First light and ready to roll after breaking camp on Skaha Lake.
We headed north on Hwy. 97 to Summerland. We turned left at Prairie Valley Road and followed it west out of town. Following the signs for the KVR we stopped briefly at the one section that has a steam train running on it for the tourists. Three km. further along the road you will see the rail bed to the left of the road with signage for the Trans Canada Trail. We jumped back on it here and ran all the way into Princeton. The first couple of kilometers was very well maintained and ran in a narrow, beautiful canyon. The trail quickly deteriorated. It was strewn with rock fall, had very loose surface and one gate (put up by a farmer). The gate had a raised style cattle gate, painted blue wide enough for the bike or an ATV. Unfortunately the KLR didn’t quite have the ground clearance and I bottomed out hard cracking the stock skid plate. I had a bad feeling that I might have snagged the drain bolt, but I had dodged that bullet.
Typical scenery along the line west of Summerland on the KVR.
A little more artsy shot with the good camera.
Sharing the trail. Bike stopped and Shut off as it was freaking out the riders other horse. She thanked us for doing it.
This part of the trail is OK for all users (including Bikes and ATV's) Just stick to the speed limit as there are lots of properties adjacent to it.
The scenery and trail were great and passed by Osprey lake on very wide flat, soft groomed trail beside the lakes. Lots of little roads cross the KVR here and caution is needed.
More trestles, Heavily treed valley below.They just didn't get boring.
The "China" tunnel. So named because of the design of the south end exit/entrance.
Enjoying the view and waiting for the other rider.
The KLR earned my respect (and the BMW pilot's) on this trip. Easily doing anything asked of it. Quite a bargain for what it can do.
The bypass that was made on the south side of the China Tunnel from when a rock slide closed the entrance.
The KVR climbs from here south coming to the “China” tunnel then gradually descends into farmland by Jura and into the north east side of Princeton, (just above the lumber mill) at Old Hedley Road. The KVR intersects the Princeton Summerland road a few times as the KVR switches back twice to lose altitude coming down to Princeton. This stretch is unique on the KVR as it is rolling farmland, instead of the rocky, forested terrain that is the trademark of the KVR.
Purple flowers lined the KVR for miles as we got close to Jura Station.
The small Building (on the left in the picture)is Jura Station(where it used to be) as you get close to Princeton on the north side.
The bridge across the river at the north end of Princeton is blocked to motorized vehicles and (unless you are on a trials bike) I would not attempt ignoring the signs (and big concrete blocks). We joined up with the trail on the south side of town past the Chevron onto Old Mill Rd (parallel to the hwy. on the river side). There is a long concrete tunnel build in 1961, the year the KVR officially closed. The tunnel goes under hwy 3 and crosses a steel trestle and heads for Coalmont. As soon as you get over the trestle you get into a beautiful canyon with the trail running along the fast flowing river. Shortly after we came to another modern tunnel.
After you pass through a long Concrete tunnel at the end of Old Mill Road in Princeton (that goes under hwy#3) you cross this steel trestle.
Some Hoodoos along the path south of town.
Fantastic river Valley and the only tunnel north of Princeton, before Coalmont. 1949 was when it was completed.
Another action shot courtesy of the BMW pilot.
Interesting rock formation on the way to Coalmont
Not far north of the tunnel were the rail bed hugs the cliffs we came up against a landslide. A sandy section of the hillside had let loose and completely blocked the path, running into the river below. I saw that there were tracks over (probably from the 250 dirt bikes that had come out of the first tunnel heading for town. I figured what the hell, and took a run at it.
The picture does not do it justice. Incredibly loose, sandy and tough for a 500 lb motorcycle plus rider and gear. The local dirtbikes and atv's had no problem. Basterds!
First off in 30 years. The gaurds did there job and after a goofy pose it was down the other side no problem.
As far as he got. The back wheel dug in and he was hung up on his skid plate.
