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Okanagan Recreation

Winter’s End


Table of Contents

Okanagan Recreation

A New Way of Looking


hen I started Okanagan Recreation I chose the pdf format to send out the issues for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that every computer out there can open it up. So, I knew that if you can open an e-mail, regardless of your relative computer skills, you’d be able to open this magazine. That doesn’t mean it was the only way of distributing it, but it was the best. Since then a few of you have let me know that the best wasn’t the best for you. So, starting with this issue I will send out the pdf as usual, but I will also put out a link where you can view it in Issuu. Issuu is a program that takes the magazine and makes it look like, well, a magazine, albeit it is a magazine that is still online. Still, if you don’t like pdf because of scrolling or any other display concerns you might have feel free to go online to Once there type Okanagan Recreation into the search box, at which point the issue should put in an appearance. When it opens it will appear in a small box in the middle of your screen. Click on that and the issue will expand in size to fill up your computer screen. Then you can flip pages with the click of a button.



Anne Nikiforuk ra

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Table of Contents

Okanagan Recreation 3

In this issue


Hand in Glove Or maybe hand in mitt - what you need to do to keep your hands warm


Sup’s Up Just because it’s winter is no reason to stop paddleboarding the icy waters of the Okanagan

8 Urban sprawl versus biodiversity


Dozens of groups and agencies are teaming up to find ways to preserve our biodiversity

Walk Around Lake Country Profile of the Lake Country club doing the hard work to build trails

Departments Health Column - Massage, chiro or physio?.……14


Swinging with Penticton Search & Rescue

How 40 volunteers spend a lot of time saving lives and hanging out

Okanagan Recreation

Book Review - Kelowna Rock for climbing……….15 Cover photo by Devon Brooks Looking northwest while snowshoeing near Beaver Lake above Winfield on a glorious winter day Advertisers please send inquiries to Duncan Banks: or call 250-488-1423.

Okanagan Recreation is published six times a year and distributed via e-mail to hundreds of active subscribers in the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen valleys.

Comments or questions on this issue or anything you would like to see in the future should be sent to:

Publisher & Editor: Devon Brooks

Subscriptions: To receive this publication at no cost send a note to



Trail Mix

Okanagan Recreation

Where have all the Men Gone?

ne club in the Okanagan reports that a preponderance of women at events is changing the feel of the hiking club. Bonita Douglas says a recent snowshoe/Nordic ski event of the Central Okanagan Hiking Club (COHC) had only four men among a total of 23 attendees. While it may or may not have made the few feel very special, she says the club wants to reach out and attract more men to

events. It is not about making the club into a dating club, says Douglas, but it is about getting some balance into the club. She says when there are only women, or a huge majority of women, it changes the event and not always for the better. It turns out the COHC is not alone in having a dearth of men. Someone from the Running Club told us that the January clinic registration had 29 women

Best sense of humour award goes to Silver Star Resort for their giant snowball sculpture

and one man. Yes, we know that hockey is back on the tube, but even if you’re a hockey fanatic it would seem to leave a few hours open for hiking or biking, skiing and snowshoeing. If you’re interested in finding out about the COHC checkout their website at or send an e-mail to hikekelowna@gmail. com.

Photo by Devon Brooks

Okanagan Recreation 5

News & Happenings


Duncan Banks

kanagan Recreation would like to welcome Duncan Banks to the team. Banks joins the magazine as a sales person, who lives and loves the outdoors. In his own words: “I have come by my interest in the outdoors very naturally. Although I lost my Father at a young age, he did expose me to the outdoors. He homesteaded in the Peace River District of Northern British Columbia in 1929. Almost 85 years later his adventurous spirit is still alive and well in me. Three other young fellows and I built a log cabin in the mountains (no power tools) during my late teens. In my early 20s I spent three years running a remote trap line 40 miles off of the Alaska Highway. The demand of family life, mortgage payments and the like

caused me to take regular work in town, but for many years most weekends were spent camping with fly fishing and hunting as my primary activities. Taking up marathon running in my mid-30s trips to “beyond the end of the road” became less frequent. During my forty-first year I took up triathlon and remain actively involved. I still enjoy camping, canoeing, x-country skiing and I swim/ bike/run. I have always felt the need to move my body in the outdoors and as long as it stays healthy enough to do so I’ll be out there! Hopefully we shall see some of you in this magical playground called the Okanagan Valley as we “Trudge the road to happy destiny.” Cheers, Duncan


Black Mountain Walking Trails

isitors to the extensive developments on Black Mountain on the eastern edge of Kelowna know that several multi-use trails were built alongside Black Mountain Drive, allowing for a pleasant but short bicycle ride separated from the main road. Now walking trails are being built to the top of the rise, giving nice views over the valley. The trails will be completed by May using money from the City of Kelowna and the developers in the area, including Melcor Developments. The finished trail will be just over a kilometre long and include some wooden stairs to cut down on erosion on the steepest part of the trail.

