Kootenay Mountain Tour

Share |
Friday, July 25, 2008 - Tuesday, August 26, 2008

August 26, 2008
Kootenay Tour spins into the sunset

Well, we're winding down here in Calgary on our end-of-tour retreat. It's hard to believe that we're here! We actually biked all the way from Vancouver to Calgary! Over the mountains no less! And so we thought we would treat our readers to a smörgåsbord of factoids from our tour! Here goes:

Total distance biked: 2,304 km 
Days on the road: 46
Rain days: 4
Longest distance traveled in a day: 108 km
Highest point in elevation reached: 1,535 m
Mountain passes / summits conquered: 6
Ferries taken: 4
Communities visited: 30
Performances: 34
Total Audience: 1,242
Bears spotted: 3
Moose spotted: 2
Snakes spotted: 3
Flat tires: 15
Broken spokes: 6
Broken brakes: 4
CDs donated by Kootenay Co-op Radio Station: 13
Radio appearances: 3
Crazy superhero joyriding cyclists in downtown Calgary: 14
Supersquadalicious vegan meals: 168

Random objects picked up on the road:

3 hats
2 pool noodles
1 nail clipper
2 wrenches
1 knife, 1 spoon, 1 fork, 1 soup ladle
1 giant orange flag (turned into an Otesha flag)
1 container of salt (full!)

Most common roadside objects spotted:

1) Broken bungee cords
2) Big Rubbermaid bin lids
3) Banana peels
4) Lone shoes / gloves
5) Big bolts

Peace and save the trees!

Stacey and the Kootenay Mountain Tour Crew


A day in the life of a Kootie Oteshite 
August 22, 2008

Noon – We leave Claresholm early in the morning. Forty kilometres later it's shortly before noon when we pull into Nanton, Alberta -- home of the antiques and art walk. We could see the town approaching from 10 kilometres away, a foreign concept after cycling the mountains. Steve and Lishai, my riding buddies for today, are starving so we look for a place to stop. We find a group of three cyclists lunching in a park by the side of the road. Wow! We have met up with Marc, Nicole, and Stacey! They quickly give us a virtual tour of the town, pointing out the organic-fair trade coffee shop and informing us that this is a new budding activist town. We get out our delicious vegan bean paste sandwiches, and then another group arrives, this one led by a crazy cyclist with a pool noodle as a figure head - yes, it's Tyler, Sven, Keely, and Anna! The Kootie car, with Travis and Kendra, follows suit and we all have a lazy lunch with the sunny prairie skies above us… we have no inkling of what's about to come.

2:00 p.m. – We storm into High River! A stop at the info centre reveals they have community compost heaps, a great spot to dump the compost we've been amassing from the last couple days. We ride past the library and Lishai gets really excited. We had received two giant bags of bread as a donation so she pops in to get a recipe for bread pudding which we will enjoy tonight over check-ins. We emerge from the library and it is spitting rain… uh oh! Let's get a treat from the local café and wait it out! Ha-ha, being a prairie girl my entire life I should have known better, I was still on BC weather!! We leave the café an hour later in drenching rain.

5:00 p.m. – The howling side and head winds don't help our progress as we crawl to Okotoks. Our digits are so frozen we are having trouble changing gears and we haven't felt our toes since we stopped 15 kilometres ago for a warm up – à la jumping jacks. We finally reach our destination, a lovely church mansion, and are greeted by Travis and Kendra who have made us hot tea and toast. We warm up by the fireplace, which we pretend is ablaze with a roasting fire!

August 23, 2008

10:00 a.m. – After a delicious meal of savoury vegan leftover pancakes, we bike to Drake Landing Solar Community for a tour! There are 800 solar panels atop the 52 homes in the community. Over the warm summer months heat is collected through the warming of glycol and stored in a borehole in the ground, to be used to heat homes in the cold winter months and to heat water for showers. On really cold nights the natural gas boilers kick in and the pumps use electricity to run, but 90% of energy used to heat the homes comes from the sun. The borehole takes four years to fully charge and will reach temperatures of up to 80 degrees Celsius!!

Noon – Time for another tour! This time we head to the Okotoks Recycling Depot where we learn to distinguish between different types of plastic. Glass recycling, in particular, is fascinating. Because of an overabundant supply of used glass, they stockpile it after grinding it down into coarse sand. Did you know that in many communities empty milk cartons are shipped all the way to China? And plastic cannot be recycled into food packaging; all milk jugs, and juice containers are 100% virgin plastic. The tour made us think hard about our consumption choices when it comes to packaging. In the end there is no clear answer over the other when it comes to glass or plastic. Glass is heavy, increasing emissions in the transportation phase and takes extreme heats to melt, while plastic – of course – is made of petroleum products. We realized that recycling is just a quick fix to make people feel good and should not be the big solution. The best way to conserve resources is to reduce packaging whenever possible. So next time you go to the grocery store bring your own re-used bags for produce and bulk, and choose to buy loose mushrooms and other produce rather than packaged ones.

