Now in British Columbia, our time in the town of Revelstoke and the adjacent Mount Revelstoke National Park started in fog and rain! However, with waffles for breakfast at our hotel, it wasn’t all bad!
Revelstoke is one of those classic towns – clearly only there because it grew up around the railway industry. In fact, carrying on from the train theme from previous blog posts (e.g. sushi trains and the Spiral Tunnels), Revelstoke is even home to its own railway museum. The town is now clearly trying to diversify by expanding into the winter sports industry, although more for the experienced, with only a couple of the local 52 ski runs being for beginners. Needless to say, we won’t be going back to ski. The national park itself is by far the smallest in the region, and with the town sitting next door, it is easy to explore some of the main sights in one day.
With fog hanging around the base of Mount Revelstoke, we could see that the top looked relatively clear, so we embarked on the 26km (16 mile) Meadows-in-the-Sky-Parkway to the summit of the mountain. With 16 hairpins, or switchbacks as them seem to be called here, the road was fun to drive, and at one point we were able to stop for views looking down on top of the clouds that were creating the fog in the valley and town below. It’s not everyday you can see that, so we were pretty happy!
Once parked up at the top, it is a 1km hike to the summit – why let the car do all the work after all? If you come in the summer, there is actually a shuttle bus to the summit, but given that we were one of only three cars when we arrived you can see why the bus isn’t economical in October.
Once at the summit, you can go on four short trails. We went on three, with two of them effectively merging into one larger walk anyway. The first trail takes you to views over the Columbia River, which was a nice touch given that we’d previously seen the Columbia Icefield where tributaries of the river originate, and over the neighbouring mountains and valleys, before finally up to the old fire lookout tower (the area is struck by a large amount of lightning each year).
It was at the fire lookout tower that we experienced our first Canadian snow, when we received the lightest of dustings!
The final trail took us past signage that told us about how the First Nations people (Aboriginal Canadians) used the local land before those annoying European settlers turned up.
Mount Revelstoke is home to several different ecosystems such as subalpine forest, alpine meadows and tundra, and the bands of the different ecosystems are obvious as you move up or down the mountain. Our favourite though was the temperate rainforest, which we stopped off on the way back down the mountain. This is part of the world’s only inland temperate rainforest, although our excitement of having been in a rainforest was slightly tempered when a later Wikipedia search revealed that places such as Cornwall, Devon, Wales, western Scotland and Ireland also apparently have temperate rainforests – we needn’t come so far!
We went for a 3km walk through the rainforest, and it didn’t disappoint, with a variety of multicoloured fungi on show at every turn. Across the forest floor, a rich green moss grew, while lichen such as Wizard’s Beard clung to the trees. Obviously, given that it is a rainforest, it was also very damp!
We finished up at Mount Revelstoke, and headed back on the Trans-Canada Highway for that evening’s accommodation in the town of Salmon Arm.
Stewart and Emma