Secret Okanagan Spot

A creative chainsaw artist was recently busy on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail just south of Westbridge. Neatly-cut logs were assembled for a unique seat to contemplate the flow of the Kettle River, this week’s Secret Okanagan Spot.

It wasn’t planned but the Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen have spent more time than we ever imagined exploring rail trails.

You could credit the $30-million Okanagan Rail Trail or checking out the 117-kilometre Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in Idaho.

But the Sheriff’s love of former rail lines started in 1980 when the Myra Canyon still had steel rails and he was one of the last to ride around the rim of this incredible canyon — over its 18 trestles and through its two rock tunnels — on a speeder, a small four-wheel vehicle used by rail workers for maintenance.

Since then, we have explored many parts of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail and Columbia and Western Rail Trail (and side rail trails) between Princeton and Christina Lake.

We keep coming back to a huge fold-out KVR Trail Map (published in The Kettle Valley Express in 2018) to re-check where we have been and decide where to go next. The full-colour map was laminated because it is pulled out so often.

On Sunday through Tuesday this week, we camped at Kettle River Recreation Area five kilometres north of Rock Creek. On Sunday, we cycled south and then east toward Midway, and on Monday, we went north to Westbridge.

As we pedalled south through Rock Creek, though, there is only four kilometres of gravel trail, then you are on pavement — Kettle Valley Road East and Kettle Valley Road South. Interesting but not the rail trail we wanted.

Heading north, however, we found a smooth gravel trail paralleling the Kettle River all the way to Westbridge. You do pass through a series of metal farm gates, each of us taking a turn opening/closing for the others.

There are numerous picturesque views of the river as we headed upstream, plus an abundance of wildflowers.

However, there are still forests of blackened trees from the August 2015 wildfire.

Without doubt, we would return to this section and go even further toward Beaverdell following the West Kettle River.

Carmi to Arlington Lakes north of Beaverdell also looks interesting.

The Sheriff picked up several copies of the Boundary Country Trail Map from Rock Creek businesses. Highly recommended. It has a fold-out map of rail trails from Rock Creek to Christina Lake on one side. The other side has a detailed description of each section, plus small maps for Big White Ski Resort, Beaverdell to Big White (Carmi), Midway hiking/biking trails, Marshall Lake cross-country ski trails and North Fork (Christina Lake) trails.

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Still on the subject of rail trails, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association launched its updated B.C. Rail Trails website — bcrailtrails.com — on Tuesday.

After incorporating stakeholder feedback, you will now find updated accessibility information, interactive maps and announcements of trail maintenance, said Mike Overend, TOTA director of destination development..

It was created with the intent to streamline the planning of a bike ride or trip along the Kettle Valley Rail Trail and Columbia & Western Rail Trail, combined, the longest rail trail network in B.C. extending from Hope to Castlegar, he said.

“Many of our residents and visitors alike don’t realize how long and accessible rail trails really are. We hope that the new interactive website will help trail users realize the potential of everything from incredible multi-day bike trips to the enjoyment of a few hours on the trail,” said Ellen Walker-Matthews, vice-president, acting president and CEO.

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What’s in a name?

In 2016, “we wanted to claim our stake and say ‘this is the greatest trail in the world,” said Danielle St-Aubin, vice-president of marketing and communications at the Trans-Canada Trail organization in Montreal. So it was rebranded The Great Trail of Canada causing much confusion given the thousands of original signs along its 24,000 kilometres.

The Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. announced this week: “Old Name, New Look: Trans Canada Trail.”

As of June 1, “the name of The Great Trail of Canada has changed back to its original and much-loved name, the Trans Canada Trail. The name change includes a new logo and branding for the organization.”

Lesson learned, marketing department?

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Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre in the North Okanagan has announced changes for the 2021-22 winter season.

“We are introducing a new Super Seniors’ rate for members over 80 years of age. This is roughly half the price of the seniors’ rate as a thank you for being such great ambassadors for our ski community,” says GM Troy Hudson.

“We have added a Super Early Bird Rate for the month of June to get the best savings on your next season’s pass. There will be no Dual Area Passes (with Silver Star Mountain Resort) for the 2021-22 season. Anyone wishing to purchase passes for both areas will need to purchase them independently. We have a fantastic working relationship with Silver Star and are working on other ways to provide more services and discounts for all of our Nordic community.”

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

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