Some may call it impulsive, others spontaneous, but no matter what your choice of words are the end result is always the same, memorable. With a little over a week in advance we decided to take advantage of the spring weather and bike the Kettle Valley Railways (KVR) section of The Great Trail formerly know as the TransCanada Trail (TCT). I usually come up with some unbelievable ideas and end up leaving the planning to Shannon, this time was no different. But she had to do all the planning. The weekend prior we had a chat with our always eager neighbour Bruce to see if he was keen on joining in on the fun. So now there were five. Three adults, two kids, two bikes and a trailer. Bruce has a wide selection of gear and was able to help us out with some extra panniers and rack for the front and a rack for the back. I tinkered with the bike to get everything mounted and that is where I left off. Come Monday morning I was out for a brief work stint in Christina Lake and the others were to meet me at the trail head come Friday afternoon. As I was sweating away in the mid 30 degree weather on the job site, the others were sweating and packing back at home. Come Friday around noon the little red Tacoma was all loaded up and rolled into Shannon’s parents slice of heaven on the Kettle river in Zamora, just north of Rock Creek.
With a quick lunch and unload of non essential gear we continued a bit further south to the village of Midway, also known as mile Zero. Shannon’s parents drove us down with great hopes of seeing us again back at their place for dinner, and to bring our truck back. The weather was a hot and dry 32 degrees and the landscape around Midway was more desert like than anything else. After a few photos at the old railway museum and a helpful map we headed off.
As we left town we were riding on a dusty old path that soon crossed the highway into a log sorting yard of a saw mill. The ground was sandy and progress was slow. With the river on our left we continued on. The houses started to thin out and after 5kms we crossed under the highway 33 bridge as the road switched sides of the river bank. By now we were hot. Hot and sweaty. Hot, sweaty and alone. The trail thinned down to a single track with interchanging sandy and rocky sections. This posed quite a few issues for both bikes. Bruce was riding his state of the art, one year old, Harry Vs Larry cargo bike called the bullitt. It is a different looking beast with a large storage rack in the front with a linkage joining his handlebars to the smaller out stretched front wheel. It is also has an electric motor onboard. This all sounds fine and dandy but the small front wheel makes for a rough ride and not having any weight in the rack makes for a very light front end and sends Bruce all over the trail. The electric assist was incredibly selective as the range would not be long enough for the full ride and by having electronic shifters would leave him stuck in one gear should the battery ever run out. The bike that Shannon and I were riding is a 1980 something green Norco tandem with some updated new to us hydraulic Magura rim brakes………. and that is about where it stops. We have lots of weight and double the peddling power but our tow along trailer seems to be our crutch. Not only does it carry an extra 50lbs of precious children cargo but the wheels are not in line with the bike so they are dragging and bouncing on every rock, stick and bush we come across.
As we pushed on we found an amazing scenic change of river views followed by shaded tree shelter and numerous gates from farmers fields. We continued with the unwritten rule of returning the gate to the as found position and we moved forward. After a couple snack breaks, some moments for the girls to get out and stretch their legs and 16kms in we came across our next situation, a locked gate. We could see some signs for the TCT just on the other side and had no real way of getting there. The fence was too high to lift the bikes over and we were not sure how far back we would have to track to find our way around if that was even possible. But just out of sheer luck a local was driving past and stumbled across our predicament. He knew the owner, gave him a call and within 5 minutes a friendly fellow had the gates open for us to continue on with our journey.
Now being just on the outskirts of Rock Creek we enjoyed a paved section of road where we could get some speed up, gain some distance and best of all, a smooth ride. This was short lived and back on the dirt we were. At the 25km marker for the day we were all feeling great. The trail was smooth enough for the girls to get a bit of a nap and we were now crossing over the bridge taking us into Kettle River Provincial Park.
After a longer break of enjoying the views of the old trestle bridge and the girls running about we figured we should really be getting on. Thirst and energy was starting to be an issue now. We had run out of food and water was of slim proportions. Shannon had biked this section in the past and new just what we had left. Shortly after leaving the park we came across an old creek bed that slowed us again. Now we had to unload all the passengers and us three adults that to push, pull and drag the bikes past the obstruction.
All loaded back up we were back on our way. After 35kms for the afternoon in the relentless sun, a dozen gates and zero bike malfunctions we had made it back to our resting place for the night in Zamora.
To continue on to day 2 of 4 click HERE!