A crisp morning, smiling faces, snowshoes and skis awaited an eager group at the trail head on China Ridge last Saturday.
It was a celebration, an educational workshop and a great reason to have fun thanks to a partnership between Thompson Rivers University, the Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning and China Ridge Trails Association that started in 2008. This excursion was the first of its kind for China Ridge.
A weekend package full of outdoor adventure, camaraderie and good food were just the beginning for the partners.
A study done for the Town of Princeton through a Thompson Rivers University program identified China Ridge as a valuable commodity for the community.
Totally sponsored by Town of Princeton, the Regional District and the Red Tree Project from TRU, the weekend retreat is the first organized interpretation of the tourism plan we worked on,” said China Ridge President Kelley Cook.
Adventurers from the Lower Mainland, Oliver, Kamloops, Hope and other communities all made the trip to check out all Princeton had to offer and none went home disappointed. “Can somebody wipe the smile off my face?” asked one skier after coming back from her excursion.
“When you are skiing with 20 visitors and they are awing and oohing our town, our trails, our Longhouse and everything,” said Cook, “it is an eye opener to all of us about we really have. Their appreciation makes us really appreciative of what we do have here. We get a real sense of pride and pleasure from all our hard work. Everyone was super impressed with the Castle and Thomasina too,” said Cook, “and Judy and Sharon were incredible hosts.”
The weekend adventure promised two nights of accommodation at Princeton Castle Resort, a campfire reception Friday evening that included Smores and hot chocolate, breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday provided by Thomasina’s Tea Shoppe, a guided tour of Princeton’s history, two days of skiing and snowshoeing at China Ridge led by trail guides, a candlelight ski/snowshoe on Saturday night, snacks, a dessert at Seller’s place and some educational talks courtesy of Kelly Pearce from Hope Mountain Centre and Kelley Cook from China Ridge. The package weekend adventure turned out to be a big hit with positive comments coming in to the many members who were out volunteering their time. One couple enjoyed the retreat so much, they signed up to be members. Another said, “Wow I don’t need to look after a thing,” before she signed up.
Kelley was very happy that China Ridge has been able to forge a partnership with Hope Mountain Centre. “I have done a lot of work with them on the Hudson Bay Trail,” said Cook. “The trail Is once again linking our communities. I went to Hope with Brad Hope a few years ago to a grizzly bear presentation and made all these great connections and now our connections have grown into a really positive partnership.”
Hope Mountain Centre had also done a project with TRU. “They have an email list of 1300 and it was a perfect way for us to do this first package adventure by hooking up with them. We have had a good working relationship through the Hudson Bay Trail project and it is great that they can take bookings that will lead to packaging within our community.”
“There are a lot of Kelley Cook fans in Hope,” said Hope program director Kelly Pearce. “Kelley has invigorated the Hudson Bay Trail at the Princeton end and lit a fire under our butts to get the trail up to par at our end and now we have many people on board helping with that project. Kelley has GPS’d and marked out the HBC trail all the way from our end to yours and done an amazing job promoting the need for it to be designated a heritage trail. There is somewhere in the ballpark of 50 kilometers of trail between Princeton and Hope with 43 kilometers now designated historically significant.”
“Both Mayor McLean and Regional Director Brad Hope have been so supportive,” said Cook. “Then, Councillor Frank Armitage and his wife Darnela came up to meet and greet people on Sunday and be goodwill ambassadors for our community. They are just great people. We had lots of input when we were brainstorming for this event and lots of support. It is that which made our weekend work.”
Thomasina hosted the group at her restaurant Saturday morning. Afterwards Lori Thomas from the Chamber of Commerce and Sharon Anderson from the museum gave a tour of Princeton and “Lori did a poem,” added Cook, “that was awesome. The group was impressed with the tour.”
Joan Kelly from Vermilion Forks Field Naturalists tended the Longhouse along with Johanna Nott. “Word of mouth is growing about all China Ridge has to offer,” said Cook. “Everybody just raved about the food, the candlelight ski at the airport, the dessert stop at Sellers, the poker run and all the rest of it. Everyone had fun and our volunteers are good. It was a really successful weekend. Our goal is to be unique and remain quant. TRU worked with the club to find a balance. It was Year One of our plan. We want to develop the off season in Princeton.
The educational portion of the trip was a partnership between the two Kell(e)ys. The duo talked about climate differences and the ecosystem of the Princeton area. The tour included identification of wildlife markings and a brief description of the native species. Cook also, gave onlookers a quick peak at the life of a Pine Beetle.
All in all, it was hard to decide who enjoyed themselves more, the visitors who came to experience, the locals who organized the event or the others who came to check it out. “It was so cool to hear everyone’s stories,” stated Cook. “The whole weekend was a hit. Visitors come to experience the rural touch. They live in a world where they are anonymous and here they are treated like a friend.”
The Hope Mountain Centre is holding a special evening at the Blue Moose Coffee House in Hope on Thursday February 24 at 7 p.m.. The presentation will educate attendees about the significance of the HBC Trail of 1849, and the important role it
played in the development of Hope, British Columbia, and Canada.
Archaeologist Jeff Martyn will explain the trail’s First Nations origins and
fur trade history, and there will be an update on the work being done to restore
the trail for recreation. To find out more about this event or any others through Hope Mountain Centre, the curious can go to www.hopemountaincentre.org