Gear Review

Okanagan Recreation 6


Keep Your Mitts On

epeating the common sense your mother used to tell you, Theresa Korobanik at Stussi Sports in Vernon says, “Gloves are good, but mitts are always going to be better.” The reason is obvious enough – fingers in a mitt help to keep the other fingers warm. The drawbacks are equally obvious, you lose mobility and dexterity and, for some, mitts aren’t fashionable. With or without mitts there are many alternatives today.

Battery Assisted Gloves

The most conspicuous changes are the battery operated gloves. Criticisms of these gloves come under several headings, of which the most conspicuous is that the heating will only last a short time, making them great

we could find are available online from Hammacher Schlemmer (, but these are pricey. The US $200 (plus shipping and taxes) gloves have a leather shell and cuff cinches. Many battery gloves are criticized for providing no heat to the fingers or too much, but the wiring for the heating goes up each finger and palm. The heat is adjustable and allows for temperatures up to 57ºC. That maximum setting is presumably for a quick visit to an Arctic setting or should you be trying to sweat weight off via your fingertips. The batteries in these are also superior, operating for up to 21 hours on the minimum setting, where many battery gloves will only provide a two to three hour charge.

(and mitts) that incorporate a small pocket allowing the insertion of hand warmers. Hand warmers, says Wikipedia, “produce heat from the exothermic oxidation of iron when exposed to air and will generate heat for one to 10 hours. The heat distribution is limited to the area where the hand warmer sits, usually on the back of the hand. Still, the extra heat radiating can allow for comfy hands if you tend to suffer from poor circulation. Criticism of a different kind is that these hand warmers are throwaway items and are therefore not the most environmentally friendly option available.

Linda Jones-Evans of Outdoor Adventure Gear in Kelowna says getting cold hands comes from three main causes: 1) Too little insulation Hand Warmer Gloves 2) Getting wet hands, most ofAnother new option are gloves ten from sweat generated during exertion 3) The wrong gloves for the wrong activity

“Regular” Gloves Hammacher Schlemmer’s $200 battery heated gloves

for short jaunts outdoors. Once the batteries are exhausted it can leave the user with really cold hands if they are far from a plug Note the zipper on the back of the hand and a place to warm up. The best battery heated gloves for placing a hand warmer

Photos by Devon Brooks

Too little insulation is fairly obvious, and it is the default criticism most of us assume if we get cold hands, but that may not be the problem. Jones-Evans says many gloves come with a temperature range printed on them that shows how cold it can be for those gloves to be effective. The problem is that tempera-

Gloves & Mitts ture range isn’t enough by itself because how active you are during recreation and what kind of activity you do will have a strong impact on how well the gloves can work. If you are Nordic skiing and have a strong grip on your poles blood flow to your fingers is restricted. Depending on your exertion level you might well make up for the restricted blood flow, at least until you stop and rest. If you are very active, your hands may sweat. This moisture, when trapped in your gloves, works like sweat anywhere else on your body

The Loki access mitt allowing users the warmth of gloves and partial or full dexterity when fingers, or the entire hand pushes through

once you stop to rest. It leaches heat from the part of the body it is next to, giving you cold hands. Jones-Evans says many glove manufacturers have answered this problem by making glove liners designed to go inside the gloves. Good liners wick away the moisture from your hands and fingers. Even so, says Jones-Evans, “You should always have an extra set of gloves for inactive periods.” Another cause of sweating can be from gloves with too much insulation. That is, they are simply too warm for the activity. Korobanik notes, “People tend to overdress when snowshoeing.” Gloves with liners can also address this problem by providing layers, much as you are often advised to do with other articles

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of clothing, to take off or put on depending upon the temperature. When a given day involves differing levels of exertion Jones-Evans suggest people carry a second set of liners or even a second set of gloves.

