A Long Weekend’s Drive Through Beautiful British Columbia – Day 1

While on the west coast recently in Vancouver it was Canadian Thanksgiving – a different time of year to the American one but a perfect time for my visit. Last I traveled in BC, I went up the Sunshine Coast this time I wanted to venture deeper eastward into the province into the Kootenays, an area known for it’s hardcore outdoor sports.

It’s an odd time of year – it’s not warm enough for typical summertime activities like swimming or wakeboarding, and it’s not cold enough for skiing. The next few days I’ll be taking you on a short excursion covering only the surface of the heart of BC. If you want a quick 90 second overview, check out the video here:

Around 2.5hrs outside Vancouver in Hope (yes, the town is called Hope), we stopped by the Othello tunnels. These are a series of tunnels that hang over from the Kettle Valley Railway 50-80 years ago. From the parking lot, it’s a short 10-15 minute walk to the first tunnel and with the autumn colors surrounding us we pleasantly ended up taking much longer. I’ll give you a quick description beside each photo – read on:

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We arrived early, or relatively early, about 10am and the whole trail was ours. I wish I was a sponge, I just couldn’t soak enough of the surroundings in.

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Living in Asia, it’s rare one gets to experience the four seasons – I’ve never run in the fall really and thought I’d take a quick sprint through along the path with leaves floating down all around me.

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Can you say MASSIVE? Not edible – otherwise this’d make for a nice salad ^_^

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Walking along the path, you come across the Coquihalla River after 10 mins or so with an opening on your left. I took this moment to inhale a BUNCH of fresh air for all those friends back home that had requested I do so on their behalf. Inhale…..Exhale….Ahhhhh…

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It was a little wet earlier in the morning but the clouds lifted just as our walk started. It rains a lot in this part of BC but that keeps everything nice and beautifully green.

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Just off the path you can walk / scramble down to the river, I wouldn’t recommend this for those not sure of their feet. It can definitely be dangerous with the fast moving and need I say ah-freezing-super-cold water. Kevin didn’t listen to me and it serves him right – I snapped this photo just prior to him slipping in. Thankfully the only thing hurt was his ego!

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The Coquihalla river meanders in between the steep mountains which is why the railway was built straight-through the mountains. Here you can see a series of tunnels no longer than 30-60 meters long. The tunnels are cool and dark. You won’t need a flash light necessarily but it’ll come in handy – that, or the light on the back of your phone would suffice.

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What better way to send a bit of Canada back home to my friends and family overseas.

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We drove a beautiful Volvo V60 Cross-Country on this trip. It had more than enough food for all our outdoor (and indoor) gear.

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Leaving the Othello Tunnels, we took the Fraser Canyon route up North towards Lytton. This is part of the old Trans-Canada highway that winds its way through the narrow mountain valley and takes you through 6-7 tunnels. At one area is Hells Gate. Years ago (think gold-rush years), paddle-wheelers used to (try to) make their way up this river to transport both workers and gold from the interior to the coast. When the train tracks were being laid down, part of the mountainside fell into the river making it razor-thin. During high-season, more than TWICE the water flows through here than the entire Niagara Falls. That’s a LOT of water!

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There’s a tram you can take over the river ($22 for adults, return) or you can walk down the windy logging road and walk over the bridge. I’d highly suggest the tram for the full experience.

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Rounding out the trip heading for a break in Merritt, we passed some Hoodoos. These are natural sand/stone-structures made by the wind and rain carving out the weaker sediment in the valley walls. I’ve been told these structures come alive when seen under a full moon. Spooks!

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Need to know:

Where to Stay? We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Kamloops in a 2-bedroom suite. This is a perfect arrangement for a group of friends/family as it comes with a large living room and a fully-equipped kitchen.

What did we drive? We drove a 2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country on this road trip. It’s not only beautiful to look at. It’s super quiet and Kevin loves the low-end torque. Perfect on the highways.

For more information on British Columbia, go to helloBC.com and Tourism Vancouver

A big thank you to Tourism BC and Volvo Vancouver for making this happen!