Friday, October 2, 2020

Autumn Colors ~ Quiet Lakes ~ Interior BC

An autumn day drive to find some colors and the weatherman could not have given us a nicer day!  We decided to expand our horizons and take in some higher altitudes that would be more likely to include color and we headed north.

North Thompson River

We followed the Yellowhead Highway north which brings back some old memories for me as I spent several years growing up in Rayleigh and rode the school bus with many who lived up as far as Vinsulla and McLure.  The North Thompson River looked peaceful and had some misty clouds over it and up the valley.

Cloud covers the valley

We passed through Barrier and Little Fort under darkening heavy clouds but once we turned on Hwy 24 and got up to higher altitudes on that 11 km hill we were now above the clouds and could see them lingering over the lower valley.

Lac DesRoches

We stopped at the viewpoint overlooking Lac Des Roches and what a view it was.  This boat was the only one on the quiet lake and it drew a line across the reflections of the colors across the lake.

Quiet country road

We’ve now entered Cariboo country.  One never knows what is around the corner of the road but with sunshine, colors and that blue sky up there, every corner is worth the time to find out.  We took this drive on a Tuesday and I’m not sure if the timing was just great for a drive or not but we did not have to deal with any traffic congestion.  

Bridge Lake

We left Hwy 24 and followed Bridge Lake N. Rd to see the lake from the other side, one we’d only previously seen from boating on the lake.  There are some amazing views of this large lake and this was one of them.  Imagine having this to look at every day!  

Canada Geese

This was a small lake we saw right before leaving this road and there were several flocks of geese swimming the lake.  They all seemed to be heading towards a meeting in the middle of the lake.  Just might be time to make a plan for their winter time. 

Watch Lake 

We left Hwy 24 before Lone Butte and turned down Watch Lake Road.  Keith has worked in this area during his road construction days so thankfully knows his way around these country roads, and where to find some great sights. This is Watch Lake and we are at the home of the Watch Lake Lodge.

Green Lake

Watch Lake Road meets with N. Green Lake Road and we stop to enjoy the view of this big lake.  There was not a cloud in the sky; it was hard to choose only a couple of photos to share.  The clear water might be tempting to wander into if there was sand rather than rocks. 

Green Lake 

There are many private homes bordering the Green Lake shores and it also offers several locations that are part of the Green Lake Provincial Parks.  There are several boat launches available and no doubt there would be many boats out there during the summer months enjoying this beautiful lake.

 Kamloops Lake

We leave N. Green Lake Rd, follow N. Bonaparte Road to Hwy 97 at 70 Mile House, which will lead us home.  Now that we’ve left the country roads, we are not seeing much color other than in the far distance.  We pass through Clinton and onto Cache Creek where we are now on the home stretch.  One last stop overlooking Kamloops Lake; we’ve driven just over 400 km in about 6 hours and we’ve had a lovely day enjoying the colors of Fall.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Sun Peaks ~ Louis Creek ~ Kamloops, BC

The recent months leave very little opportunity to do much socializing due to the 2020 pandemic but we have so many country roads that welcome us to enjoy the beautiful calming sights that are there to enjoy and a great way to spend some time.  Kamloops is known to be a semi-arid climate and our sagebrush and cactus are true examples of that but once we climb some of these hills we see it differently. 

                                                            Little Heffley Lake
We followed the Yellowhead Highway north to Heffley Creek and turned up towards Sun Peaks.  The hills and valleys are so green with plenty of trees in this part of the drive.  We pass Little Heffley Lake that quietly sits roadside with some visitors enjoying this hot sunny summer day here.
                                                                      Sun Peaks
Sun Peaks is home to the ski resort that resides on Tod Mountain, which is all we called it when we were skiing so many years ago.  The small resort of that time was purchased in 1992 and has grown to become the village that it now is. 
                                                       Sundance chair at Sun Peaks

The parking lot was surprisingly full but then I realized the chair lift is open and one could enjoy a ride up there whether to do some hiking or just some sightseeing. That would be a great opportunity for taking photos but with Maggie along for this ride, we couldn’t be doing that today.  We’ll put that on the list for another day, as long as I can convince myself I can do it. 

                                                 Heffley Louis Creek Road

We drove up to Sun Peaks with the intention of following an old route to Chase from there, but it turns out that road is no longer available so the plans change.  There is no shortage of country roads in this area so we find another.

