Wednesday, 11 September 2013

KVR - Princeton to Brookmere

Earlier this year I biked the section of the KVR (Kettle Valley Railway) that goes from Princeton to Brookmere.  I'm not 100% sure on the distance, but I think the distance between the two towns is 60 km.  I actually biked from Tulameen to Brookmere and then to Princeton, but it is easier to write about the trail linearly.  Including side trips it ended up working out to a little under 100 km, but I'll just call it 100 km so that I'll feel impressive (fun fact: I'm not).

As the trail leaves Princeton there is an impressive 324 m tunnel.  The tunnel is the constant target for interesting vandalism (the vandalism amounts to little more than colourful internet-style comments).  Past the tunnel is a trestle that is a hot spot for swimming in the summer.  As the trail continues on there are some very interesting rock formations.  I've heard people refer to the Princeton-Coalmont section of the KVR as one of the most scenic sections, and I certainly can't disagree.

Peterson Bluffs

Red Ochre Bluffs

Interesting Sand Stone formations

 The Red Ochre Bluffs are one of the most significant landmarks in Princeton.  They carry great significance to the local natives.  At one point in time, natives would travel from all sorts of places for the ochre, which was used in painting.

Later on up the trail is another tunnel.  There is a nice little gazebo in this area (I believe there was a train station here at one point).  It is continually being destroyed (probably for firewood), but I have to give credit to the Vermillion Trails Society for restoring it.  It's too bad that local punks have to cause such pointless damage.  I mean, when I was that age... wait no, I was pretty bad.

The Tulameen River and the second tunnel

As the trail approaches Coalmont there is another trestle and a very nice natural beach.  From Princeton to here is what I would describe as the nicest section of the trail that I have ridden.  Further up the trail is still nice, but there is way more ATV traffic, and in the summer it can get pretty packed.
Bridge before Coalmont
Example of fine Canadian architecture
 From Coalmont to Tulameen I typically ride on the road since pavement feels much nicer on the rear.  After Tulameen the trail goes along Otter Lake (another really nice section) and then goes through quite a bit of farmland.  The section through the farmland is really flat and straight for a very long time.  I didn't have too much trouble on the way to Brookmere, but on the way back I found that the wind in this section made it nearly un-rideable.  I wouldn't really want to be caught in this area in bad weather.  There would be next to no where to take shelter.
Straight and flat for miles
 The trail eventually crosses the road (there are the remains of a trestle here) and the terrain changes quite a bit.  The trail enters a more forested area.  The wind isn't the same factor, but I believe the grade is a little higher.  When I was doing this I hadn't actually done a significant bike trip for a while, so I felt like I was going to pass out.

I can't think of too much to say about the last leg of the trip (maybe because I was so tired that I wasn't really paying attention).  Brookmere seemed like a nice little town.  The water tower wasn't anything too amazing, but in this case I think it was more about the journey than the destination.
The water tower in Brookmere
 On the way back was where the most interesting incident of the trip occurred.  In the section that goes through a lot of farmland, the farmers like to put gates across the trail.  I think the reason they give for this is so that their cattle don't get away, but as far as I know it is illegal to put up any kind of gate on the trail.  Most of the gates are pretty straight forward, but there are one or two barbed wire gates that basically require tools to open them (or my Dad since he is much stronger and more handsome than me).  At one point I got to a gate that seemed impossible to open.  It was here that I wondered if the farmers really just wanted to discourage cyclists and people on atvs from using this section of the trail, since the gate was bolted pretty damn tight.  After struggling with it for a while I decided to try to pass my bike over it.  This was a mistake since I have a very heavy bike, and I ended up dropping it on my arm.  This sucked, and for the next few days I'm sure people wondered if I was a cutter (I still have a scar on my arm from it).  I managed to get myself over the gate without any other incidents, but needless to say I was pretty ticked off that the gate was even there.  It is especially annoying because I'm pretty sure the farmers use the trail to drive their cattle to new pastures, so it isn't totally inconvenient to them.  Next time I do this trip I think I'm going to bring wire cutters.  Or I'll just make sure I don't get separated from my Dad.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Summer 2013 Update

Greetings imaginary followers!  It has been quite some time since my last post, but I wanted to post an update of my summer activities before I get buried with schoolwork, otherwise this blog shall lay dormant forever (or at least for a few months).

