Well, that was surely the shortest fall season ever in the Okanagan.
After unusually high temperatures (in the 20s C) during the first week of October, the Big Chill set in this week with between two and 10 centimetres of snow expected in the valley bottom on Friday.
In spite of early-morning temperatures, the Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen (joined by a few hardy buddies) cycled and said a fond 2020 goodbye to some of our favourite trails: the Okanagan Rail Trail from Lake Country north and along Kal Crystal Waters Trail in Kelowna, and the Scenic Canyon section of Mission Creek Greenway (third time in two weeks).
The surprise: the interpretive site at Ribbleworth Falls in Lake Country is now open with beautiful outdoor furniture, cedar railings and a rock stairway to a lakeside viewpoint. Plus rough-wood rail fencing has been erected where erosion mitigation was completed and the trail re-opened by the Thanksgiving weekend. Trail ambassador Duane Thompson (patrolling near Kekuli Bay) said more fencing is planned.
In Kelowna, landscaping was started and a wildlife viewing platform was constructed at Carney Pond near Adams Road.
After cycling Scenic Canyon, we checked out more backroads in East Kelowna, stopping for a tasting and a history lesson at Camelot Vineyards, 3489 East Kelowna Rd.
Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club’s AGM was held Friday with Lyle Nicholson saying last year’s second annual Cabins, Cookies and Chili Tour attracted 160.
“We all loved the Cabin Cookie Tour, especially the cookies; however, Covid is a buzz-kill,” he said with a laugh this week.
“For this year, Kelowna Nordic is going to wax up and hit the trails to do a virtual fundraiser for Kelowna General Hospital.”
Every strider and glider (snowshoer and skier) who raises over $100 will have their name drawn for a prize.
The club’s online application for purchasing memberships is back up and running, says secretary Wendy Vandenberg.
Kelownanordic.com has details. Early bird rates are in effect until Nov. 30.
A follow-up to last weekend’s column about the “deplorable” condition of the KVR Rail Trail, aka The Great Trail, between Chute Lake and Bellevue Trestle (part of Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park.
Just in time for the first snowfall, the Ministry of Forests has awarded a contract for upgrades to surfacing and ditching. More information was requested from the ministry but due to the provincial election today, a response can’t come until next week. The project announced in July was to be completed “this summer.”
The unofficial word is that the contractor just returned from an out-of-country holiday and has to quarantine at home. Perhaps the snow will melt by then.
Chute Lake Resort reps say they had an excavator up at Chute Lake ready to go to work “for over a week now. We’ve basically been shut out. We haven’t heard anything back and we are ready to pull our equipment as it’s costing us huge money just having it sit there.”
From a reader: “I have been communicating with many levels of the B.C. government and (ministry) personnel about the poor condition of the KVR trail in many areas. Another year goes by without proper maintenance on the trail?
“My question is: why is it so difficult to get a maintenance program together by all the involved B.C. government staff and (ministry) staff, the regional district areas, Trails BC and TOTA (Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association), and set up some rules and regulations for maintenance, etc?
“It is the overall responsibility of the B.C. government as a overseer that things are done right, especially when we are advertising the KVR trail as the premier trail in B.C.”
Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus (and there will be a ski swap this fall).
After Big White Ski Club cancelled its annual swap in Kelowna, Telemark Nordic Club (which handled the Nordic side) has confirmed a XC Ski Swap will be held on Nov. 1 at Kelowna Cycle, 2949 Pandosy St.
Early-bird consignments can be dropped off today during open hours, or 5-8 p.m. on Saturday (Oct. 31).
The swap is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 1. Unsold equipment/cheque pickup is 6-8 p.m. on Nov. 2. The consignment fee is $2 per item with 20 per cent of the sale price going to the club as a fundraiser.
Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre has teamed up with Stussi Sport in Vernon to offer an early bird prize of a $1,000 gift package to those who purchase a season pass by midnight on Oct. 31. The draw will be held on Nov. 1.
J.P. Squire, aka the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired reporter.