Coquihalla Highway, Lee's `Hwy 5', B. C., Page.

Author's note:
(`07/5) All material on this website is covered by copyrite.
Copy, in whole, or in part, without express permission of the author is illegal.

HIGHWAY 5

(Map of Hwy. 5 in B. C.)
Author's note: Original map by
RAND McNALLY, butchered by Lee. A Wood

In the Province of B. C. Canada.

Sometime during the latter part of the last century, one of our illustrious Provincial Premiers came to the conclusion that it was too terrifying to drive from Kelowna, his home town, to Victoria, using highway 1 or highway 3.

Consequently, at a staggering cost to us poor tax payers, the Coquihalla highway was initiated.

As it was, more or less, a continuance of the highway from Tate Jaune Cache to Kamloops it was numbered `5'.

Many Many years after Bill Bennett Jr. was swept from power, unlike his father who was premier for 20 years and made something of this, once, great province, he was only in office for a short period (Thank God), Highway 5 was completed from Hope to Kamloops.

And many years later, the road that would have given Billie smooth access to the coast, the `Okanagan Connector', was completed from Merritt to Kelowna.

To this day us poor taxpayers are still paying for this colossal ???.

Literally twice, as it has a toll booth on the top of the mountain.

And don't think that isn't expensive to run, being miles from nowhere, having to truck in all supplies and personnel.

I actually helped build the Coquihalla. I pulled a load of propane from Prince George to the construction site at the Merritt - Okanagan Connector Junction during the construction.

Much as I dislike this highway, I have used it many times, but only when some company is paying me, and paying for the toll.

These are some of the pictures I took, through the windshield, along Highway 5.

For a story about a winter trip over the Cokawhatsis, click, or scroll to the bottom of this page.

Unless you are fighting snow and ice in the winter the Coq. is actually a very boring road. There is very little scenery worth looking at.

(Hope, B. C. Canada - Highway splits, Mtns. in the background.)
THE BEGINNING OF HWY. 5,
HWY. 3 BRANCHES OFF TO THE RIGHT
Othello, B. C. Canada - A few old buildings on the side of the highway.)
OTHELLO
(Othello, B. C. Canada - River beside highway going through a deep V between Mtns.)
COQUIHALLA RIVER
(Othello, B. C. Canada - Wide parking area beside highway.)
CHAIN UP AREA - WHERE TRUCKS HAVE TO STOP
TO PUT ON THEIR CHAINS DURING THE WINTER.
DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE GOVERNMENT
PROMOTES TURNING OFF LIGHTS NOT BEING USED,
THESE LIGHTS, LIKE ALL THE LIGHTS ALONG THE COQ.
ARE ON ALL NIGHT EVERY NIGHT
(Coquihalla Hwy.  Zopkios, B. C. Canada – Snow and rock above a show shed.)
SNOW AND ROCK, SLIDE DOWN THE SLOPE,
AND OVER THE SNOW SHED.
THE SNOW SHEDS KEEP IT FROM HITTING CARS, OR BLOCKING THE ROAD
(Coquihalla Hwy.  Zopkios, B. C. Canada – Close up of show shed, pictures of bears engraved in concrete front.)
VERY NICE ART WORK
(Coquihalla Hwy.  Zopkios, B. C. Canada – Tall shear slope above the highway.)
THE STEEPEST PART OF THE TRIP,
UP THROUGH THE SNOW SHEDS
IN THE BACKGROUND, ZOPKIOS RIDGE
(Coquihalla Hwy.  Zopkios, B. C. Canada – Tall bald mtn, toped with snow.)

If you are driving the Coq. in the poor season, October to April, it is very high and susceptible to drastic weather changes any time of the year, you can check the `Zopkios' web cam, see the `Road Condition' link below, or if you are heading South you can stop at the West bound scale, going out of Kamloops, and the scale operator will check the `Zopkios' cam for you.

