Snow, glorious snow.
It's puzzling why the Sheriff didn't hear about it from Okanagan ski hills, but a climbing buddy from Quebec. He is organizing the Best of the Fest Tour, the annual presentation of the best films from the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival at Kelowna Community Theatre at 7 p.m. on Oct. 19. Tickets at local sports shops.
And then, one of the pressmen gushed about the first snow of the season. The Sheriff isn't supposed to be the last one to know about these things.
So it's coming, sooner than later, and it's time to dig out the equipment, check for damage, any adjustments, waxing, you get the picture. There are still several Okanagan ski swaps to go and valley shops are already advertising deals. Can't wait.
Back on fall ground, the Central Okanagan Naturalists Club is finishing "a great year of hiking, birding and botany" in style, both in action and reminiscences.
Club members joined employees of TD Canada Trust, city employees and other local volunteers to plant trees in Chichester Park in Kelowna on TD Tree Days.
"Great job by the city coordinating everything and giving us sound advice on what should go where. TD Bank people gave us refreshments and T-shirts. ILR Nursery gave us wonderful service, advice and timely delivery of our tree orders," said volunteer Jorma Jyrkkanen.
"We had holes to fill, trees to haul and dig in, tease roots apart and bury, and Ogogro to rake. Fun fun fun. A whole crew of happy tree planters. Great turnout and good work done by all. Nature is a bit better off because these folks came out," he said.
"Cedars were added last and they like water but not too much. So we had to pick places that were upslope from the wetted area a tad. Dr. Peter Courtney, our CONC rehabilitation expert, was obviously in his element making the world green. Stick to your guns folks and make goodness happen."
Jyrkkanen's blog from which this was taken is at: dasevolutionvongott.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/chichester-tree-planting-td-trees-day-with-volunteer-groups/
Sherrell Davidson, who regularly keeps the Sheriff in touch with club activities, was one of those dedicated volunteers. The next monthly meeting of the Central Okanagan Naturalists Club - at 7 p.m. on Oct. 8 at Evangel Church on Gordon Drive - will be a treat.
Members are encouraged to submit a short presentation (10 to 15 minutes) highlighting some of their best photographs and natural history experiences of the past year. Members should submit their presentations (preferably in PowerPoint) to the program director well in advance of the meeting.
When the Sheriff recently mentioned lions and tigers and bears, he forgot about the cougars. This week, warning signs were posted advising visitors to a section of Scenic Canyon Regional Park about recent cougar activity.
The Regional District of Central Okanagan says one resident near the Field Road parking lot saw the cougar on their acreage on Sunday.
On Monday, two separate sightings were reported to regional parks staff by park visitors travelling in the KLO Creek corridor between McCulloch Road, Field Road and Mission Creek.
"While our staff has not seen evidence of the cougar, we're taking these reports very seriously and are continuing to monitor the situation," said communications officer Bruce Smith.
Conservation officers service have been advised about this activity below the Gallagher's Canyon neighbourhood.
The Ministry of Environment's Safety Guide to Cougars advises that while human conflicts with these large cats are extremely rare and an attack is highly unlikely, it pays to be prepared, especially when in a natural setting like the Scenic Canyon Regional Park corridor.
"The guide recommends people should travel in groups of two or more and that you make enough noise so that you don't surprise a cougar. Carry a sturdy walking stick that can be used as a weapon, if necessary, and keep children and pets close at hand and under control," said Smith.
He reminded visitors to regional parks to keep their dog on a leash at all times and stay on designated trails.
"Finally, the guide says people should watch for cougar tracks and signs, and remember that cougars are unpredictable. If you should encounter a cougar, stay calm, talk to it in a confident voice, pick up all children off the ground and never turn your back on the cougar. Instead, back away slowly, remaining upright, do all you can to make yourself look larger and always give a cougar an avenue of escape."
If you observe a cougar or bear in Scenic Canyon Regional Park or other regional park, contact the parks services office at 250-469-6232 and the conservation officer service at 1-877-952-7277.
Back to winter activities. Telemark Cross-Country Ski Club is offering an Introduction to Community Coaching course on Oct. 4-6 with the help of Cross Country BC.
"It is for those who want to give back to the community and make a difference in children's lives," said the club's Darren Sentesy. Telemark will cover the tuition of the program for anyone who completes the course and volunteers at Telemark this winter. If you are interested in taking this informative course, contact Sentesy at 250 979-0338 or email:
Information about season passes and programs offered at Telemark will be available at the beginning of October on the website and emailed to last year's members. Like last year, you can register for passes and programs online or on a paper application form.
The application and program information forms will not be mailed to past members unless you contact the club and make that request. The last day for earlybird prices will be Oct. 31. The chalet will open on Tuesday.
