I hiked the beautiful Myra Canyon portion of the Kettle Valley Railroad trail yesterday, and it is a place full of history, with stunning vistas and inspiration at every turn. A little history first: the trail is the old rail bed of the Kettle Valley Railway, built between 1912 and 1914, which was abandoned in various stages, but which was officially closed in 1990. The railway ran from the Kootenays to the coast of British Columbia, and was an important piece of the province’s freight and transportation links. The province of BC took over (more correctly, took back) ownership of the rail bed, and the trail is now a world-famous biking and hiking trail, of which Myra Canyon is one of the most popular spots.
The canyon is steep and forbidding, and in order to build the railway with the appropriate grade (and given the tools and horsepower available at the time) 19 trestles and 2 tunnels were engineered, virtually hugging the side of the mountain. All of the trestles except one have been restored by the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society, who also do much other work maintaining and enhancing this trail portion. I hope my hastily-shot images will speak for themselves, and inspire you with a little romance, too. I am pleased that this particular piece of British Columbia’s history has been so wonderfully preserved, and that thousands of people walk or bike this trail and imbibe a little of the past, and maybe the flavour of the future.
My adventures continue, my imaginary friend! Thanks for coming along.
My adventure has begun, though having said that, I must tell you I spent the day cleaning windows, that most prosaic of tasks. I find it a chore that allows for reflection, as house cleaning in general does for me, and it was good to take a day to do homey things and think things over.
I am at present some 600 kilometres from where I started, having had possibly the most enjoyable drive of my life. Including ferry travel I spent about nine hours on the road, but with no deadlines or schedules it was delightful to watch the stunning geography of British Columbia unfold, and to stop whenever and wherever I liked. From the lush forests and sparkling sea of Vancouver Island, to the epic thunderstorm in the mountains, to the semi-desert of the south Okanagan, it felt like a gorgeous film unwinding. Oh, I love this province!
I have been exploring the south Okanagan for a week or so, and for various reasons will be here a while longer. Although this is a familiar place I have managed to find some new landscapes most every day. I have hiked a few mountains, explored the unique forests (mostly Ponderosa Pine with grassland between relatively sparse tree cover), and visited a few eclectic little towns – and the sense of adventure is, in fact, deepening. Likely for the aforesaid reasons: no deadlines or schedules.
The sense of liberation is deep in my spirit, though it is a complexity to describe it…In essence, though, I am liberated from my old life, not yet having got to the new, and it is delicious, exhilarating, and frightening. It is also deeply thought-provoking: I carry my me-ness with me, along with my daily habits – what, exactly am I liberating myself from? I suppose it is a sense of not being satisfied, of searching for more.
By chance I find myself reading a book about the black migration out of the southern U.S., told both in general terms and from the intimate view of three particular families. The individuals telling their stories tell of their longing for the ‘better life”, though it is different for each of them, and while the material (better pay, owning a home) is a part of the generalized longing, really they are speaking of the inchoate and amorphous. And I fear that I, too, may need a book to explain what I go in search of.
Well, my imaginary friend, it shall unfold in these virtual pages much the same as my life, messy and unpredictably. But this sense and spirit and ethos of adventure is key, I think: to be open to the possibilities. To see every vista as through a lens, and to contemplate how the most artistic picture may be captured. To be awake to the wondrous. To drive the curvy highway with a five-speed stick shift, not on automatic…
This is where my journey has taken me thus far. And the view from the clean windows is delightful!