This cam is located at the rest area just South of the toll booth

NOTE: The Toll Booths no longer exist. Hwy. 5 is no longer a toll highway

(Coquihalla Hwy.  Zopkios, B. C. Canada – Building on side of highway at base of mtn.)
WASHROOMS AND TEMPORARY CONCESSION STAND AT THE WEST BOUND, `ZOPKIOS', BRAKE CHECK
(Coquihalla Hwy.  Zopkios, B. C. Canada – Majestic mountain across narrow valley)
(Coquihalla Lake, B. C. Canada – Highway levels out between top of peaks.)
DOWN TO THE TOLL BOOTHS
(Coquihalla Lake, B. C. Canada – Highway goes under gantry, snowy Mtns. in background.)
TOLL BOOTH PLAZA
(Coquihalla Lake, B. C. Canada – Signs on gantry, tool booths under..)
(Coquihalla Lake, B. C. Canada – Buildings nestled in tress around a lake below the highway.)
COQUIHALLA LAKES, AT THE TOLL BOOTHS
(Coquihalla Lake, B. C. Canada – High plateau valley.)
COQUIHALLA LAKES RD. JUNCTION
(Coquihalla Lake, B. C. Canada – Highway levels out between top of peaks.)
COQUIHALLA LAKES RD. JUNCTION
(Coquihalla Hwy. B. C. Canada – Highway goes under gantry, snowy Mtns. in background.)
(Coquihalla Hwy.  Zopkios, B. C. Canada – Signs on gantry, tool booths under..)
(Coquihalla Hwy.  Zopkios, B. C. Canada – Buildings nestled in tress around a lake below the highway.)
(Coquihalla Hwy.  Zopkios, B. C. Canada – High plateau valley.)
(Merritt, B. C. Looking down on a town.)
DOWN TO MERRITT
(Merritt, B. C. Looking down on a town.)
MERRITT
(Merritt, B. C. - Highway going down hill.)
(Merritt, B. C. - Looking down on a town.)
(Merritt, B. C. - Looking down on a town.)
(Merritt, B. C. - Looking down on a lake.)
NICOLA LAKE
(Merritt, B. C. - Fields by highway.)
IRRIGATION SPRINKLERS AT WORK IN EARLY JUNE
(Merritt, B. C. - Highway going up hill.)
(Kamloops, B. C. - Looking down on a valley of trees.)
(Kamloops, B. C. - Outhouse and parking area by highway.)
WEST BOUND, `MERRITT', BRAKE CHECK
(Kamloops, B. C. - A valley of trees.)
(Kamloops, B. C. - Downhill to a junction.)
(Kamloops, B. C. - Highway overpass.)
JUNCTION TO LOGAN LAKE
(Kamloops, B. C. - Turn off to a wide parking area.)
APPROACHING BRAKE CHECK
(Kamloops, B. C. - Tractor trailer parked in brake check.)
D. WHITE STOPPED AT BRAKE CHECK
(Kamloops, B. C. - Highway going down hill.)
(Kamloops, B. C. - Looking down on a valley.)
(Kamloops, B. C. - Looking down on a valley, Mtn. in the background.)
JUNCTION TO INKS LAKE
(Kamloops, B. C. - Fields being irrigated by highway.)
(Kamloops, B. C. - Overlooking fields of mtn. tops.)
(Kamloops, B. C. - Downhill to a junction.)
DOWN TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE TCH (TRANS CANADA HIGHWAY)
(Kamloops, B. C. - Downhill to a junction.)
THOMPSON VALLEY

END

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Coquihalla Highway
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COQUIHALLA HIGHWAY

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Road Condition Web Cam
(Van Kam logo)
VAN KAM FREIGHTWAYS

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THE COQUIHALLA - OCTOBER `02

(pic of snow shed at night.)
SNOW SHED
JUST SOUTH OF THE SUMMIT ON THE COQUIHALLA.

Story and Photos by

LEE A. WOOD

Things being slow in the film industry during `02, I picked up some work driving city tractor.

For the last two weeks of September `02 I shuttled trailers around the Vancouver area for Van Kam Freightways.

When I called Van Kam during the first week of October they said all there senior drivers had returned from holidays and there was no work for me in town, so I asked about out-of-town work. The line dispatcher said he could use me for the first weekend in Oct. to do a trailer switch in Castlegar.

As per usual, for me, things went smoothly. When I arrived in the southern part of the Vancouver area to pick up my trailer, they hadn't even started loading it. When my load was finally in the trailer, it was not my trailer. They had loaded the trailer that was supposed to go out before me.

Premonition, maybe, I had not backed under my trailer.

The other driver unhooked from his trailer and I backed under it. With a couple of phone calls to change the trailer numbers on our paper work I was on my way, five hours late.

