Thursday, August 26, 2010
Riding the Rails
It was 8:30 on a Sunday morning that the three of us, my friends Roy, Richard and I were locked and loaded and ready to hit the road (or should I say trail?). Richard`s wife got up early with us to be able to take a pic of the three of us and say goodbye.
We started out making a large U-shape by going south to Penticton and riding along the lakeshore to highway 97 where we headed north to Summerland and then turned inland to find the trail near the Kettle Valley Steam Railway. It was already proving to be a warm day and we had to stop numerous times to get directions to the train station. Luckily for us, our route took us past the ``Dirty Laundry`` winery whose vine - covered patio appeared to my parched lips and sun-blasted skin to be a cool, shady oasis.
Without any rails on the trail, it is easy to forget that this wonderful trail system owes its very existence to the railway that was built throught these rugged mountain passes and at the time provided the only practical transportation to many remote towns and villages. Given the heat and the steep ascent to the railway station, it was tempting to put our bikes onto the train and ride the short distance to Faulder, the next stop on the line.
By late afternoon, the temperature was 30+ and as I followed Richard and Roy, the distance between us became further and further. At one point I caught up to the two of them relaxing in the shade of some trees and without much prodding, Roy and I scrambled down the bank of the Samilkameen River to drench ourselves in water to cool off. Roy had the great idea of doing push-ups from the bank and thereby lowering his whole head into the cold rushing waters.
Things change constantly on the KVR and when we reached our intended campsite we discovered that it no longer existed. In fact, the spot that our guidebook recommended for camping had been bulldozed flat and deer fencing had been placed between the trail and Thirsk Lake where we planned to stop. Roy went up ahead and scouted a suitable site that had an opening just large enough for a person but not a bike. The spot he found was nice and flat for our tents, surrounded by trees and had a great view of the moon reflecting upon the waters of the lake.
We unloaded our gear and made camp after locking our bikes to the deer fence. While we set up our tents and put water on to boil, we enjoyed a fine Merlot that we had purchased at ``Dirty Laundry`` and either Roy or Richard had humped up the trail. I crashed very soon after eating and I fell asleep listening to Richard and Roy counting falling stars in a dark sky that was devoid of any light pollution.