For more information check out: 
Drake Landing solar community @ www.dlsc.ca

Okotoks Recycling Depot @http://www.okotoks.ca/town/municipal/operations/

Written by Sarah Brandreth


August 19, 2008
Kootenay Confidential

Excerpted from the journal of tour member Lishai Peel. 

August 14, 2008: Here I am in the Rocky Mountain Region and the moon is almost at its fullest. To be walking down the street with the Rockies on my right and the moon on my left is so surreal because I know this journey will be over soon. Tomorrow we'll be crossing the border into Alberta. I can already imagine what it will feel like to be back home in Toronto, walking Gina (my dog) down the street at night. I'll still be walking under the same sky but my surroundings will be different. I hope I'll still remain as hopeful and as joyous as I am right now. I know I'm going to take this experience and build on it. And although I'll be walking though suburban sprawl with condominiums and well maintained gardens all around me, my heart will still know the mountains and the pure joy of the open road and what may or may not lie ahead.

Well now, the full moon has come and gone, so let me fill you in on what has been happening over the last few days. We left Fernie early morning heading towards Crowsnest Pass, and what a morning it was! As the sun slowly crept over the mountains, the valley and the misty, crisp morning changed all around us. The sun's beams created a soft glow on everything they touched. So magical. Crossing the border into Alberta was exhilarating. As we rode towards Crowsnest Pass, Stacey and Kendra yelled out, "We just cycled across a province!" I mean, not only have we seen and experienced the wonders of B.C., but we've done so from our bicycle seats!

Once in Blairmore, our gracious hosts Jenice and Jeff welcomed us and made us feel at home. Jenice took a few of us for a walk that night and we were blessed to watch the sun set over the Rockies.

Day two in Blairmore started with a hike up Turtle Mountain. A shout out to Sarah's awesome dad, David, who hiked with us and lavished us with stories galore! The view from the top was spectacular. The hike was followed by a short bicycle ride and a dip in a nearby water hole. And then came our killer performance! Our chemistry and flow rocked everyone's socks off! Our audience really embraced us and the play was followed by interesting conversations between audience members and Oteshites.  To end an already wonderful day, we had a full moon ceremony and reflected on the time we have spent together as a team. We also set intentions and plans for the new cycle whereby we will part ways and return home to continue the revolution. Bicycle wheels, the full moon, and happy hearts. As Keely said, "the world is round and what seems like a goodbye is a new beginning..."

And now, my friends, we cycle through Alberta's ranch country, approaching the Prairie landscape. The lush greens of B.C. are now fields of gold barely and wild sunflowers.

With monkey love,
Lishai, Steve and the rest of the Kootenay Mountain team


August 12, 2008 
Fame and fine food follow Kootenay Tour

We've made it as far as Cranbrook! And holy tofu have a lot of things happened since our last post and the fateful climb up Anarchist's Summit. Let's start from the top.

After Grand Forks we headed to Christina Lake, where we had a lovely performance on a beach, near a sand-castle building competition. That night, we slept on a baseball diamond, next door to a community hall hosting a wedding. And what could be better than attending a wedding, you might ask? FREE HOT CREPES, in the morning! (Hot crepes are only one small example of the countless food donations we have received.) Also at Christina Lake we picked up a hitch-hiker! Okay... we didn't actually pick him up, but we invited said hitch-hiker to come join us since he was Danny, an Oteshite from the Great Lakes Tour! He was even wearing his Otesha shirt! We swapped Otesha stories and invited him to camp with us in the ball-park. Much hilarity ensued. That night we all swapped our roles in the play and performed a completely new (and I don't think I can say improved) version of the play for ourselves only!

The next day we pedalled to Castlegar, which involved climbing the steepest and highest hill of our entire trip! Paulson's Summit had an elevation of 1,550 metres. But after cresting the hill riders were rewarded with an amazing 30 kilometre stretch of downhill! Some members of our tour opted for a scenic route around the peak, along the Trans-Canada Trail, which involved passing through a one kilometre-long old train tunnel. Unfortunately due to rough trail conditions, beautiful scenery, and an extra 10 kilometres or so of distance, the "alternate route" crew cruised into town roughly four hours later than everyone else, almost causing us to miss our performance at the Community Church! That night we put our sleeping mats down on the basement floor of the local Katimavik house and were able to hang out with the Katimapeople, youths enrolled in Canada's leading national youth volunteer-service program.