                                                            A babbling brook

We’ve lived in Kamloops for most of our lives and have covered a lot of these country roads whether for skiing, snowmobiling, fishing or just sightseeing but there are still some we’ve not seen, at least not during the last 60 years!  We cross a few creeks or  brooks, on this road that enter into Louis Creek that then flows into the North Thompson River.

                                                                   A tiny church

This tiny little church was a surprise to see and a definite must to get photos of, we turned around and went back for this.  This was a Sunday afternoon and no services happening but it doesn’t look like there had been any visitors in quite awhile.  For some reason I felt I shouldn’t go peek in windows so I enjoyed the view from the roadside.  One of the few photos of the day that wasn’t a drive by one!

                                                                     Old barns

I’m always drawn to old barns and livestock so this was another “stop and pull over” photo opp.  Most barns we see are old ones, and not often in good shape. That could be a dangerous building so I doubt there is much use for them anymore but glad they’re still standing to remind us of days gone by.  The smaller building may have been a home.

                                                                The talking cow

As I approached the fence I noticed a single gal going down to the creek for a drink.  She noticed me, too, so I think she was putting on a show.  Once she had her drink, she walked into the water in the shade of the tree and called out a couple of times.  We had a very short conversation before she headed out of the creek, I don’t think she could hear me properly. lol

                                                                   Bales of hay

Scattered over many fields at this time of year are bundles of hay.  We used to see them much smaller and rectangle shaped and still might on occasion but we now see many huge ‘marshmallow’ bales out there.  Some are wrapped in clear like these loaded on the truck and shows you just how big these bales really are.

                                                                Louis Creek

Louis Creek is the main creek that weaves its’ way down to the North Thompson River, and a good source of water for many, I’m sure.  It also has a community named after it that is north of Kamloops on the Yellowhead Highway, where we arrived to after travelling through this pretty valley.   

We hope you enjoyed some of our beautiful Kamloops scenery today and will join us again when we take another ‘Sunday drive’.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Nicola Valley, BC ~ Historic ~ Ranchland

The road through Nicola Valley connects Merritt to Kamloops and covers zillions of acres beyond.  The history goes way back and has some very interesting connections to the past.  Nicola was named by the fur traders after the most prominent of the chiefs of the First Nations people as they couldn’t pronounce his name properly.

Nicola Lake

Hwy 5A follows this scenic valley and passes by several lakes as we drive through the valley.  The Nicola Lake is the first one we see when we leave Merritt.  It was glacially formed and it was this lake that attracted the Nicola people to settle in this location.  Nicola Lake wanders the curve of the valley for 22 km offering several locations for vacationers to enjoy.

Nicola Ranch Country Gifts

The Nicola Ranch is still a community on Hwy 5A that includes this store with great Country Gifts inside.  The Court House, built in 1886, sits next door and offers overnight accommodations for visitors who wish to enjoy the pleasure of the past and present.  Tragically the Old Church that was a vital part of this historic community since 1876, was burned down January 2019.

Quilchena Lodge

The Quilchena Lodge offers far more history that I’m able to share here.  It was built by one of the Guichon brothers and opened in 1908.  It closed in 1917 due to WW1 with bullet holes in the bar that are still visible to this day.  It then reopened in 1958 and has been open ever since although it is temporarily closed at this time due to the CoVid virus. (July 2020)

Nicola Valley Ranchland

Quilchena, named by local First Nations means “where the willows grow”.  This ranch was purchased by the Guichon brothers, originally from France, who arrived in the Nicola Valley following the California Gold Rush of 1860’s.  The Quilchena Cattle Co was purchased by Douglas Lake Ranch in 2013 combining the two historical ranches of the Nicola Valley.

Log Church Hwy 5A and Douglas Lake Rd

This beautiful log church sits on the corner of Old Merritt Highway 5A and Douglas Lake Road.  It is well worth a stop to have a look at it.  We’ve not gone up to Douglas Lake Cattle Company but find the history interesting.  It is the largest working cattle ranch in the world!  It was founded in 1886 and was purchased by Chunky Woodward, of the Woodward Dept. store family in 1957.  Douglas Lake Ranch then bred more champion horses than any other ranch in history.  Mr. Woodward died in 1990 and his family operated the ranch until 1998 when it was purchased by others.

