Skaha Lake loop

The Skaha Lake Loop involves a bicycle ride south on East Lakeside Road to Okanagan Falls and back on the Kettle Valley Trail, formerly the right-of-way for the Kettle Valley Railway. Bushes along the former rail line are now a brilliant red and beautiful yellow.

The fall parade of colours continued last weekend as Constant Companion Carmen led the Sheriff and other cyclists with the Central Okanagan Outdoors Club for another great ride on what we call the Skaha Lake Loop.

We leave our vehicles at the eastern parking lot of Skaha Lake Park on Skaha Lake Road in Penticton. We then head east on Skaha Lake Road to Yorkton Avenue, then south on Main Street South to Lakeside Road, which confusingly turns into East Lakeside Road (on Google maps).

This paved asphalt road has great views of Skaha Lake as you head toward Okanagan Falls, but use caution since the bike lane is narrow and on weekends the amount of vehicle traffic increases significantly.

When we reach Okanagan Falls, we take Seventh Avenue over to Christie Memorial Provincial Park, where we relax with a picnic lunch. However, the Sheriff always recommends a short detour south on Main Street and then Highway 97 to Tickleberry’s for ice cream (even when it is a cool fall day).

If you head west through the provincial park and then Kenyon Park, the path joins the Kettle Valley Trail, the former Kettle Valley Railway right-of-way, which takes you across a pedestrian/cyclist bridge and north back to Penticton.

There are several detours around lakeside residences, which shows you what can happen if local governments don’t snap up the right-of-way before it falls into private hands.

During past cycling outings on the Skaha Lake Loop, there were more patches of thick sand on the Kettle Valley Trail, but we found the sand had thinned out with only a few areas where it was a struggle for narrow tires. Bushes lining the trail had already turned a bright red and others a beautiful yellow colour, which no doubt will fade in the coming weeks.

We all must be fit after a summer of cycling. No one was tired after arriving back in Penticton, so we headed north on the Channel Parkway, and stopped for a bite and a beverage at Tim Hortons. It was a thoroughly enjoyable outing in the South Okanagan, highly recommended, and we hope to return before the snow flies.

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In other outdoors news, Jonathan Dean Urness is back.

The rugged outdoorsman who formerly lived in Kelowna loves organizing the Kelowna stop of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival’s Best of the Fest tour, which will be presented at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Kelowna Community Theatre. Tickets are available at most outdoor stores in Kelowna, but don’t delay since it sells out every year.

“This year, our speaker will be the truest amazing presenter along with a much-higher-level musical artist than the norm. And the films are fantastic,” Urness said this week.

Keynote speaker Adam Campbell, a former member of the Canadian national triathlon and duathlon teams, will share his love for running, which began on the beaches of West Africa and Spain, where he spent his childhood running after soccer balls and chasing waves.

“It wasn’t until he moved to Canada in his late teens that he began running competitively. Adam’s love for all individual athletic challenges quickly saw him jump into the multi-sport world of triathlons and duathlons, where he was renowned for his running ability which saw him win a national duathlon title,” said Urness.

However, the drudgery and structure of training and racing for triathlons caught up with him and he began to seek out new challenges. After running the roads for a year, he jumped into his first trail race in 2007 and a new love was born. Campbell qualified for the Canadian Mountain Running Team in his first ultra trail race and continued to post the best-ever finish by a Canadian at a Mountain Running World Championship at the Jungfrau Marathon, a gruelling, 42K uphill run with a 1,829-metre elevation gain from start to finish.

As one of the world’s top ultra runners, Campbell’s mantra has been simple: “If you’re not moving, you’re dead.” This life of movement came to an abrupt halt on Aug. 30, 2016, when he experienced a near-fatal accident while attempting a traverse through Rogers Pass.

“Grabbing a loose rock hold, Adam tumbled nearly 200 feet, sustaining four broken vertebrae and crushed iliac crest,” said Urness.

“Having a body now supported with titanium rods and screws, Adam began to question his athletic future. Ten months later, while searching for the athlete he once was, Adam found himself at the start line of a 100-mile ultra race he medalled at in the previous year. It’s within these hundred miles that Adam discovered what he was looking for was not to be found on the results board.”

Musical guest Noah Derksen was born and raised in the heart of the Canadian Prairies and matured on the West Coast.

“Noah writes with the groundedness of harsh Manitoba winters mixed with the optimism of British Columbia’s coastline. A described genre of ‘contemplative folk,’ Noah’s introspective nature is immediately apparent, felt through honest and poetic lyricism alongside esthetic musical arrangements,” said Urness.

“Ever seeking motion and progression, Noah has spent the past three years honing his live performance skills across Canada and in select regions of the U.S., playing concerts from B.C. to Nova Scotia, and Ohio to California. In 2018 alone, Noah played at renowned venues and events such as the National Arts Centre (Ottawa), Northwest Folklife Festival (Seattle), Trout Forest Music Festival (Ear Falls, Ont.), and the Winnipeg Folk Festival.”

This fall, after spending another summer doing his annual tree planting in B.C., Derksen will perform across the continent, from Toronto to Vancouver, and then back east to Michigan and New York City.

Urness is still selecting films for the show (none have been seen in Kelowna before), but so far he has chosen:

— Constant Motion: The story of Adam Campbell’s life as one of the world’s top ultra runners and his recovery.

— Ephemera: A local filmmaker highlights Okanagan climbers in the Okanagan. When you think of ice climbing, the sunny Okanagan Valley is probably one of the last places you would consider. Ice climbs have a dichotomous strength and delicacy, and the people who attempt to ascend them are resilient and determined. Though the ice climbing is unreliable, scarce and fleeting due to the mild winters in the Okanagan, it does exist. It all depends on how badly you want to find it.