The next day we cruised northeast to Nelson, possibly one of the coolest cities in B.C. Among Mate' Cafes, sweat-shop-free clothing stores, and vegan pastries, we gave our utmost in a sunny afternoon performance in a public market. We performed again the next night in a skate park for all those who dared to watch our awesome play. Nelson is truly an awesome town, with a wonderful community radio station, called Kootenay Co-op Radio. They interviewed many members of our team, three of whom were interviewed live on a morning newscast! (Go to http://recent.cjly.org/ to listen! We were on air around 7:30 am on August 7th)

From Nelson we town-hopped to the small community of Harrop-Proctor, where we toured a Community Forestry Operation. The forest is sustainably logged in order to protect the ecosystem and the watershed (and therefore Harrop-Proctor's water supply). That night while camping on a nice family's property, we were hit by our first heavy rains of our trip. That night, and over the next 24 hours, we were hit by not one, not two, but (count 'em!) six separate roving thunder-and-lightening storms (one included hail!).

The next day we were off to Creston, our longest ride to date, totalling 97 kilometres. We woke up before dawn and hit the road as the sun was rising. The scenery was stunning! And almost the whole team saw black bears at different points along the way. We took two ferries and hugged the shores of Kootenay Lake almost all the way into Creston, while dodging storm after roving, pummelling rain storm! We paused a night in the tiny town of Yahk and arrived in Cranbrook yesterday. Today we performed an energy-filled show for a host of youngsters at a local day camp. And what could make Cranbook any cooler than being able to stay with the parents of one of the Sunshine Coast Tour members?! We'll say hi to your family for you, Joel! Tomorrow we push on to Fernie. May our legs sustain the 100 kilometre day!

Thanks for readin' y'all.

Peace and Zesty Soy-Cheese,
Tyler, Stacey and the rest of the Kootenay Mountain Tour


July 30, 2008
Ode to the Anarchist Summit

We could see it before Osoyoos. The big challenge, looming over the town, scarred with switchbacks. The gateway guarding the Kootenays. The tollbooth, paying for passage with sweat… Anarchist.

We embraced the pass early, climbing, climbing, climbing. We fell into a rhythm, pedaling the heartbeat of the mountain. By early afternoon we had reached the summit. The energy we gave to the mountain was finally repaid when we coasted downhill into Grand Forks and into the second half of our amazing ride.

Welcome to the other side of the mountain. From forest to desert to forest again. Full of sweat and muscle pain. Watching the terrain. Change. Watching each other, change. The range of emotions. Fear, relief, courage, love. And hope. Always riding on hope.Welcome to the other side of the mountain. Goodbye to Canada's only desert, to Allison's Pass, UBC Farm. And Anarchist. From Super Squads and Kootie Cars, donated granola bars, flags and peanut butter jars, musical tents and watching stars. From silly songs and long johns, multiple use sarongs, to home-cooked meals, to seeing how it feels, this life on two wheels. To here. The other side of the mountain.

So take a rock and let's build. Let's build our mountain of memories. Think back to a time, one that shines in your mind, let it bind us together as we look at this hip trip in which we find us, together. When our mountain is built, diverse, like a quilt, let's each take back a piece till we cease to have a mountain at all. And with each stone anew, let us look to the view ahead. What do you see? How will it be? And know that each rock will build another mountain in the future.

To hills and hardened wills. To going up, to turning it up a notch. Onwards with friends to where the road bends, to never-ends. Piece after piece.

And bicycle grease.
Welcome to the other side of the mountain.

With Otesha love,
Keely and the Kootenay Mountain Tour


July 29, 2008

Cherries help Kootenay team charge up for Anarchist Summit

Here we are in Osoyoos, sage and orchards everywhere. At this moment, we are waiting outside the Osoyoos Desert Centre because we are early for our complimentary guided tour. This allowed some of us to visit the nearby landfill. The desert in Osoyoos is one of Canada's rarest and most endangered ecosystems. Unfortunately, it is situated amidst some major highways, which has led to the demise of the badger, whose holes are used by the burrowing owls. Both species are now either endangered or extirpated (locally extinct). It feels great to travel long distances on vehicles (our bikes!) that don't kill wildlife.