Other Features & Designs to Consider

• Gore-tex, Pertex, Ventia – these are materials that prevent moisture from outside coming in, but help to disperse moisture from the inside out • Windstopper or Windwall are proprietary materials designed to block fast moving air (wind) from penetrating the gloves • Loki Access Mitts – this is a brand name of mitt where the mitt portion pulls back, along with the thumb so that the entire glove can be pulled down around the arm, allowing for maximum dexterity (if used with liner gloves these can provide the benefits of both gloves and mitts) • Gauntlets – gloves that go well up the arm to prevent snow from going down the wrists into the gloves or coat sleeve • Cinches – on gloves, usually but not always, with gauntlets cinches tighten across the wrist or arm and act as another barrier to prevent snow from getting into the gloves • Wrist loops – small loops to hook your finger through and make it easier to pull the glove on • Some liners are “touchscreen compatible,” which means there are different fibres and thicknesses on the index finger and thumb to facilitate the use of touch screens on mobile phones


Cheaper gloves skip over most of the extra features and proprietary materials. The insulation may be bulkier, but that is visible to the buyer when the glove is tried on. It will be less obvious if you buy online without actually handling the product. Less obvious, even in person, is the durability of the material used in construction. Cheaper gloves will have little or no reinforcement of palms, typically the high use area of a glove, and may wear out sooner. Gloves go from $9.99 specials out of China to the $200 plus electric gloves, but most decent gloves these days are in the $49 to $79 range.

Urban Sprawl

Okanagan Recreation


Biodiversity, Urban Sprawl & You

By Devon Brooks BC comedian Ron James told a joke that the person most lied to in the world is the dental hygienist, even though we know we’re going to be busted when they look in our mouth. Most of us like to think we are green conscious, wanting and willing to do our bit to preserve the world, but we probably lie to ourselves on just how much of a footprint we have in the world. Nowhere is our impact larger than through our lifestyle, and by that, I mean our house, our community and our transportation locally. That includes the organic vegan who recycles faithfully with the xeriscaped front yard and the rest of us who don’t have track records quite so pure. While we occasionally think about a growing population and how our home town looks, mostly we don’t think about the impact of our urban sprawl at all. Population of Kelowna in 1960 was around 10,000. Today it is 120,000. Kelowna maybe the biggest, but every city and town in the Thompson-Okanagan-Similkameen has grown to some extent. As we arrived, year after year, we have been putting pressure on the environment, even when we had the best intentions. If we get past the uncomfortable realization that


we are part of the problem, the issue is what we, not just as individuals, but as a society can do to minimize the worst impacts and find ways to live with the environment. The South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program (SOSCP), a partnership between 50 organizations, has recently published A Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for the South Okanagan Similkameen. They are attempting to answer those questions. If you’re from the north or central Okanagan regions, don’t despair. Thirty-five groups participating in the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program (OCCP) are putting together a similar report for those areas. When finished, the data from the SOSCP and the OCCP will be combined to create a biodiversity strategy for the entire Okanagan Basin. Biodiversity is looking at urban sprawl from the other side; it is concerned with how the living creatures living here are dealing with us. It turns out urban sprawl is more difficult to define than you’d think. While urban sprawl technically refers to the spread of low density buildings across large geographic areas, our lifestyle is more than that. It includes water use, habitat changes, fences, roads, pesticides and a lot more. A loss in

Urbanity keeps spreading across the top of Dilworth mountain in Kelowna and the valley bottom behind

Photo courtesy SOSCP

Okanagan Recreation 9

Biodiversity Stress

A mountain bluebird

biodiversity is an indicator of which parts of our urban environments are causing the biggest problems. The SOSCP’s document are not policy: that is, no government will be bound to implement the recommendations or act upon the information found. As Bryn White, the South Okanagan-Similkameen conservation program manager, puts it these are science-based studies meant to provide a framework for all levels of government, and the public, to plan around. She says, “The SOCP partnership has some capacity, that is as a planner, to help local government to measure and support what we’re doing.” The SOSCP report measured various indicators of the environment. Findings reinforce that the south Okanagan is behind

Photo courtesy SOSCP

on protecting many key habitats. The south Okanagan-Similkameen has some unique species and ecosystems within Canada and the highest number of species at risk in the province (approximately one-third of the total). Three of four biogeoclimatic zones of conservation concern are in this area. Fifty-nine ecosystems and 334 species are among the top two categories needing conservation. White points out that in other districts within B.C. 10 to 15% of land is in regional parks. The south Okanagan-Similkameen, by contrast has only 1%. Of the total land area, 70% is in the public domain, and this has the highest percentage of land suitable for high biodiversity. Very little of that 70% is man-

aged with any intent other than the greatest economic return. Fortunately the area has some of the province’s biggest Indian Reserves and those reserves have a better record of habitat preservation. White believes that is because First Nation culture leans toward conservation and historically, investment dollars avoided reserve lands. As extensive developments by the Osoyoos and West Bank bands show, the era of low development on reserve lands can’t be taken for granted any more. Other threats documented in the report include: • Sprawl development outside of core communities and the cumulative loss of smaller habitat patches that is reducing total biodiversity. • Linear structures such as highways and fence lines can fragment habitats and create biodiversity “sinks,” i.e., habitats in which populations of a particular species cannot survive because they are isolated from other populations. • Agricultural expansion, especially for vineyards, competes with important habitat, particularly in rare grasslands and shrub-steppe. • Poor livestock management practices such as overgrazing and continuous grazing degrade native plant communities, introduce weeds, and reduce wildlife habitat; in some cases, riparian vegetation is eliminated. • Invasive species that are outcompeting native plants, species and sometimes even crops. These species have no natural Cont. next page


