After a very noisy night (many trains, trucks and other traffic) I woke to another sunny morning. Truthfully, I woke up at 4am. Listened to Nora Jones, which usually puts me to sleep, and then read some of my book, which usually puts me tho sleep, and finally rose at 6am for a shower. I waited patiently for my friends to wake to no avail.
I toured the town looking for a restaurant. Finally discovered Rolly’s Pancake House. Had a guilt free breakfast of 2 pancakes, whipping cream, an egg and 2 sausages. I’m not feeling particularly guilty because I know straight off I have a 1km climb to face.
Hope is choked full of wood carvings like this one
Packing up camp took longer than expected and I didn’t leave until 9am. Unfortunately my new found friends were nowhere close to being ready, buts that’s one of the advantages of cycling alone; you simply leave when you want to. We did plan to meet up in Lytton if we made it that far.
My ride started out today with a 120m climb. One pancakes worth! The great thing about hills is that for every up there’s a down. This fast decent lasted for 4 Km’s. After 20kms or so I passed through the town of Yale. After Yale you enter the majestic Fraser Canyon. For those of you familiar with the Baron canyon in Algonquin, it’s a lot like that but bigger, a lot bigger.
Entering the Fraser Canyon
Then I hit my first of eight tunnels. Neil and I were looking at this tunnel on Google Streetview and we were both a little alarmed by how narrow it looked. As it turned out there was nothing to fear because there’s a bike lane on the left. I tried riding it but it’s just to narrow for my comfort. Walking was fine.
Better to go under than over
While the tunnel wasn’t scary, the noise the trucks made as they went through was. Have you ever heard a Jumbo jet taking off? Well, that’s the sound exactly. On the next set of tunnels I learned to don my new-fangled WestJet noise suppressing earphones.
Coming out of a tunnel is a magical sight
This part of the highway is called the Historic Gold Rush Trail. It’s a circle tour 568kms which can be driven in 3 or 4 days (yah, right!). I think I might pan for gold when I get chance. I might be able to retire early!
By the way, the Gold Rush sounds a lot like the plethora of start-ups around today. Everyone thought it would be easy to find gold and get rich. In reality it was back breaking work and very, very few people got rich. Startups are like that to. It looks easy but you still have to work your butt off, possibly risk your life savings, and there’s a remote chance you’ll make it big. I guess the difference is that with startups less is left to chance if you go about it the right way.
The next stop was Hell’s Gate. The Fraser River passes through a small gap in the canyon creating 3 times the flow of Niagra Falls (did you ever notice that everyone compares their waterfall/flow to Niagra Falls?). You cant see much from the top. You have to take a gondola down to the bottom.
At first I thought “I don’t have time for that” and then I remembered that’s what I’m here for after all! I paid my $20 and took the gondola with another family and their excited kids. It was well worth it. It’s quite the site to see and if you white water canoe you’ll go pale at the intensity of the water flow. The Salmon chowder and the Hell’s Gate lager were particularly tasty.
Next comes a 150m climb. Not overly difficult but long. Once you get to the top it’s quite flat and you can make good time.
20kms before my destination of Lytton I faced a massive and daunting hill. I downed an power gel and a half a bottle of water and after 10 minutes started my way up. It was tough but I made it without having to walk it. No real cyclist would walk up a hill anyway, right? Let’s see if I can still say that over the coming days.
You get into a rhythm climbing hills. It’s hard and your heartbeat accelerates, but after awhile you get used to it and you just keep going. When the hill is really long I pick a point up hard, like a sign or a rock, or whatever, and just concentrate on getting to that point. The worst thing you can do is stop. It’s almost impossible to start up again on a steep him. I do find I have to concentrate intensely or it’s all too easy to veer off one way or another. The good thing is that most hills have two lanes for the slow pokes (like me), so the vehicles give you lots of room.
There’s no Rogers cellular coverage at all on this route. That means tonight I’m looking for a hotel with WiFi because I promised Vicki I would email her every day.
My next climb took to me to 350m. There’s a pull off and you can see the canyon, for oh, 50 miles! The CP tracks are on the west side and the CN tracks are on the left. I can see why people love to take the train through this route. Oh well, another thing to put on our bucket list.
One strange thing happened. At one point I thought I was about to go down a steep hill, but I wasn’t. It was actually on a flat section of highway. It was like Magnetic hill. It was very weird.
Another hill or two and then I coasted into Lytton. Unfortunately, Lytton is down a very steep hill so I have bit of climbing to do tomorrow morning.
Lytton is located where the Fraser meets the Thompson River. In gact the Trans Canada follows the Thompson instead if the Fraser from here on. According to the folks in Lytton, it’s the “rafting capital and hotspot of Canada”. I could see that. There’s certainly more people rafting this river then say, Niagra Falls. Actually, there are a lot of rafting companies and it looks like a hoot. Well you know what they say, if you can’t canoe them get in a raft. Actually, “they” don’t say that, but I prefer canoes to rafts.
Now I off the see the point where the Mighty Fraser River meets the Thompson. Hopefully I won’t fall in from exhaustion. I don’t fancy swimming Hell’s Gate.
Sunset over the Fraser (the Thompson River joins to the right)
Distance travelled today – 111kms
Total distance – 288kms
Avg speed – 16.7kms
Moving time – 6 hours, 37 mins