I left Monday June 27th to begin riding the KVR. Unfortunately the trail is nonexistent until you get to Brookmere. I started on it just outside of Merritt and after 4 km’s it was all overgrown with private property signs and no trespassing. So back I went to Coldwater Road, a very hilly ride with a lot of tough climbing, over 500 meters. Finally before Brookmere I spotted the trail and started to ride on it. It was in terrible condition as vehicles have not been excluded and they have really chewed up the surface. It is very washboard like and in places there is a lot of loose rock and where there have been washouts, the trail is unrideable.
The trail is not marked at all in some places and not maintained. I reached another impasse a few km’s along, where there were 3 trails, no signs and I could not figure out which way to go, so I rode back 4 km’s to get back on the road.
The good part is that the grade is very gradual and so there is no cardio involved. However, there is a lot of upper body work. My rotator cuff muscles were so sore I could hardly ride the bike. The remoteness and scenery is spectacular.
That first night I camped just south of Brookmere right on the trail. No bears and rattlesnakes so far. The mosquitoes were thick and it rained and thundered. The next morning I woke up to silence and sunny skies and headed to Princeton.
I spent a rest day in Princeton, catching up on email and writing. The town has a nice small town feel to it. I had a marvelous homemade lime gelato with pieces of fresh mint – sumptuous. I stayed at a lovely campground right beside the river. It turns out I guess I am not so slow, as two of the guys doing the epic 1000 stayed there after 2 days of riding, the same as me.
After Princeton I rode to Summerland beside Lake Okanagan, long and beautiful with mountains on each side. Wandering around the Sunday market, a beekeeper ran out and gave me jar of bee pollen. Turns out he did a lot of bike touring and wanted to make sure I stay healthy. You can see a picture of him on flickr.
I stayed at Hostel International in Penticton, a lovely town at the bottom of Lake Okanagan. Leaving Penticton the trail is in excellent shape for the first 20 km’s with a lot of day traffic. There are even rental bikes at the two parking lots by the trail. I camped at Chute Lake, which has a lovely old log house with restaurant. Doreen the elderly lady told me this was paradise for her.
I met Bill and Jioreen, who had ridden their bikes from Alaska and are heading down the Great Divide Mountain bike Trail, which I hope to do next year. They sold their place in Alaska and bought a house in Tucson, where they will spend the winter. We rode together for a couple of days. It made it easier to handle the tough conditions when you have company. At one point we had to lift our bikes over a fallen tree. I would have had to take all my gear off, but the three of us were able to lift it over.
The next day we went through Myra Canyon. As a result of a forest fire, the trestles (15 aproximately) have been reconstructed. This has become a very popular spot as evidenced by the large number of families walking and biking the 12 km’s through the canyon.
My longest day included slowly wandering over all these trestles, 99 km’s catching up to them in Beaverdell, where Jioreen made a delicious lentil curry (homemade) with quinoa.
We parted after Midway and after a night with a warmshowers host in Grand Forks I am taking a rest day in Christina Lake, before tackling a long 1000 meter 90 km ride to Castlegar tomorrow.
So my impressions are mixed for the KVR and Columbia and Western rail trails, part of the Trans Canada Trail. The trail is incomplete and not well marked. It is wonderful to get in to remote backcountry with its silence and beauty. The Province needs to put some money into infrastructure, especially creating barriers to vehicular traffic (ATV’s, dirt bikes, 4 WD, pick up trucks, etc.). Then regular maintenance would preserve the quality of the surface.
Probably for the cost of one or 2 km’s of a highway, they could get this trail in shape. It would then be a world class facility that would attract riders from all over the world. Right now hardly anyone is touring on it, mainly day riders and hard core mountain bikers. It would bring a lot of tourist dollars in to the local economies.
The trail is in the best condition close to major urban areas, where there are enough local volunteers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Pictures posted on Flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHskyTXg78
You can see where I am and have been for 1 week here: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0TcAZu93bpoBqzqGb3dME3SEb39QnApMA
This is the video made by one of the guys who did the epic1000 in 5 days: