Lilypad Lane

Almost hidden at the north end of Oyama Lake is Lilypad Lane, a meadering waterway connecting Oyama Lake to Streak Lake. Kayaks almost disappear from sight as they weave through the lilypads and bullrushes, above.

After dozens of bike outings, a kayak invitation was a welcome respite.

Meetup.com leader Kent S. explained it would be “a three-hour paddle along the northern end of Oyama Lake, then through Lilypad Lane into Streak Lake where we will paddle to the northern end of the lake and stop for lunch at the Streak Lake forest service recreation site.”

Nothing prepared us for “the beautiful reeds and lily pads as we meander our way through the oxbow that is Lilypad Lane.”

It was indeed magical. Funneling our way through narrow channels. Kayaks disappearing behind bullrushes with only upper bodies gliding by. Duck bums in the air right beside us as they foraged for a meal. The slower we went, the greater the otherworldliness.

If there is a ‘best kayak routes’ list, Lilypad Lane would be near the top along with the immense cliff and cave on the east side of Kalamalka Lake, the stark yellow cliff on the east side, the B.C. Coast-like rocks south of Rattlesnake Island, the ‘Isle of Birds’ off Coral Beach and peaceful Pauls Tomb Bay.

Kent admitted he has paddled Lilypad Lane numerous times making us wonder what other secret places he knows in the Okanagan. Time for another outing with him.

On a cautionary note: Oyama Road is full of potholes once you are past the publicly-maintained section in Lake Country. Four-wheel-drive vehicles and slow speed are recommended

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This is usually the time of year for ski swaps. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ogopogo zone of the Canadian Ski Patrol has cancelled its usual September swap in Kelowna.

Big White Racers aka Big White Ski Club (bigwhiteskiclub.com/

skiswap) has scheduled its swap for Oct. 23-24 at New Life Church, 2041 Harvey Ave. (next to Wood Fire Bakery), Kelowna. Consignment drop-off is 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on Friday ($3 per item); the sale is 8 a.m -3 p.m. on Saturday; and payout is 5-7 p.m. on Saturday (admission $2/person and $5/family).

“Our club would like to have a ski swap this year, however, we are uncertain if we can proceed,” said club spokesman Mike Willoughby. “We have developed a COVID safety plan but the facility will require multiple rooms. At this point, we do not have a suitable location to facilitate this safety plan. Our club is meeting to make a final decision.”

The club partners with Telemark Nordic Club for Nordic equipment. If the big swap is cancelled, “we may do our own smaller one,” said GM Mike Edwards, but no decision has yet been made.

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Feedback from Garry N. about the missing Okanagan Rail Trail link between Kelowna airport and Lake Country:

“This is a real shame. We have this crown jewel in the Okanagan and three years later, the middle is unfinished — broken. Anyone who wants to cycle has to either ride on ‘crazy busy’ Highway 97 with vehicles whizzing by at 100 km/h or ride on narrow Glenmore road with NO BIKE LANE. Why does it take years?

“I don’t think we should just accept ‘Oh well, the government is working on it and they are fast-tracking it.’ Fast-tracking is a couple of months — not three-plus years. This is so very frustrating.”

Matt Vader, chair of the ORL interjurisdictional team, explained the sale of the fee-simple lands from CN to the City of Kelowna was completed on June 1, 2015. The application for the Addition to Reserve process was submitted by the Okanagan Indian Band in May 2018.

“The reason it is an Addition to Reserve is that Duck Lake IR#7 was in existence prior to the now discontinued CN rail corridor and as in the name, it needs to be added back to the reserve. This is the process, regardless of the rail trail. As reserve lands are held by the federal government in deemed benefit for Indigenous People’s use, this is a process that is between the Government of Canada and Canadian National Railway,” he said.

“Collectively, we have supported this process as best we can. The Okanagan Indian Band has and continues to be a respected and valued partner in the development of the Okanagan Rail Trail. At this point, we are optimistic that it is concluding in the near future, but don’t have a confirmed date.”

There are two distinct portions to the discontinued CN rail corridor north of the airport to the Lake Country boundary, he said. “One bisects the Eldorado Ranch property and the other is Duck Lake IR#7.

“They are both separate in terms of process related to the Okanagan Rail Trail but connected geographically. Eldorado Ranch is within the Agricultural Land Reserve so a process was required for a non-farm use of the trail. This is now completed.”

But construction of both portions would occur at the same time “for budget efficiencies.” If the city just built the ranch section, the trail would just end in the middle of the unfinished section with no available connection to any other public access point — Commonwealth Road, Jim Bailey Road or any other public access point, he said.

“So building it out of sequence … would not provide the connection to Lake Country and Regional District of North Okanagan as desired.”

J.P. Squire, aka the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired reporter. Email: jp.squire@telus.net