Watch for snakes

The Kettle Valley Railway Trail between Penticton and Okanagan Falls is alive with fall colours. However, on a bright sunny day like Tuesday, above, cyclists and pedestrians had to watch out for bull snakes sunning themselves on the gravel trail.

A scheduled outing up the Okanagan Rail Trail and then over to Ancient Hill Winery behind Kelowna International Airport was cancelled last weekend. In the forecast were 25-40 km/h north winds and there was a 50 per cent of rain. Not pleasant for cycling.

“The route also has stretches where it’s open with no coverage from both. It’s a tough call as hosts... but not all ride e-bikes so let’s be fair here,” said Meetup organizer Jan J.

The skies over the Kettle Valley neighbourhood in Kelowna’s Mission area didn’t look that bad, however, so a small group of friends hiked up to Kuiper’s Peak.

The City of Kelowna’s website, kelowna.ca, says Kuiper’s Peak Mountain Park has “exceptional views and a great place to enjoy the outdoors … Previously forested, the park was damaged in the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park Fire and is a good example of an area recovering from a wildfire.”

It also says it is a short (five- to 10-minute) hike to the top from the trailhead “with some sections that will get your heart rate up,” but you are rewarded “with a stunning view of Okanagan Lake and panoramic views of mountainous landscape.”

That’s if you go to the trailhead, but, of course, we didn’t. It was more like a two-hour exploration, but there was virtually no wind and no rain. We saw a couple of does, but the big surprise was four bucks eating landscaping vegetation in front of an expensive home in Kettle Valley.

A neighbour was not as excited as we were: “They are around all the time.”

On Tuesday, we joined other Meetup.com members for one of our favourite South Okanagan outings: the Kettle Valley Railway Trail from Penticton to Okanagan Falls and back.

Several bull snakes were catching a few rays on the rough gravel trail, so we were careful not to run over them and to warn others on the trail.

At once point, we heard the warning rattle of a rattlesnake, but didn’t see it.

Tickleberry’s on Highway 97 in Okanagan Falls meant ice cream instead of the sandwiches we brought for lunch.

The disappointing part was seeing homes under construction and for-sale signs for lots on what was the former rail line. It was a testament to governments waiting before preserving what was left of the abandoned line. Users now have to detour on local roads to get around.

It’s another reason to celebrate the Okanagan Rail Trail with its excellent wide, packed gravel surface, almost uninterrupted from downtown Kelowna to Coldstream.

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Members of the Kelowna Canoe and Kayak Club will hold their annual general meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the May Bennett Wellness Centre, 135 Davie Rd. in Kelowna, off Highway 33.

Organizers are hoping for a good turnout for the election of the president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, librarian, webmaster, events, meetings, membership, education and directors-at-large.

Job descriptions can be viewed at kckc.ca by clicking on About Us, then Documents, to see Duties of the Executive.

Members of the Central Okanagan Outdoors Club will hold their AGM on Monday at a member’s home.

Members should bring an appetizer or dessert and beverage of choice. A social is 5:45 to 6:30 p.m. followed by the meeting. There will be opportunities for members to volunteer for positions and learn about the financial position of the club.

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The Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club will have a Members’ Night at the monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Evangel Church, 3261 Gordon Dr. in Kelowna.

The special evening is for members to share their best photographs and natural history experiences this year through a short presentation (about 10 minutes).

The fall cleanup is on Oct. 22, announced member Merle Auty. The semi-annual cleanup will start at 9:30 a.m. at the Mindy Tran Memorial on Springfield Road at Ziprick Road. Members will then move to the Maude Roxby Wetland on Francis Avenue.

Members should wear gardening clothes and gloves. Kelowna’s parks department will provide vests and pick-up devices as well as the burlap bags to be used to deposit clean-up material. Call Auty at 250-861-4500 or on her cell that morning at 250-575-1609 to confirm.

“Our naturalists’ club has taken on the responsibility for these two parks semi-annually for many years,” said Auty.

“We will be using burlap bags this year. Our contact in parks, Andrew Hunsberger, has agreed to a trial run with the burlap. The Parley for the Oceans’ group used them for the Kelowna City Park clean-up a few weeks ago with good results,” she said.

“We will pair up and take a section on either side of Mission Creek, working in pairs at the first stop. It usually takes one-and-a-half hours for that area. The Maude Roxby Wetland is a smaller area and does not require as many volunteers for those of you who are unable to work until noon.”

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Arion Therapeutic Farm will hold a yoga session at 1 p.m. on Oct. 12 for those who want to recharge while supporting the farm at 2457 Saucier Rd. in East Kelowna.

