Making Tracks

Members of the Central Okanagan Outdoors Club cycled from Rotary Beach in Kelowna south to the end of Lakeshore Road on Wednesday. Along the way were numerous panoramic views of Okanagan Lake, above.

The annual East Kelowna winery tour on Mother’s Day turned into a marathon for Central Okanagan Outdoors Club members: 15 minutes of pedalling, 45 minutes at a winery. Then, pedal to the next winery. Mothers, of course, didn’t have to pay the usual wine-tasting fees.

A dozen members of the Central Okanagan Outdoors Club started off at 10:30 a.m. last Sunday. Six wineries later, we arrived back home at 6:30 p.m. after a less-than-spectacular Mother’s Day dinner special.

It’s a good thing there was at least a little pedalling between tastings to clear the palate (and the head). One mother purchased wine-to-go at every stop but fortunately, she has an e-bike with higher power settings for heavy saddlebags.

For those who haven’t cycled East Kelowna’s backroads, this is the best time of year. Fruit trees are in full bloom so the views are spectacular. The same is true for other Okanagan Valley orchards but keep in mind that the South Okanagan is earlier, North Okanagan is later, depending on spring weather.

TourismKelowna.com says cherries and peaches will bloom mid-April to early-May, pears and plums late-April to mid-May, and apples early- to late-May.

It’s not just fruit trees blooming, but many other plants as well, especially Saskatoon bushes and arrowleaf balsamroot, the latter Kelowna’s official flower. Some hillsides are just covered with flowers so don’t forget a camera or cellphone.

On Wednesday, Constant Companion Carmen led COOC members on a bike ride from Rotary Beach in Kelowna to the south end of Lakeshore Road, the cul-de-sac past the parking lot for Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park.

The complete out-and-back route is not for your first time out since there are a lot of hills. And it’s not good for your ego with all the road bikers passing you at high speed. But the panoramas of Okanagan Lake are endless. And wildlife was everywhere: a dozen deer scattered along the roadside, a marmot, a pika, a bald eagle sitting on a nest, and the remains of a deer carcass on a roadside path.

As if that wasn’t enough exercise, CCC led a Wednesday night paddle for members of the Kelowna Canoe and Kayak Club from Rotary Beach north to Maude-Roxby Wetland and back. The sky was dark and there was a stiff north breeze to start, but there were no whitecaps and the breeze died down somewhat for our quick return.

At Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting, KCKC members discussed group outings to Okanagan-area lakes such as Vaseux, Skaha, Beaver/Dee Lake chain and McCulloch (Hydraulic) and those further afield such as Mabel, Murtle, Clearwater/Azure and Revelstoke. An email will go out to all members suggesting those who want to co-ordinate a trip contact the executive.

Club members are heading to Fintry Provincial Park on June 21-24 for the annual campout with another in Salmon Arm June 26-28 in addition to the Wednesday night paddles at different launch points. Flatwater training is planned for June 22 and another skills training session on Aug. 10-11. More information is posted for members at: kckc.ca.

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On Sunday, you have a chance to explore the wildlife protected area of one of the regional district’s largest regional parks, Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park.

In partnership with the Meadowlark Festival and Central Okanagan Land Trust, Regional District of Central Okanagan park interpreters will take everyone on an extended, five-hour guided hike through areas that are not accessible to the public.

Registration is required and there are limited spaces available for this special outing. Ticket fees apply and can be purchased online through the Meadowlark Festival.

For more information, go to the regional district website at regionaldistrict.com/parksevents or call 250-469-6140.

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The fifth annual Canadian Camping Week, a program developed by Go RVing Canada and the Canadian Camping and RV Council, returns on May 21-25 at select campgrounds across Canada.

To celebrate the start of the 2019 Canadian camping season, participating campgrounds will offer discounted rates to campers for reservations made between those dates, including a weekend of camping for 50 per cent off and five nights stay for the price of four.

The RV industry has grown by 13 per cent since 2017, and Canadian RV owners and renters took an estimated 8.8 million RV trips in Canada in 2017.

