Quite a few people had warned us about highway 5 from Hope to Merritt. Apparently the Coquihalla summit and the Great Bear Snow Shed was renounced for being a long brutal climb. I asked one local, “How long is the ascent to the submit?” His answer, “At least 50km.” I was a bit puzzled by this, as on the map it looked like it couldn’t be more than 30km.
Our luck had been pretty shit recently and with the heavy loads we were carrying and the lack of training, I was really worried about the summit! Honestly, if it was as bad as what people were saying, then I doubted I would be able to make it to the top.
We pulled into each chain up area on the way, taking it easy, and expecting the worse. Eventually we came to a gradient sign. The whole ascent would be 5.5km. 2km to the snowshed, which we discovered we could cycle around instead of through. Then it was another 3.5km to the summit, which was signified by the services at the top.
Highway 5 from Hope to Merritt: The summit
The climb wasn’t fun, my thighs were on fire, but hey, we made it! We got to the top and celebrated with a hot coffee and a snickers – a traditional we started on our last cycle trip when we cycled over our first mountain pass in France.
The worst thing about the highway was actually the traffic. We managed to pick one of the busiest weekends in Canada to cycle this route – Canada Day Long Weekend! Road trains, trucks, RVs, motorhomes, utes, cars, motorbikes. You name it, it was on the road, all driving in an excess of 120km per hour. Though we did have a fair bit of hard shoulder, I was still shitting it for most of the cycle up.
Onwards to Merrit
After a good rest at the top, we cruised down the mountain and got off the highway at Coldwater Road. Coldwater Road was a nice leisurely, quite road, through the ranches, so we took this the rest of the way to Merritt.
After successfully conquering highway 5 from Hope to Merritt, that night, for the first time during the trip so far, we both felt confident that we could actually make it across Canada.