Makin' Trails

Sixteen members of the Okanagan Outdoors and Social Club (Meetup.com) spent a recent afternoon climbing the Rush Trail on the south side of Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna, above. However, with the summit in sight, members turned back at an ice-covered section. With this weekend's warming temperatures, that ice will likely melt in no time.

Coronavirus, coronavirus, coronavirus. For those of you who are sick of hearing COVID-19 news, here is the short version of the impact on Okanagan outdoor activities (as of Thursday).

Big White Ski Resort closed for the season at the end of the day on Monday so Rebellious Unicorns Production has cancelled Peak Pride on April 1-5 and Thick as Thieves Entertainment/Big White have cancelled the AltiTunes Music Festival on April 4.

Silver Star Mountain Resort suspended all resort operations March 15-22 and then closed for the winter season.

Resort-owned and -operated lodging properties will close today (March 21) and remain closed until further notice. Refunds for pre-purchased lift tickets bought at the resort as well as lodging, rentals and events can be processed by contacting info@skisilverstar.com or calling 1-800-663-4431. The closure includes both downhill and cross-country trails.

Apex Mountain Resort closed for the season at the end of the day on Tuesday.

Baldy Mountain Resort has spring operating hours of 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. for spring break (March 12-23), closed Tuesday and Wednesday. The last day of operations will be March 29.

“We are going day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and recommend before coming up that everyone check online and make sure the government has not called for a mandatory shutdown,” said Christine Cuttle, ticket office and guest services manager.

“We have cancelled all our events for the season. Our lounge is closed, our cafe has minimal service, and we are encouraging our guests to bring their own lunches and eat outside. We are not promoting the hill anywhere so as not to attract attention and bring in more people. We’re simply trying not to increase lift lines so we can maintain a two-metre distance between our guests.”

Also cancelled is the 2020 B.C. Interior Sportsman Show in Kelowna on April 3-5 with the promise it will return in April 2021.

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Still open (as of Thursday) are: Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club, Telemark Nordic Club, Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre and Nickel Plate Nordic Centre.

Kelowna Nordic was –10 C on Thursday morning with sunshine and blue skies.

“Grooming from Main Cabin to Summit and other trails today. Conditions are fair for both skate and classic, however, trails not done will be icy,” said president Ryland Garton.”In response to the viral outbreak, we ask that members maintain social distancing (ski pole length is about right), not use the cabins if possible and not congregate in groups unless they are your own family.

“Avoid patting dogs unless your own. We cannot lock the cabins and so have no control over who may have been in them. We will tell the public not to use them.

“The outhouses have hand sanitizer in them and open the door to exit with your elbow.

“X-C skiing is one of the few sports you can do keeping your distance.”

Telemark says: “Great weather to enjoy a ski or snowshoe today. Ski trails somewhat icy; use caution on downhills.”

Sovereign Lake has reduced lodge hours to 10 a.m.-4 p.m. with a recommendation to avoid spending unnecessary time in the lodge. Bring a credit or debit card as there are no cash sales.

Season passholders should only come in for washrooms.

The Team Room and downstairs seating areas are closed.

The number of chairs has been significantly reduced upstairs and all tables removed, said GM Troy Hudson.

Nickel Plate continues to groom ski trails and snowshoe trails are in great shape.

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Silver Star has already started selling 2020-21 alpine ski passes —cheaper than the 2018 early bird price.

The price of My One Pass will be $879 for an individual adult pass, $779 for individual family pass and $579 for a senior (65-80 years) until April 5.

Lesson vouchers for 2020-21 are at last year’s early bird price when combined with a season pass.

“It’s the best offer you will see all year for the 2020-21 alpine season pass,” said Chantelle Deacon, the resort’s media relations manager.

The My One Pass includes free tubing plus access to skating, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing; up to 25 per cent off day tickets at dozens of partner resorts; two free days of skiing at 2020-21 partner resorts (to be announced); 50 per cent off one private lesson if booked and taken before Dec. 19, 2020; and 50 per cent off a tuneup at Double Diamond (must be used before Dec. 19).

The 2020-21 alpine season will also have added bus routes, carpooling options and HOV parking.

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The Regional District of Central Okanagan has closed the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan in Mission Creek Regional Park. All regional parks programs and events as well as bookings in parks facilities are cancelled until further notice. This includes programs like the Spring Break Nature Detectives Camps, Tracks Walking Clubs, Take a Hike and Wild Walks.

Programs and events with fees will have the full amount refunded.

Annual vegetation maintenance and pruning work is underway along the Mission Creek Greenway Monday through Wednesday. A contracted crew for the Ministry of Forests is pruning trees and doing other vegetation maintenance south of Lakeshore Road upstream to the Casorso Road area. This work will allow visual inspection of the dike during the spring runoff.

As of Thursday, regional and RDCO community parks are still open.

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The Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club has cancelled its April general meeting as well as meetings of the executive and conservation committee, hikes and snowshoe outings, Monday, Thursday and Saturday birding trips; and all early-season botany trips until the end of April.

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Friends of the Okanagan Rail Trail has postponed Trail Ambassador training sessions on April 6. but materials are being prepared to send to those who expressed interest by emailing hello@okanaganrailtrail.ca.

FORT will likely put together a spring newsletter, but timing is uncertain.

Erosion mitigation continues from Kekuli Bay Provincial Park to the Kickwillie Loop in Cold-stream weekdays but the trail is open after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

“Getting out locally for a brisk walk or cycle on the rail trail is still an activity that can be enjoyed while maintaining appropriate social distancing for the current situation,” said Karen Miller, Lake Country’s communications officer.

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Friends of Black Mountain Society has cancelled its annual general meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

Instead, the board is proposing to circulate the decision items of the meeting via email, as well as ask for additional nominations for the board. A voting email will follow, if necessary.

Once health restrictions have been lifted, the board will look into organizing a general information meeting.

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Pedego Oyama, which rents bikes for Okanagan Rail Trail users, is now open by appointment only.

“We aim to provide uninterrupted support to our customers whether you need service or would like to test ride or want to enjoy the rail trail on our rental bikes. But you need to call us first at 250-309-2717 to make an appointment. We remain fully operational,” said co-owners Murray and Sheila Fraser.

“In these stressful times, exercise like riding your bike is so important for your physical and mental well-being. Getting out and cycling is a great way to relieve cabin fever. If you’re healthy and able, we strongly encourage you to keep pedaling and keep smiling. And enjoy this spring sun — albeit alone or while practicing social distancing.”

J.P. Squire, aka the Ski Sheriff, is a retired reporter. Email: jp.squire@telus.net