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful except that I came home during daylight instead of in the dark, as I thought I would, so I hadn't taken my camera. I missed some spectacular shots of trees in their fall colours as the sun was bright all day.

I was supposed to take the ex out for supper at a nice Chinese steak house in Richmond, that night, but, by the time I got home she was worn out from shopping and we just had a quick meal in a Chinese restaurant in Vancouver.

Monday I was too tired to work so I turned down a chance to do a Kamloops switch but I agreed to do them for the rest of the week as the regular driver was taking an unexpected week off.

Tuesday night, as per instructions, I showed up for work at 8 PM. A quick pre-trip of my tractor, in the dark, somewhere I had lost another flashlight, back under the wagon (trailer), a quick inspection of it, pull it out, seal the doors, and I was away.

The skies were clear and I had a pleasant ride in the old Peterbilt. (Said facetiously) Why anyone would buy one of those $%#@#$ bone rattlers, I'll never know. Its one saving grace was the 500 Hp Cummins. The light load sailed up the steep grades of the Co Co whatsit, [(Coquihalla Hwy.) ( A road that should never have been built.)]

NORTH-EAST OF HOPE, B. C. - LIGHTS BLAZING ALL NIGHT, EVERY NIGHT
AN UNNECESSARY WASTE OF ELECTRICITY
(Pic. of road side sign  & lights at a chain-up area, at night.)
A CHAIN UP AREA.
A PLACE FOR TRUCKS TO PULL OFF THE HIGHWAY AND PUT ON THEIR CHAINS.
THE SIGNS WILL HAVE FLASHING LIGHTS
WARNING OF SNOW ON THE HILL AHEAD.
(Pic. of road side lights at a chain-off area, at night.)
ACROSS THE ROAD, A CHAIN OFF AREA,
ON THE DOWN HILL SIDE OF THE SUMMIT

In Kamloops I had trouble getting fuel as no one had told me where to find the PIN for the fuel card. At least I had a fuel card. When I went to Castlegar they never gave me a card, nor told me that I was supposed to fuel the tractor for the next driver.

I HAVE TAKEN MANY A PICTURE OUT OF THE WINDOWS OF TRUCKS
BUT I NEVER RODE IN A TRUCK THAT WAS SO HARD TO HOLD THE CAMERA STEADY.
OUT OF OVER A HUNDRED PICTURES TAKEN THAT NIGHT, ONLY A FEW TURNED OUT.
(Pic. of trucks in a break check.)
BREAK CHECK.
NORTH BOUND ON THE COQ. (HIGHWAY 5)
AT THE TOP OF THE LAST HILL BEFORE JOINING THE TCH
(TRANS CANADA HIGHWAY (HIGHWAY #1))
(Pic. of approaching lights at night.)
WEST BOUND ON THE TCH
JUST AFTER LEAVING THE COQ.
AT THE TOP OF THE HILL ABOVE KAMLOOPS
ON THE LEFT, THE WEST BOUND SCALE.
ON THE RIGHT, BRAKE CHECK.
IN THE center, THE EAST BOUND SCALE

Confident that I had enough fuel, I waited for the rig to arrive from Edmonton, switched trailers with him and headed for The Beach. (The West Coast or Vancouver & area).

As I didn't get my switch wagon until 3 AM it was 7:30, deep in the heart of rush hour, by the time I reached the heart of the Lower Mainland. (Vancouver is situated at the mouth of the Fraser River and the flood plains south of the mountains, for about 100 miles East of the salt water, are know as the Lower Mainland.)

And any of you who know me know how much I love rush hour. I have quit more than one company because I have spent hours locked in traffic when I should have been somewhere else, anywhere else.

Tuesday night wasn't so bad. Beginners luck? Wed. night would be better.

I now knew where the PIN was and I could spend 3 hours sleeping while I waited for my wagon in Kamloops. Then I could hit rush hour on Thur. Morning, wide awake.

By now you know my life better than that.

When I arrived for work my trailer was connected and pre weighed. Paper work was ready, doors were sealed, I was good for go.

And go I did. I had a smooth sail, pleasant banter with the lady at the toll booth, and; zoom, down the other side, drop my trailer, fuel up, go to sleep.

