Zunoquad Squad Cycles the Kettle Valley Railroad Trail (2)

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.

Beyond the canyon we crossed another bridge converted from railroad to bicycle transportation. After a stretch of vigorous pedaling uphill we reached Beaverdell, former railway stop and mining town, now a center for bikers and hemp growers. At the newly renovated old pub, our host, stone faced, deep voiced, iron pumping Ty, served us beer and burgers.

Ian noticed that one of his panniers was missing. When a search of the deli next door, where he’d stopped briefly, didn’t turn it up, Ty mentioned that the other end of town was occupied by crackheads who most likely had stolen it. Nevertheless, Andy convinced Ian to ride back on the trail to look for it, and an hour later they returned with the lost item. It had fallen off when Ian capsized at a gate a mile or two back.

After Beaverdell, the trail ascended steadily, away from farmland and into mountain forest. At Carmi, the beginning of the Myra Canyon Subdivision of the railroad, we stopped at a kiosk next to a strange display of stuffed animals nailed to a woodshed, to search for a 9 km shortcut recommended by Ty, but we couldn’t find it. This was neither the first nor last time we could have benefited from a detailed map of the route to supplement the outdated Trail Guide brought by Murray.

Several more kilometers of uphill pedaling brought on fatigue and motivation to camp anywhere. We found a pleasant site beside the river, where we could renew our diminishing water supply, always using the disinfectant liquid packed by Peter, and pitched tents. John again cooked rice dinner after Andy succeeded getting the fire going with wet wood, and afterward shared Cuban rum and cigars. Lionel’s panier-cover helmet drew a stroke of lightning. Steven set up the top of an old telegraph pole with insulator brackets as our guardian demon Zunoqua. She did her work by causing Robert to get sick to his stomach and throw up in the tent he shared with Andy in the middle of the night.

The wiki for this excursion can be found here. The Flickr Photoset is here.

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