Okanagan Recreation

Biodiversity Stress

valleys as corridors between different groups and areas. Our transportation networks form considerable barriers to the movement of many species, of which road kill is the most horribly visible reminder. The second half of the report is littered with suggestions on how these problems can be alleviated or improved. There are 89 recommendations under the headings of Communication & Partnerships, Science & Information, Financing Biodiversity, Building a Network of Protected Areas, Improving the Effectiveness of Environmental Mitigation Programs, Managing Ecological Values on Provincial & Federal Lands, ImplemenLike the humans that live here now, many other tation of Conservation Initiatives, Interagency species find the valley bottoms to be the best place Cooperation, Enforcement, New or Improved to live, at least for part of each year. These are the Legislation, Improved Capacity of Local Governzones with the highest ability to support different ments, Better Public & Stakeholder Understandspecies, but in the competition between various ing, Shared Data & Mapping, Creating Incentives species and humans there has been only one win- for Landowners & Developers, Security Deposits to Ensure Environmental Compliance and Exner. Another finding is that many species use the panded Finance for Conservation. predators in the Okanagan’s ecosystem. • Pollution of various kinds, especially where they collect and contaminate water systems. • Human interference with natural cycles, specifically fire suppression and channeling water systems into canals or stopping it with dams. All of these are direct contributors to loss of essential habitats. • Climate change effects that can be predicted, but not quantified because no one knows exactly how far the changes will go. In addition, whatever changes mother nature throws at us, human responses may cause further disruption of habitats.

A burrowing owl – the poster child for animals threatened by the destruction of habitat

Photo by L. Meads

Okanagan Recreation 11

Urban Sprawl Well intentioned reports gather dust on the shelves of governments everywhere, yet not every report goes that way. The difference lies with whether the public really believes in the need for some of these efforts even if that means inconvenience or extra cost. Recycling is perhaps the most visible example. Rather than using land fills at the traditional rate we have, as a society, responded to the need to begin reusing the raw materials that are part of our modern lifestyle. Despite holes in that recycling program, most people agree it is a necessity, even though we pay for convenience (storing and sorting our garbage) and extra costs at the retail level (pop bottles, tire and battery fees, etc.) and in taxes. If biodiversity concerns are to be realized, politicians will have to believe they are important to people, even with extra costs and inconveniences. Fortunately the SOSCP has evidence this is the case. Public opinion surveys conducted between 2004 and 2008 show: • 75% agreed that it is important to protect endangered species and their habitats in the longterm, even if that means putting restrictions on economic development. • 77% identified the need for stricter regulations, and 84% wanted their local and regional governments to do more to protect the environment.

Recontouring sensitive grasslands and hillsides for intensive agricultural development – in this case wine grapes

Photo by Bryn White

The Summerland Waterfront Resort development preserves the sensitive wetland and makes use of educational interpretive signs

Photo courtesy Summerland Waterfront Resort

• Over 90% felt that the natural environment was important to their quality of life. • 79% of residents are concerned with water quality and quantity, loss of habitat to development, sprawl, poor planning, and loss of wildlife. • Only one in five residents think too much land in the region is already protected and only 13% believe that the real estate industry is so important to the region that restrictions for new developments are unnecessary.

Unfortunately public support doesn’t always translate to political action. As White notes when asked about what the future for the report and its recommendations, “This economic environment is pretty tough on initiatives like this.” For now they are having seven public meetings to raise awareness and get public feedback on the information they’ve collected. Whether politicians at any level ever act on this depends on whether the public talks up these issues or whether we just ease back into the uncomfortable lie that our lifestyle and presence here doesn’t really matter to the nature we see around us. The full report from the SOSCP can be downloaded by clicking on the title ‘Keeping Nature in Our Future’ at:



Trail Mix

Okanagan Recreation

Update on S.O.S.

ou may recall that the proposal for the creation of the South Okanagan Similkameen National Park (a.k.a. SOS) is stalled and in limbo. One very positive change was the release of a report from the Okanagan Nation Alliance saying they’ll support the creation of a new national park reserve in the grasslands of the south Okanagan. Last year the park was put on life support when the Liberal government in Victoria said it would not support the project in face of local opposition. While the First Nations were upset that they were not consulted, numbers from the public showed more were for the park proposal than were against it. For its part, Parks Canada has a policy that it will not move forward if the provincial government is not supporting the project.