A couple of the trips that I touch on in this post I'll likely do full updates for later, but for now this will serve as a brief recap of my summer so that my readers (.... yeah I know) will be happy.

The first substantial trip I took after returning from the states was a bike trip from Tulameen to Brookmere, and then from Brookmere to Princeton.  I'll do a separate post for this later since I took quite a few pictures.  Given that I hadn't done to much since my injury, I was quite happy that my knee managed to survive a 100 km bike trip.

The first actual hike I did after getting back was the Lightning Lake Chain Trail.  I like to use it as my first hike each year since it isn't too difficult and eases me into shape a little bit.  I was pretty surprised that I managed to do the trail in just under 4 hours, which is easily the fastest I've ever done it.

Frosty Mountain from Lightning Lake

At the end of Lightning Lake

Flash Lake

Strike Lake

Remnants of winter just past the Strike Lake Camp

Thunder Lake

A few weeks later I went up to Manning Park again with the intention of climbing up the ski hill.  On my way up I did the Beaver Pond Trail, the Rein Orchid Trail, and the Canyon Nature Trail.  All of those are short hikes (30 minutes or less), but I had a lot of time to kill and had never been on any of them.  Beaver Pond and Rein Orchid were pretty pleasant nature trails.  The Canyon Trail was way nicer than I expected it to be, and I'd say it's probably one of the nicest short hikes in the park.

Beaver Pond

On the Canyon Nature Trail

Boardwalk on the Rein Orchid Trail

After doing the three short hikes I took the Poland Lake Trail to the top of the ski hill.  I had much better weather than the last time I did it, and I had a little bit more time to spend on top of the hill.  I decided to venture into the operator's cabin since I'd never been in it, and I terrified a very neurotic squirrel who apparently had made it his summer condo.

The Blue Chair, with Snow Camp, Hozameen, and Lone Goat visible in the background

The Operator's Cabin

A few weeks later I went up to the Alpine Meadows to hike the Heather Trail.  I was intending to make it an over night trip, but my knee was feeling a little funny so I decided to make it a day trip.  I hiked in about 15 km, so by the end of the day I had done 30 km.  I was pretty excited to have done 30 twice this year.

I got busy with a few things so I didn't get a chance to do another hike for about a month.  I went up Silverdaisy Mountain with my Dad, and since I haven't talked about that trail yet, I'll do a separate post for it.

I also did the Frosty Mountain hike with my Dad (that's the one hike I try to make sure I do every year).  I went up the lightning lake side like normal, but I decided to go down the Windy Joe side since I had never done that before.  The initial descent is a little more sketchy in places, but once the trail settles onto the ridge it's pretty easy.  Overall I'd say the Windy Joe side is a little less scenic.  It's worth doing if you are a Manning Park fanatic like me, but otherwise I don't think it's worth the extra distance.  Adding in the section I walked on the highway to get back to the Lightning Lake parking lot, it ended up being another 30 km day.  I was really happy do have done 3 in one year, since at one point I thought it was impossible.  I did the whole thing in 8.5 hours which might not sound too great, but I'm really not in very good shape.

Coming down from the summit

On the Windy Joe Trail

Well, that was my summer in a nutshell.  I'll probably be too busy with University to do any major hiking until winter or spring, so I won't be putting out any content for a while (not like that is abnormal for me), other than the KVR and Silverdaisy post of course.  I have some hiking plans for next spring and summer, so if everything pans out properly, I'll be putting out a lot of posts then.