TOLL BOOTH AT THE SUMMIT OF THE COQUIHALLA HIGHWAY
AUTHOR'S NOTE: THESE TOLL BOOTHS NO LONGER EXIST

(Pic. of toll booth at night.)
NORTH BOUND - APPROACHING THE TOLL BOOTH.
(Pic. of line up at toll booth.)
FRIDAY NIGHT - START OF A LONG WEEKEND.
ONLY ONE BOOTH OPEN.
(Pic. of booth attendant.)
A PLEASANT DISPOSITION
DESPITE THE MIDNIGHT RUSH.

SOUTH BOUND - APPROACHING THE TOLL BOOTH.
THE COLOUR OF THE MARKERS BLENDS
WITH THE COLOURS OF THE STREET LIGHTS.
IT IS HARD TO TELL, BY THE SIGNS, WHICH BOOTH IS OPEN
(Pic. of buildings in Wu Jin.)
IT IS ALWAYS THE LEFT BOOTH THAT IS OPEN AT NIGHT.

AFTER FIGHTING SNOW FOR AN HOUR,
IT WAS GREAT TO SEE A SMILING FACE

Then the fun began.

Have you ever tried to sleep in a Pete that doesn't have a sleeper.

The guy that designs those things should be forced to live in one for the rest of his life.

Finally my switch arrived and I headed back, into the hills.

When I had come over the pass the temperature had been warmer than the night before and while I was fuelling in Kamloops the temps were below the previous evening. That should have been a warning to me.

Heading out of the Thompson Valley, it is all up hill for several miles.

The skies were clear.

After I dropped over the mountain and started up the next long hill I hit the first snow. It was coming down in big flakes and cutting the visibility. However once I was over the hills and coming down into the Chilcotin Valley I was out of the snow, the road was bare.

This lasted all of twenty minutes, until I got past the town of Merritt and started up the next hill. Barely to the top, I was back into snow.

MERRITT
IN THE HEART OF THE CHILCOTIN VALLEY
(Pic. of Merritt at night.)
NORTH BOUND - LIGHTS OF MERRITT
TO THE WEST OF THE FREEWAY

I wasn't worried about traction as I had really good `V' grip tires on the back axel and some fairly good-style tread on the front drivers. While stopped at the break check above Merritt I had taken the time to find my flashlight and located the switch that interlocked my two differentials.

I had been worried about spinning coming through the first bout of snow but I wasn't about to pull over and I wasn't going to start flipping switches in the dark in case I released my fifth wheel lock.

Now there would be an interesting experience. NOT.

It snowed big heavy flakes for forty of the fifty miles from Merritt to the toll booths at the top of the Coq.

For a long time I followed the tracks of a Quick-X rig and eventually caught up to him.

After following him awhile I thought it was my turn to break trail. When I encountered a slight let up in the snowfall, enough that I could make out which lanes we were in, I passed him. Then I went blind.

Without the headlights of his tractor, and his tracks in the snow, there was no way to tell where I was.

ROAD SIGN
(Pic. of road side sign   at night.)
THIS SIGN IS ACTUALLY BRIGHTER THAN IN THIS PICTURE, ON A CLEAR NIGHT
BUT IT ISN'T EVEN THIS NOTICEABLE WHEN DRIVING THROUGH BLINDING SNOW.
STILL, IT CAN KEEP YOU ALIGNED WITH THE ROAD

The odd time, I could I could see a white line through the snow on the road. Sometimes, I could see a sign to one side or headlights coming the other way. Most of the time, I was flying blind, barely able to see the hood ornament on the conventional.

For awhile I was following the curve of the concrete guard rail when suddenly I saw a divider sign in front of me. Just barely able to swing it back on the freeway I realized the guard rail had become the side of an off ramp.

Eventually I reached the cloverleaf for the Coquihalla Lakes and found bare road.

The snow let up and I had bare but wet pavement the rest of the way home.

Needless to say I was pretty leery about going out Thursday night but the skies were clear and the road was dry. There was some snow lying along the sides of the road South of the toll booth which showed the snow fall had followed me, for a ways, the previous night.

Going down the hill, North of Merritt, I hit it again. The snow was falling thick and fast and visibility was down to ten feet for about ten miles.

After making my switch, I climbed the hill out of the city and stopped at the weigh scales. I could see that the brake check on the other side of the freeway was virtually empty so I went into the scale shack and asked the operator if she had a weather report for the Coq.

