The Coquihalla, Highway 5 and also known as the ‘highway thru hell’ is the highway connecting Hope-Princeton to the Fraser Canyon, and this past December, I got the chance to take this infamous road in a loaded tractor trailer. In addition I got to travel the equally fun route known as Highway 3 during my trip from Kelowna to Vancouver and then to Keremeos from Vancouver the next day.
The word Coquihalla comes from the local aboriginals, and means ‘stingy container’, but refers to a special spear fishing spot which is located on what is now called the Coquihalla River.
Not only does this series of highways have a notorious reputation among locals, but like everything else that is slightly dangerous and exciting, it also has a TV show. You might have heard of it – “The highway thru hell” which follows Jamie Davis, a tow-truck company owner who tends to the Coquihalla. When winter conditions become rough and unforgiving, Davis is responsible for getting wrecks, which are often big-rigs, out of the ditch and sometimes off the side of a mountain.
When I arrived in Kelowna, I wasn’t too enthused checking out the seven day forecast, it turns out I brought back Ontario’s winter with me. Five out of the seven days I visited it was below zero degrees, but I couldn’t complain, I was in the mountains. While much of my trip was interesting and will eventually be told in every disgusting detail, first I must highlight this epic Canadian journey through what was hands down the most beautiful drive I have ever been on, albeit nerve wracking.
I had no idea I’d be taking this 524 km stretch of highway (truthfully I only took half of it) during my trip and was informed only the day before that I’d riding in a 53 footer through one of Canada’s most epic mountain passes. Despite the ranting and raving of the people around me, I wasn’t too worried about the trip – in the end I had just gotten off my first plane ride ever, and that barely gave me the shakes (the five beers along the way, might have helped). Besides, I would be riding along side my cousin, who drives the highway six days a week, many hours at a time. What’s to be scared of when you are riding with a pro?
Despite my ass numbed beyond the effects of a cocaine suppository, the scene along that stretch of highway was the stuff that makes you shed man tears. I was constantly being brought back to my many hours exploring the world of Skyrim, keeping an eager eye out for any shit-disturbing dragons.
I took much of Highway 5 at night and despite being a little worn out from days of partying before, I stayed up for most of the ride, however it wasn’t the best conditions for shooting photos leaving my travel back the more opportunistic route.
I’ll let the picture tell the rest of the trip. The rest will be saved for my award-winning novel, yet to be written.
These pictures are a combination of Highway 5 and Highway 3.