Monday, August 30, 2010

Hope-Princeton-Merritt Loop

A couple of weeks ago I was approached by Mark to accompany him on a ride. He knows that I usually ride everyday except Sundays, which is my family day but he had taken the week off and he had a Saturday free. It would probably be the only Saturday he would be able to book off for the year. He wanted to do the LOOP. I told him that I would prefer to do an overnighter for then we could do the butterfly route and take in all the good roads. The plan was to leave early in the morning and be back in time for dinner.

(Meet at the gas station in Langley, BC for 7am departure)

I set my alarm for 5am and got my bike ready the night before. All I had to do was to load my camera equipment. I also performed my pre-flight checklist and topped up the front tire which was down a few pounds

I mentioned that I wanted to stop at all the viewpoints in order to take photos along the way. I would take up the rear and if I dropped off they would pull over at the next safe spot and wait up for me. So this was not a group ride in the sense that we had a set agenda, nor did we have a timetable to keep on schedule . The plan was to have no plan. We decided ahead of time that we would have a quick meeting everytime the highway allowed for a different direction . It takes an hour for me to get to Langley to reach the meeting point.

I prefer secondary roads but today we had to make time and travel east by the fastest route. We headed into the sunrise along Hwy 1 eventually reaching Hope, BC where we had a quick breakfast and refuelled. At the gas station I noticed this nice red H-D and spoke to the owner

(Meet Al Bijou from Saskatchewan)

He had ridden half way across Canada from Saskatchewan and was heading to Mission, BC for the Ride for Dad for Prostate Cancer. He says he attends every year. He is contemplating moving to Salmon Arm . He maintains a website and requested that we register and login.

True to our plan we had a choice of proceeding different directions. Hope, BC is the Junction of 3 highways. We could head north on the Coquihalla mountain highway, OR we could go up the Fraser Canyon to Spences Bridge, OR we could continue East towards Princeton. We looked at the map and made our decision to head east

The plan was to have no plan but I wanted to stop at the site of the Hope slide for some photos. The air was brisk. It was 10c when I left Vancouver but now the sun has appeared the temps have gone up to 14c


It is hard to believe that in 1965 half the mountain collapsed and buried this valley with up to 200 ft of rock and rubble and filled in a large lake.


We posed our bikes for a group photo and I noticed a Victory (thanks Canajun) beside us and I asked if they would like me to snap their photo

(Monty & his daughter)

Monty is heading to Oliver for the weekend to visit his brother. We were to cross paths many times along our way. He has a very distinctive paint scheme which is hard to ignore. They actually passed us an hour back on the freeway as we were trying to stay closer to the posted speed.

We were having a great time zigging and zagging our way East and we were entering Manning Park


so of course we had to stop for another photo. We were not in a rush and wanted to enjoy our time together . Even though we had entered the Western boundary of the park it was still 40 kms to get to the main Lodge


It is normal practice to stop and use the facilities. I have found that it requires 2 washroom breaks for every refuelling stop, especially if you are not a younger rider. In order to not have to disconnect all of our accessories we decided the one of us would stay with the bikes and stand guard and rotate when we came back

Princeton, BC is a small town about 2 hours east of Hope along a windy single (1 lane each way) road

(main street, Princeton, BC)

We refuelled and decided to head north along Hwy 5a towards Merritt. This is a very nice road which winds its way gently through rolling hills and many lakes. From Vancouver all the best roads are 4 hours away. After you cross over the mountains you get into a more arid ecosystem which is desert-like.

I wanted to stop and take some photos of the landscape but it was not really possible. The roads are narrow with gravel shoulders that slant the wrong angle. There are very few pull-outs which are also gravel. I had some problems in gravel before so I have learned my lesson. No use having a spill over a photo.

We eventually reach the junction for the Coquihalla connector and head West where I found a paved shoulder for another photo opp


So far the weather has been good but little did we know . . . look at the manacing clouds to the left. We were heading into a storm. For now we were content as it was just past noon and we had a date with our sit down lunch

We finally reached the restaurant


While we were at Manning Park another rider came over to speak to us. He rides a Suzuki Bandit 1200 but today he was driving his Toyota Matrix. I think he goes on a lot of solo rides and today he was showing his wife where he goes. Anyway, when we were at the gas station in Princeton he was there too and he came over again. He was heading the same way so I asked him where would be a good place to have a meal and he said the Home Restaurant on the north side of town.

When we arrived and parked I noticed that it was now very overcast with dark clouds overhead.


