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Myra Canyon closed to the public

The Trans Canada Trail through Myra Canada near Kelowna has been closed due to damage to a trestle bridge by a rockfall. - Rolf von Andrian/contributor
The Trans Canada Trail through Myra Canada near Kelowna has been closed due to damage to a trestle bridge by a rockfall.
— image credit: Rolf von Andrian/contributor

The world-renowned Myra Canyon section of the Trans Canada Trail, closed after wildfire destroyed 12 of the 16 historic wooden trestle bridges in wildfire in 2003, is closed again.

Last week, boulders described as the size of cars and trucks fell from the rock face beside trestle number three onto the decking and damaged several of the ‘bents’ that hold up the intricately-engineered structure, making it unsafe.

B.C. Parks has closed Myra Canyon, between Ruth and Myra Stations, effective immediately.

There’s still snow at the 1200-metre elevation where the historic Kettle Valley Railway route traverses the hills east of Kelowna, but crews from B.C. Parks will get in as soon as possible to do a geotechnical site assessment and to assess the condition of the damaged trestle bridge.

There won’t be any estimates of when the trail will be reopened or repair costs until after those assessments have been done, said a ministry spokesman.

Signs have been placed at the parking lots at both ends of the canyon warning that the trail is closed.

Maintenance of the trail is looked after by the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society whose volunteers decked the trestles after the rails were removed in 1980 and built railings in order to make the trail safer for hikers and cyclists.

Then, in 2003—just after it was declared a National Historic Site—the Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire swept through the canyon destroying 12 of the 16 wooden trestle bridges and damaging the two steel ones.

The federal government, with some assistance from the province, rebuilt the trestles at a cost of $17.5 million and the route was re-opened to recreational users from around the world in 2008.

A past-president of the MCTRS and chair of the committee who organized the rebuilding, Ken Campbell, said snow is late melting this year at that elevation, perhaps because there’s more than usual, so no volunteers have yet been in to assess winter damage to the trail.

The damage to trestle three was actually reported by a neighbour, Rolf von Andrian, who runs a bed and breakfast operation near the site, after some guests discovered the rockfall at the third trestle in from June Springs Road.

Campbell figures it will take time to repair the damaged trestle; to pull together supplies like the big timbers needed to build the bents needed to replace those damaged.

Trestle three is 82 metres long and nine metres high, one of the lower trestles, so Campbell feels it might be possible to create a detour around the damage if necessary.

He warned it’s not safe right now to even drive a snow machine over it.

Last spring volunteers cleared seven slides that had come down over the trail, partly because of an especially wet June.

Alternate freezing and thawing cycles are responsible for such rockfalls, because of water that get into fractures in cliff faces, then freezes. He expects there will be more of that this year before the season ends.

Rebuilding of that trestle after it was destroyed in the 2003 wildfire cost $1.2 million.

The MCTRS annual general meeting is April 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the EECO in Mission Creek Regional Park and everyone is welcome to attend. New directors are also welcomed, noted Campbell.

 

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

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