It was a week of sharing with old friends and new.
The Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen took hiking/biking/skiing buddies Lawrence and Maggie to Munson Pond in Kelowna, part of what the Sheriff has nicknamed the Pretty Ponds, Parks and Creeks Ride.
This bicycle ride combines two ponds at either end of Brandt's Creek Linear Park in Glenmore with Redlich Pond off High Road, Munson Pond off the end of Burtch Road and Thomson Marsh Park in Mission Recreation Park on Gordon Drive.
Despite numerous cycle outings throughout the Okanagan, Lawrence and Maggie had never been to Munson Pond which was a gravel pit in the 1960s but eventually abandoned and purchased by the city for a park. It gradually filled with water, and is now home to hundreds of birds, turtles and minnows that you can watch at two observation platforms.
The Sheriff's ride also includes the scenic Mission Creek Greenway although there is some construction (see below) so we used the dike trail on the south side between Casorso Road and Gordon Drive to avoid a large excavator squeaking and creaking along the north dike.
Our new friends from Vancouver and with the Cross Canada Cycle Tour Society or CCCTS are vacationing in the Okanagan while they check out the possibility of holding a future Hub and Spoke get-together in the Valley.
They were interested in cycling routes in the Kelowna area after checking out the North Okanagan with George Zorn of Salmon Arm, Hub & Spoke coordinator, and before they headed to the South Okanagan.
So the Sheriff did a little research, checking out Vernon Outdoors Club cycle routes recommended by Dianne White, Okanagan representative on the CCCTS board, and then, the South Okanagan routes used by Doug Glodek of Summerland who organized a Penticton H&S in 2018.
The Sheriff was impressed by both the Vernon club and by Glodek who had detailed GPS maps and turn-by-turn instructions based on distance from the trailhead, making the routes easy to find and follow. However, there is not even a short note about what makes each special, unique or a reason to cycle there. The Sheriff downloaded a series of biking routes he would like to explore and write about.
The Sheriff also returned to the City of Kelowna's Active by Nature interpretive map, https://maps.kelowna.ca/public/activebynaturemapviewer/
When you click on cycling in Choose Route by Activity, it has a list of 21 cycling routes, everything from 0.8 kilometres around Ben Lee Park in Rutland to a 101-kilometre cloverleaf into West Kelowna and Lake Country. However, it has several challenges: the yellow route line covers street names; if there are a lot of turns, you have to stop your bike, then enlarge the map to see which way to turn; and on the longest route, the yellow line disappears off the edge of the map on the Sheriff's laptop.
On Friday, the Sheriff took CCCTS members on what he has nicknamed the Grand Kelowna Triangle - Okanagan Rail Trail, Mission Creek Greenway and Kelowna waterfront (past the Grand Hotel). Numerous column readers say they have cycled this triangle for years since it combines the popular creek trail, off-road multi-use trails along the lake and the new rail trail (which parallels an older city trail beside Mill Creek).
With this week's heatwave, the Sheriff threw in a side excursion to the small, picturesque bay at Paul's Tomb for a picnic and swimming in the cool water at the base of Knox Mountain.
Their visit was not only educational about Okanagan cycle routes but about many other places across North America and overseas where CCCTS (cccts.org) regularly hold multi-day excursions.
In other outdoor recreation news, phase one of the Mission Creek Restoration Initiative (MCRI) continues to unfold with the in-stream placement of large boulder clusters to improve rearing habitat for rainbow trout, kokanee and other indigenous fish species as approved by fisheries staff at the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
This will enhance work conducted in 2015 and 2016 to set back the dike, expand the floodplain and enhance fisheries habitat within a 500-metre section on the south side of the creek between Casorso Road and Gordon Drive.
Engineering for the clusters was vetted by experts to ensure the work will achieve maximum habitat value and withstand predicted future flood flows. To be conducted during a three-day window between Aug. 7 and 23, the project will be closely monitored by Okanagan Nation Alliance to ensure aquatic life and water quality are minimally impacted.
“This is another example of the adaptive management work MCRI partners are undertaking each year following spring runoff to see how we can help Mother Nature bring the creek back to its natural form and function,” said project engineer Don Dobson.
Using one-metre-wide boulders, the clusters are designed to increase the flow into one of the large pools built along the south perimeter of Mission Creek in 2016, improving fish-rearing habitat by increasing water depth and velocity during low-flow periods.
In addition, installation of mid-channel boulder clusters will create small pools and other holding areas, and facilitate small areas of gravel deposition providing optimum fish spawning and incubation conditions. The boulders will be partially buried with about 30 centimetres extending above the creek bottom so they will only be visible during low and moderate flow periods.
