A Weekend of Adventure
This trip started with Hell's Gate.
The kids saw a photo of the tramway and wanted to go. It's
about two hours from our house so a trip to visit has a lot of
driving (four hours total) and very little visiting (two
hours?). My wife works some weekends so when a working
weekend came up, I decided to make a visit to Hell's Gate the
start of an Adventure Weekend!
Hell's Gate is on the Highway #1 - sometimes called the "Old
Highway". The old highway connecting Hope to Kamloops has
been replaced by the faster Coquihalla connecting via
Merritt. I remember driving Highway #1 before the Coquihalla
opened and the small towns along the trip were somewhat vibrant -
there was a never ending stream of tourists driving past.
After the Coquihalla opened as a toll highway, the passenger
traffic dropped and stores closed. Once the toll dropped,
highway #1 become even less traveled. Quite frankly, I was
surprised Hell's Gate was still operating. The parking lot
has shrunk (parking spots are now covered by barriers) but the
tourist facing features seem clean and tidy.
We took the aerial tramway down (fixed cables and a pulling cable)
and had lunch at the picnic tables. We explored the little
fish museum about the slide and the work done to provide a work
around for the fish. Finally, we had some ice cream.
We got in the line up to go back up to the top and watched the
cabin hit the wall hard. Too hard. There had been a
power outage. Amazingly no one was hurt so they did a test
run with empty cars. That was the last time we saw the
cabin's move. The engineer said it would be half an
hour. Half an hour later, he said it would be half an hour
to an hour. I know engineering speak well enough to know
it's time to find another way back. We started walking.
The company got a truck shuttle going, but we just walked up the
hill. Claira and Nara were troppers in the warm sun.
We got to the top, had some cool water to drink and continued our
trip. A day later when we drove back, we noticed Hell's gate
was still closed. I checked the website later - it looks
like the closure will last a week.
We booked a hotel room at the Inn in Spences Bridge. It was
almost a "close eyes, put finger on map" choice, but it was
roughly an hour from Hell's Gate and there was lots of stuff in
I stopped at Sitka to see the
Cisco train bridges. Nice view, but the drop is
frightening. The kids stayed in the car watching video on
the iPad - in this case I was happy they didn't want out of the
car. The first rail line built in the fraser canyon took the
easier side to build on with the occasional side swap around
difficult parts. The second rail line had to make due with
the remaining harder side. These two bridges are where both
train lines swap.
Everything in Spences Bridge is pretty
close - our Inn in the South bank and the restaurant we went to
for dinner (The Packing House) was on the north short so the drive
from one site to the other gave us a pretty good sense of where
things were. We passed by a church which is somewhat an icon
of Spences Bridge. I don't know much about it - it doesn't
look like it is currently used.
From the balcony at
the Inn, we watched a family of three Osprey (two adults and a
juvenile reluctant to leave the nest) hunt around the river.
The parents were seemed to be trying to convince their child to
join them - they stayed close, and called frequently. I
never saw junior actually leave, but the owner said he has flown
Spences Bridge has a year round waterfall near town - Murray Creek
Falls. With a bit of direction from the owner of the Inn, we
drove over and walked the short trail to the base of the
falls. It isn't the easiest walk ever (the trail is narrow
in spots and a rope helps climb a steep section) but the locals
put a bridge in over the river to make it easier.
Under the bridge on the way back we saw two
American Dippers. They were gone before I could get my
camera out, but on the way back to the car, the kids spotted a
butterfly. Even though it was still early, this Common Wood
Nymph was moving fast - it only stayed on a perch for a minute at
As we were leaving
Spences bridge, the kids noticed a cricket had decided to make our
car windshield his hiding place. It seems like the worst
place in the world for a cricket, but he tried really hard to stay
there as we started driving.
The kids are
getting pretty good at "spotting" - they found a really cool
looking insect that turned out to be a Knapweed Root
Lytton is a nice small town at the confluence of the Fraser and
Thompson Rivers. They also have a seasonal outdoor swimming
pool which opens at noon for kids. We were early so we decided
to see some of the local bridges.
The first bridge we visited was a combination train/pedestrian
bridge that crosses the Fraser. There is a reaction ferry
across the Fraser river a little North of town, but it doesn't
always run (ice in the river, big floods etc) so having a backup
fixed bridge for pedestrians seems like a great idea. It's
also a nice place to see the result of the two rivers mixing -
clouds of silt in the Fraser mixing into the darker clear water of
Closer to town there is a place to see the
train and highway bridge crossing the Thompson river. We
walked down to take in the view and were rewarded with a train
It was time to go swimming. With two kids I didn't think it
would be a good idea to bring a camera. Other than the two
lifeguards, we had the pool to ourselves. The lifeguards
said the pool is usually busier during the week - on weekends
people are more likely to be out of town or staying home with
We had a great time on our short weekend away. We were home
in time for dinner and telling Mommy lots of stories. Next
time, Helen wants to come to.
Tags: river(5), bridge(4), train(2), place of worship(1), derelict(1), canyon(1)
People: Nara(1), Claira(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Blogs for 2016 to 2005 > Spences Bridge
Last Modified Tuesday, September 6th, 2016 at 22:53:43 Edit
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