June, 2008 Archive

Zunoquad Squad Cycles the Kettle Valley Railroad Trail (4)

Friday, June 6th, 2008

May 24

After two days of rain and overcast, the morning broke with sun over the lake. Steven went for a cold water swim and shave. Ian received a phone message that Rob was feeling better and would spend time touring the Kootenays by car before rejoining us back in Princeton.

Puddles on the trail deepened, but after Murray endured one wet spill we learned that in low gear bikes are navigable in water. At Summit Lake the uphill grade (never more than 1.9% on the long ascent) levels and we looked forward to the predicted grand scenery of Myra Canyon. Steven was pedaling as happily as a five year old on his first bike, when suddenly his left pedal and crank fell off and landed in the sand. He yelled in protest at this new reverse. The crew gathered round, and Ian, our official bike mechanic”he’d been a fisherman for 7 years”looked for the correct Allen wrench in the kit provided with the bike to tighten the bolt that had fallen out and released the crank. It was missing. The pliers of a Leatherman served as a provisional substitute to tighten the dropped bolt and those on Peter’s bike which had also loosened.

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Zunoquad Squad Cycles the Kettle Valley Railroad Trail (3)

Friday, June 6th, 2008

May 23

Coffee, oatmeal, gorp and dried fruit again launched us forward, but for Robert cycling was becoming a terrible ordeal. He needed to lie down and rest along the trail every kilometer or so, and it was clear that he was too sick to proceed despite his valiant efforts. At the Wilkenson Creek Bridge, we again split into subgroups, Andy remaining behind with Rob. A few kilometers further, the rest of us waited at a junction with a road in the middle of a logging slash. With time on our hands there was extended deliberation about how to rescue Rob and allow us to proceed. A flatbed truck on the road was flagged down and the long haired driver and two young passengers were told of our dilemma. They said they were looking for cedar higher up the mountain and would be passing back down in an hour and a half.

Robert finally arrived, ashen and exhausted. John reached Ty in Beaverdell by cell phone and managed to persuade him to drive up and take Rob to the Hotel. He located us at the Wilkenson Creek Road. Another hour passed and Ty didn’t show up but the truck fully loaded with cedar came back down the hill. More conversation revealed that we weren’t at Wilkenson Creek Road but at Rupert Road and that Ty was out on a wild goose chase. The guys in the truck agreed to take Rob and his bike down to the Beaverdell Hotel, and he welcomed the prospect of lying in a bed rather than alongside the road.

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Zunoquad Squad Cycles the Kettle Valley Railroad Trail (2)

Friday, June 6th, 2008

May 22

Breakfast was Murray’s gourmet coffee and instant oatmeal from packets enriched with a compote of white peaches and bing cherries made up from dried fruit Steven brought along from San Luis Obispo. Murray discovered that his wallet was missing from his fanny pack and a search of the campground yielded nothing. While we listened to Murray reading his Pome about yesterday’s events, readied for departure, a small hooded figure on a smaller bike drove up and and asked, “Did anybody lose a wallet?” We all cheered. She introduced herself as Gloria, Paul’s wife, at our service. The wallet had been found at the caboose and identified by George who had heard about its loss. She told us not to miss the beautiful cascade along the railroad a few kilometers north.

We set out on a side road, crossing another bridge, passing sheep in a pasture, and then rejoined the railroad trail, which followed the serpentine curves of the river into a canyon where it rushed wildly through two hairpin turns. The trail hugged the cliffs on a right of way blasted into the rock and supported by concrete buttresses at water level. John and Steven scrambled up an outcrop for views and pictures of the blended spectacle of natural splendor and human artifice.

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Zunoquad Squad Cycles the Kettle Valley Railroad Trail (1)

Friday, June 6th, 2008

May 20

Lionel’s condo on 8th St. in Vancouver was the first assembly point. Steven was picked up by Ian at the Airport’s South Terminal after his one day visit to Lund, Peter arrived from Sequim where he’d just moved his mother from New York City to a nursing home, Murray arrived by Ferry from Nanaimo and Rob drove in from Burnaby. Gear was packed into Rob’s Honda and Peters Tracker. The rainy Spring made the Fraser Valley vibrant green, swelled the muddy river and produced dozens of spectacular waterfalls. Along the Hope-Princeton highway through Manning Park trees were just coming into light green leaf. Steven and Peter stopped at an unnamed serpentine canyon to admire the cascade.

Two carloads reunited at the Cedars Motel in Princeton, where gear and food were distributed. A Greek Taverna in this unprepossessing town served up dinners and beer excellent by any standard. We were joined at the table by Gregory Archambault who was biking solo all the way across Canada during a five month leave from his transportation company in Quebec. After dinner our group agreed to start out at the eastern end of the preplanned route and head back toward Princeton.

May 21

At Backroads Bikeshop we rented bikes and panniers from Jim Harrison, as prearranged by Lionel, and met up with Andy, who’d driven from Edmonton in his red sportster, and with John, whose Mom drove him down from Kelowna. She brought us fresh grapes, wide smiles and grandmotherly blessings, and took our picture in front of the trailer being loaded by Neil Allison, our driver. On the way to our starting point through the beautiful Similkameen Valley, Neil was a bottomless source of local information. Steven recognized his name as that of the founder of Princeton, from whom he was directly descended by way of one native wife. We passed through exploding Osoyoos and its vast outlying subdivisions, a sign of the real estate boom in this border region, over a pass to the quiet Kettle Valley. Eager to get on the bikes, we decided to start at Rock Creek and Neil unloaded us at the Gold Pan café, where we paid him $50 each and ate borscht for lunch.

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