Laura Martini (martiniyoga.ca) will lead a 75-minute session in the field (weather permitting; indoor space will be used in inclimate weather). After yoga, light vegan snacks and refreshments will be served in the cafe followed by a tour to meet farm animal residents.

Proceeds will go toward feeding and caring for the sanctuary residents. Early-bird pricing is $30 per person with drop-ins $35 per person.

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Teton Gravity Research is bringing its newest full-length feature film, Winterland, to the Xtreme Landmark Cinemas in West Kelowna on Oct. 23. You can join the TGR crew to celebrate ski and snowboard culture, and get excited for the upcoming winter.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the film at 7 p.m. Tickets are $17 in advance, $20 at the door.

“There will be a ton of prizes from our partners at Atomic, Volkl and North Face. Plus everyone in attendance will have a shot at the tour grand prizes including trips to Sierra Nevada’s beer camp in California and TGR’s hometown Jackson Hole Mountain Resort,” said TGR’s Hunter Marvel.

TGR will also bring its new snowboard film, Roadless, to the Central Okanagan on Nov. 6. Details to be announced.

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A reminder the Best of the Fest tour from the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival is at 7 p.m. on Oct. 19 at Kelowna Community Theatre. Tickets are available at most outdoor stores in Kelowna.

The guest speaker will be Barry “Bubba” Blanchard who is considered one of Canada’s foremost alpine climbers, and internationally recognized as a climbing legend and force.

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The 51st annual Vernon Ski and Snowboard Swap is 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Oct. 19 at the Vernon Recreation Centre, 3310 37th Ave.

Consignments of new and used equipment and clothing will be accepted from 3:30 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 18 with consignment tickets at $2 each. Payout is 12:30-3 p.m. on Oct. 19.

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The Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan in Mission Creek Regional Park, Springfield and Durnin roads in Kelowna, is closed for a major renovation.

The main floor of the building is not be accessible. Parks Visitor Services staff will be available by phone or email.

Staff will continue to offer programs previously scheduled at the EECO, including Nature Power Hour outside the EECO on Saturday mornings and Tuesday morning Story Time in the downstairs meeting area of the facility.

It’s anticipated the EECO will reopen early in the New Year. When it does, there will be a new smaller space for exhibits showcasing regional parks and programs. Parks Visitor Services and interpretive programming staff will be located at the facility.

“We hope with the renovated Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan to provide even more inspiration for outdoor exploration in our amazing regional park system. We’ll continue offering fun and engaging activities, programs and learning opportunities for all residents and visitors to the Central Okanagan,” said the official announcement.

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This fall, moms and caregivers with babies and little ones are invited to a popular free weekly walking club.

Roll and Stroll is a great opportunity to meet other parents and spend time exploring Mission Creek Regional Park, Springfield and Durnin roads in Kelowna.

At 9:30 a.m. each Thursday until Nov. 28, participants will meet at the EECO centre and enjoy a 45-minute walk through the park before returning for refreshments and some baby basics. Participants are encouraged to use strollers and baby carriers that are suitable for rough terrain. The program is free but registration is required by calling the EECO at 250-469-6140 or emailing eeco@rdco.com.

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You can bring your three- to five-year-olds to the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan (EECO) this fall for nature-based stories, songs and crafts.

Story Time at the EECO is at 10:30 a.m. every Tuesday from Oct. 1 to Dec. 17 at the EECO in Mission Creek Regional Park, Springfield and Durnin roads in Kelowna.

This program is free and no registration is required. It’s a great way for parents and caregivers to interact with their youngsters and for the little ones to cultivate an early enthusiasm for the natural world. For more information, go to rdco.com/parksevents, drop in or call the EECO at 250-469-6140.

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If you join Wild Walks, you can learn some secrets and natural features of various regional parks in the Central Okanagan when a park interpreter turns an ordinary walk in the park into something extraordinary.

Each of the Wild Walks lasts approximately 90 minutes, is suitable for all ages and range from easy to moderate. Participants should dress for the conditions and wear appropriate sturdy footwear. There’s no cost to take part, but pre-registration for the following Wild Walks is required at email eeco@rdco.com or by phoning 250-469-6140.

The next Wild Walks are Oct. 19 at 10 a.m. and Oct. 23 at 1 p.m. through Trepanier Creek Greenway Regional Park.

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Reservations are open for two popular backcountry adventures in B.C. parks — the world-renowned Berg Lake Trail and the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit.

Hikers who want to explore the 23-kilometre trail in Mount Robson Provincial Park or those who want to paddle the multi-day canoe circuit in Bowron Lake Provincial Park can reserve sites for the 2020 season on the Discover Camping website at discovercamping.ca/

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