Highway 5A took me today through rolling country with relatively low hills. Almost surprisingly, there were extensive stands of deciduous trees (poplars and birches, I think) whose yellows made a pleasant contrast to all the conifers and grasslands of the last few days.
However, the road seemed strangely tough for reasons I hope are due to the poor sleep I got last night. Just before Guildford Lake, the road dove into the narrow canyon of Alison Creek which alternated between small lakes and "whee" drops with walls of conifers on either side. This was quite a relief and boost to my spirits.
I began to see familiar sights. The first of this were DCT Chambers double tractor trailers hauling wood chips. These were a feature of my last trip. At the time, I wrote a blog entry about the redundancy of the name as the "C" stands for "Chambers". Princeton is another familiar sight along with the Crowsnest Highway (Hwy 3). I am writing this in the same pub where I ate in 2009.
I went into the tourist information to get the lastest on the forest fire ("out and no issues") and the weather conditions. The latter led me to opt for an alternate plan to push on to Penticton tomorrow rather than spend a rest day here. Princeton is boring compared to Penticton and the forecast is better for tomorrow (Tuesday) than for Wednesday. The lady behind the counter asked about my trip. When she heard it was "only" five days of biking, she said I was more reasonable than those "people who start in Victoria and ride across the province." I raised my hand and confessed to having been one of them! She was amused.
Speaking of alternate plans, leaving Merritt, I was on the combined Highways 97C and 5A. The latter is the major route connecting the Coquihalla and the Okanagan Valley. The signs listed a doable distance directly to Kelowna. I mused if I should skip Princeton. Thankfully, I didn't as somone (not the former cyclist) at the Guildford Lake rest stop mentioned that I had avoided a tough pass on the 97C.
I am debating if tomorrow I should take the route I failed to finish in 2009 or go by more established roads. The distance is more less the same. The principle of seeking out new sights encourages me to take the latter route, but pride says the former. La nuit portera conseil.