Now the Okanagan Nation Alliance says it will write the premier asking that negotiations be restarted. Peter Woods, terrestrial campaigns director for the Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society (CPAWS), BC Chapter, is very pleased with the Okanagan Nation’s decision. He says, “We applaud the Okanagan Nation Alliance for conducting an extensive and comprehensive feasibility assessment. First Nations have a crucial role to play in protecting this unique ecosystem through the establishment of a national park reserve.” Others in the Osoyoos, Oliver and Keremeos areas have voiced opposition because they see the park destroying some economic activities. The mayor of Osoyoos, Stu Wells, along with many others including CPAWS, don’t see it that way.

News & Happenings CPAWS estimates the creation of a national park will contribute $37 million to B.C.’s gross domestic product by way of new jobs, tourist opportunities and tax revenue. With an upcoming provincial election, now is the time to let politicians know this is an important issue. An online petition has been created to promote the creation of the park. If you’re interested in making a statement that we should have a national park in the South Okanagan please sign your name and address at https://secure.avaaz. org/en/petition/Create_the_SouthOkanagan_Similkameen_National_Park/edit/. * * * * * * * *

Where goes the Pelmewash


ater this year the new four-lane section of Highway 97 from Oyama south will open. When it does the old section of the highway will revert to the jurisdiction of Lake Country. The municipality has already hosted several public information sessions on what should be done with the old highway, which will be renamed the Pelmewash Parkway. Until public consultations are completed and staff make recommendations, Lake Country won’t say anything, but many people are expressing the opinion that the Parkway should become a premier access route for park-like recreational activities on Wood Lake. What budget, if any, Lake Country will sink into the new Parkway is unknown, but we can hope

Okanagan Recreation 13

that this might become the first length of road that incorporates a safe bicycle route within the municipality. If that step is taken, it should be one more step toward building a safe bicycle route between municipalities within the region and hopefully, a substantial tourist boost for the economy. * * * * * * * *

Summerland Snowshoeing


ony Cotterrell and I (Brian Sutch) were out snow shoeing in Roddy Meadows the back of Summerland earlier in January. We were in the same area a week or so before, hiking, and in the mean time there was about a foot of new snow; then it rained on top and froze, leaving an icy crust on top. We were breaking through the crust leaving a trench behind us and each time we lifted our feet, instead of the loose snow falling out the hole at the front of the snowshoe, we were lifting icy chunks. Tough sledding as they say. The good news was that we got out into some sunshine that day after more than two weeks under cloud cover in the Valley. Brian Sutch PS - Don’t forget to spread the good news about the new access to the Brent/Sheep Rock trailheads thanks to the new road put in by the Penticton Indian Band that by-passes the bridge that was rotting out. They are doing the logging in there for Weyerhaeuser.

Tony Cotterrell snowshoeing in Roddy Meadows overlooking Summerland.

Photo by Brian Sutch


Health & Fitness

Okanagan Recreation

Chiro, Massage or Physio Therapist?


ometimes it can be confusing when you have an injury and you don’t know what therapy will be best. I get asked this all the time and truthfully, it is a bit of a touchy subject. No health professional wants to offend other health care providers yet we certainly believe what we do is the best, or else why would we practice it? We all believe very deeply in our own practises, we believe that our way is the best, so to answer that question I think there are some hard questions patients have to ask themselves. When doing my research, I’ll admit I found it a little confusing. First, all three practices list benefits and what they help with, but on a quick reading they are mostly interchangeable. I will do my best to clear the air, even if just a little bit. I’ll start with what I know best: massage therapy. It is an important part of your health maintenance and good for recovering from injury. Massage reduces or eliminates pain, improves joint mobility, circulation and body awareness and greatly improves circulation, immune system fuctioning and reduces muscles ten-

sion. It will shorten injury time, and, if used regularily, will help reduce injuries in sports and fitness. A practitioner helps to retrain those muscles to work properly and behave the way they should. It should be used on a regular basis; thereby becoming a strong, preventative tool. A good practitioner will help with stretches and home care when dealing with a muscle issue. Chiropractors work specifically on your musculoskeletal system in order to help correct problems in the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. They use certain devices and may need to fit a patient with a brace. They can adjust joints and realign your skeletal system.