We prefer to frequent local eateries rather than the large chains as their food is usually better and less expensive

(Home Restaurant, Merritt, BC)

When we went inside it was nearly full so I thought to myself that this must be a good place. I used to come to Merritt frequently over the years and would usually head directly to the ABC Country Restaurant, but it burned down due to a suspicious fire. The last few times we had gone to the hamburger place attached to the gas station. It was great to find a new eatery.

Here is my pot roast dinner with a side of Cream of Broccoli & cheese soup on the way


We had a pleasant relaxing meal pondering our next move. We were surrounded with dark clouds so we were all using our smart phones to check the weather forecasts in the area. This was part of our plan to make a decision at every junction

OH, OH. We paid for our meals and headed outside to our bikes to find that it was already raining. It seemed that some of the droplets had turned to hail or slush. There were dark clouds in every direction


It's not a good feeling to know that you are 180 miles (300 kms) from home and heavy rain is forecast for mid afternoon in every direction . Time to make another decision


I have an automotive Garmin which is not waterproof, but I carry ziplock bags for this purpose. It seems to work and I have never had a problem with water and you can still operate the touchscreen.

While I was waterproofing my GPS, Mark and Jeff were donning their wet weather gear under the overhang


to be continued . . .


I managed to grab this image while the sun was still shining . While I have had my Canon G10 for over a year I have never really used the RAW mode. I will be taking a trip soon where I wanted to take some higher quality photos so I finally installed the Canon Software CPP (RAW converter). Now this software has already been updated and I wanted the latest version, CPP 3.8 . I had CPP 3.5 which came with my camera . I frequent many photo forums and there was one thread where there was a link explaining how to do the upgrade. This is not the first time where I could not find a download link on the Canon USA website. I had to go to Canon Europe where they offer this support for no charge. I was playing around with the light curve and pumped up the contrast and saturation.

(Lake near Merritt, BC)


  1. While you were joyriding my hubby dragged me into Cypress Falls Park for a hike and climb along the waterfalls. It was nice, don't get me wrong... but it wasn't like motorcycle riding. Nevertheless I got away for a few hours in the afternoon, while he was taking a nap...
    Lovely pictures, will do the loop eventually but not sure if weather and time permits to do it this year.

  2. Sounds like a nice ride - rain and all. Not to be too picky, but I think the bike Monty and his daughter were riding isn't an H-D but rather a Victory.

  3. Wow! I'm so sorry those mtn roads are 4 hours away from you. Your trip looks spectacular! Now I can see the 12 hour saddle time you mentioned. Mr. Oilburner (hubby) also used the ziploc baggy trick when he rode his HD. Works great doesn't it? :)

    The Hope Slide is both impressive and sad.

    And wonderful pictures. I love clouds and you captured some wonderful formations at the lake.


  4. The drama about the rain will drive me crazy until your next post. But it still looks like a wonderful ride. I love it when the plan is to have no plan. But I suspect that having no plan might drive you just a bit crazy knowing how organoized a person you are. Am I right. Are you really beginning to let loose. Are you going to let your hair grow long? Hmmm?

  5. Gee, now I feel so bad for sleeping in that day.

    I wanted to join but didn't relish the thought of waking up so early in the morning, since I went to bed at 3:30 that night. I actually got up at around 5:30 to head to the bathroom, and realized it was still dark outside and stumbled back to bed and woke up 5 hours later. I had an important family dinner I had to go to that afternoon that I couldn't be late for, so I was quite hesitant to be so far out of town in the first place.

    Glad you all had a great time. Still kicking myself in the pants for not being able to go with you guys.

  6. It sounds like a great trip. Last month, we stopped at the Home Restaurant in Merritt, BC, for lunch as well (no food shots). Pretty good diner style food. Just what we were looking for. I really enjoyed going through B.C. this summer. We took the less direct route through the mountains. Beautiful scenery.

    I really like the last picture, great colors. I'd be interested in seeing the original shot. I have been shooting RAW and playing with the pictures in Aperature. Mostly to correct the white balance and exposure. Haven't spent much time learning the program.


  7. I had to go do the conversion 10C = 50F. Not so bad. Nice ride and some nice scenery. The best skies seem to be the ones that bring a threat of rain. The clouds are usually so pretty, right up until they dump buckets of rain on you.

    I guess I'll have to wait to see if you get wet. You really are getting good at leaving us hanging aren't you. :)

    Your last pic - lovely scene.

  8. 4 hrs to the mountains! Torture! One hour is bad enough!

    good pics though....

  9. Dear Bobskoot:

    The best raingear I have ever owned is a VISA card.
    a) Find hotel.
    b) Check-in.
    c) See how well the room service works.
    d) Call home, tell them you'll be back on Tuesday. If they start to complain, hang-up and make it Wednesday.