The KLR made it to the top when the front dug in and down I went. No harm done as I fell “into” the hill. The other way and it was trip over. My friend on the GS stopped and came running to help. I was waving him back and telling him to take a picture. He hadn’t taken his helmet off and did not get the message until he was nearly to me. When he realized that I was ok and not even pissed about dropping the new bike, he then pulled out the camera and took a shot of the KLR napping. I picked her up and rode down and parked far enough ahead that he could take a good run at it (and if he made it) have run off room. He was very nervous about it and dug in at about the same spot, digging the rear wheel down until he was sitting solid on the skid plate. This time around I took off the jacket and helmet before going to assist. I tried digging out ahead of the tire but he just kept digging deeper and the hill was very unstable. He asked me if I would please do this, as he didn’t have the stomach for it. This was his first real off road trip and I suspect the loaded GS was a handful. Despite this he was handling it great for the most part. Like me he just needs more seat time in the dirt. After assuring me that he would not be mad if I dropped it during the attempt, we backed it down the slide and removed the panniers once again. I took a run at the slide and managed to avoid the trench but the heavy bike dug the front in and I went down about the same place as I did on the KLR. I picked it up and rode it down onto the hard rail bed on the other side and went back to help him carry the cases over. The KLR had suffered only minor scratches to the plastic on the right side from the rocks mixed in with the sand of the slide. The GS had twisted the stock handgrip and it was easily straightened. It was a bit of a blow to my ego as I had gone over 30 years without crashing a bike and now I had crashed 2 in the space of twenty minutes.
After reassembling the GS away we went on toward Coalmont. This section was one of the most scenic of the whole run but had lots of little slides and rock fall all over the trail. Not far south of Coalmont there is a little beach on the north side of a short trestle that some of the locals were using. It’s a nice spot if you are up this way and need a cool down.
See it while you can! All wood and over a hundred years old. Careless smokers are sure to be it's death. There were butts all around the front on the dry grass and on the porch.
We stopped at the Coalmont Hotel hoping to find food. The saloon was like walking into a Wild West museum and I felt like I should have spurs clinking. The Friendly and informative woman that was running the Saloon (reminded me of my step mother) informed us that there was nothing for services, other than liquor and that the next town north, Tulameen had Food Gas, etc. I asked if she knew what the KVR was like heading north, and she was a wealth of information. It was pretty rough from being chewed up by the dirt bikers and ATVs. The trestle that used to go over the road near Brookmere was burnt down by the farmer (whose farm is on the north side of it). When the cops showed up he admitted to the crime telling them that it was the trestle or his animals. We chatted about the evils of the world for a time before heading for a much needed lunch in Tulameen.
Something old and something new-er.
Trestle burnt by angry farmer south of Brookmere.Thanks to the local dirt bike yobs! driving him nuts (show some common sense).
It was just as well that we had not eaten before the short stretch north of Coalmont as it was like water skiing across a powerboats wake made of marbles. The General store at Tulameen has gas out front (including premium) a bank machine and a little restaurant at the rear. The food is pretty good to, and not over priced. From the General store you cross the Highway and run back onto the KVR and across another trestle on the east side of the lake. The surface is really loose and only gets worse as you get further along. There are lots of gates along this stretch of the KVR and we developed a rhythm of alternately stopping to open and close the gates as we went along. For a long stretch the rail line runs down through a marshy area before heading into the bush again, but the rail bed is high and dry. Then just before Brookmere we came to the missing trestle. A narrow bypass runs down the west side down to a little bridge over the ditch of Coalmont road. The farmer seems to have purposely diverted a stream over his driveway at the base of the north side of the missing trestle. The gate is narrow and the mud is deep. I was willing to have a go at it, but my friend was all adventured out. So instead we took Coalmont road that winds east then north then west to finally reconnect to the KVR at the south end of Brookmere. It was an interesting, and dangerous logging road with terrible site lines. You could very easily end up as a hood ornament on a Logging truck. We stopped for a photo op at the old water tower in Brookmere and carried on.
Brookmere Water Tower. The only one left standing that we saw.
We were both tired and the KVR is like diving on large marbles north of the town. When we saw the wash out sign at the next spot were a road bisected the trail we did not hesitate to get on it. It took us quickly to the #5 highway and down to the Othello Tunnels exit. Just before the exit I spotted an ATV driving north on the service road that parallels the highway. The guy’s passenger, a blonde woman was riding topless and when my signal went on, my friend (who was right behind me) told me that he started laughing. He figured that I wanted a closer look, and to be honest the thought had crossed my mind. Following the signs for the campground we were there quickly. It is not a bad little place and not too expensive. You got a fairly big bundle of firewood for your money ($6.00) and the spot we had was right under two huge Cedars (spot # 31).
Camp spot #31 at Othello Tunnels Campground.
You can run into Hope without getting on the highway to get food, etc in about 10 minutes or less. The Othello Tunnels are worth seeing and are the southern end of the KVR. They truly show what can be done when the determination is great enough.
A little history
truly amazing work, especially for the era that it was done.
example of early steel girder construction
newer concrete construction that replaced wood shorring
worth a stop, for the view between the tunnels.
Part 2 end, more to come.