Thanksgiving long weekend offered another opportunity for a short getaway. While most Canadians were busy eating turkey and pumpkin pies, we were free to do as we wished, although we did eat a very good pumpkin pie. On Friday I worked very hard on baking eight pumpkin pies. We sold seven of them through Cherry on a Bike, and the eighth one was left for us. We took it with us on the trip and had a little Thanksgiving spirit too.
When you live in BC you have a lot to be thankful for, but the weather is not necessarily always one of them. But having a sunny Thanksgiving weekend sure deserves some thankfulness. Only the first day was cloudy, and it was very cold too. We left Princeton after chatting with a friendly local who gave us some advice on our route. We first took the Kettle Valley Railway leading out of Princeton towards Summerland. After a short paved section the trail became rougher and our progress slower. The scenery was very special, a combination of dry desert with bright yellow autumn trees. Then all of the sudden we spotted a group of deer looking at us.
We connected with the Princeton-Summerland Highway, a very quiet backroad with almost no traffic. We stopped for lunch by a creek, and somehow I managed to fall into a swamp. It didn’t look too deep, but once I stepped on it my leg got covered in mud. Lesson learned.
Since we got a late start, and our progress on the KVR was slow we only managed to ride 50 km by the time we reached Osprey Lake. The kindness of others is always well appreciated on cycling trips. First the campground operator gave us a 50% discount. Then our neighbours from the site next door invited us over for dinner, with the excuse that they had a lot of extra homemade lasagna. Father and son, John and Ryan had set up a huge tent with a wood stove, its chimney peeking out of the canvass roof, a microwave and other luxuries we are not used to in the outdoors. The dinner and company was well appreciated and it saved us cooking dinner and eating in the cold autumn night.
We ate our pumpkin pie inside the tent, a big no-no usually, but it was so cold we didn’t imagine any bear would be out and about. We were exhausted and fell asleep in a minute. I think we were both a bit shocked from the cold too. Our recent trip to Central America only provided riding in extreme heat, so feeling cold during a cycling trip was something to get used to.
We woke up to a crisp morning. The sky was blue, but our tent was covered with a thin layer of ice and still in the shade. We joined the road again, now a smooth dirt road, and cycled down to the bottom of the valley and then climbed up. We reached Summerland and found many apple orchards with beautiful red and green apples both on the trees and the ground. We collected a few from the ground, and they were delicious. We could only carry a few more and were sorry for all the other apples on the ground which would go to waste. Then we came across a few Indian kids (meaning from India) selling apples on the side of the road.
We returned to the KVR in Summerland. This was not easy to find, and only with the help of a nice local girl were we able to make our way back to the rail-trail. We rode above Okanagan Lake and the scenery below us was incredible – a dark blue lake, a few sail boats in the distance and a yellowish desert-like surroundings. We had lunch in a strategic point above the lake and I took a nap, of course. For some reason my knee really bothered me, so at that point we weren’t sure if we’d be able to complete the loop as we had planned.
We reached the outskirts of Penticton, refilled our water bottles at a gas station and connected with the very quiet Green Mountain Road. The first 12 km or so were in an Indian reserve and there were even “private road” signs here and there. It was also all uphill. Just before dark, we found a short gravel road that led to nowhere and pitched our tent at the end of that road. No one offered us lasagna that evening, not a huge surprise given that there was no one else to be seen, so we cooked our dinner and went to bed early. On both nights of this trip I fell asleep before 8pm, not bad…
The morning was chilly again and we had a lot of distance to cover. My knee was feeling better, so that was a good sign. We continued going uphill, got warm quickly and took off some of our layers just before starting a long shady descent, bad planning. We were freezing and had to make a stop to defrost, and of course, put on more clothes.
We then connected with Highway #3A which took us almost to Keremeos. We stopped at one of the fruit stands that was of course owned by Punjabis. We bought some pears but the real treat were freshly made samosas with a sweet tamarind sauce. A few flashbacks to our trip in India and two samosas later we were ready to carry on. We took a bypass to avoid Keremeos, and then rode 35 km on Highway #3 to reach Hedley. We have driven this road many times, but never cycled it. The shoulders were quite wide and I felt pretty safe being on the highway. There was lots of traffic, I guess related to it being the last day of the long weekend.
In Hedley we had lunch in our usual grassy picnic spot, where we stop with the car almost every time we drive through there. Of course we had a mandatory nap in the sun, but a very short one, because we still had some distance to cover. A few more kilometers and we left the highway for Old Hedley Road where we came across almost no traffic and two friendly white horses. As a way to pass time we tried to translate names of bands and songs from English to Hebrew and vice versa, it was quite amusing. The road followed the Similkameen River which was lined with trees with yellow, orange and red leaves. Riding in the fall makes the scenery much more colourful. Just before Princeton we bumped into another group of deer that found us quite curious and kept on staring at us while we were staring at them.
We rode just over 100 km that day and managed to complete the 230 km loop (before dark too!). Back at the car, we quickly packed up and started the long drive home. Princeton is quite far, but it makes a worthwhile destination for a three day weekend. To continue with the Indian theme that we started with the Samosas we stopped for dinner at the “House of Dosa” in East Vancouver. On Mondays they have a deal of $6 for any dosa on the menu. How nice it is to finish a trip on a Monday evening! On our way out we bumped into another VOC group coming to get their dosas, can’t beat that deal.