— Camera Trap: The Porcupine herd is one of the largest caribou herds in North America, but its future is uncertain. The actions of the Trump administration, climate change, industrial development, national and international political posturing, and a rapidly changing North are all putting the herd and its home range at risk.

The Gwich’in people, who have relied on the herd for generations, also see their future hanging in the balance and they need the rest of the world to take notice.

Peter Mather, a teacher who started his career in the tiny northern community of Old Crow, developed a passion for the plight of the caribou there and the people whose culture is tied to them. An aspiring wilderness photographer, Mather sets out on a quest to document the herd, its migrations and the role it plays in communities across the north. But he needs one epic shot — the one that will capture the significance of the herd and inspire others to protect it.

— Foodless Odyssey: A longtime dream of pro mountain biker Matt Hunter was to bike-pack through hundreds of kilometres of wilderness on remote Haida Gwaii while living entirely off the land. The rules for the week-long journey were simple: carry all the survival tools needed to bike, fish, hunt and camp, but absolutely no food.

— The End of Snow: Jane Zelikova, a tropical ecologist living in the mountains of Wyoming and Colorado, dreams of snow in the summer and tropical forests in the dead of winter. But her snow-capped Fourteeners are changing, no longer bringing the deep winter snowpack once promised. This is a future from which she and the people of the West can’t run. What’s a wildly curious, adventurous girl to do? Embark on a journey into the mountains to find the tales of the past, present and future of snow. There will be adventure. Friendships will form. She will dig holes and fall down those holes. But like any good story, the characters she meets will help show her the way, a map for living in a world beyond the end of snow.

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Members of the Kelowna Canoe and Kayak Club selected their 2019 executive at Tuesday’s annual general meeting: Sue Harrhy, president; Morag Stevenson, vice-president; Carol Fawcett, secretary; David Fowler, treasurer; Carol Drury, membership; Sharon Gurney, education; Shirley Regan, events; Ian Ladell, webmaster; and Valito Russo, director at large. The library position is currently vacant.

Regan also announced plans for the Christmas party: 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 at Mekong Restaurant, located on Harvey Avenue at Gordon Drive in Kelowna. The cost is $21 per person; a PayPal button will be available on the KCKC website, kckc.ca.

For those who wish to participate in a gift exchange, bring a wrapped gift in the $10 price range in the theme of Christmas, such as a holiday ornament.

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A section of the Mission Creek Greenway will be closed next week. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development will remove sediment that has built up on a gravel bar in the creek channel between Lakeshore Road and Gordon Drive.

While the work is underway, the Greenway trail on the south-side dike will be closed to all recreational users to provide access for heavy equipment. It’s anticipated this work will help reduce the risk of future debris collecting and ice jams which could cause water to back up along this section of Mission Creek.

While the south-side trail will be closed between Lakeshore Road and Gordon Drive, the north-side Greenway trail will remain open for use.

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The Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society is hosting a community event at 10 a.m. Oct. 19 to plant a vital and endangered riparian ecosystem as a wildlife habitat at Arion Therapeutic Farm, 2457 Saucier Rd., in East Kelowna.

Volunteers, who will plant more than 150 native plants, should bring closed-toe shoes, gardening gloves and a shovel if possessed. Snacks and light refreshments will be provided.

“Riparian areas are shorelines, strips of land beside streams, rivers, wetlands, lakes and other water bodies. They support a community of moisture-loving plants that are distinctly different from aquatic vegetation and from the plants growing in the drier grasslands and open forests of the Okanagan,” explains Alyson Skinner, the society’s executive director.

“Riparian areas, like the habitats being restored at Arion Therapeutic Farm (www.ariontherapeutic.farm), are an important resource for people and wildlife. When it comes to water quality, riparian areas are the last line of defence for water that’s running off the land into our lakes and streams. Healthy riparian areas will help filter out pollutants and sediment from runoff. The roots from trees, underbrush and other lush vegetation help to stabilize banks, decrease soil erosion, and aid in flood protection by slowing and dissipating high stream flows.”

Not only do people benefit from healthy riparian areas, but they are also extremely important for wildlife, she said.

“In fact, these habitats are crucial to some of our species at risk like western screech owl, Lewis’s woodpecker and the olive-sided flycatcher. Nearly 85 per cent of all Okanagan species are dependent on riparian habitats or use them regularly. They provide food, shelter, water, nesting sites and important wildlife corridors. Forests along the edges of our water courses and water bodies help to shade the water and keep it cooler during the hot summer months. Cool, clean water is a valuable resource to wildlife and very important to fish like salmon that breed in streams and rivers.”

Crisp, cool streams and beautiful, clean lakes also provide humans with countless opportunities for recreation like birdwatching and hiking, she said.

“People not only like to visit lakes, creeks and rivers for recreation, but they also like to live near water leading to development. Urban development and agriculture has resulted in a loss of approximately three-quarters of our riparian habitats.”

Funding for this project has been provided by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and Environment Canada’s National Wetland Conservation Fund.

The Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society is a local non-profit environmental charity that supports voluntary conservation, stewardship and restoration of important habitats within the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. For more information, go to osstewardship.ca.

J.P. Squire, a.k.a. the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired Okanagan Weekend reporter and an avid outdoors enthusiast. His column appears every Saturday. You can contact him with your outdoor news at his new email address: jp.squire@telus.net.

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