Sunday, September 20, 2009

Of Lakes, Tunnels and Bluffs

While caching in the Okanagon, we kept coming across the Kettle Valley Railway or what is left of it, which is not much. At one time this railway ran from the Kettle Valley to Hope. It became famous for the obstacles it had to overcome before it was in place. Numerous tressles were built and ever so many tunnels were bored.

We have been in the tunnels near Hope, and we walked on a tressle near Okanagon Falls a few days ago. It was basically just a bridge, but maybe some of you are familiar with the spectacular tressles this area was famous for. Unfortunately, a number of those, all wooden, structures have been destroyed by fires so that few remain.

Little, if anything, remains of the rails. They have been taken out and today the railway beds have been turned into trails, much to the delight of those that like to bike, hike and/or cache.

What is true for the KVR is to a degree also the case with the Dewdney Trail. Dewdney was the engineer in charge of building a wagon road from Rock Creek to Hope to enable miners to ship their wares, often gold or other prescious metals, by wagon train through Canada instead of having to go down into the States. The road was to be 4 feet wide and had to find the easiest way through the hills and the mountains. We walked a bit of that trail near Manning Park and near Princeton. My, it is hardly wide enough for a trail, never mind a team of oxen pulling a cart...and never mind the men who had to pick-axe it out of the sides of mountain and hill. One wonders how many lives were lost while that went on.

The hills in this area are of a peculiar nature. I know little of rock formations or types of rock, but it is obvious that at one time volcanoes were active in this region. One can see the slabs of lava piled on top of each other as well as the different materials in that lava. Today I drove out to one such dormant volcano in the Marron Valley near Penticton. I was unable to get very close as it is on private land, but I was able to take a good picture. If I had not known it is a volcano I would probably have missed it. But thanks to caching our attention was drawn to it and we are happy with this bit of local knowledge.

Similar to this volcano is the McIntire Bluff, also an Earthcache. I will not go into specifics about it but if you want to know more about it you can do a google on it and it will tell you more than you want to know.

Another interesting Earthcache we were drawn to was Mahoney Lake, also way out there in them thar hills. When you drive along Highway 97, the major north-south artery through this area, you have no idea what lives and happens beyond the hills that you can see. When you follow some of the roads into them, you find for instance beautiful vineyards way up there, ranches, irrigated fields, and a whole lot of nature.

Mahoney Lake is unique in the world probably. Again, I will not go into great detail, partly because I do not understand it all. The lake's major feature is probably the 20 cm thick layer of purple sulphur bacteria that stays in place because the lake only partly circulates...whatever that means exactly.

We did not see much of the sulphur because it is at a depth of about 7 or 8 m. usually. But because the water is lower than usual, we could see a purple ring at the shore in places. It looks more brown than purple in the picture, but believe me, it is purple...even I could see that.

We love discovering interesting places like I have talked about in this blog. It makes one stand in awe of our God who created it all. I have more questions than answers in a lot of cases, but that does not take away that I am moved by what I am allowed to see and witness.

A Little Manning

As I write this, it is Sunday, and we are in Penticton. I hope to spend some part of this day on writing a little about our experiences in the past week.

We left on Monday direction Manning Park.

Normally that is just a two hour drive, but we stopped a few times along the road once we were past Hope. I am sure you can all guess why.
One stop, of course, was the Hope Landslide where there is an Earth Cache as well as two others. We were kind of enveloped by low cloud so we did not have much of a view of the mountain that lost part of its face. But we both had seen that before.

I don't know how often we have driven through Manning Park seeing all the signs like Beaver Pond and others and thinking, 'We should really take the time to find out what this is all about.' But always we were trying to get places and didn't want to loose any time, or we were on the way home and wanted to get there as fast as possible.

Well, this time we stopped, setting up in Lightning Lake Provincial Campground, a nice park with good sites and all the amenities.

So we walked the trails and walked the trails. I read somewhere how many kilometers of trails there are in this park, but I forget the number. All I know is that it is quite amazing.

There aren't really all that many caches in the park, so it was not hard to 'clean up' in a day except the ones that required long, steep hikes which mom did not feel like doing.

One interesting(?) one we did is driving up to the Cascade Lookout.
You know of my fondness of heights and steep roads and heartstopping cliffsides and all that. But there was a cache up did I really have a choice?
Now I am glad to say that my fears are not nearly as panicky as they used to be, but before you run up the stairs to proclaim that off the rooftops, know that I am still a whimpering baby compared to 'the one that has no fear'. In spite of that, I drove part of the way up. I believe that I believe that if I drive we are safer because I am in control. It does not matter that my hands are a sweaty mess, that my face is a stony mask, that my mouth twitches, that my eyes are at least a quarter inch more forward than normal, that the person beside me is praying even harder than I am, for safety and for me coming to my senses and hand over the I said, it does not matter because I am in control and that makes us safe(r). When I give up control, I need to let go and trust and pray...and only the praying part is easy when the engine roars up the steep road hillside where the government ran out of money to put concrete barriers along the edge, when we are heading for a turn where you have two choices: make the turn safely or go down a couple thousand feet...

I did surrender the wheel, not because I almost fainted (because I didn't) but because I knew it was the sensible thing to do. So she whom I referred to as 'the one who knows no fear', took over and drove us safely to the parking area where the lookout and the cache shared location.
The cache was on the safe side of the area so I went to retrieve it while the 'gone' part of us went to the edge and took the necessary pictures to prove that we were actually there. My proof-ibution was signing the log.

Then we discovered that another 8 or 9 km up, waaay up, was another cache. Guess what: we did not do that one! It was not even a tie vote ... if it had been, one of us would have put himself in charge of guarding the parking lot while the other could go waaaay up (that is actually what the cache was called). Instead, we coursed down the mountain to level ground where level-headed people belong and thrive.

One other interesting thing we did was a night cache. The cache was not hard, they never are, and we started it while it was still quite light ('she who has no fear' does not like to be in the forest in the dark...) but dark enough for the flashlight to pick up the little reflectors. For a picture of that go to mom's picture blog ( As we were walking the trail, we saw another couple approaching. As we were about to pass each other, exchanging the customary friendly 'hello's', she says, 'Look, they are...' Anyway, we had run into kindred spirits. The remarkable thing was that we had come accross them before a number of times during the day when we signed logs and saw their names. They were a couple from Holland! Anyway, together we finished the cache and then agreed to spend the rest of our evening at our campfire. Of course, that was 'gezellig' was sad that we were not kindred spirits spiritually...

My last picture is of the sign we did during our first year as's still there and we went to say hi.