The past week of outdoor recreation was a pleasurable mix of the familiar and something new.

The familiar was a been-there, done-that cycling outing with other members of the Central Okanagan Outdoors Club (COOC) - Okanagan Rail Trail to the Kelowna waterfront and south to the end of Lakeshore Road — and then, a kayak outing with other members of the Kelowna Canoe and Kayak Club (KCKC) — Sutherland Park to Paul’s Tomb in Knox Mountain Park.

When the Sheriff talks to almost every outdoor lover, they all want to know somewhere new to explore whether it is hiking, biking, kayaking or horseback riding, whether it is the Skaha Loop in the South Okanagan, the Fur Brigade Trail between Summerland and Peachland, or the Okanagan Rail Trail between Kelowna and Coldstream.

So a Ponds and Parks Ride on Monday promised something new for a Meetup.com group Okanagan E-Bikers Plus. Host Jim Grindlay checked out this

28-kilometre ride ahead of time. Warning: some parts of the ride aren’t easy to find since there are no direction signs in Munson Pond, for example.

All 13 of us — lucky us — parked at the base of Knox Mountain, then cycled the steep hill of Knox Mountain Drive to the first switchback and a trail that leads to Royal View Drive.

Downhill on Royal View Drive/Mountain Avenue and with a few turns, we came to a trail leading into a secret sanctuary called Redlich Pond Park. There is a narrow walking/riding path around the pond where a flock of friendly waterfowl will approach looking for a food treat.

A little later, we were on to Sutherland Avenue to the Burtch Road/Byrnes Road dead end and a wide gravel path that takes you to the hidden gem of Munson’s Pond Park (no direction signs yet but lots of birdwatchers and photographers to tell you where to go).

The wide gravel path and parking area at 1750 Munson Rd. were created in 2016; two new observation platforms were added in 2017. The path (just over one kilometre long) goes full circle around the pond which used to be an old gravel quarry.

It attracts many birds, insects and there is evidence that beavers call this park home too. Dogs are not permitted due to its ecological importance and sensitive habitats. The park is wheelchair accessible and frequented by residents of a neighbourhood supported-living complex.

Near Mission Recreation Park, you’ll also find Thomson Marsh Park (part of Mission Recreation Park). It too is worthy of a snack break and to watch the numerous birds.

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On another cycling note, sometimes it’s not always wise to mix road bikes and hybrids.

At another Meetup.com gathering, a member told the Sheriff about a recent outing in which some riders had road bikes and some hybrids.

The road bikers were in the lead, of course, quickly distanced themselves from the hybrids, and failrf to stop at key intersections to indicate the direction they were headed.

When cycling through busy public parks, she thought the road cyclists were going too fast so she carefully wound her way through the congestion while falling further behind.

When the scattered group reached a wide multi-use pathway, the road cyclists chose to instead ride the narrow bike path beside the busy roadway at high speed.

The Sheriff was reminded of past hiking trips where the “bolters” and the “socializers” separated as they left the trailhead. For the bolters, it was all about speed and a workout, climbing to the top of a mountain as fast as possible: not enough breath to talk, no stopping for photos, to re-tie a shoelace or for a bathroom break.

They often never stopped to let the socializers catch up even when there was a Y on the trail and the proper direction wasn’t marked. On one occasion, the bolters had already finished their lunch before the socializers arrived at the lunch spot.

The lesson: find someone who likes to do outdoor activities with the same goals, who does same speed and has the same physical capabilities. And who has cookies.

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When you love outdoor activities that involve equipment or animals, a good bike tech, a good ski tech and a good veterinarian are good to find.

Since buying his Tech Powerfly 5 from Fresh Air Concept in Kelowna last September, the Sheriff has accumulated more than 1,600 kilometres , apparently enough to need a new chain and rear cassette (gears). When you notice one showing wear-and-tear, it’s best to replace both. Chains will stretch (perhaps needing adjustment) and gear teeth will have pointed ends and small burrs. So it’s good to have manager Marty Tymm, bike techs/sales reps Dave Walsh and MacKenzie Smith on your side.

Sharon S., host of the Okanagan E-Bikers Plus group in Meetup.com and who just received her new Specialized e-bike, says: “The guys at Fresh Air have been absolutely amazing. 10 out of 10 service!”

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A series of popular Families in Parks programs are planned in Central Okanagan regional parks this summer.

Regional parks’ staff will provide free activities on the following dates, times and locations:

* Today: Agents of Discovery App Scavenger Hunt in Stephens Coyote Ridge Regional Park, Kelowna; noon-4 p.m. Pre-registration not required, just visit the park on Glenmore Road north of John Hindle Drive. A parks services crew will greet you and help you get started.Bring a mobile device so you can plug into the treasure hunt with the free Agents of Discovery App.

* Aug. 10: Perseid Meteor Shower at Kopje Regional Park on Carrs Landing Road in Lake Country; 8-11 p.m.; bring a blanket to spread on the lawn for some serious stargazing. There will also be guided tours of Gibson Heritage House and family-friendly activities.

* Aug. 24: Welcome the Kokanee Salmon Festival at Hardy Falls Regional Park off Hardy Street in Peachland; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Join parks services staff in celebrating the arrival of the first spawning kokanee salmon as they journey up Deep Creek.

For more information on these or other parks events, check out Your Guide to Regional Parks or drop in to the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan in Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna, email eeco@cord.bc.ca or phone 250-469-6140.

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It’s still not too late to join the Plog Squad — Jog, Stop, Grab Garbage and Repeat. It’s exercise with a mission: to give back to the Earth and make our communities cleaner.

The Plog Squad is meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays in July for

45 minutes to one hour along the Mission Creek Greenway. Gloves and garbage bags will be provided. All ages are welcome as well as runners with strollers. If you can jog, you can plog. No registration is required.

* Wednesday (July 24): Meet on the Greenway at KLO Road to run from KLO to Casorso Road and back (2.7 kilometres each way).

* July 31: Meet at the Greenway trailhead on Lakeshore Road to run from Lakeshore to Casorso Road and back on the other side (1.9 kilometres each way).

“My colleague, Emily, has designed this program as part of her work with us this summer,” said park interpreter Risti Lesperance. “We’re excited to offer a plogging program for the first time, and we hope that people will come and join us for a run and learn more about plogging.”

For more information, contact the EECO at 250-469-6140.

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