Monday, September 22, 2014

Merritt Day Tripping

Back roads and a Jeep - they were made for each other,.and the Merritt BC area has plenty of back roads to explore.

I had a few days of holidays to use up so I picked a week in September, kept my fingers crossed that the rains would hold off and planned on spending one of those days on a solo day trip to Merritt. Well, that trip happened and I had a blast !

I printed off a few caches in the south Merritt area and a bit more to the north around Nicola Lake; these two areas would provide a start and a finish to a side road that I had been wanting to do for a couple of years. Seems like when ever we come to Merritt we are always hitting the main areas and main accumulation of geocaches - today it was just me and a chance to wander where ever I wanted.

TIP: click on any picture to make them full size for better viewing

I pulled in to Merritt around lunch time after having a slow start to the day (hey! I'm on holidays) and turned into the Merritt tourist centre right at the end of the Coquihalla Highway. Right beside the tourist bureau was the start of my aforementioned back road.

The road heads east along the Connector and follows the new road uphill for a mile or so; it quickly became apparent that this small two lane road was the original highway before they built the newer four lane freeway. Gravel was replaced by blacktop as the road curved and wound it's way up the occurred to me that I had driven on this road many years before but that was so long ago I think I was a kid back then..

 After finding three geocaches along the old highway it was time for the main attraction of the day - the "Princeton Cutoff Road" so named as it bypasses the town of Merritt by running south - north ending at the south end of Nicola Lake.

These ranch roads always hold such promise of hidden scenery that they are irresistible to me - look at the picture above...doesn't it make you want to see what's down that road?

The road wound through a wash as it followed the topography of the creek in and out of small stands of trees and then into open areas. Each twist of the road brought a new sight line to enjoy.

 Each time you thought you had a wide open view of the ranch land you would take one more turn and.........

.....a new vista would open up that would tease you to stop and savor the view...which I did, that's why it took me so long to go just a mile or two. Plus, there were two geocaches along this ranch road that was a added bonus to the scenery.

As I got closer to the north end of the road Chutter Ranch appeared below looking as idyllic as it could be. Crops are all done for the year other than some small hay fields going late into the season

 The road took a narrow path down the side of a bluff, only enough space here for one vehicle so you better hope no one is coming towards you.

Eventually the road dumps you at the southern end of Nicola Lake...not wanting to miss a good photo op for a Jeep-like commercial I had to do some Jeep "vouge-ing"

I headed north along Nicola Lake to pick up a few new caches that were not here last time I came through; these were simple stop and grab me caches. One of them was a Gold Rush cache highlighting the Quilchena Ranch that had it's start in 1882. The ranch still operates today, although on a smaller scale than in it's glory days.

 The show case these days is the Quilchena Hotel; built in 1908, it was originally used as a stage coach house but now operates as a boutique hotel with 16 rooms available with fine dining for the palette and a golf course next door for those times your are in between fishing.

 Just down the road back towards Merrit is Upper Nicola, a small village that was booming in the late 1800s and early 1900s.The area is now a museum of sorts and several buildings have been renovated and highlighted for what the were back in the day.

I don't think you ever wanted to end up in the court house back then; in the early days Judge Matthew Begbie was known as "the Hanging Judge" for sending half a dozen men to the gallows for their crimes.

I love the way the geographic locations were named for exactly what they's all in the name.
Hope you enjoyed day tripping with me to Merritt...much more to see in the area so I'll be back in the near future!

These pictures and more of the same trip can be viewed on my Flickr web site here....
PSSSST...right click on the link and say "open in a new window