Stump Lake

Stump Lake offers some good fishing in the Spring and fall with Rainbow and Brook Trout and Kokanee.  They’re not as large as they once were but still big enough for a good meal after a successful fishing day. There is a boat launch just off the highway and a day use site for the public to use but that wasn’t visible due to high water when we were here on this day.  Stump Lake Ranch, established in 1883 is still in these ranchland hills but much smaller than it was at one time.  

Bald Headed Eagles

The approximately 100 km (60 mi) of road though the Nicola Valley passes by several lakes.  Between Merritt to Kamloops, they include Nicola, Stump, Napier, Ritchie, Trapp and Shumway Lakes.  Other lakes are accessed by side roads off of 5A.  This photo was taken on a previous trip when the eagles and their young were enjoying the flooded fields.  We stopped to watch their playful time before moving onto find another group, as well.

Trapp Lake

The scenery we see while driving through the valley is very picturesque, great to enjoy on a nice summer day and imagining the history of this beautiful valley.   Trapp Lake is not known for fishing nor for recreational although paddlers have access to the lake and as we follow them, we see it makes a nice scenic drive for a motorcycle ride, too.

Ranch on Shumway

There are several ranches throughout the Nicola Valley, some of which are very famous.  The Nicola Ranch, Quilchena Ranch, Stump Lake Ranch and Douglas Lake ranch likely the best known, have all existed for a very long time and with interesting history, as well. 

Shumway Lake

Kamloops has several groups like the Kamloops Canoe and Kayak Club who call Shumway Lake home.  During the 25 years that KCKC have been, they’ve produced some successful paddlers and events as well as collected several awards.  They’re not active due to the CoVid virus at this time so the lake is very quiet but we did see one kayaker making her way down the lake.

Now ends our scenic tour of the Nicola Valley and the history lesson of this pretty valley.  Just another reason to see why there is no place like home.


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Ashcroft ~ Logan Lake ~ Kamloops, BC

We are now enjoying another nice springtime drive that includes a blue sky and sunshine!  The hills which are brown most of the year have their spring colors of so many greens and make them much prettier.

Deadman Creek
 Deadman Creek falls down the crevice between the hills and at this time of year is a racing creek carrying the snow runoffs from higher hills.  It is a 70 km long tributary of the Thompson River as we follow Hwy 1 to Cache Creek.
Roadside waterfall
We’d driven past this many times without noticing there was this waterfall. The next time passing, we stopped for photos.  I’d expected the falls to be overflowing with the runoffs happening so it was disappointing to see a very small amount of water, but the setting was worth a photo.  The rockwork is very interesting.

Ashcroft visit
We passed through Cache Creek following Hwy 1 then turned off the highway for a visit to Ashcroft, which we had not done for a very long time.  Ashcroft sits at the meeting of the waters of Bonapart and Thompson Rivers.  This quaint little village is home to about 1500 people but due to the Covid, I suspect, there were very few of those folks out and about today. 

Heritage Place Park
Ashcroft was a result of the Gold Rush days and was founded in the 1860’s by the Cornwall Brothers who had come from Ashcroft in England. The CP Railroad was built in 1884 so was able to transport people to then catch a stagecoach to travel further north.  The railway also made it possible for Ashcroft to be a center to drop supplies off at for the growing community.

Thompson River
We leave Ashcroft on Hwy 97C and seem to climb the hill forever, but the views as we cross over this pass are great, several scenes of the Cascade Mountains in the distance but too far for good photos. The traffic is very light which makes it an easy drive.

Highland Valley Mine
Highland Valley Copper mine is the largest open pit copper mine in Canada.  By looking at these hills across the way, that doesn’t sound too surprising, the pits are all over these hills.  The mine consists of three former mining operations combined and it has been that since 1986 but originated in the '60s.

HIghland Valley tailing pond
Open pit mining requires tailing ponds which are used to put the refused tailings into to allow them to settle and separate in the water.  This is one of their tailing ponds but at another location is the Trojan Pond.  It was once one of the tailing ponds but they began reclaiming it in 1990 and it is now a “self-sustaining ecosystem” and used as a sport fishing pond. 

Logan Lake
We have now circled around to Logan Lake.  This village was founded in the 60’s and ‘70’s to support the mining operations nearby and you cannot miss this truck when you enter town, a true symbol for a mining community.  Logan Lake, the actual lake sits roadside and offers great summer pleasures with fishing, boating and camping facilities.