Better than that, she had a TV.

The camera is mounted at the brake check on the South side of the toll booth on top of the Coq. The television showed us snow, falling so thick you couldn't see the street light poles, only a glow from their lights, around the brake check area.

SOUTH BOUND BRAKE CHECK - JUST SOUTH OF THE TOLL BOOTHS

(Pic. of brake check at night.)
SOUTH BOUND - APPROACHING THE BRAKE CHECK
(Pic. of trucks in a break check.)
BREAK CHECK.
SOUTH BOUND ON THE COQ. (HIGHWAY 5)


THERE ARE TWO AREAS TO TAKE OFF CHAINS,
BELOW THE SNOW SHED

Needless to say I came home via the Fraser Canyon. Bare and dry all the way.

(Pic. of Van Kam tractor-trailer.)
VAN KAM 2722
STOPPED FOR A TIRE KICK AND A BRAKE CHECK

Despite the fact that my switch had shown up an hour late I was only an hour late getting in. By the time I had gotten to the beach the worst of rush hour was over.

Except that is for traffic heading East out of Vancouver. A little pickup had tried to do a somersault near the weigh scales. Emergency vehicles had the freeway blocked. Traffic was backed up across the Port Mann Bridge.

Friday was my last night filling in on this run. The skies were clear and the road was bare. My trailer was already waiting for me when I got to Kamloops.

No, it wasn't that easy. Two of us do that switch every night. The other driver leaves before me.

Friday he was impatient to get away and instead of waiting for the day shift to finish with his tractor, he takes mine.

Shortly after, his tractor arrived and I make arrangements to use it.

Shortly after that I got a call from the driver on my tractor, he wanted to know if I had broken the stick shift.

How the hell can you break a stick shift? The rod is solid steel and the joint is a machine weld from the factor.

Never the less he brought it back with a broken stick and wanted his usual tractor. So I had to go to the other yard, on the other side of the city, and get a different tractor.

Same model as the one I had been using but even rougher riding.

Then, of course, when I was fuelling up in Kamloops, the PIN didn't work and after three tries the machine wouldn't give me the fuel card back.

Of course there was no answer on the all night number that goes with the card but luckily I had enough fuel to get home.

OFF THE COQ. AND INTO THE LOWER MAINLAND

(Pic. of truck at weigh scale at night.)
WEST BOUND ON THE TCH.
APPROACHING THE WEIGH SCALES AT FLOOD.
(Pic. of truck at weigh scale at night.)
DAY BREAK.
THE MOUNTAINS NEAR BRIDAL FALLS
(Pic. of early morning hunters and holidayers heading for the mountains.)
A SECOND RUSH HOUR
FOR THE GIRLS AT THE TOLL BOOTH.
(Pic. of highway overpass, empty of traffic.)
ON A NORMAL MORNING.
THIS OVERPASS WOULD BE BUMPER TO BUMPER
AS WOULD BE THE FREEWAY UNDER IT.
(Pic. of Port Mann Bridge.)
PORT MANN BRIDGE.
(Pic. of SkyTrain passing over the TCH.)
SKYTRAIN PASSES OVER THE 401
(Pic. of Van Kam's Lake City Yard.)
VAN KAM'S LAKE CITY YARD.
(Pic. of Brentwood SkyTrain Station.)
BRENTWOOD SKYTRAIN STATION
ALMOST HOME.

END

LATEST CURRENCY VALUES
(BoC logo.)BANK of CANADACurrency Converter
WEATHER ACROSS B. C.
(Flag of Canada.)(Environment Canada Logo.)
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Temperatures in Chinese

TRAVEL TIPS:
Bargaining, Cameras, Computers, Taxis, Tipping, Upset Stomach, Water.
VACATION PACKAGES
Australia, Caribbean, Cuba, Europe, Hawaii, Mekong River.

RELATED WEB SITES

(Dayle's Ogopogo logo)
DAYLE'S PHOTOS

Coquihalla Highway
(Gov. B. C.  logo)
COQUIHALLA HIGHWAY

Ministry of Transportation
Road Condition Web Cam
(Van Kam logo)
VAN KAM FREIGHTWAYS

« To the Top of This PAGE
(Head shot.)
LEIGH KIRKWOOD
Travel Consultant
CLICK HERE
For all your; Adventures, Cruises, or Resorts
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