Blood, Sweat & Gears: Riding the Kettle Valley Railway
May 20, 2011 Penticton, BC

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The Trail to Othello Tunnels
Hope, BC

"Coalmont welcomes you and will be delighted to serve you provided you are lucky enough to find us open"
- Welcome Sign on the trail into Coalmont, BC

I didn't.

The Kettle Valley Railway is an extinct railway that at one time connected communities in the Southern interior of British Columbia between the towns of Hope and Midway, the halfway point across the province towards Alberta. The railway opened on May 31, 1915 and were intended to not only ship the rich minerals being unearthed from mountain mines, but as well strengthen Canada's sovereignty in an area threatened by aggressive American expansion.

The rails were abandoned many years ago - though some portions operated until 1989 - and have been recently redeveloped in a pilot project focused on low-cost, environmentally-friendly tourism - presumably geared towards newly-retired-but-physically-active baby boomers. The BC government hatched a plan to convert these rail corridors into trails, allowing cyclists, hikers, equestrians (and in some places, motorized "all terrain vehicles" otherwise known as ATVs) to tour the lesser visited areas of the province from a back-door perspective. After ripping up the rails, ties and repairing the various trestles (rail bridges) and tunnels, the KVR was reborn and now hosts thousands of tourists each summer and becoming the preferred route of a handful of cross-country cyclists who don't mind the rough and dirty route eastward.

Onward to Coquihalla Pass
Up, Up and Away!

All told, the KVR is nearly 500 kilometres of gravel, scree, washboard backroads, mud and bike-breaking rail ballast (fist sized chunks of granite), with the reward of stunning views, desolate campsites, plentiful wildlife; wilderness that you'd expect to see on a train ride, with all the blood, sweat and tears you'd expect from bouncing 60-100 km a day along it on a bicycle!

According to the tourist information, the crown jewel of the KVR lies in the deep in the heart of the Okanagan, hidden in the mountains above Penticton and Kelowna. It is the Myra Canyon, where the railway's head engineer, Andrew McCulloch, devised a solution to route the railway through the sheer rock walls and deep river cuts; he built a series of 18 trestles, resulting in a mind-blowing route that snakes around the canyon. However, after the devastating Kelowna forest fires of 2003, nearly all of the trestles were destroyed. Thanks for the efforts of government and locals, the trestles have been rebuilt to their former glory!

This blog entry is part 1 of 2 of my adventures along the Rail Trails, highlighting the journey from Hope, over the Coquihalla Pass, down to Brodie Station, and along the trail through Penticton and around the Myra Canyon. I hope you enjoy the ride!

The Jessica Trail
Yes, I could have taken the highway (30 m to the left).. but why?
Coquihalla Pass
I should have brought my snow chains..
Welcome to the KVR
Watch your footing, please!
It's more lively on the weekends, they say..
Brookmere Water Tower
The last water tower still standing on the KVR
The Wild West is Alive and Well
On the Trail to Coalmont
Water Hazard
En Route to Tulameen
Welcome to Tulameen!
If I'm there, then where is everything else?
The Tulameen Shoe Tree
What Strange Fruit!
Welcome to Coalmont
Luckily I sell blenders, not firebells.
Turns out I didn't find anything open afterall
The Red Cliffs of Tulameen River
Let the Brave Lead..
..And the Chicken Follow!
Princeton Cliffs
Bridge of Golden Dreams
The Trail out of Princeton
The Good Life, Above Princeton
Nice Dude Ranch, Dude!
Light at the End of the Tunnel..
Or is that a train approaching?.
Osprey Lake
Featuring Recent Clearcutting Above the Lake..
Summerland, BC
Sadly, all fruit was cancelled due to a cold spring
The Trail Downhill to Penticton
Look out! I'm coming in Hot!
Penticton Beach, Okanagan Lake
Stealing Internet, Streetside!
The Trail Above Penticton..
Now it's an adventure!
Rock Oven
Built by European railway workers of yesteryear
Bike down! Bike down!
Time Machine, Set Destination to "Chute Lake Resort"!.
Forest Fire Impact
Outside the Myra Canyon, Kelowna
The Legendary Myra Canyon
Myra Canyon Trestle
S-Shaped Trestle
Rolling Right Along
Trestle to Tunnel
I'm Crazy about Trestles
Snow on the Trail to McCullough Lake
Placid Lake McCullough
The roar of ATVs and dirtbikes cannot be heard in the photo, but believe me, they were there!
More Snow on the Trail out of McCullough Lake..