10-14th July, 2017.
Over the weekend we became increasingly concerned about the wildfires that were closing whole areas of central British Columbia. We were due to return the motorhome to Langley near Vancouver on the 15th and already the southern road from Penticton through Princeton was closed. This left only the road west from Kelowna, through Merritt and over the Coquihalla Pass to Hope as our escape route. Wildfires were already affecting the area north of Merritt and we feared we could be cut off if we delayed leaving Peachland any longer. So we made the decision to drive to Hope to wait out the remainder of our motorhome rental.
We weren’t able to get out of the smoke until the highway was at a fairly high altitude but the drive was uneventful apart from a traffic jam east of Hope. The Coquihalla Campground had good reviews so we tried there first and they were able to give us a site for 4 nights only but we decided to take that and worry about our last night later. It was a huge site for our rather modest vehicle, surrounded on three sides with trees allowing us to feel that we were out in the bush somewhere.
The campground was situated beside the Coquihalla river making it a very pleasant location with plenty of photo opportunities. We walked across the bridge intending to look for a Geocache. Naturally, we didn’t find it but the search took us through a pretty area in the woods.
Like so many of the small towns that we came across, Hope has given itself a point of difference with more than 30 chainsaw wood carvings dotted around the town and we spent a morning wandering the streets and photographing some of them. We were amazed at the fine detail that can be achieved with a chainsaw.
Hope is situated at the confluence of the Coquihalla and Fraser Rivers which form a large lake beside the town.
We enquired again at the campground office about a site for the night of the 14th and they found us one. As we had to pack up the motorhome to move sites, we decided to spend the day at Harrison Hot Springs, as it had been recommended as a place to see, before returning to our new site at the campground.
Purely by chance, we happened upon a craft market along the esplanade.
More chainsaw carvings.
I bought the only souvenir of the whole trip at this stall. A rather expensive leather backpack made more expensive because the displayed price did not include tax! Ouch!