Posted by: geonarcissa | May 25, 2009

Day trip to Hope, BC.

Dad and I hit the road at about 10am, making a brief stop at Timmy’s in Westbank where they were OUT OF EGGS for the breakfast sandwiches. I won’t dwell on how ridiculous it is that a restaurant located next to a grocery store would run out of eggs. We were still in Westbank, recovering from this serious disappointment, when I realized that I had left my iPod, and thus, my GPX files, at Dad’s house. *argh*

First cache of the day was near the visitor’s centre in Merritt. The Coquihalla Highway was calling my name and I didn’t have time for more caches here, but I hope that next time I visit Dad I can go on a geocaching trip to Merritt and Kamloops. I grabbed a geocoin from the cache in Merritt, and it turns out the coin’s goal is to get to a different cache in Merritt – whoops. I’ll leave it in a cache in Kelowna, so it can get back up there quickly. I hate being a geojerk, even when it’s by accident.

It's quite dangerous during avalanche season.

Zopkios Ridge at the Coquihalla Highway Summit

At the Coquihalla Summit, where you’re not really supposed to stop because of construction, there’s a micro cache. Yes, I stopped anyway. The cache is called “$10 Bathroom Break” (GC19ZT4), but the evil $10 Coquihalla Highway toll was recently abolished, and the toll booths have been dismantled.

Just past the summit at Zopkios Ridge, there’s an Earthcache (GC1JRV2). This is where the lack of iPod became an issue – without the GPX file, I was trying to complete the Earthcache requirements by memory. I did the best I could, and sent a pleading, apologetic note to the cache owner explaining the circumstances, along with thorough, detailed responses to the Earthcache questions. Let’s hope that Earthcache karma comes out on my side – the only thing I’m really missing is the precise elevation at the rest stop.

After the pass, the highway descends from 1244m elevation to about 300m over 40km. The transition from high mountain road, snowy peaks, and sparse vegetation into the lush, mossy terrain at Hope is just short of magical. This nifty graph shows the highway’s elevation over the approx. 100km between Merritt and Hope.

My dad and my son at the Hope Slide

My dad and my son at the Hope Slide

Our next stop was the Hope Slide, where there’s another Earthcache (GC1626F). It’s a fascinating spot. The slide occurred in 1965, killing four people, displacing an entire lake and destroying a 3km stretch of highway. The bare mountainside and the rubble lies mostly as it did in 1965; if not for the new highway and the visitor lookout, the site looks like the slide could have occurred three days ago. We didn’t stay for very long – the Earthcache requirements can be done from the visitor’s parking area, and we had lots more ground to cover in a short span of time.

Time for lunch! Dad enjoys a little bit of geocaching when I visit, but the best part of the trip to Hope, for him, was lunch at Home Restaurant. It’s a small chain with a few locations around BC, but not in Kelowna. Dad loves it. The food is good, the portions are generous, and the staff are friendly.

While in Hope, I wanted to find the Old Hope Cemetery, for a puzzle geocache called “BC Spirit Quest #19: Blessed Hope” (GC14HE1). I chose this cache because I like visiting cemeteries, it seemed like a fairly straight-forward puzzle, and it was supposed to contain a geocoin belonging to fellow CCC member kirok. The cache involves finding the cemetery, finding a specific grave in the cemetery, and then finding the cache within a few metres of the grave. The server helpfully showed us, on a map of Hope, where she thought the cemetery was.

Just next door to the restaurant, I DNF’d on a travel bug hotel. It’s such a pain to DNF on a cache while I’m on a trip! Dad and I then went off in search of the cemetery. The server’s directions didn’t get us to the cemetery, so we stopped in to the visitor’s centre, where an employee marked the cemetery on our map. Wrong again. After that, Dad and I gave up on asking for help from locals, and just drove around Hope for another five minutes until we found the cemetery (Hope isn’t very big).

While we were searching, a couple of guys were trying to get a kite out of a tree. The kite was pretty high up, and one of them had climbed way up into the tree but still couldn’t reach. I laughed – perhaps harder than I should have – when they explained that a cell phone was tied to the kite because they were attempting to take an aerial video of the cemetery.

It took us a while to find the gravestone we were looking for – it was pretty small, and obscured with grass clippings. The cemetery was quite old, and looked very different than the cemeteries I am used to seeing around Ontario. In the old section of the cemetery, most of the graves were concrete vaults in the ground, with raised, rounded tops. The names on many of the stones were obscured due to erosion. Distracted by my search for Private Robinson’s grave, I forgot to take pictures of the grave stones (or the kite in the tree). After a twenty-minute search, I had the cache in hand (along with several trackables), and it was time to head back toward Kelowna.

Success!

Success!

Our last stop in the Hope area was at the Othello Tunnels, a series of train tunnels that were once part of the Kettle Valley Railroad. They were a remarkable engineering feat in their time, and today they are open to the public. My final geocaching mission for the day was to get the Othello Tunnels geocache (GC80CB), but I had accidently filtered it out when I put geocaches into my GPS, and I didn’t have my iPod with the GPX files on it! After a couple of clumsy attempts to get it using two different web-enabled cell phones, I phoned a friend who looked up the coordinates for me. The tunnels themselves are about 500m from the start of the first to the end of the fifth. We had fun going through the dark tunnels, making scary noises to echo off the walls. My little son, who loves trains and knows all about train tunnels from watching Thomas the Tank Engine, was just thrilled to go through some real train tunnels.

The geocache was located another 600m down the trail, but it had a terrain rating of 2.5 so I knew there would be some sort of surprise waiting for me as I got close. Sure enough, the cache was on the other side of a rock wall along the path, and then down through some thick, mossy woods on a steep incline (a wall of the Coquihalla Canyon) with many large, fallen trees. The last 30m were, perhaps, one of the most physically demanding bushwhacks I’ve ever encountered. Thankfully, the cache itself was large and easy to find. This one’s going on my favourites list – history, natural beauty, and a bit of a challenge all in one cache.

After that, we headed back to Kelowna without stopping. It was a nice trip – quality time with my pa, and some very worthwhile geocaches completed.

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Responses

  1. I used ot live in Hope.. The Home restaurant has some good grub! Their mushroom burger is SO yummy!!

    Othello is gorgeous!

    • Yep, the mushroom burger is Dad’s favourite thing on the menu!


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