Monday, November 20, 2006

Coquihalla Canyon Crawling

Had another free Sunday coming up, so I made plans to
enjoy it outdoors in the beautiful sunshine. At least, that's
what the weatherman promised on Friday's forecast.
Saturday he was saying "sunny with cloudy periods and
a possiblity of a shower".

It's pitchblack outside and it's raining, no, it's absolutely
pouring down!!! Thanks Mr. Weatherman ! :(

I stumbled around the darkened house putting together
a lunch and trying to find my wet weather gear.
Got organized finally, (left my mug of wake up tea
on the counter...arrgh) and wandered over to pick
up Ron Patrick at 9.00am.

The agenda for the day was the Coquihalla Canyon
north east of Hope. The canyon is now the main highway
out of the Vancouver area heading for the Interior of BC.

The "super highway" has now cut 1.5 hours of travel time
for travelers heading to towns such as Vernon and Kelowna.

This was going to be a low altitude preamble for a summer run
that's been percolating in the back of my mind for a year or
two; that is to follow the path of the old Kettle Valley Railway
that went from Hope to Penticton. As the days are short now,
and the first snows are coming to the upper reaches of the
Coquihalla Summit, I wanted to spend a day poking around
the lower reaches of this historic route.

Our first stop was the Weaver Creek Spawing Channel in the
Harrison area. I had just been here last week, but Ron had
not seen it, and, as it is a "must see", we spent an hour walking
the grounds looking at the Sockeye, Chum and Pink Salmons
that were spawning.

Then it was back in the Jeep and eastward to Hope and beyond.
On the hour long drive to Hope I remembered a small community
spawing channel that had been built recently in the Hope townsite
on a small tributary of the Coquihalla called Sucker Creek.

We arrived in the pouring rain, of course, and had a walk around
the short loop trail that allows access to approximately one
kilometre of the creeks banks.
In the creek we saw numerous Chum and Coho salmon using the
new "creek bed" to it's fullest.

We then headed up the "Coke", as the Coquihalla is known to locals,
and searched out any backroad that we could find to explore.
One turn put us on an old Forest Service Road that quickly took
us away from the main highway and up a side valley. As this is
not what we had in mind for the day, I filed that route away for
another visit, and we headed back down the road to the
main highway. Here we found a paved road that I believed
ran up-canyon, paralleling the super highway, while it accessed
a small park along the river. As we slowly went along the road
it occured to me that the land we were now on was the right
of way for the Kettle Valley Railway...WOO WOO, we found
part of our intended path !!..err accidently of course....

In short order the road turned to a potholed dirt road that only
lasted another 2 miles. A bridge washout over the Coquihalla
River ended our hopes that this was the road to the canyon
park. It was obvious that we were only on an old logging road
but that did not diminish that fact that we had achieved at least
part of our planned agenda; that of finding a section of the
old railway bed.

By now we had only a couple of hours of daylight left,
and with the heavy rain that occasionally engulfed us
causing the sky to be blacker than it should be,
we decided to call it a day and headed back down the
canyon towards Hope and ultimately home.

Stopping in the small logging town we looked back on the
day's accomplishments....we saw lots and lots of fish,
saw some new territory, and found some new routes for
further exploration......
we got kinda wet, the windshield wipers got a work out
and I got the Jeep a little muddy....all in all a good day
in the rainy Pacific Northwest!!

Eddie in Vancouver BC
(who's baseball cap is just now drying out)

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