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From Anacortes, we headed north and crossed the Canadian border at Sumas, WA. Once across, we turned east to the town of Hope. This small town is on the Frasier River at the southern end of the Frasier Valley. This is a place of spectacular natural beauty. Near vertical granite mountains rise up in all directions. The Trans Canada Highway runs through the valley.
In 1848, Fort Hope was established by Hudson’s Bay Company at the trailhead for what is now known as HBC Heritage Trail. This trail was originally developed as a way to reach inland bypassing Frasier Valley since the valley walls were too steep to navigate. In the years following, the fur trade and the 1858 Frasier River Gold Rush supported Hope and its residents.
On our first day we hiked the Mount Hope Lookout trail. This mountain is adjacent to the town on the south side. The hike has a 1,500 foot vertical gain and ends at a nice viewpoint with welcoming benches. From there you can see the entire town, the Frasier River and the Frasier Valley in the distance to the north.
A must see for any visitor to Hope are the Othello Tunnels. Designed by Andrew McCulloch, the Othello Quintette Tunnels were built through solid granite between 1911 and 1916 to complete the Kettle Valley Railway. Mr. McCulloch was an avid fan of William Shakespeare and used the names of characters from Shakespeare’s plays to name stations along the rail line. Just 4 miles from Hope, the rail line, running along the north bank of the Coquihalla River was faced with shear granite walls rising from the riverbed to a height of more than 300 feet. A short hike allows visitors to walk through this series of tunnels with the churning waters of the river down below. A beautiful and dramatic setting.
On another day we took a trip north into the Frasier Valley to what is known as Hell’s Gate. The Frasier River drains fully one-fourth of the landmass of British Columbia and at this spot the valley narrows into this gorge, a little more than 100 feet wide. On the east side are the Cascades Mountains and on the west side are the Coast Mountains. On the day we were there, the water running through the gorge was 154 feet deep. This is about average for this time of year and would have been running higher during the peak of spring run-off. The highway is on the east bank about 800 feet above the river. From there visitors ride an air tram which crosses the river down to a landing on the other side of the river. A nice visit in a place of stunning beauty.
Next stop: Burnaby, BC