    Now you might feel somewhat odd about abandoning your riding buddies. Forget about it. You're young. You can make new riding friends next week.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  10. Wonderful Bob!

    Two comfort stops per tankful???? I hope you are able to combine them with your legendary food stops or progress must be very slow indeed. May I suggest a bit of Canadian ingenuity, using a length of rubber hose and a Coca Cola bottle taped to the frame? 2 litres ought to be about right :-). That way, you can spend more time actually riding.

    No need to thank me!

  11. Nice ride report! Very nice pics too--I love the clouds in the pictures--those are the kind I dream of having overhead--even when they turn dark, they are beautiful. Ride well...

  12. It is hard to ride in B.C. without running into some weather. Especially if you are going over the mountains. We did a trip from Osoyoos to Abbotsford this summer and the scenery is fantastic. I didn't get nearly as good of pictures as you did though. Nice photolog!

  13. A good idea to protect your GPS from rain. I use a Garmin 60CSx, which is a unit of low cost, waterproof, robust and easy to handle, even if not a touch screen.

    A good bike, good food, wonderful photos and beautiful places.

    I keep waiting for the continuation ....


    Note: Sorry about my English, is the translator of Google

  14. SonjaM: It's been a while since I have been to Cypress Falls. I remember parking by the baseball diamond and finding the trail across the field.
    Another nice walk for you would be to go back to Lynn Canyon, there are a few waterfalls on the loop trail, or go down to river level, I like it down there. You can view the suspension bridge looking up from water level.

    Canajun: You are absolutely right, I remember seeing the Victory Logo and it has been corrected. You have good eyes

    BeemerGirl: Those clouds also caught my eye, but when I saw the lake I just had to stop for a photo. The lower mainland area of Greater Vancouver is more or less, delta land. From Downtown it is over 2 hours to Hope, where the mountains begin, then you have to cross over where the weather is usually better, but not today.

    cpa3485/Jimbo: The plan was to make a decision at every highway junction, so we did have a plan. The actual plan was to get back in time for dinner so the loop could be expanded or contracted upon the circumstances, that way we could stop and enjoy or just ride. "go with the flow" sort of idea. If you have a plan and a destination then you are disappointed if it doesn't happen. I actually wanted to take some photos in the Lillooet area, but perhaps, next time . . .

    Tony: The plan was always to be back in time for dinner, even if we cut our ride short, which we did. We spent too much time eating and dilly dallying

  15. Richard: I can't believe we actually ate at that same restaurant. I wished your route would have been closer when you were heading south.
    I am not a PS user even though I have an older CS version. for that photo I used my Canon G10, RAW mode, files are about 16 meg, then did the curve/contrast on DPP (Canon Digital Photo Professional) updated to latest version 3.8 . I also just purchased a T2i (same as Chris) and the RAW files are 25 megs. I needed the camera for my big adventure next month

    BlueKat/Kari: You're right about storm clouds, they make for more interesting photos. We didn't like the thought of having to ride 180 miles back home in the rain.

    Charlie6: Hope, BC is just over 2 hours east of downtown Vancouver just to get to the foothills. Even if you go north it is 1-1/2Hrs to Whistler, half hour to Pemberton, then another 2 hours to Lillooet where you are in the middle of the mountains. Spectacular scenery but 8 hours round trip just to get there not counting food and photo stops. You are soo lucky

    Jack: Those who travel together, stay together. Through thick and thin, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health . . . you have had a lot of practice so you should know the rest

    Geoff: I am having a bit of a problem relating to your suggestion. Perhaps you could forward some detailed photos showing exactly how your contraction works, especially how the "apparatus" is connected and how tight of a seal is required.

    Sharon: Glad to have you back. I like your night shots too, so much in fact that I am going to attempt some myself soon. You're going to like your MF camera. It slows you down and makes you think more about composition and exposure settings. I also have some 4x5 equipment you can try when you come this way.

    Rosemary: I didn't realize you had so many lakes down there. We have also been to Granite City and Granite Falls. That Darrington Loop highway is a great road until you get to Monte Christo. I wanted to go there but I am not a hiker but we did manage to walk to the Ice Caves at big 4 mountain. You could feel the thermals even from half mile away. Thanks for visiting

    Edison: Thank you for stopping by. I am so envious of your weather and roads. It is nice to have another friend who also rides a V-strom, same colour as yours too. Your food photos make me hungry. There doesn't seem to be much traffic down there, unless you are taking backroads. Did you really take that unpaved road ? I would be afraid of Sand. I always look forward to your new posts and photos.

    Don't worry about your English, I don't know one word of Portugese