North Okanagan wanderings redux
I wanted to hit the North Okanagan to explore some of the roads I missed on my July trip thru the area, and I had the time but the weather was tenuous. In the end, I decided to join TT and his crew to ride Hwy 8 Spences Bridge to Merritt (always great), then to decide whether to carry on or to ‘bail’ for home. We got lucky and slipped thru the cordon of speed enforcement up the canyon unscathed, but got waylaid by an intense rainstorm in Spences Bridge. After an hour discussing the problems of civilization with the hotel / café owner, the sun returned and we blasted the Nicola valley on dry roads in the sunshine. The skies looked fine so I bade goodbye to Jeff and Nick in Merritt and headed east on my own.
There was an intense headwind up along Nicola Lake, but this died away when I cut up the Douglas Lake road into the grasslands to the east of Quilchena, excited to be ‘off the map’ and exploring new, unknown ground. The first 15km of this road is dreamland, with green and gold surroundings, good pavement, an ancient rounded topography, a mixture of open and tighter curves, and no traffic.
The road turns to gravel for 10km thru native land (insert political discussion here…), then reverts to pavement for 10km thru the Douglas Lake Ranch country, before settling into gravel for all but the final 10km of the remaining 45km to Westwold on Highway 97.
The gravel across the plateau was smooth and dry, but east of Salmon Lake there had been a recent heavy deluge, and the clay-mud almost had me and the bike down several times – BT203’s are NOT best suited to gumbo! As the road dropped into the upper valley (then canyon) of Salmon River, travel got a little less intense, but it was still 1st gear, no front brake, and minimal steering inputs for 20km or so. I was awfully happy to see pavement again 10km west of Westwold.
I rode east beyond Falkland, then headed north on the wonderful Salmon River Road, thinking I might overnight in Salmon Arm, but I turned back at Silver Creek when a dense downpour enveloped the valley ahead of me. I came back and ran east towards Armstrong, but this was thronging with people for the Interior Fall Fair.
In the end, the Blue Stream Motel on the main drag into Vernon was my home for the nite, with Kelly O’Bryan’s across the road providing sustenance and Kilkennys in the evening and Denny’s serving up breakfast. While the motel is atttactive outside and has a great location and grounds (complete with in situ stream), it’s a bit tattered in the rooms – but for $69 for the nite, who can complain?
The day’s totals, just under 600km in just under 10 hours total, with plenty of chaos thrown in!
map of first day: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?m...6M&usp=sharing
Last edited by doser; 01-02-2016 at 03:31 PM.
Reason: add map link
North Okanagan day 2
I was very uncertain where to travel the following morning, with unsettled weather continuing, so (despite the allure of the nearby Monashee Pass) I decided to ‘stay low’ and head north, putting off ‘big’ decisions until later. I rode Old Kamloops Road, Otter Lake Rd (wonderful), and Knob Hill Rd north, then dropped east down Enderby Canyon Rd to its namesake town.
The road east to Mabel Lake beckoned and was ‘fun’ but somehow wasn’t as satisfying as I hoped (although how can one have ‘hopes’ for something one has no knowledge of?) – plus it was cold and blustery in the Shuswap Highlands. I took the sideroad from Enderby to Grinrod, and found a lovely, occasionally winding pastoral ride.
Highway 97A past Mara Lake was enjoyable, with surprisingly light traffic, and I decided to head west rather than east ‘into the storm’, so I took #1 from Sicamous back towards Salmon Arm. I was intrigued by the possibility of following a back-route into SA, so I left the highway and set off onto Canoe Beach Road, which deteriorated into a gravel track before rejoining pavement at the north end of Lakeshore Drive.
Beyond Salmon Arm, I diverted east out Sunnybrae Road to the end of pavement and back, and then did the short, enjoyable loop to White Lake, the first few kilometres of which were freshly paved.
The final diversion in the area was out Eagle Bay Rd along the south shore of the main ‘arm’ of Shuswap Lake to the end of pavement. This is a remarkably pleasant ride, despite a continuous 60kph limit and near-continuous housing preventing over-exuberance.
Highway 1 took me west to Kamloops, where, at the eastern outskirts, I crossed the Lefarge bridge and finished the journey on the enjoyable Shuswap Road, thru farm- and ranch-land immediately across the river from suburbs.
After a lunch break with my brother and his wife, I rode 5A south to Merritt. This is always one of my favorite outings, and I made good use of the clement early evening and deserted pavement.
A final burst down the Coldwater River Rd popped me out onto the Coq, and the rest of the trip home was fast but uneventful. The day was tiring, with 800km covered in 12 hours door-to-door, but I was happy to have discovered a few new ‘corners’ of the province. For sure, much of the best riding in BC lies just beyond comfortable day-trip range of Vancouver, but two- or three-day weekends open up immense possibilities.
I’ll post maps once I get the time to pull them together.
More photos are at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/donserl...7624895446842/
day 2 map at: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?m...QA&usp=sharing
Last edited by doser; 01-02-2016 at 03:46 PM.
Don - you're such an animal - don't you ever work?
Always enjoyable read! Thanks for sharing and drooling for the maps!