Saturday, June 16, 2018

Quick Geocaching Trip To Kamloops Area

British Columbia on the West Coast of Canada is a mountainous region and if you drive on almost any highway in the province you will see these warning signs for truck drivers. To the rest of us, this just means a steep road and spectacular scenic views the mountains afford.


Brothers Ken and Al had to make a business trip to Blind Bay on Shuswap Lake, approx. 45 minutes east of Kamloops. While pondering whether the trip was worthwhile, they decided to turn it into a geocaching trip and that made all the difference in the world.

A quick call to myself, and a couple of days later we were leaving Vancouver on the South West Coast and heading up country to Kamloops.
Bowser98, MrTJ, and TJGUY98 were on the road again ....

It was to be just an overnight trip so I researched around 80 caches, assuming we would be lucky if we hit 50 of them with all the traveling to do.
I picked mostly city caches for the first day as we got into Kamloops after dinner, so our caching time would be limited on Day 1.

There is a lot of history in BC but often it is tucked away rather than being on full display. On the south side of Kamloops, on the steep hillside above the city core, we found a cache at a weathered historical sign board. The back alley we just drove down was once part of the Nicola Wagon Road that connected Merritt in the south with Kamloops where the last remaining Hudson's Bay Trading Company outpost was located. The route itself probably followed an ancient trail used by the Shuswap People prior to the arrival of the first fur traders in 1812.

We make an annual geocaching trip to the Kamloops area so this offers us the chance to go back and find some of those caches we could not find last time. We looked for a micro cache in the rock wall for over an hour last year and came up empty. This year we came back and within 7 minutes had the cache in hand - go figure!

On Day 2 we had to get the business part of the trip done, which was to pick up some business materials east of Kamloops in Blind Bay. But that doesn't mean we had to drive straight there; taking the scenic route is always an option.Blind Bay Village is one of the many that line the shore of multi-branched Shuswap Lake. Blind Bay has a small population that swells in summertime when the tourists arrive dragging their boats over the mountains from Vancouver and Alberta to play in the sun.

But in this part of the country all roads eventually lead you back to the Trans Canada Highway. Adventurous tourists with time on their hands can dip their toes in either the Pacific Ocean on the West Coast, or the Atlantic Ocean on the East Coast, and then drive the entire 7,821 kilometres to the other ocean to repeat the feat at the conclusion of their adventure. In doing so they would have driven right down this stretch of highway - "hey, there they go !!

To prove that geocaching is not all hustle and bustle, Bowser98 took a moment in time to hold up a Stop sign for MrTJ while he found and signed a geocache. Teamwork - it makes everything easy. "What was I doing you ask"? Well, taking pictures and chronicling our road trip of course.! Psst - you can't trust either one of those guys with a camera! 👎

Near the highway in a shopping complex on the outskirts of Blind Bay is an old Case Steam tractor and a small wooden covered chuck wagon. Remnants of two different eras of work vehicles used 100 years apart but both an integral part of the work force.

Boating is what Shuswap Lake is all about. The multi pronged lake forms the letter "H" which offers endless boating opportunities for all kinds of boats. The lake is usually calm so houseboats are a big hit on the lake, as are speed boats pulling water skiers and assorted inflatable ride along rafts.

With the warm spring, vegetation had a good head start on the growing season and many of the caches we would look for would be covered over with this year's growth. That's MrTJ in the bush in case you are wondering. Hidden under the bush was the high water level of the lake and MrTJ had to balance on a semi-submerged log to retrieve the cache.

The semi arid landscape of the BC Interior provides good land for growing fruit, with apples being the traditional crop.
I can still see this old pair of work partners working in tandem in an orchard. The McCormick Farmall tractor and it's flat bed trailer would haul the boxes of apples out of the orchards to an access road, then the old Fargo truck would take the load into town. Synchronicity in team work gets the job done. Just like us three geocachers - Bowser98 guides us to the cache site, MrTJ gets all dirty and covered in leaves while he retrieves the cache, and I take the pictures and write up a story to regale our friends of the fun we had while out and about. Like I said "Synchronicity"  !!

We only had time for a few more caches near Sorrento and Chase before we had to head back down to the Coast and our homes in the Vancouver area.
The Coquihalla Highway is one of those mountain pass highways mentioned at the beginning of the story. Average winter snow pack at roadside is 8 feet. The snow that falls during the winter is not measured in inches but in dozens of feet. The highest summit the road crosses is 4,738 feet, which is only 500 feet short of a mile high.

Even in late spring and early summer there is still plenty of snow to be seen. There were patches of snow at the edge of the road 3-4 feet deep in places.The 22 degree weather we enjoyed all day dropped down to 8 degrees as we crossed through the mountains.

Before we knew it Day 2 was over and we were back home late in the evening. Although it was a quick trip we still manged to find 51 caches and seen a lot more of Super Natural BC.
On top of all that, the three brothers got to act like teenagers again instead of respectful husbands and fathers - good times!  :)