What happens when the internet, two bikepackers, and one free night come together? An overnight bikepacking trip with strangers in the Okanagan Valley. Miles Arbour shares his experience on the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail.
With a few exceptions, the vast majority of my riding for the past 3 years has been done solo. Coordinating schedules, varying skill levels, and riders with different goals can all make it a bit tricky to quickly throw together even the simplest of trips. However, after the online bikepacking community connected Pat Valade and I, I’m starting to understand that riding with friends can be quite a good time. Pat was in town for work and I was able to juggle some shifts to open up an afternoon and the following morning for an overnight bikepacking trip- so with very little planning two new friends set out towards Myra Canyon and the Kettle Valley Rail Trail for a much-needed escape from the city.
The snow has been reluctant to melt for some time in the valley, especially at elevations above 1000m, so I was skeptical on how rideable the rail trail would be. The internet won again after I found some photos tagged at the Myra Canyon Trestles, and quickly realized the section we planned to ride would be good to go.
From the centre of the city, riders can quickly hop on the Greenway Trail, which almost immediately enters scenic forested areas accompanied by the rush of Mission Creek, and offers few reminders of the busy city streets to the West. After a few hike-a- bikes and plenty of great riding, Pat and I emerged just south of Scenic Canyon Regional Park and began the demanding climb up to the trestles. It takes a reasonable 24km from Mountain Equipment Coop to reach the Myra Parking lot, at which point the fun really begins… and by fun, I mean cool views, gigantic trestles, and a couple tunnels.
After 4km of good times, we reached the storm shelter near the southern end of the canyon that would act as our temporary base camp for the afternoon. We made some mochas to shake off any chills we had from the light rain that had been teasing us all day and ventured further down the trail to see what the snow was up to. It turned out there was still plenty of snow out towards trestle #5 and #6, so we ended up heading back to our shelter to eat too much food, before slipping into our sleeping bags for the night.
Although regular walk-in and car camping is definitely not permitted within Myra Canyon, cyclists have the opportunity to practice wilderness camping as long as the leave no trace principles are followed, and the area is left how it was found. In a few weeks, the trail will be clear heading south towards Chute Lake and north to Hydraulic Lake, which both offer rec sites that are definitely worth camping at.
Both Pat and I were hoping for clear skies, and we were eventually graced with a fantastic starry view late in the evening, which was especially welcoming after the gloomy and rainy day we had during our approach.
“Sometimes it’s just a good idea to ride bikes with people you meet on the internet” – Pat Valade
The next day we bombed back into the city on McCulloch Road, complete with frozen toes and hands, before wrapping up our little jaunt with some coffee and breakfast burritos at Bean Scene.
Sometimes the best trips require no planning, only 1 night away from home, and the right attitude to really have a great time.
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