Physiotherapists help a patient gain more mobility and teach them proper movements. They will work to design a program to help you work with disabilities, recover mobility, manage pain and retrain your body to preform functions properly. Obviously there is some overlap. The bottom line on choosing the correct path is to find what works for you. A good practitioner is more than the treatment you receive on the table. You have to be comfortable with the practitioner. You should be com-

fortable in their presence, with the work they are doing and you should always work with them by listening to instructions and by doing the exercises or stretches they give you to do at home. You are after all, a team.

One note: give the practitioner a chance. If, after a few visits, you aren’t seeing an improvement, or you don’t agree with what the practitioner is doing, then try another practitioner or a different kind of practice. Then too, chiropractors, physiotherapists, and massage therapists work well together, and we all support the benefit the others create. It is completely normal to see two of them at the same time, or even three, especially if a certain injury requires us to work together as a health team. I believe this is a personal choice on your end, and you will make the best choice for you! Dallas Sharples-Roshinsky was trained at an American Massage Therapy School in Costa Rica. She also has extensive training and experience in fitness, coaching, holistic health medicine and sports nutrition. An avid runner, hiker and biker, she works with sports injuries at her practice in the Okanagan Acupuncture Centre in Kelowna.

Book List

Okanagan Recreation 15

Kelowna Rock

In Vernon they have the Cougar Canyon; in Penticton it is the Skaha Bluffs but in the central Okanagan there is no premier place for rock climbing and bouldering. Or maybe there is and most of us just don’t know about it. If you want to find out where some of those great spots are, pick up a copy of Kelowna Rock, Climb-

ing and Bouldering by Jani Vaaranpaa and Karin Hanna, but published under the name of ‘A Blue Moose Publication’ moniker. The black and white book is a slim one, some 140 pages long, filled with photos, routes and suggestions on where to find great routes at three main locations. The first is the appropriately named ‘Boulderfields,’ which can be found by taking the Chute Lake Road near Summerhill Pyramid Winery until you hit the Gillard Forestry Service Road. Some 14 kilometres down that road, with a few turns shown on a rough map at the front of the book will take you to the Boulderfields. Once there the book breaks up the Boulderfields into six areas to explore and climb. The other areas where a lot of climbing is being done with relatively little fanfare is the Cedar Park area, also known as the Kelowna or Main Crags area. This area is accessed from a parking lot next to Chute Lake Road. Finally, the book gives some details about a climbing area on Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna. The book has no price listed on the cover, but was available online from Chapters-Indigo at $19.99.



Okanagan Recreation

Winter Water

Paddlesurfing Ohana in the Okanagan

ts mid-December and the parking lot begins to come alive with visitors from Penticton, Kelowna and Kamloops along with a growing number of hearty Vernon locals. You expect the next sentence to mention Silver Star Mountain, but it’s actually the parking lot across from Kalamalka Beach, on the north end of the namesake lake. And yes, there are hot chocolate, sweet treats and a light dusting of snow as a group of almost 30 standup paddleboarders converge for a Winter Chill Paddle – a yearly event hosted by the crew at Kalavida Surf Shop. The yearly gathering has doubled in size, signaling that the sport is starting to find it’s shoulder-season appeal to more and

Photos courtesy of Kalavida Surf Shop

more paddlers. For those new to the sport, Standup Paddleboarding (SUP for short) owes its roots to early Hawaiian pioneers who first held a paddle-onboard many years ago – decades before it’s recent revival. Born from the surf, the sport has now made it’s way inland to lakes and rivers around the world and here in the Okanagan you’ll find one of Canada’s strongest paddlesurf communities. So strong that Vernon is now home to Canada’s largest SUP festival – The Kalamalka Classic, which draws hundreds of recreational and competitive paddlers each year. Among the diverse group of boarders, Bob Pur-

