With this being one of the mildest winters on record and with this past Sunday being another sunny, warm day, we decided to pack a lunch and head out for a drive. Our destination was to be the Kane Valley. The Kane Valley, which is one of our favourite haunts, lies between the Coquilla (#5) and Highway 5A which is the old highway from Merritt to Princeton. This area, in spring through fall is a birders paradise and the wildflowers in late May, June to early July are spectacular.
We pulled out of our drive at 8:30 am, the temperature was 0 degrees and the sun was shining. This time we remembered winter boots, jackets etc. (although there was no need for any of them). We even took along ‘Tizzy Lizzy’ our Garmin Nuvi GPS, so dubbed because she gets into such a ‘Tizzy’ every time we insist on going on roads she doesn’t think exist.
First stop was for fuel and coffee in Hope, then up the Coquilla where there was no more snow than there had been when we drove this way a month or so ago…in fact, if anything, there was less.
Here is the parking lot at the rest area just past where the toll booths used to be. Doesn’t look much like the middle of February does it!
a number of Gray Jays greeted us…..
also some Steller’s Jay…..
and even this Raven. That would be pretty much it for birds this trip.
There are a number of ways to access the Kane Valley, we would take the most direct from this route, which is to take exit #256 off of the Coquilla, driving to and through Kingvale, turning right onto the Kane Valley Road. The very first part of the Kane Valley road is actually paved as there are a number of residences
however it doesn’t take long to get to gravel…this whole area between the Coquilla and Highway 5A is criss crossed with roads, all good, but all gravel, so if you are the sort that doesn’t like to get your tires dirty – this area isn’t for you. There are ranches scattered through out, so these roads are kept open in winter, but can be muddy in spring and dusty in the summer.
here we are looking southwards towards the Voight Valley, another area we like to explore. With the road looking a bit muddy and knowing that it would climb and is shaded so would most likely be icy, we decided to leave that area for another day.
taken from the same spot, this is looking back in the direction we had just come.
We are now pretty much in Nicola Ranch territory.
having now passed the turn off to the Voight Valley, and going over cattle guards that announce a ranch house complex, we are now looking south again. The bright but low sun made for challenging photography.
Like so much of the interior of our province, this area has also be decimated by the Pine Beetle. We were a bit appalled to reach an area that on first look appeared to have been completely clear cut, but when we looked closer we could see that all the young trees had been left, so even though it looks awful right now, it will fill in with native grassland and wildflowers.
A bit further along we stopped at this favourite spot. There is a shallow lake here that is a favourite nesting spot for all sorts of birds including Black Terns, Yellow headed Blackbirds, Killdeer, etc.
This is a closer look at the stump you can see in the above shot.
and there is Ernie back there with his video camera taking pictures of me taking pictures. I should mention that as of this point we hadn’t seen another vehicle since leaving the Coquilla Highway.
Just past this shallow lake there is a junction. The Kane Valley Road continues on straight ahead, while another road goes off to the right that will take you to Aspen Grove on Highway 5A. This is a very twisty and in some places, steep road, although there are a number of ranches along it, we thought it best to leave it for another day and continued on in the main direction.
This whole area is full of little lakes, and before long we had reached another one. There is actually a spot here where you can camp…it is Nicola Ranch property and there is a sign stating a fee for camping although if anyone ever actually collects it I don’t know.
on this day Shantz took advantage of the spot to do a bit of digging in the snow!
While I attempted to get some interesting shots of the bull rushes that were growing along the edge of the lake. This area too is very ‘birdy’ in season and is also popular for fishing as are most of the lakes in the area.
A woodpecker could be heard in the distance but not spotted.
at this point I think I will post this much and continue on tomorrow. We have the rest of the Kane Valley to visit, Kentucky Allyene Provincial Park to stop in at, then drive down to Princeton and back home via Manning Park….so a long ways still to go!