When the summer comes around I’m always itching to explore this province a little more. I absolutely love traveling to far-away places, but I have to say that British Columbia is one of the most magical places of all, especially in the summertime. Each region has its own feel and its own kind of beauty. I’m a teacher, so though I do have the amazing gift of summers off, I also have to get by for two months without a paycheck so I spend a lot of time exploring the places I can reach by car, bike or bus on the cheap. I’m also increasingly obsessed with canning my own food, so this past August my friend and I decided to kill two birds with one stone. Our goal for the roadtrip was to do as much swimming as possible and come home with a carload of produce. We decided that a roadtrip to Keremeos and neighboring Cawston (the “organic farming capital of BC”) would fit the bill just swimmingly (sorry).
We turned the five hour drive into a full day of summer goodness. We took the scenic Lougheed Highway (7) from Vancouver to Hope instead of the featureless but more direct Highway 1. We stopped near my hometown of Mission to swim in one of my favorite childhood swimming holes, Norrish Creek (though we kids called it Suicide Creek, for reasons dark and unknown), which is a crystal-clear cold-as-all-get-out and all-around perfect place for a swim on a hot day. After a brief coffee and internet fix in Hope at the popular Blue Moose Cafe, we took the Crow’s Nest Highway and took a stroll through one of the many hiking trails in Manning Park, where we came across a spooky turn-of-the-century abandoned mine and logging truck deep in the woods.
We stopped for a lot of photo breaks. Hedley was especially picturesque. It’s a historic mining town with cute old houses and a beautiful little church from the gold rush era. We also made a stop at Bromley Rock, another great swimming spot along the Crow’s Nest where braver souls than I can jump from the cliffs into a deep curve in the Similkameen River. Eventually we reached Keremeos, where we scarfed down some of their signature samosas that are sold at virtually every farm stand along the main drag. We decided to camp at Cathedral Provincial Park, which turned out to be a great decision.
To get to Cathedral Park you turn south off of the Crow’s Nest Highway just before Keremeos, pass over one of the last remaining covered bridges in North America (known affectionately as the Red Bridge) and then drive along a scenic logging road that runs parallel to the Similkameen River. Cathedral Park is a destination for many adventurous (ie: fit) hikers; though we didn’t have time or supplies for the 20+ km hike up to the top of the mountain, I would definitely love to go back and do it one day, as it is rumored to be one of the most beautiful hikes ever.
There are a handful of rugged campsites along the river that you can choose from, each with only a few sites. We somehow ended up camping at the day-only site (oops) but there were so few people around that it didn’t matter, and the ranger was too distracted by Jordy’s speedo to care. We spent the next day exploring the park before heading to Cawston to fill the car up with over 50 pounds of sweet smelling organic tomatoes and peaches that are now sitting in jars in my pantry, reminding me of the gorgeousness of summer.