Saturday, December 13, 2014

Merritt Day Tripping One More Time

Late in the season and time for one more solo run up to the Merritt BC area to poke around on a few side roads while doing some geocaching - cloudy skies and cool temperatures hold promise of little to no traffic on the country roads I wanted to visit....that means I don't have to share my day with anyone.  :)

The days are getting shorter this time of year which really cuts down on my day tripping hours for these long runs away from the Coast. There is so much to explore and discover in our great province that there does not seem to be enough days in the year, let alone weekends, so I tend to covet any daylight hours I can get.

So, with that in mind, I cast off from Maple Ridge almost early in the day and pointed the iconic 7 slot grille (every Jeep model ever made has the 7 slot grille) towards Hope and the Coquihalla Highway..destination...Merritt BC

The Jeep likes to cruise around 100K per hour: the 4 cylinder and low gearing that is great when it comes to off-roading, is not so great on the highway. I have to admit, it's an odd feeling being the slowest vehicle on the highway, even the semis were passing me. Not to worry, it's not a race and think of the great gas mileage I was getting.

In due time I arrived at Merritt and crossed the valley bottom over to the service part of town and filled up the Jeep so I would have a full tank to putter with on the back roads.

First leg of today's journey was Douglas Lake Road and a geocache at the historic Quilchena Cattle Company Home Ranch.The ranch is still owned by a Guichon descendant, a grandson of Joseph Guichon, one of the founders of the parent Guichon Ranch. This cache is part of a Gold Country Poker Run series done in 2013 for a fun event that had participants exploring every corner of the region. I would find a few of these today and put a few more on my to-do list.

Next fun stop was along Lauder Road at Charles Beak cabin; Charles Beak was one of the founders of the famous Douglas Lake Ranch in the late 1800s. Love these pieces of history that have been allowed to stand for later generations to view. It gives the area much more character and all the more reason to visit. Video taken and geocache signed, I jumped back in the Jeep to continue up the country dirt road driving at a contented pace as I enjoyed the scenery and the stillness of the ranch land.

 Cabins seem to be the theme of the day as the next geocache highlighted Lauder Ranch and the cabin built by Joseph Dixon Lauder in 1877. Lauder first bought cattle from his neighbour Charles Beak and started the ranch, known first as Spring Bank Ranch, later to be known as the Lauder Ranch.

I lingered at the view point overlooking the cabin and the ranch land, in no hurry to move on.This was the part of the day I was really looking forward to, the time when I could piss away the day doing what ever I wanted to......stopping for video or pictures with the camera where ever I wanted to, for as long as I wanted one saying "let's go".

Seems like I would only get a mile further down the road before I pulled over to enjoy the country through my eyes and the camcorder's eyes...what good is seeing this beautiful country if you can't show it to some one else? Maybe get them excited as well, bring them back on a return visit and spread the joy !  :)

At this point I turned around and re-traced my steps back down Lauder Road towards Douglas Lake Road all the way back to Highway 5A, and then turned south back towards the end of Nicola Lake. A right turn at lake's end had me on the west side of the lake on Monck Park Road. I didn't have time to get all the caches along here...some I had found previously but there were new ones to get and sadly not enough day light hours for this road today. I picked up a couple of caches, one of which treated me to a view across the lake of the Nicola Lake Ranch. This ranch, like others visited today, were the big ranches of the day that supplied most of the cattle for BC and even the railroad workers as they laid the iron rails across our country.

I re-traced my steps back into the town of Merritt and picked up a road heading south out of the city named Midday Road. I'm sure there is a story to the name of this road but I couldn't find what it was before I started my trip on this day. Midday Road travels on the west side of the Coldwater Valley, it actually parallels the Coquihalla Highway south towards Vancouver, as well as the Coldwater Road on the east side of the river. The difference being Midday Road is more of a logging road and skirts high above the valley as it heads up into the pine country.

Currently I am the keeper of the Keelong Panda Bear Travel Bug which is a keep-away from it's true owner Dustanne, a Lower Mainland cacher. The whole idea is to keep it away from her possession; she loves Panda Bears so her husband Teskelly thought it would be fun to tease her by letting her see it at caching events but at a safe distance, and read his reports on his travel adventures as he geocached with other cachers.
Keelong has been to quite a few places with me, today being his his third visit to Merritt.

Midday Road slowly gains in elevation as it takes you into the high ranch area but, as would be a common refrain today, I only had enough time to go a few miles down this road for a look-see before I had to turn around as the day was getting short on daylight hours.

   You can't tell from this picture, but the small knoll where one of the caches was placed has a pretty steep road to the top of it. Easy for the Jeep to handle, scarier for the human cargo if you're not used to 4x4'ng. Still, it was a chance for the Jeep to stretch it's legs on the short climb and a nice view for me on the way down.

I meandered back down Midday Road towards the town of Merritt and to the Coquihalla Highway, which would run me back down to the Coast. I covered a few miles today puttering on various local roads, all of which hold the promise of more miles to explore. Each road has it's own personality even though they are only separated by a few highway miles.

I even made it back into Maple Ridge at the end of the dinner hour, which was pretty early for me; as many of my day trips end in the late hours of the night. One day trip I did was 22 hours that's making the most of your day !  :)

The snow is now flying in the hills and my day trips are over for the year...time to pull out my reference books, maps and local historical books to plan new adventures for the Spring.

You can watch the video I made of the day by clicking on the video above; for all my videos visit my YouTube page here or see all my pictures on my Flickr photo web site here
50+ videos and 2700 or so photos document a lot of my travels in our great part of the world.