June 17-18, 2023
The ride back took two days, with not many photos and only a few videos from the first day. I spent most of the time on BC Highway 5. North of Kamloops it’s known as part of the Yellowhead, and south of Kamloops it’s the Coquihalla.
Jasper to Kamloops is beautiful riding, first on BC16 to Valemount, then down 5 to Kamloops. This year much of the road is on or adjacent to major pipeline construction, which slows things down and adds to the traffic. Enjoyed the views, but didn’t stop much once I passed Mt. Robson. That’s another area I’d like to come back to and it will have to be a different trip. Other than the very start, the weather was mostly good, which is a change from most of my previous riding days.
I rode nonstop after Mt. Robson, and finally stopped at Timmy’s in Clearwater. When I emerged 10 minutes later, I could feel the warm front and oncoming thunderstorm in the air. I was barely out of town before it hit and then ended just as quickly. Then the temps dropped again. The ride from there into Kamloops was uneventful, and I briefly “raced” the Rocky Mountaineer on adjacent CN tracks.
[Update: I’ve been informed this is not the Rocky Mountaineer, just some random VIArail train with observation cars.]
I got to Kamloops well before dinner and found some food and drink. A group of locals asked me to join in, and who am I to say no? Fun times led to a later bedtime than I would have otherwise planned.
Still, I woke up in the morning ready to go. Could not find a breakfast without a wait in town, so stopped at Starbucks for a donut and drink before heading south on the Coquihalla. I had briefly considered taking 5A through to Merritt and in retrospect I should have. My reasoning was that it looked like a more interesting road, but in retrospect, what would have made it a better choice is that it remains in the valley on lower ground. Crossing the higher terrain southwest of Kamloops I encountered rain, then hail. I eventually had to pull off and find an underpass where I could add a layer and wait out of the rain and wind for the worst of it to pass.
That was the worst of the day, but it put a damper on what was otherwise a ride through amazing scenery. It’s a major truck route, so hard to call it “fun” riding, but as fun as things are going to get on that kind of road. Made it to Sumas, where I got off and got a bite to eat before riding the few miles south to the US border. From there, the ride was pretty routine.
I made a stop at my usual spot in Bellingham then continued south on Interstate 5. I had considered taking a more interesting routing, but the weather continued “unsettled” so I stuck to the quickest way home. A good choice since I encountered bad rain and hail north of Everett. That is when the waterproofing on my aging boots seemed to finally fail. The weather cleared up for the last few miles home to Seattle. Someday I’ll get a few days with no rain, but not this trip.
I’m now home. It was fun. Not exactly the trip I thought it would be, but early June in the mountains is always unpredictable and I knew that. I expect I’ll have more predictable weather when I return to Nelson in July for the Kootenay RAT Raid.