Paddle Boarding dy of Kelowna arrives for his 710th day of paddling…in a row! A true testament that the sport has become a year-round activity for many in the region. He is joined by Trina Koch, who serves as the President of The Society for the Protection of Kal Lake – the nonprofit society that serves as an environmental custodian of the scenic lake. The paddleboard community has become a leading advocate for the safe keeping of oceans, lakes and rivers, which is an all-important connection for the sustainability of their watery playgrounds. Dressing for the occasion comes in a wide variety forms. Some come prepared with full wetsuits, while others layer-up with various types of waterproof jackets, sweaters, shorts and headwear. Yes, I did say, “shorts” for some. It’s a calm day on the lake so everyone is at ease during preparations that include sipping cocoa inside Kalavida’s Hawaiian-themed beach shop. A collection of surf-inspired Christmas music plays in the background as everyone revisits summerpast and winter-present. Stepping into the frigid waters of the lake gets everyone…excited, but within a few minutes the group is gliding effortlessly towards their first destination – Bishop’s Wild Bird Sanctuary. It’s one of the lake’s primary go-to destinations for paddlers during the snow season and with trees exposed, many of the Sanctuary’s rare birds are on full display. Of course, the main attraction is the convocation of bald eagles, who sit perched high above in a dead treetop. Fifty feet from shore, the Ohana (‘family’ in Hawaiian) comes together for a seasonal cheer and then divides into smaller groups before they head back to beach. The sport affords a level of freedom while out on the water and although this group is a few hours from the nearest surf beach, the essence of surfing, a closer connection to nature, is alive and well here in the Okanagan. Kevin O’Brien is the proprietor at Kalavida Surf Shop. To learn more about the sport in the region, visit and to see more about paddleboarding on Kalamalka Lake, Kalavida is SUP central – www.

Okanagan Recreation 17

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Spotlight Profile

Okanagan Recreation

WALC (Walk Around Lake Country) envisioned for the future of the District of Lake Country. Initial discussions revolved around what we liked about our community and what we wanted to see more of – walking and hiking trails were at the top of every What is the purpose of your list. club/organization? The mission statement Why is your group imporfor Walk Around Lake Country tant? Lake Country is a community (WALC) is “to develop and prowith limited financial resources, mote walking and hiking trails yet unlimited natural beauty in and around Lake Country.”  and an unlimited number of When was the group found- infrastructure items needing attention. Simply put, there are ed? WALC was founded in 1998 in no extra tax dollars to devote to response to a series of commu- building a network of walking nity-based front porch meetings and hiking trails, so this is somethat were held for the purpose thing citizens will have to do for of asking the citizens of Lake themselves. This is where WALC Country to express what they comes in as a completely volunteer organization working with the District to develop trails to enhance the natural resources our community has to offer. We also facilitate, in conjunction with the DLC, and other volunteer groups, construction of (WALCways) walking paths to connect the community to schools, transit and other amenities of the community (shopping, library, municipal services, etc.) Representative’s name and position: Dev Fraser is the president, but Elisabeth Dahnert, the volunteer coordinator and PR spokesperson, spoke to O.R.

(Arnold is in his high 80s and is an inspiration to all.) Tell us about one project or event your group is involved with? The marking and mapping of trails on Spion Kop Mountain. We believe Spion Kop could be as important to Lake Country as Stanley Park is to Vancouver. This is our big picture thinking within the context of District of Lake Country’s OCP. We have flagged and marked trails, now published in a well received Trail map, and envision further connecting trails through the underpasses under the new Highway 97, connecting us to what we hope will be a new park along the Old Highway 97 (soon to be the Pelmewash Parkway).

How many members you do you have? We have a core group of 10 or so committed executive members who attend planning meetings and organize work sessions. We often recruit up to 20 to 30 additional community volunteers to help with the actual building of trails. WALC has worked with Rotary members as well as with local high school students including GESS Outdoor Ed class, What is one thing that peo- and other community volunple don’t know about your teers organization? One of our current key and Are you actively recruiting? long term members, Arnold Are there membership dues Trewhitt, is one of the people and if so, how much? who created the High Rim Trail WALC has no membership

Walk Around Lake Country dues (just fun and fulfilling hard work). Volunteers are always welcome to join us. People interested in building trails can email us with their contact information and we will keep them apprised of trail building and maintenance opportunities.

ceives, whether it be from the District of Lake Country, Rotary or other grants, goes directly into developing, marking and mapping trails. WALC is comprised completely of volunteers so there are no administrative costs at all.

Are there any restrictions on memberships in terms of fitness levels? Is there a specific age group that represent’s your club’s membership? As with any outdoor activity, a basic level of fitness is needed to help with trail development. Spion Kop especially has a large elevation gain. One of our core (and most active) members is well into his 80s; probably the youngest helper is in his early teens. Planning and mapping, however, can be done by anyone regardless of their fitness level.

What plans does your group have for the future? WALC will continue to develop walking and hiking trails as the community develops. Our short term goal is to complete Spion Kop trails and to keep working on the 100 km of WALCways that we see connecting our community and making it stronger.

What is the best way for people to contact your group? Volunteer Coordinator: Elisabeth Dahnert - edahnert@shaw. ca - 250-766-3895. Do you fund raise, and if so, General Inquiries Dev Fraser where does the money go? prefer Email - hdfraser@telus. WALC does not actively fund net or WalkwithWALC@gmail. raise. All money that WALC re- com.