The annual ski swap and AGM will be held at the chalet on Oct. 27, a perfect time to get advice about skiing, purchase equipment, hook up with your family and friends, and get involved in this non-profit sports club.
Roseanne Van Ee, our favourite North Okanagan naturalist, gushed this week: "This is shaping up to be the best mushroom season ever."
The owner of Outdoor Discoveries promises to have lots of samples for her Mushroom Safari participants.
"If I can stop snacking on them. I'm having too good a time eating loads of wild mushrooms. OK - better go for my late mushroom-omelette lunch."
Van Ee will conduct guided Wild Mushroom Safaris in the Mabel Lake area on Oct. 12, 13, 16, 19, 20 and 23. Or you can arrange a private tour for groups of eight or more on any other mid-October day.
The Paddle with InspireHealth fundraiser on Sept. 7 was almost overwhelmingly successful.
"Our event far exceeded our expectations. I was hoping for 25 paddlers and we had to cut off registration when we surpassed 40 in order to maintain a safe guide-to-paddler ratio," said Kelowna centre director Sherri Macdonald with Southern Interior InspireHealth Integrative Cancer Care.
"I had also set a very modest fund-raising goal and we are now north of $20,000. The best part of all was that it was a fun event despite a start in the pouring rain. Our members are still talking about it."
Participants paddled 10 kilometres along the Okanagan Lake shoreline in the Peachland area, then enjoyed a beach party barbecue. For more on InspireHealth, go to: inspirehealth.ca.
This weekend and next are your last chance to learn more about kokanee, our land-locked salmon, at the kokanee spawning interpretive program in Mission Creek Regional Park on Springfield Road in Kelowna and Hardy Falls Regional Park in Peachland.
A parks interpreter will be at Hardy Falls Regional Park (off Highway 97 south at Hardy Street in Peachland) today and Sunday, and until Oct. 6 at Mission Creek Regional Park. Interpreters are available from noon to 4 p.m. at each location.
If you have broken outdoor recreation equipment, you might want to attend Vernon's first Repair Cafe 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Xerindipity/Okanagan Science Centre parking lot.
Lots of people have forgotten they can repair things themselves or no longer know how. The handy people at the Repair Cafe will help fix stuff, and will share and teach this practical knowledge.
You'll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need.You will also find repair specialists such as electricians, knife and tool sharpeners, seamstresses, carpenters and bicycle mechanics.
The fifth annual gala fund-raiser for Elevation Outdoors is coming up at 6 p.m. on Oct. 26 at the Hotel Eldorado in Kelowna, said Byron Cook director of fundraising.
"We are a registered charity that enhances the lives of underprivileged youth in Kelowna. We teach our youth outdoor sports and draw parallels to life through the sporting experience. All programs are offered to eligible youth free-of-charge. We believe that no young person should be denied the potential to discover an outdoor pursuit that can keep them motivated, healthy and stoked on life for the rest of their days," he said.
One of the participant's social worker provided this encouraging feedback: "Elevation Outdoors provides great opportunities for our kids in the community. One youth in particular, who has gone through the winter and spring program, has come out with many positive changes. This youth has a new connection to something he loves (snowboarding). With that connection came a more positive attitude and motivation to achieve other things in life.
"I personally thank Elevation and their crew for all the effort and dedication they put into our youth in the community. In my opinion, this program has helped to mold him into the man he is today. Thank you for helping build this connection to snowboarding. It has made a huge difference in his life. I look forward to seeing the difference your team makes with future youth."
Tickets for this year's Reason for Seasons gala are $75 and available by phoning 250-808-1626. More information is posted at: elevationoutdoors.ca.
Cook is seeking donations for the silent and live auctions, door prizes and financial support.
"To show our gratitude, your company name and logo will be prominently displayed during the event. This is a fantastic opportunity to have your organization associated with a local charity making a direct difference in young people's lives within the community."
In the Shuswap, new wooden posts are popping up around Little Mountain and creating a buzz among local residents, thanks to the Shuswap Trail Alliance.
"I am so excited to see this project take off from the desk to the trails," said Shuswap Trail Alliance sign designer Veda Roberge. "Much hard work has gone into the design of these signs and I'm sure locals will be happy to see some of their favourite in-town trails well signed. The signs provide clear directions around the trails and allow users to feel comfortable veering from their usual paths to find a new favourite route through the trees."
For more information on the Shuswap Trail Alliance's trails and projects, go online to: shuswaptrails.com/
J.P. Squire, aka the hiking, biking, horseback riding and kayaking Sheriff, is an Okanagan Saturday reporter and an avid outdoors enthusiast. His column appears every weekend.