small and reflect the functional fishing activities, rather than the flashier sport boats one is more likely to encounter on the other side of the lake.

We pass a few small towns and hamlets, reinvented with a artistic focus - - each one sprouting signs for glass blowers, wood carvers, broom makers, weavers and potters welcoming travelers in for tours and sales.  There is no other apparent industry beside the personal and massive vegetable gardens and the occasional horse pasture. 

Once at the southern en of the lake, the valley broadens and diked land results in bountiful and fertile farm land glistening in the morning dew.  Now we connect t route 3 heading eastward and the road widens to include a shoulder at least. The curves straighten out a bit and we are joined by a railroad bed.  We head eastward - roughly parallel to teh US border but 15-20 miles north through the towns of Creston, Kitcherner and then north to Cranbrook.  We've left the Kootenay Valley behind  by 11:30am, cross into the Mountain time zone and are spanning up through towards the higher peaks  on the Cross Nest highway.  We are in the foothills of the Rockies now and the growing cloud bank ahead foretell of what we may encounter this afternoon at the higher elevations.
There is a small airport at Cranbrook, and this is the base town for a handful of cat ski operations harvesting the massive and reliable winter snow fall.

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