An Easy Summer Day Trip
Earlier this summer, four of us took a trip out through the Boundary to explore the beauty in the eastern section of the Thompson Okanagan. We started in Kelowna, driving east on Highway 33, up and out of the Okanagan Valley, past Big White, and into Boundary Country. Often, it feels, Boundary is looked at as the little brother to the Okanagan. A little out of the way, not as hot, etc. While some of these concerns have validity (it is hotter in the Okanagan), Boundary contains just as much beauty and it is worth exploring! After the turn off to Big White, there’s about half an hour where that appears to have no civilization, instead what you’ll see is plenty of evergreens, brooks, grass and wildlife. We saw a deer ten minutes into this stretch, enjoying a marshy area just off the highway. I may be biased because evergreens stir something in me, but the dark green lushness declares that life thrives.
We followed the meandering highway, alongside the West Kettle River, through Carmi, Beaverdell and Westridge before arriving at our first stop in Rock Creek, passing the gorgeous Kettle River Recreation Area. We stopped at the self-serve Info Booth just off the highway to stretch our legs and get a feel for the town.
From Rock Creek to Midway, we passed the fairgrounds, the villas, and watched as the highway continued to wind back and forth along the Kettle River, a calm, meandering river perfect for summer floating. We stopped in at Midway Visitor Centre and check out the rail car out front. Fittingly, we found out that the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, a maintained bike path that spans from Castlegar to Hope, runs through the area. It’s a perfect trail for a day hike/bike, or a week-long journey.
From Midway, the drive took us north to Historic Greenwood, a place that feels like walking onto a western movie set, including their visitor centre and museum, where we were met by mannequins and scenes of the past. After Greenwood, Highway 3 snakes around Phoenix Mountain, the local ski hill, once again heading south, before again meeting up with the Kettle River, returning from across the border as we descended into Grand Forks. From there, it was a short drive along the river to Christina Lake.
Before heading into Christina Lake, we stopped to check out the Cascade Falls, a stretch of the Kettle River that runs quickly through a gorge under the KVR trail. Standing on the bridge and watching the water rush under us was exhilarating. The thrashing rapids in early summer demanding reverence.
After a few minutes of awe, we hopped back into the car and drove the final short distance to the Christina Lake Visitors Centre. Located on the southern tip of the lake, this visitor centre features a welcoming café, an environmental wing, and a unique photo experience in which a painting on the ground makes visitors appear like they’re hanging off a high trestle. The environmental wing is run by the Christina Lake Stewardship Society, who also run the building beside the west wing. This building is a water and wastewater feasibility project the society has taken on, which utilizes sewage water from those who stop at the visitor centre and re-purposes it. After chatting with the visitor centre staff, it was time to hop back in the car back to Grand Forks.
It was around 12:30 when we pulled into downtown Grand Forks for lunch. We noticed The Wooden Spoon was incredibly busy, so we decided to check out what all the fuss was about. This restaurant, founded in 2013, features an expansive menu, using many local ingredients in their dishes. Shortly after we ordered our food and sat down to wait, the lineup grew out the door. Thankful we came when we did, we were happy to wait for our food sitting down rather than standing in line. Being busy is a good problem for a restaurant to have, and we weren’t in any real rush.
The food was delicious, and the service was great. I asked our server if they had been affected by the flooding, and she said the worst they had was almost 8 feet of water in their basement. She said she, along with the rest of the staff, had spent many hours sandbagging their business, and then helping out their neighbours downtown. It’s amazing how a community bands together in times of disaster. The food was incredible, and the downtown area was busy as many of the businesses are open after the flooding, and they were working hard to get everything back to normal. Now, the river is down and there’s lots of fun to be had in Grand Forks and surrounding area.
After lunch, we began our trek back through Boundary Country, uninterrupted. We had a peaceful drive, gazing out our windows at hills, valleys and river, and the wonder that Boundary has to offer.
Author: Alastair Heinrichs
Alastair is a Creative Writing student from UBC-Okanagan, and the Creative Content Coordinator at TOTA for the summer. He is most passionate about film, music and sports. With a bend towards education, Alastair loves teaching friends and strangers alike to discover more, whether that’s a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, or a new band, or a foreign film. Alastair also enjoys the incredible local food and craft beer Kelowna has to offer, and camping with his wife, Adrienne.
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