For a list of the planned events, activities, promotions and participating campgrounds, go to ccrvc.ca/event/canadian-camping-week-2019/. For a list of participating campgrounds in British Columbia (many in the Okanagan), go to ccrvc.ca/event/canadian-camping-week-2019/

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People enjoying provincial parks and campgrounds over the Victoria Day long weekend are reminded that first-come, first-served campsites are still offered in many campgrounds for visitors without reservations. Visitors are encouraged to check availability in provincial parks at discovercamping.ca.

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The City of Kelowna is reportedly looking for ways to connect pedestrians and cyclists between the Okanagan Rail Trail and Mission Creek Greenway. The most common route is busy Dilworth Drive and Springfield Road.

Reader Richard Andrews recently suggested a modification. “By crossing Dilworth Drive and staying on the Okanagan Rail Trail, I turn off a short way along connecting to a trail beside Mill Creek. This comes out by the old Grouse River building, now Kelowna Tickets/Kelowna Actors Studio. “A short way on Enterprise Way to Highway 33, across Highway 97 to Ziprick Road directly into Mission Creek Regional Park. I have found this to be the least on road distance and safe crossings.”

The cutoff from the Okanagan Rail Trail is beside what appears to be a large concrete flow control structure on Mill Creek with a dirt trail leading across a wooden bridge. At a Y, a short trail to the right leads to Enterprise Way.

Andrews then discovered the potential for an even shorter route from the rail trail to Enterprise Way/Highway 33.

“My suggestion to make the Enterprise Way part a little easier would be to put in a bridge just north of VanKam. There is some green space there. This would allow for an easier connection with Highway 33.”

Column reader Hugh Carmichael used to bike up Highway 33 “when I worked in Rutland back in the days when it was a two-lane street.

“Once it changed to four lanes, I looked for safer routes. Drivers in the merge lane coming off Highway 97 onto Highway 33 are not aware of cyclists. It is much safer to cross at Banks Road, then turn onto Baron Road and follow it until you reach Ziprick Road.”

Carmichael loves a new rail trail extension in the city’s North End since “this extension gives you a longer ride along the lake and avoids the busy section of the trail along Cawston Avenue.”

Instead of following the Cawston Avenue bike path from the Delta Grand, he suggests, “continue on along the lakeshore in front of the hotel and casino.” After that, says Carmichael, go past the osprey nest; cross Sunset Drive by the kiosk, find a path that follows Brandts Creek to Manhattan Drive. Ride on Manhattan as it changes to Recreation Avenue. There, you will find a recent extension to the rail trail that will take you to the original rail trail.

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The free spring Tracks Walking Club, a beginner graduated walking program, offers a choice of location on either side of Okanagan Lake.

Each Monday and Wednesday at 9 a.m. until June 5, Kelowna participants in this regional parks program walk along the Mission Creek Greenway and in Mission Creek Regional Park (no walk on Victoria Day).

Each Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. through June 4, Westside participants can travel in and around the Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Park off Whitworth Road.

There’s no cost to sign up and members receive a walking journal, walking tips, seminars and motivational tips that keep them moving. People at a beginner fitness level are encouraged to take part, gradually increasing their health, stamina and walking duration to 60 minutes.

To register, drop in to the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan in Mission Creek Regional Park, Springfield and Durnin roads in Kelowna, email eeco@cord.bc.ca or phone 250-469-6140.

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You can get the whole family active and celebrating the outdoors by joining regional parks staff as they provide free activities at Families in Parks events.

On June 15, from noon to 4 p.m.; drop in on the third of the free Agents of Discovery App Scavenger Hunts. You don’t have to pre-register for this, just visit Trepanier Creek Greenway Regional Park at the Trepanier Road entrance. Take the Okanagan Connector or Highway 97 C west, then the Trepanier Road off-ramp and follow it under the highway. A Parks Services crew will greet you and help you get started.

Bring a mobile device so you can plug into the virtual treasure hunt with the free Agents of Discovery App, which you can download in advance. It takes about an hour to complete and there are regional parks prizes for everyone completing the scavenger hunt.

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

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