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Next Issue •

Signs (and flowers) of Spring

• Dog Days of Hiking •

Peachland’s ZipZone


Okanagan Recreation

With Definite Hope of Rescue

By Devon Brooks o you’re lost, on your own and you’ve sprained your ankle. Who you gonna call? Anyone who’ll listen, but whether you have a working cell phone or it’s one of your nearest and dearest who calls in when you’re unmistakably late on returning, in the south Okanagan, the call is likely going to make its way to the Penticton & District Search & Rescue. Odds are that, Cindy Smith, who refers to Search & Rescue as a SAR, would have a good chance of being one of the people helping out. Smith is far from alone. Forty volunteers work the Penticton SAR and many of those are, she says, “very active,” while the rest are somewhat active. About a quarter of the total volunteer base give more than 500 hours each. If you put that in terms of a 40 hour work week, it means that 10 people there donate three months of full time work to SAR. The rest put in around 200 hours a year – the equivalent of “only” a little over a month of full time work. Smith is one of the ten. She says, “I do a lot. I have my fingers in lots of pies, so I do about 600 hours a year.” She explains why she keeps giving so much to


Search & Rescue

The Penticton & District SAR team practicing ice rescues

SAR. “Work is all about taking, but here it’s all about giving.” Despite the work load these people take on, the work force is so stable that many companies with paid employees would be envious of their record. On average Smith says they lose about two volunteers a year. There is much competition from those vying to step in to the shoes of anyone departing. Recently they interviewed 23 people looking to take a spot. They chose a dozen to start training, but Smith says probably 30% of them will drop out for one reason or another. Smith explains, “We do hope to have people with local knowledge, are fit and are able to respond to the area where we work, but more important is leaving egos at the door, be willing to work in a team. Their attitude is more important than anything.” Recruits will receive a LOT of training, and they can expect to put in hours acquiring some very specific skills – things like tracking, swift water rescues, radio training, ice rescues, first aid, rope rescues and helicopter emergency transport service (HETS). Other hours go into more mundane things like board meetings, strategizing, budgeting and administration.

Photo courtesy of Penticton & District Search & Rescue

Penticton & District When they do go out they have to be tasked out, which means one of a handful of official agencies can call on them for assistance. Most frequently it’s the RCMP. Next up, says Smith, is the BC Ambulance Service. “The majority [of help for] BC Ambulance service is med-evacs in difficult access spots.” Others that may call on them include the fire department, local governments for emergencies and sadly, when things are too far gone, the Coroner’s Service for body recovery. One of Smith’s more memorable rescues came from a climber going up McIntyre Bluff, just north of Oliver. The climber experienced equipment failure and couldn’t go up or down, but fortunately had a mobile phone. It took three to four hours from the call in until all gear and personnel were in place for a rescue attempt. By then it was dark. Asked whether this, or any other rescue should be paid for by the person needing help, Smith responds with an emphatic ‘no.’ She explains, “Almost every SAR team is not in favour of cost recovery. If people think they might have to pay they, or their families, might not call and time is of the essence.” The Penticton SAR has an annual budget of $40,000. The equipment they need, from the rescue boat, the smaller emergency response vehicle, loaded with safety and rescue gear to the large rescue command centre is well beyond that modest

Okanagan Recreation 21

budget. Some of the equipment has been dedicated from other emergency services like the large rescue command centre, a converted 30 RV that belonged to the RCMP. Other equipment is donated. Most years they receive private donations of three to five thousand dollars. The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen provides an annual grant and, if you buy lottery tickets, you’ll be happy to know the lottery fund of B.C. provides them with money every year. Asked how people could avoid trouble, Smith recites common sense procedures that every outdoors person should be aware of: have proper gear and clothing, know your limitations and let someone know where you’re going and when you should be back. The codicil is that a quarter of the time people change their minds and don’t let others know of the changes. She has one reassuring fact to pass on: in the 21 years Smith has worked with SAR, neither she, nor anyone on the team, has been tasked out to deal with a large animal (bears, cougars, etc.) attack on anyone. Obviously people need to respect any large animal, but they shouldn’t be afraid to go out because of them. Last year Penticton’s SAR participated in 37 tasks, of which 10 were in cooperation with other teams. “No season,” says Smith, “is busier than any other on a regular basis.”

Cindy Smith at the practice tower

Photo by Devon Brooks

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Okanagan Recreation - Winter 2013  
Okanagan Recreation - Winter 2013  

Find out about attempts to protect the bio-diversity of the Okanagan, the best winter gloves, paddling in icy waters and a lot more!