Saturday, October 27, 2018

Othello Tunnels ~ Hope, BC ~ Coquihalla Highway

The Coquihalla Highway traverses some very mountainous terrain, closely following the old Kettle Valley Railway through the Cascade Mountains. Construction began in 1984 between Kamloops to Hope, BC. and within 20 months was completed.  It was a huge change for traffic travelling between the Okanagan and the Coast.  The Okanagan or Coquihalla Connector was completed in 1990.

Zopkois Rest area on Coquihalla Highway
We have travelled this route so many times since it was constructed and completed in time for Expo ’86.  In spring, summer, fall and winter times with extreme weather differences, we have made the trek.  The Othello Tunnels was finally added to our ‘stop and look’ list while on the Coquihalla Hwy.   I had been there but it took retirement and a leisure drive in order for Keith to visit for the first time.

Othello Tunnels
Not far from Hope, the Othello Tunnels are in the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park and open for visits April 1 to October 31 every year for safety reasons.  Our first stop happened to miss these dates so we had to make a second stop, but worth making it back.  Some of the scenes from Rambo movies as well as others were filmed here, which adds to the attraction.

Walk to the Othello Tunnels
The walk from the parking lot to the tunnels is lined by the big trees of the area and wanders along the river.  The Tunnels are not lit but are short enough, taking caution and a moment to adjust to the dark, one can see well enough to get to the other end of the tunnel.  Railway tracks have been removed but there is gravel as a cover on the ground, some carry flashlights.

Coquihalla River
The Othello Tunnels were originally tunnels for the Kettle Valley Railway which was built in order to link up to the Kootenay Region to the Southern Coast.  Silver was being mined in the Kootenay District and transportation was required for this.  CPR financed the Kettle Valley Railway Company in 1900 and the work began.

Rocky scenes on Coquihalla River
Much of this work was done by hacking the rock by hand.  They used ropes and ladders to reach to do the work to create these tunnels in order to complete the railway.  They followed the Coquihalla River through these rocks and the job took 3 years to complete in 1915 and was used until 1958.  

One of 5 tunnels
Andrew McCulloch was the Chief Engineer on this Kettle Valley Railway project which included 13 tunnels, 43 bridges; the average mile cost $136,000.00, 5 times the average cost for railways at the time.  The most expensive mile was at the summit at $300,000.00.  

Steep decline from tunnel bridge to Coquihalla River
Andrew McCulloch was a Shakespeare fan which explains the names given to the posts along this route.  He used Juliet, Romeo, Iago and Lear as well as several more.  A definitely unusual choice of names given the fact it was a railway project but to this day those names are still used.

Bridge connecting the tunnels
The 5 tunnels and 2 bridges spanning 1.4 km from the parking lot is now the Othello Tunnels used for hiking and sightseeing and part of the Trans Canada Trail System. I’ve been told that the path continues past the last tunnel and offers a nice hike that has some great views.  We didn’t go there, maybe next time….  

Water worn rocks
There is no cost or fee to visit the Tunnels.  It is part of the provincial park and is free to all visitors, parking included.  Just another one of the great sights that British Columbia offers to all.

Sights to enjoy
The Othello Tunnels are also accessible from Hope, so one needn’t travel the Coquihalla to enjoy these sights.  It is a nice green scenic drive through the tree lined road to get here leaving from Hope, BC.

Tunnels chipped by hand in 1915
This remarkable engineering feat was  mostly done by hand by Chinese workers, as were most of the railway lines in Canada.  The Tunnels are only a 2 hour drive from Kamloops, so I've included it in my hometown blog.  Put it on your list of places to visit if you haven't already!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Autumn Days ~ Barnhartvale ~ Lac Du Bois Grasslands

We awoke to a beautiful sunny day in Kamloops one recent morning, something we hadn’t seen in awhile. This one has some clouds in an otherwise perfect sky to reflect the colors of the sun and give us another reason to be thankful we are alive and living in Kamloops.  

Kamloops East
We are surrounded by beautiful sights to enjoy daily, from sunrise to sunset.  We have rivers and valleys and mountains and hills.  We have birds and bears and wildlife that share Kamloops with us.  We have wonderful friends and neighbors that give our city the life and serenity that we need in order to call it home.

A farmers hard work
We took some drives on the two sunny days we enjoyed and visited some of our countryside views to get some fall pictures and enjoy the sights.  If I were a real serious photographer, I would be up before sunrise to get shots of some of these beautiful places but that just doesn’t fit into the life of this “photo-essay-ographer”.   I only hope that my photos do justice.

Bose Lake
We visited Barnhartvale to see Buse Lake, but a bit early for what I was hoping to see.  Buse Lake turns a vivid magenta in the fall and although we’ve been there to see it at that time before, the sun wasn’t shining and just does not tell the story.  We tried again.

Bose Lake 2
Today was sunny but it was too early for the change.  I’ve been planning this for several years now but it just hasn’t worked out!  It is a pretty spot and should you be interested in seeing the lake with the magenta colors, click on here to see a paper article from a few years ago.  It tells the story very well.

Lac Du Bois Road
Our next day was on the other side of town, or is it other direction?  Kamloops sits at the meetings of the South and North Thompson Rivers.  Barnhartvale is east of the city and south of the South Thompson River and today’s travels are north of the city and west of the North Thompson River.  Are you still with me? Lol

Lac Du Bois
We are on the Lac Du Bois Road and enjoying the sights of the Lac Du Bois Grasslands Protected Area.  There are several small ponds throughout the area, which vary in size depending on the time of year.  We spent many winter Sundays in this area snowmobiling when the kids were young.  Bonfires, roasted wieners and lots of fun!  There is some very interesting information here if you wish to learn more about this area. 

Roadside pond
This is where we begin to find more trees to see the color in the grasslands.  The trees lined the road that bordered the pond, a good sized one, at that.   Several of these ponds are scattered around.  We’ve had quite a bit more than normal rainfall lately so I would guess that we are seeing more water than normal for autumn time.

McQueen Lake
McQueen Lake is part of the Kamloops Thompson School District and is used as an Environmental Education Centre. The Centre is very impressive and offers lots of perfect day visits as well as overnight accommodations for students.  It was many years ago that I made a visit with one of my kids’ class and remember collecting bugs and other goodies, but I have no doubt that much has changed and improved over the years since then. 

McQueen Lake 2
The centre is off limits to the general public but the lake is roadside and offers some great views.  Even with the gate closed, the lake is still enjoyed by other ‘students’ who stop by for a visit today.  Cattle is seen roaming the area, standing on the side of the road to invite us in.  Others are a bit shy and keep their distance.

Animals enjoy the sunshine

And what drive in the country would be complete without seeing the beautiful horses and happy cattle hanging around enjoying the sunshine in these hills.  The horses were in Barnhartvale and the cattle were in the Lac Du Bois Grasslands enjoying their free range life.  I do wonder why they were at the corral though, are they waiting for a truck to arrive to give them a ride down to the barn for the winter?