July 2 

Bikers really know how to party.

NMBL and I both quit the party early last night. Neither of us drank much. We enjoyed good conversation, good music, and the company of some new friends. But we wanted to have a good ride in the morning. Everyone we talked to said that the 31A from Kaslo to New Denver was a great ride but to be careful. There are bears, deer, tight corners, and rough roads. Pay attention is what we were told. We wanted to be on our game.

Ear plugs did not help us. Let me be clear; there was no expectation on our part for a quiet night. We were guests on biker party central territory. This was the big weekend of the year for Toad Rock and it did not disappoint. Without going into the history of the Canada Day long weekend at this location, we knew it was going to be a rip roaring time. Ear plugs did not help us.

We woke up groggy but better off for the overall experience. We’ll go back to Toad Rock again. Mary has a good thing going on there. It’s honest. We never felt that our gear was going to walk, unlike at some Provincial and other campgrounds we have visited. Most everyone was friendly. The entire place ran on the honour system. There was only one rule: Behave. And everyone did within the context of a big party. So we were sleep deprived and as such we decided to pack our things, pay the bill, and head in to Kaslo for a good breakfast and coffee.

Our enquiries about good places to eat in Kaslo lead us to the Blue Belle Cafe. They serve Oso Negro coffee, a local-to-the-Kootenays roaster. They also serve fresh breakfast sausages from the local butcher up the street. Add to that pesto hash browns and a couple of fresh eggs, and you have yourself a delicious classic breakfast. Not surprisingly we saw a few other bikers there for breakfast as well. I should say motorcyclists as there was a variety of people there on motorized two wheel conveyances. Anyway, go to the Blue Belle in Kaslo. It’s worth the stop.

After breakfast it was time to tackle the 31A. With the sage advice we had received from more experienced riders than us we had agreed to take it easy and just enjoy  the tour. We weren’t in a hurry so arriving in New Denver and then riding on to Nakusp wasn’t a big issue. Our site was already booked. We’d get to Nakusp when we got there.

The road climbs out of Kaslo for a short stretch before leveling out a bit. The pavement was good, and the weather couldn’t have been better. Neither of us could anticipate what a glorious ride this would be. Riding along along the 31A is our top ride. Ever. Period. There are no real straight stretches, just less curvy parts. The highway snakes it’s way through the mountain pass fluidly and beautifully. When the road signs say slow to 50km/hr, you slow to 50k/h and enjoy it no less. Same for the corners where the signs say 60 or 30. No matter the speed the ride was great.

There were a couple of rough sections or road but nothing too terrible. We hit rougher patches on the 93 before Radium. The worst stretch of road was actually between New Denver and Nakusp where the asphalt had been grooved in preparation for paving. But the 31A itself was close to perfect on most parts. We giddily chattered to each other through our headsets for almost the entire ride. I was also able to capture most of it on the camera. Unfortunately we did not see a single bear or deer. 

We arrived in Nakusp too early to check in to our campsite so we spent some time down by the shore of Arrow Lake. I blogged a bit under an oak while NMBL went to get some materials to fix her riding pants. From there we went back to the campground, discussed with the couple managing the place our best site options, and got set up. 

Not long after we rolled in another pair of touring bikes rolled in. I went and talked to the guys. It turns out that they are also motorcycle hammock campers! They are the first ones we had ever met. We have seen other motorcyclists with hammocks, but for day use. These guys sleep in theirs. They are both running Hennessy hammocks which are an integrated system. While we opted for more modular options, the Hennessy offers a nice simple system that is attractive. The guys have agreed to review their hammocks for this blog. 

For dinner we went to the Three Lions Pub in Nakusp. I mention this because we finally had a great burger on this trip. We both ordered the Lion burger which comes with an English Ale cheddar and bacon. There are pictures. They will be posted!

This has been a great day. We spent the evening talking with our fellow hammock campers about their rides, their bikes, their experiences hammocking while touring, and all manner of other things. It was late by the time I got back to my hammock to work on this post. Our day got going with what is now our favourite ride ever. We will definitely be coming back to the Kootenays for more riding, especially that stretch between New Denver and Kaslo. We’re relaxing in Nakusp tomorrow with a plan to go to the hot springs. After one more night it’s on to Vernon.

DES out.