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June 2022

4-Day Bike Tour on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail with @mor.wild

Let's take a look back at a trip from last year when VPO Kingdom friends Katia, Michael & 2 year old Kismet embarked on a multi-day bike tour. They have since added one more member to their family and we can't wait to see what adventures they get up to as a family of four!

July 1, 2021 | The Mordaks | IG @mor.wild
Route: Midway, BC - Penticton BC
Distance: ~220kms
Elevation Gain: 850m

First off, we are not experienced or geared up bikepackers, we are simply starting out and falling in love with it. We live in Penticton, BC and the amount of trail near us has made bike packing extremely tempting. So we decided to give it a shot… with a toddler.... during a 40+ degree heat wave (mind you this piece sprung on us after planning began).

Tidbits of advice we learned from our trip:

1. Water and Nuun are friends
2. Hydro Flask bottles are worth the $$ for some cold water
3. Early morning riding is the best, particularly if riding in a heat wave
4. Treat yourself to great food if you happen upon a restaurant
5. When it’s blazing hot in the day, it doesn’t matter, bring warm sleepwear
6. Cyclists don’t enjoy ATV’s on the trails

Gear Feature of the Trip:

Thule Chariot Lite - This chariot was an essential piece for our trip. The chariot allowed Kismet downtime throughout the ride for reading, snacking, colouring, and napping. Also, the back storage in the chariot was actually a big bonus on this trip as it carried our tent, watermelons and small stuffsacks. On a regular walk we are able to stuff a backpack and Kismet’s small Strider Bike into the back. It is perfectly spectacular. It even allowed for a safe space when packing up camp one particularly buggy morning. We invested in this chariot when Kismet was a newborn and have used it truly hundreds of times in various different ways since purchasing it. I think that is what is so incredible about this chariot - it’s perfectly versatile. We have used it as an everyday stroller, as a jogger, on casual bike rides and now this 4 day bike-pack. Next step, cross-country ski attachments!


As the trip started to creep up we realized that this trip was colliding a little too closely with BC’s nasty heat wave and we really had to think this piece through. Cancelling was very much an option that we considered. Yet, with some elevation gain, extra fluid consumption, early rides and setting camp by rivers/lakes-- we figured that we could make it work. So we committed. We studied the map and the campsite options ahead of time and loosely planned our days. We kept our plans loose because we were not certain what the trail was going to look like, how long we’d want to ride each day or how long our toddler would let us ride. What we may have committed to a wee bit too much was the idea of heat. We saw that even at our highest points the low temperatures in the night were 16 degrees, which seemed really warm when we’re used to camping in temperatures at least 10 degrees cooler. So we brought only base layers and sleeping bag liners to use overnight. We discovered that 16 degrees feels much cooler after biking in ~40 degree weather. In hindsight, we should have brought one more thin layer or our sleeping bags so we could drape them over us like blankets. Fortunately, our toddler had her merino wool sleep sack and didn’t seem bothered any of the nights.

Day 1:

We set our alarms at 5am every morning with a goal of biking by 6am. That is really not like us. But we knew that we simply had to, as it was one of the only ways to beat the heat. The night before this we camped at Frank Carpenter Memorial Campground. This was our warmest night, I don’t think it dipped below 25 degrees. It was the peak of the heatwave, our southmost point, and lowest elevation. It was a gross heat. We stayed in the river late into the night just to be able to cool down for sleep.

The morning ride was beautiful; golden glow, singing birds, marmots milling about the trail and the breeze off of the Kettle River were all graciously inviting. We quickly knew that we were going to love this ride. One thing we did not enjoy on this ride, but we do look back at with laughter, is that only 12km into this ride an incredibly enormous snake appeared out of nowhere on the trail, head raised, tongue out and hissing or rattling (it is a bit of a blur). I nearly ran it right over. I have never sworn so loudly in my life. I quickly, and unintentionally, cut off Michael, shouting, “keep going!”. He, however, came to a complete stop with Kismet in front of him and the chariot anchoring him in his spot. It was like watching him move through molasses to get going again. Little did we know, in this kerfuffle, Michael dropped his phone and we continued on without it. Once he realized it was missing, he tried searching for it but without luck. It set us back at least an hour. He had his phone on airplane mode to preserve battery and he was unable to remember his Apple ID to log into Find my Phone. It felt hopeless and we also knew that the temperature was already climbing and we couldn’t waste time searching for it when it was so unknown. But read on, this phone story gets better.

As the temperature rose there was a mix of wanting to pedal faster for more wind and wanting to pedal slower from heat exhaustion. I remember the exact place where I decided it was all a little bit too much. We had just passed through a scenic farm section that was completely exposed. It was absolutely stunning, but absolutely scorching. We must have been on our 3rd application of sunscreen and our water was nearing its end. We were close to Westbridge and estimated 45 minutes to The Little Dipper Hideaway where we were planning to stay the night. It took a lot of mental focus to keep going, but we did make it - 45km and 200m elevation down.

