Those who regularly hike and mountain bike in the Okanagan rarely, if ever, get to meet the trail builders.

Often, you come across a new trail and have no idea who was responsible for laying it out and investing hundreds of hours in establishing it.

But when it is a particularly good trail, especially if it takes you to a panoramic view of the Valley, many of us say a silent "thank you."

The Sheriff, Constant Companion Carmen and other members of the Central Okanagan Outdoors Club recently had an opportunity to not only meet 64-year-old Chris King (and his wife Pam) but hike the new Gladstone Trail west of Peachland.

It's a cautionary tale not only to get permission before starting construction, which was a challenging process of three years in this case, but also of the amount of work required to build it.

King worked in the forest industry for 38 years. Before he retired three years ago, he was the harvesting/logging supervisor for Gorman Bros. Lumber in West Kelowna.

So unlike many who establish new trails without any knowledge or experience, King knew the fundamentals for building roads through the backcountry and he could use those skills to build a proper trail with long-time buddy 70-year-old Dave Oakley.

However, "we were what they call pirate trail builders," King admits with a laugh.

"We didn't have a permit. We just went back here and were following deer trails and fixing them up. We were doing some backcountry mountain biking just to find a few trails. And we started fixing them up a little bit more, realizing we probably need a permit, but we thought nobody would care.

"And then, someone unbeknownst to us set up a trail camera, got us actually building the trail and reported us to the Ministry of Forests."

It turns out the area is the favourite hunting ground for another Peachland resident even though the hillside is just upslope of a residential area.

The hunter didn't want to see more people in there since it could disrupt his sport.

As a result of the complaint, King received a call from a provincial compliance and enforcement officer he knew from his logging days.

"Chris, you wouldn't be building a mountain bike trail behind your house there, would you?" the provincial officer asked.

"No, no, I'm not doing that," King responded with a chuckle.

"Well, he says, before you go too far, I have you on video.

"I go: 'Me?'

"Well, it sure looks like you," he said.

"I said 'Really.' I said 'Listen, we're taking a few deer trails and we're fixing them up.'

"He said 'well, you're doing a little more than that. I have to give you a stop-work order. The only way you can continue on with the trail is to make an official application. Otherwise, you're going to have to totally re-habitate it.'

"And we had done a kilometre by that point."

In total, it turned into a three-year process.

"We got official approval last September with a lot, I mean a lot, of controversy. First Nations didn't want it because it is within WFN's community forest. Their main concern, and understandably so, was fire from more people in the area," said King.

The pair received support from Peachland council, which approached WFN and received approval. The Ponderosa Golf Club development at the bottom of Pincushion Mountain also came onboard.

"They said this would be a good thing because Peachland doesn't have very many good trails. Next to zero other than Pincushion," said King.

When the Ministry of Environment found out about the proposed connection to the Pincushion Mountain trail "with a beautiful traverse," says King, it responded that this area was "very sensitive mule deer winter habitat" and suggested a loop instead. And then, the ministry stipulated there would have to be an inspection for pockets of invasive weed species. The inspection found no issues.

"Every time we thought we were so close we could taste it. There were many times that I said this is not worth it. The whole process was very difficult. Although I must say that the fellows at Rec(reation) and Trail Sites BC, Ian McLelland and Ryan McAllister, once they got more involved and walked it with us, they saw it was a good thing."

The extended approval process turned out to be "a blessing in disguise," King admits, since "it pushed us to keep going and get it done."

It wasn't without other challenges as well.

"We would hide our tools behind a tree, thinking: who is going to find them? But when we got more than halfway done, three-quarters of the way done, we came out one morning and the tools were gone. It was one more thing that pushed us harder."

The pair re-launched their trail-building efforts last September and King estimates they devoted between 1,700 and 2,000 hours to complete it, virtually working full-time from September until the first snowfall and resuming in the spring.

It has now been open for about eight weeks.

"We were out here almost every second day if not every day, the two of us."

One of the bureaucratic steps in establishing a maintenance partnership with the province was forming a non-profit society. Fortunately, both men were Peachland Ski Club regulars on the 37-kilometre Wilson Lakes snowshoe and cross-country ski trails which then became the Peachland Outdoors Club Society.

Those trails on both sides of Brenda Mine Road were popular during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Today, the trails are still maintained by a few people, and are being explored and rediscovered by a growing number.

"It was a long, long arduous process to get the approvals. But when we did, it just gives you that much more satisfaction. Now that we've completed it, I feel so good. To hear all the positive reviews and people coming out and enjoying it, that just goes over the top for us, the builders of it. It's such a great thing.

"Like we said, it's something our grandchildren will be able to use. And our great-grandchildren will say: 'you know, great-grandfather built this trail,'" said King.

The trailhead is located at the end of Harrington Court (off Victoria Street) in Peachland. The elevation gain is 249.5 metres and the average time to walk up is about 90 minutes depending on your fitness level and how often you stop to admire the panoramic views of Peachland and Okanagan Lake looking east and south toward Penticton. Dogs are allowed. Information is posted at: peachland.ca/gladstone-trail

*****

Today is Parks Day across Canada.

The BC Parks Foundation website shows Parks Day activities in this province at bcparksfoundation.ca/events/parks-day-walks-and-picnics/

In the Okanagan, the South Okanagan Similkameen National Park Network wants those interested in celebrating Parks Day to bring a picnic lunch to Mount Kobau for a wildflower nature walk with naturalist Eva Durance and/or hike with astronomer Chris Purton around the site where an observatory was proposed in the 1950s but was never built.