Large machinery will access the dike trail on the north and south sides of Mission Creek between Casorso Road and Gordon Drive during the three-day project. An excavator will work in the creek channel as part of the approved construction plan.
Greenway users should watch for dump trucks, construction crews and equipment, and respect flaggers and signage to ensure the safety of workers and the public. To learn more about this and other creek restoration work, go to: missioncreek.ca.
Starting this week, a one-kilometre section of the Mission Creek Greenway will be closed between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily for approximately one month.
Crews are working from the Friends Bridge upstream from the Hollywood Road Park entrance to the Smoothing Stones Bridge farther upstream including the Cedars Bridge. So trail users will not be able to go upstream past the Friends Bridge or from the Field Road entrance downstream past the Smoothing Stones Bridge.
Workers using heavy equipment will repair damage to rip rap protection around each of the three bridges over Mission Creek ahead of the kokanee salmon spawning season.
The rip rap protecting the bridge abutments was damaged during spring runoff in 2017 and 2018. Repairs are needed to preserve the life of the bridge structures and for the safety of visitors.
While this area will be closed during normal work hours, the section will be open for use on evenings after 4 p.m. and over the Labour Day long weekend of Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
No other areas of the 16.5-kilometre trail are affected by this project and remain open for use.
Upgrades are planned at the Westkal Road parking area in Coldstream which is used by those accessing the Okanagan Rail Trail. Access to the trail will remain open throughout construction.
The upgrades include increased safety and mitigation of exposed slopes and erosion. The parking area will be paved and there will be designated walking paths from user vehicles to the trail entrance. This will result in a more established parking area with the trail access points better defined and clearly visible.
The District of Coldstream recommends trail users park in the Coldstream parking lot at 16506 Kalamalka Rd. The Regional District of North Okanagan also has a public parking lot on Bailey Road that is a connection between the Kal Crystal Waters Trail and the ORT. However, this slope is slightly steeper.
The north extension of the ORT will begin after the Westkal Road parking area is complete. The extension is the final stretch of the RDNO’s portion of the trail, and will complete the base trail construction and wayfinding signage.
Members of the Kelowna Canoe and Kayak Club will not have a formal general meeting on Tuesday (Aug. 13) but instead will have a social evening 7.30- 9 p.m. at the May Bennett Wellness Centre, 135 Davie Rd. in Kelowna with an opportunity to chat and get to know fellow KCKC members. KCKC will supply snacks but members and guests should bring their own coffee, tea or other beverage.
You can bring your three- to five-year-olds to a free drop-in story and activity at Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays during August. Story Time in the Park stories will be followed by an exploration of nearby areas through a series of mini-nature walks.
No registration is required. Meet under the trees near the playground at Springfield and Durnin roads in Kelowna. For more information, go to: regionaldistrict.com/parksevents, drop-in or call the EECO at 250-469-6140.
The underwater world is full of fascinating invertebrates for you to discover during Wild Water Critters.
You can get up close and personal with dragonfly nymphs, nematodes and freshwater shrimp by joining regional park interpreters on a pond dip on select Saturday afternoons from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in August. Check the Regional District of Central Okanagan Facebook page to find out which parks interpreters will be visiting.
For more information on this and other EECO programs, check Your Guide to Regional Parks, go to the regional district website: regionaldistrict.com/parksevents or contact the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan at 250-469-6140.
A free weekly walking club for moms and caregivers with babies and little ones has returned with a summer edition.
Roll and Stroll is a great opportunity to meet other parents and spend time casually exploring Mission Creek Regional Park at Springfield and Durnin roads in Kelowna.
Each Thursday morning through Aug. 29, participants meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan (EECO), enjoy a leisurely 45-minute walk through the park and then return to the EECO for refreshments. Participants are encouraged to use strollers and baby carriers suitable for rough terrain. The program is free but registration is required by calling the EECO at 250-469-6140 or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about this or other regional park programs, go to the Regional District of Central Okanagan website: regionaldistrict.com/parksevents or contact the EECO at 250-469-6140.
The provincial government is providing $200,000 to B.C. outdoor clubs to support off-road recreation, enhance tourism and promote healthy living for all ages and abilities.
Twenty-two clubs are receiving funding to improve trail riding and to promote rider safety, including the B.C. Off-Road Motorcycle Association, the B.C. Snowmobile Federation and the Quad Riders Association of British Columbia (ATVBC).
J.P. Squire, aka the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired reporter. Email: email@example.com.