Walloper Lake
We arrive in Logan Lake on Hwy 97C, we leave on Hwy 97D then cross over the Coquihalla Hwy #5 to follow Meadow Creek Road, are you still with us? lol This country is known for the many fishing lakes we have and we will pass several on our way home. This is the first one we see called Walloper Lake, known to be a good fishing lake including ice fishing.

McConnell Lake

We pass Shambrook Lake and Stake Lake before we come to McConnell Lake.  This lake also has a provincial park, as does Walloper so a perfect place to camp while you go fishing for some rainbow trout, which McConnell is stocked with.  Our time of visit was too early for camping, there is still ice on the lake seen on the far side, but be sure the lake will have lots of fishing boats on there when the time is right.

Once we passed Walloper Lake and the turnoff for Lac Le Jeune, we were following Lac Le Jeune Road all the way into Kamloops, a scenic drive with several small ponds and lakes to see. Our round trip today was about 212 km and we were doing some stops along the way so it nicely filled a few hours of our day.  There is just no place like home!
Note to self: next time pack a picnic, nothing open (due to Covid) on this day.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Pritchard ~ Chase, BC ~ Country Roads

As always, it is nice to go for a drive to see some of this great area.  When weather permits it is even better so it is all about timing and sometimes our timing isn’t quite right!  We start out with a bit of sunshine and hope it will get better.

Pritchard, BC
Pritchard is a small community on Hwy 1 heading east from Kamloops.  Walter Percy Pritchard bought 160 acres in 1907 then built Hotel Pritchard and a post office.  The location needed a name so he gave his own and it has been known as Pritchard ever since. The one lane bridge was built shortly after and is still in use.

Siesta time
We crossed the Pritchard Bridge over the South Thompson River and followed the Kamloops-Shuswap Road east.  There are several ranches along this road and cattle can be seen scattered about the fields.  This turned out to be rest time for the herd.

Kamloops area has always been a good location for vineyards.  Several have begun over the past few years and have developed a lot of attention due to the quality. At one time the valley was full of orchards and beer hops but wine is now the main crop.

Scenic views
The South Thompson is getting quite high at this time of year after the Spring thaw and rainy season so we are seeing a very wide river and hoping for no floods.  The railway is a big part of Kamloops history so rarely will we be out for a drive without seeing a train or two.
 Fields of Lupine
A friend had said there were lots of flowers to be seen on this drive so we wanted to make sure we got out there before they died.  Sure enough, we came upon fields of lupine just off the road.  Here grows plenty of edible lupine, edible part is news to me, pretty but not too appetizing looking.  I see no cattle eating it, either.

Rainclouds ahead
There is one big rain cloud ahead.  Not being sure we will be driving into that or not, we carry on.  Taking photos out a rainy window isn’t easy.  If only the sun was shining, we’d be seeing beautiful sights out here but at least everything does look so green and clean today.

Balsamroot galore
The Balsamroot flower of the sunflower family covers many hills in our area in the springtime.  It also is edible but apparently rather bitter so I’m not going to try this one, either.  Wildlife and cattle can eat it but haven’t seen that yet, either.  

Chase, BC
We drove through the rain shower in short time and passed through the green hills of what was originally known as Neskonlith Douglas Reserve as we approached Chase, BC.  This was named for Chief Neskonlith after the Indian Reserve System was established in the 1860’s.  Now known as home to the Neskonlith Band.

Chase Creek meets South Thompson River
The South Thompson River begins its’ travels from this point at the west end of Little Shuswap Lake.  The Lake does not show the same signs as the Chase Creek, which picks up dirt as it rises along the way during this season and brings it into the South Thompson where it joins up.  The season hasn’t peaked yet but once it does, the water will return to a nicer color that we can once again enjoy for swimming and fishing.

Pine Street Bridge

We will cross the Pine Street Bridge and enter Chase, a small tourist attraction town on the Shuswap Lake.  Chase was named after an American Whitfield Chase who originally moved here for the gold rush in 1855.  He married and settled here in 1865 and farmed the area.  The town was named in his honor in 1902 long after he’d passed away.

So that’s our drive for today.  Hopefully the next drive we take you on will be without rain but no matter the weather, we shall appreciate all that surrounds Kamloops, there is just no place like home.