Meet at parking lot at the top of Mount Kobau at 10 a.m. with a picnic lunch, water, closed-toed shoes, long pants, jacket and hat, binoculars, camera, notebook and mosquito repellent. There are no picnic tables, so bring a blanket or chair. There are pit toilets.

The road to Mount Kobau is about a 15-minute drive from Osoyoos west on Highway 3. After you pass Spotted Lake (which is not too spotted because of the wet spring), turn right (north) onto a gravel road. There is no sign here, but a wrongly placed marker for Spotted Lake marks the turn, according to the society.

It is a leisurely 30- to 45-minute drive for about 19 kilometres to the top.

The road is a bit bumpy and dusty but the views are spectacular. Mount Kobau at 1872 metres above sea level so it is about 10 degrees cooler than the valley bottom. For more info on Mount Kobau, go to exploreoliverbc.com/blog/hiking-osoyoos-mt-kobau

The BC Parks Foundation is launching its Healthy by Nature initiative today with 100 "Outside and Unplugged" walks in 100 parks led by 100 health care professionals.

"These walks are an informal, one-hour, family-friendly walk designed to connect the community to their local BC parks," said Jennie McCaffrey, program coordinator. "There is a lot of interesting new science around the health benefits of being in nature so health-care professionals will be leading walks. We are also encouraging everyone to go for a family, friend or group picnic. See more details on the walks at healthybynature.ca."

*****

Members of the Kelowna Canoe and Kayak Club will hold an informal rescue practise session 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday at Whiskey Cove, off Westside Road, north of Highway 97 in West Kelowna.

"We are very safety conscious at KCKC. We encourage everyone to be competent in performing rescues, to be aware of the process involved in a rescue and be able to be active in your own rescue, should you need it.

"We should all practise our rescues frequently — be ready, be prepared for the unexpected," says Morag Stevenson who will be there with husband, Andrew.

"If you know how to rescue, come practise. If you've kind of got an idea but it's been awhile since you did one, come brush up your skills. If you have never capsized and just want to get that over and done with, come do it. If you don't know how to rescue, come learn. This is not formal instruction. But Andrew and I will be there to help and advise anyone who would like to practise their wet exit, assisted rescue (as rescuer and rescuee) and self-rescue too."

The second annual KCKC picnic will be held at 2 p.m. on Aug. 18 at Beasley Park, 3450 Woodsdale Rd. in Lake Country.

Everyone is welcome so members can bring friends and family, and their own picnic lunch since this is not a potluck.

Bring chairs, kayaks and games as well. There will be music in the park at 6:30 p.m. by the Daytrippers, a Beatles tribute band.

*****

If you join Wild Walks, you can learn some secrets and natural features of Central Okanagan regional parks. A park interpreter promises to turn an ordinary walk in the park into something extraordinary.

Each of the Wild Walks lasts approximately two hours, and is suitable for all ages, including families with young children, and they range from easy to moderate in difficulty.

Saturday walks start from 10 a.m. and Wednesday walks start at 1 p.m., rain or shine, so participants should dress for conditions.

There's no cost to take part but you should pre-register for Wild Walks on the following dates and locations: today and July 25 at Scenic Canyon Regional Park; and Aug. 25 and 29 at KLO Creek Regional Park.

To save a spot for your family on these free outings, drop in to the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan in Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna, email eeco@cord.bc.ca or phone 250-469-6140.

These free events are held in conjunction with the Community Recreational Initiatives Society (CRIS) to provide barrier-free access to regional parks. To request the services of CRIS volunteers, go to: adaptiveadventures.ca.

***

You can let your artistic juices flow at Gibson Heritage House in Kopje Regional Park on Carrs Landing Road in Lake Country this summer.

Hopefully, the beautiful setting in the regional park will inspire you to create your own masterpiece with watercolours in the popular Art in the Park program. No artistic skills or experience are required and all materials are provided.

This is a free family-friendly program and no registration is required.

Art in the Park runs from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Sunday until Aug. 12. For more information, go to regionaldistrict.com/parksevents, or drop in or call the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan at 250-469-6140.

***

You can bring the whole family for an interactive treasure hunt around a Kelowna park this summer. No experience is required. You can borrow a GPS for a $5 deposit and search the forest around Mission Creek Regional Park for hidden geocaches.

Geocaching at the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan (EECO) runs at 10:30 a.m. every Saturday through August. It is free, but registration is required.

For more information=, check out Your Guide to Regional Parks, visit the regional district website at regionaldistrict.com/parksevents or call 250-469-6140.

***

If you want your kids to have fun, make friends and learn about nature, sign them up for Summer Nature Camps.

Camps use Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna as a backdrop for fun, and active indoor and outdoor activities with a focus on environmental education to foster an appreciation for the natural environment.

For more information on camp dates and registration, check out Your Guide to Regional Parks; go online to regionaldistrict.com/parksevents or contact the EECO at 250-469-6140.

***

You can delve into local history at Gibson Heritage House in Kopje Regional Park on Carrs Landing Road in Lake Country. Gibson House is open for tours from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday through August.

Regional parks staff and volunteers will guide you through the 1912 heritage house which has been restored and refurnished through community donations.

For more information, check out Your Guide to Regional Parks, go to the regional district website at regionaldistrict.com/parksevents or contact the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan at 250-469-6140.

***

The provincial government has released the 2018-20 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis, which details the most current rules and regulations for hunters in B.C.

The province updates the synopsis every two years. The new rules are in effect from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2020.

The synopsis is available online and in hard copy at sports stores, outfitters and other hunting licence vendors throughout B.C.

You can read the 2018-20 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/sports-culture/recreation/fishing-hunting/hunting/regulations-synopsis

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

Recommended for you