I did not fare well with that heat. Luckily, Michael and Kismet were well. Looking back, I may have been on the verge of heatstroke. If it weren’t for the heat, this entire section of the trail would have been quite easy going. The biggest trail complication was that there were many cattle gates. Upon arrival, we immediately drank all the water that we could, sliced open a watermelon (yes we packed watermelons), ate lunch and layed down in the river. I think that I actually fell asleep in that river, in a shallow pool, in hopefully a safe way. After regaining some energy, we socialized with other campers there, met a great bunch of people and Kismet made a friend her age. We made it to bed early that night and stayed warm enough this night too.

Day 2:

Again it was up and out early in the morning. We were planning 47km’s this day and more climbing (~300m) to Arlington Lakes Recreation Site. What I did this day was load up my water bottles with electrolytes. We also decided that we’d refill our waters half way. I was not about to relive conserving water and running out. I grew a new and very real appreciation for cold and tangy electrolyte water out of my sweet, sweet Hydro Flask. I felt far more human at the end of this section of the ride.

There was also less sun exposure on this day, and instead many kilometres of gradually climbing through forested trail. Most of this section was also easily navigable, there was only one rocky section that I can recall. Of course, it aligned with the time that Kismet wanted to nap in the Chariot. She was surely unimpressed with the bumps and made it known. But like any rough patch it passed, or rather we passed it, and on we went.

We arrived at Arlington Lakes early in the afternoon to discover that it was a surprisingly big and busy recreation site. We scooped one of the last spots. This lake was quite nice and many people were out enjoying the lake. We too hung around the lake for the rest of the day and I had way more energy to actually enjoy the water on this day. Now this night was cold. Not when going to sleep but we woke to cold temperatures and the need to bring our bodies in closer together. Kismet seemed the warmest-- but that’s the way it always goes, right? Prepare the little one more than ourselves?

Day 3:

Now to be honest, Day 3 still haunts me. Just a little bit. But I’d still do it again. We biked 73km’s and 320m elevation gain to Chute Lake Recreation Site. We planned it this way because the McCulloch Recreation site seemed too close for us and there were no sites in between that and Chute Lake. We had also thought that Myra to Chute Lake was going to be a breeze as it seemed fairly flat on the map. It is an accessible and frequently used section of the trail so we were pictured smooth, compact trail. Well Myra was a breeze, the ground is compact and the trestles are as smooth as butter. It was even a quiet day up there and we hardly had to share the trestles, likely because of the heat.

The trouble was that soon after Myra the trail took a deep dive into thick sand and rock fields all the way to Chute Lake. It was a lot of work to make it through this section. Michael’s mountain bike, even with the chariot behind him, fared far better than my touring bike. My frustration was very real. I even convinced Michael to switch bikes with me.

There was a point where we must have only been 2km’s from our destination and I got off my bike and sat with my head in my knees. I did not want to do it anymore. To be fair, perhaps we could have had the foresight of these conditions given the knowledge that we had of the trail on the other side of Chute Lake (we have done that section before) and that it is a hot spot for ATV’s. Well I got back on my bike and we made it there. This was actually the one and only site in which we met and spoke with other bike packers. We all bonded about the terror that is the condition of the trail before and after Chute Lake and we may have all cursed ATV’s (sorry not sorry if that’s your hobby).

Now the one incredible thing about camping at Chute Lake after 3 days of bikepacking meals, is the restaurant at the Lodge. We indulged ourselves with great food, a whole lot of water and even snazzy cocktails. We even considered staying in a glamping tent with cozy warm blankets that they had on site-- but in the end it was off to the free rec site we went with our light sleeping bag liners. After all, we did not lug all of our gear all this way to sleep inside.

Day 4:

We started our day later in the morning, finally a sleep in, as we had only 34km’s to cover and almost all of it was descent. Not to mention we were keen to wait for the Lodge to open for a couple of specialty coffees before departure. Now this descent was a sandy, rocky, slip-sliding mess. However, we did have the complete pleasure to discover that work had been done on the trail since we had used it last. So Instead of 20km’s of poor trail conditions from Chute lake to Naramata, it was maybe 15. Naramata back to our home was brilliant. It was actually completely surreal to finish this trip. All the way to our front door. I don’t know the last time I have felt so accomplished.

For Michael, however, the day was not over. If you remember… he lost his phone on day one. He decided that he was going to drive back to Midway (2hr drive), to the start of our ride and bike the beginning 15km’s in search for his phone. He found it. It was in the exact spot where we had the hissing snake encounter. He later explained that on day one he had biked back past that spot but hadn’t seen it there, likely because he kept his eyes up fearing that he would once again meet the snake. How it was still there, in perfect shape, I don’t know. But if you happened to be biking by this section of trail and moved a phone with a yellow case to a visible spot, thank you—we owe you!