Sun Snow and Rain

20 May

Sunday

Wanting to get a head start before the sun got too warm we were prepared and out of the campground by 10am, filled up with gas and travelling highway three towards the Slimilkameen valley, which I find easier to spell than say!

Looking back over the Osoyoos Lake and the surrounding hills I couldn’t help but think it was so much greener than the area around Spences Bridge and Cahche Creek where they actually get more rainfall but the mountains and hills were bare apart from the odd tree poking through here and there. The valley in front of us was much greener than either of the other two, the flat valley bottom cultivated with vineyards and fruit orchards.

As we progressed the mountains began to rise higher and become more wooded, snow capped peaked on the highest parts. We were making good progress and having passed through the small towns of Kerameos and Hedley arrived at Princeton within 2hrs. We had hoped to be able to travel as far as Manning Provincial Park for the night and this now looked quite probable. We had stayed in the park on our trip nearly three years ago, it has four separate campgrounds and Robert had fond memories of sitting on rocks in the stream reading his book. This time we thought we would try the Lake campground as it had several trails around it, we called at the Mule Deer and Hampton campgrounds first to see what the sites were like but Mule Deer was full around the stream side and conversely Hampton was almost empty but had no waterside sites at all, which Robert particularly wanted so we journeyed on to the main lodge entrance and the Lightening Lake campground. Just before we turned in the entrance we noticed the campground sign was covered over, we soon discovered this was because it was closed due to a large amount of SNOW still lying on the ground. We took advice from the staff in the Lodge and carried on down the road to check out the situation at the Coldspring campground which was actually where we had stayed previously.

The Ranger was parked just inside the entrance so we stopped to ask the situation, he advised there were still some sites available but some had snow on them, we decided to take a look. Several sites which were in the shade were unusable because of around six inches of snow, however most were in the sun and the snow had melted away, after two circuits we decided on site 13 and once level we were able to sit in warm sunshine at the picnic table.

We were aware of a trail from the campground, a circuit over the creek and along the opposite bank crossing back over the water lower down and returning to the campground, we sensibly put on walking boots thinking it would be muddy and despite the fact it was warm in the sun put an extra layer on expecting cooler conditions in the woody areas. The lower part of the campground was not yet open for use and more of this area had snow on it, this is not new snow but the remnants of the winter and generally it was not pretty, just dirty, melting around the edges and looking out of place in the warm sunshine. We arrived at the bridge to cross the creek and the water was gushing over the rocks beneath it, new growth on both the deciduous and fir trees shows spring really is here now. The other side of the bridge we soon encountered ice and snow on the trail also big muddy puddles where the snow had melted but we pressed on hoping it would improve. My memory of walking here previously reminded me that the trail climbed upwards, was narrow and a little uneven with rocks, arriving at the point where it began to climb it was obvious it was not going to be sensible to continue, there was a thick layer of ice all over the path and whilst Robert braved a few steps to take some pictures I stayed on the bottom path playing with my walking pole in the snow piles! We walked back to haRVey and sat in the sunshine for a good hour before tea time, so strange to be so warm and yet so close to the snow.

Monday

Overnight was cold and we woke to around 4 degrees C, but it was bright and sunny. We were booked in to Fort Langley for the night and had a good 2hr drive ahead of us so set off around 9am. The ranger had told us the day before to be Bear Aware as they had seen ‘tons’ of bears, we had heard reports elsewhere that the bears were ‘out’ in Manning Park but we were both still surprised when we spotted a black bear just at the side of the road drinking from a stream, he had a very thick woolly chocolate brown coat, and was not as tall to the shoulder as I had expected. He did not hang around long, one look up at us and he quickly ran back under cover of the trees. I was however ecstatic, I had finally seen a bear!!!!

In 1965 just outside the town of Hope an earthquake caused a huge rock slide, as you travel down Highway three a turning takes you to a viewing area and interpretive boards (see web album). Millions of tons of rock and stone cascaded down the mountainside and filled the lake below to a depth of 70 meters, the wash depositing the mud from the lake up the other side of the valley. Fortunately there were no properties in its path, four people were killed however, they had been stopped on the road by an earlier avalanche. The scar on the landscape is still very raw, new tree growth is emerging but is still dwarfed by the quarry like mountainside, the event, now over forty years ago will take many more years to become anonymous.

The whole of this route of Highway 3 had been beautifully green and mountainous, the sort of scenery that appeals to us, and the 130 miles had passed by quickly. As we approached Abbotsford Robert was ready for a break and I checked the map for an appropriate stopping point. There really wasn’t an easy one but I spotted a park marked on the map and we could take a back road from there to the campground. The junction was newly laid out and we followed what we thought was the correct direction but soon realised we were not where we wanted to be. I eventually got us back on course, only to run into a Town Fair dispersing after the parade (this week end was a holiday in Canada) we slowly made our path through the parked cars and people only to discover that the park we were aiming for was closed for the season. As Fort Langley was not far away we thought it best just to make our way there…. but just a few mile from our destination we were stopped again this time by police at a road closure and detour for yet another parade. They advised it would be best to park up for an hour or so and try again later. We had spotted an area next to the river where we thought we could park so returned there and had some lunch!

After a 6 hour journey we eventually arrived at Fort Langley campground at 3pm by which time it was raining quite steadily. It was the sort of rain you just know isn’t going to stop so if we wanted to get out, and we did, it was raincoats time! As we crossed the river bridge a large boat with paddle wheels at the back was manoeuvring into the middle of the water taking its occupants on a river trip, it was such a shame the rain had arrived, the town had obviously had great plans for the afternoon, the parade in the morning had now completely gone but there was a small market looking a bit wet but still attracting a few hardy soles, as were the music makers outside some of the restaurants, one group huddled under a canopy looked a little damp but played on to three young ladies who looked even wetter as they sat under their brollies singing to the music, it looked like not a lot would dampen their spirit! We browsed around the small independent stores housed in quaint old world buildings but the rain didn’t encourage us to linger long and we were soon back in haRVey watching it pour down.

Tuesday and Wednesday

I am writing this Wednesday morning and we are now parked at Pacific Border RV, our last stop before we head home for a few weeks to see the family and friends back their. So, today will be sorting, packing and making haRVey very spick and span for his rest period. He has to go to Travelland to get some warranty work done whilst we are away so he won’t be lonely.

Looking back on the trip it seems like only yesterday we set off, then I think of all the wonderful places we have been and the things we have seen, we have crammed so much in to the time. We have both learnt a tremendous amount on so many subjects, thanks to the volunteers and people we have met who have been so keen to pass on their knowledge and answer our questions. Neither of us expected to enjoy the US and especially California as much as we did, we did not realise how beautiful and rural the West Coast was. We have also gathered information about areas to visit we did not know existed and have a list that could keep us travelling for a lifetime. haRVey has proved to be a comfortable home and willing workhorse, he really feels like home and we are yet to identify anything we would add to his facilities.

We set out to find the Spring and follow it north, and I think we have achieved that although we seem to have gone around in circles with the season, the daffodils have flowered a long time this year. We have gone from sunshine to snow and then into warm sunshine again, we can almost name the rainy days we have had and they are few and far between, we have been very lucky or maybe plotted our course well.

Our next few weeks at home will be another part of our adventure and seeing everyone will be fun, we are however looking forward too, to setting out in July for the Icefield Parkway, Canadian Rockies, US Rockies and wherever the mood and haRVey takes us.

See You Soon!

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