A river adventure on the Coquihalla

Death defying acts of ropery abound to combat the intense summer heat.

Mason Hemelspeck masters the rope swing at the Tram Bridge Pool on Monday

If this hot and dry summer continues, locals and visitors may get to know the Coquihalla River very well as a place to relax and cool off.

A low snowpack and hot temperatures have combined to make the water lower and warmer than normal for this time of year.

Debbie and Greg Pauls invited their friends to come to the Schoolhouse Rock swimming hole on Sunday and Debbie said she found she could stay in the water much longer than normal without getting chilled.

“The rocks were hot, too. I could hardly stand to be on them with bare feet,” said Debbie.

The Pauls have been enjoying the pool near Othello for years and they invited the Viveen family, who had never been there before.

“It’s one of the places we’re proud to bring people to,” said Debbie. “They were in awe of it. It was beautiful to see their reaction.

“It didn’t take their son, Rohan, long before he was jumping off the highest rock. We had gone across to the other side and Rohan swam back and returned with a Super-Soaker — then their daughter Tamyra came over with two. Lots of fun and giggles!”

Debbie said there were about 25 to 30 people, locals and visitors, at the swimming hole when they were there. Monday afternoon, there were about 35 at the mouth of Sucker’s Creek, where it flows into the Coquihalla.

A sandy beach and shallow creek mouth give supervised young kids a place to play safely, while the rocky outcrop and deeper pool on the Coquihalla give more challenge for the bigger kids and adults.

The early-July water volume looks more like a late-summer flow, making it fairly easy to wade across from the River Parade side. There’s also plenty of parking at the Thacker Marsh parking lot on Union Bar Road.

Swimmers who plan to jump from the rocks should watch the currents and jump clear of submerged outcrops. The downstream half offers the safer jumping spots. Water socks or strap-on sandals make it much more pleasant to walk on the jagged shale outcrop.

The pool tapers off to a shallow depth, so you can walk out — or you can just stay close to the rocks and a gentle back-eddy will bring you back to the jumping spot.

A few kilometres upstream of the Peers Creek Bridge is a long and deep pool known as the Tram Bridge Pool. Just before Lear, there’s a decommissioned tram that once carried technicians to a mountaintop telecommunications tower.

Look for the red-and-white checkerboard building; the Bailey bridge crossing the river is less than a kilometre upstream.

You’ll need to be on the side-road, which starts at the Peers Creek interchange. From Othello, drive under the Coquihalla Highway and stay to the right of the northbound on-ramp. Your easiest river access is from the far side of the bridge.

Have fun in the water — but remember there are no lifeguards at any outdoor swimming spots in the Hope area, so swimmers need to take precautions and swim within their abilities.

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