Tomorrow morning, we ascend the infamous Anarchist Summit on our way to Grand Forks. Sarah guided us step by step through a visualization of our day tomorrow. We have been, and will be powered by the kind donation of cherries from the Beulah's Orchard (where we slept a few nights ago). We often ask stores for unsellable fruit and food, and it's amazing how much edible (and delicious!) food is normally thrown away because of customers' expectation of perfect produce.

A week ago, we had a fun and relaxing time in Penticton, kindly hosted by Keely's family, the Kidners. We also received very generous donations for which we are very thankful! Nicole, Anna and Steve made an enormous summer borsch from fresh donated produce, which became very highly recommended. We were also warmly received in Kelowna, performing twice in a spectacular pavilion with Okanagan Lake as a backdrop! Riding home from an evening performance during a wildly bright sunset took longer than expected due to camera-happy cyclists and stops along the way for carrot cake rice cream. Yum! The heat of the Okanagan was certainly tempered by many soy and rice "ice" creams and local wines!

After two days of pedaling, going from Kelowna to Osoyoos, we appreciated switching over to cherries, which have been fuelling us ever since! And after eating all those cherries, Travis sure is clad that the Sonora Community Centre in Osoyoos has computers in the washrooms... haha!!

Hi Ho Cherry Cherry!
Travis Clyne and Nicole Nolette
Kootenary Mountain Tour


July 26, 2008 
Kootenay Mountain Tour goes Okanagan

Hello Dear Readers!

Where oh where is the Kootney Mountain Tour?

Location: Manning Park. Event: our biggest performance yet! From the 150 enthusiastic viewers to our sky high energy, the night was a huge success and really rocked our socks off! (metaphorically speaking, of course, though many of us were indeed barefoot). This night really drove home the fact that we are actually here, I mean, we ARE the change. The audience response was empowering and the level of interaction gave us both something to be proud of and challenged us to continue to examine our choices. To top off this amazing night, we saw a mother black bear and her cub, and then arrived home to vegan chocolate cake, fair trade hot cocoa and popcorn! Otesha truly is the life.

Location: en route from Keremeos to Penticton. Event: beautiful kilometres, ice cream, and wine tasting! Well that about sums it up! Nuf' said!

Short and sweet, more to come soon
Love Anna, Lish, and the rest of the Kootenay Mountain Tour

P.S. We would like to give a big Otesha THANK YOU to Anita's Organic Mill (www.anitasorganicmill.com) for the grains they donated and for fitting in with our food sustainability mandate by producing organic grains, knowing where they come from (mostly Saskatchewan), and for packaging in paper, which breaks down easily.

P.S.S. We would also like to thank Nygel and Ladybug Organics (www.ladybugorganics.com) for the kind donation of delicious organic treats! Quality Greens and others have also been extremely kind donating food to the team.


July 15, 2008
Kootenay Mountain Tour: The Epic Journey Begins

This is Tyler Walker and Nicole Nolette, this week's narrators for the Kootenay Mountain Tour’s Notes from the Road. We're here to let you know that our wheels are turning, our thighs are burning, and our smiles are a-gleaming out here on the open road.

We just finished our ninth ever performance of our play. The show has been a big success despite being fairly new to us, and despite the continuous modifications we're making to it. So far, we've reached well over 200 people. Wherever we go, we're drawing the public eye, through our theatre performances and bicycling shenanigans.

We are now in Hope, B.C. The rides and roads have been fantastic so far, albeit considerably hot. One particularly fantastic journey took place yesterday on the ride to Hope from Sasquatch Provincial Park near Harrison Hot Springs. Some of us decided to take a "short-cut" through the mountains rather than take the normal route along the highway. It turned out to be more epic than any of us imagined. We were forced to portage a roaring stream with our bicycles and navigate numerous treacherous areas on the trail. We ended up saving 25 kilometres, and came out with an amazing story to boot. However, despite our efforts, we arrived no earlier than anyone else into Hope -- an awesome shortcut indeed.

Meanwhile the other riders had some epic adventures of their own, including two flat tires and the sight of eagles soaring over a train alongside the Fraser River.

So far we’ve visited an eco-village in Yarrow, an intentional community near Fort Langley, and countless local markets in the towns through which we've passed.

Well, that just about wr-r-raps up things for now kiddies. I hope you're all having as much fun as we are. Tomorrow, instead of happily riding towards the mountains, we're going to be climbing them, as we sweat and grimace our way up the Hope-Princeton Highway.

Tata for now!

Peace and Swahili Beans,

Tyler Walker and Nicole Nolette
Otesha Kootenay Mountain Tour