The best way to celebrate BC's 150th birthday is to do what BC does best…. Be in supernatural BC's nature! This weekend I am at Kalamalka Provincial Park.
Todd jumping into Kalamalka Lake to test his PFD – photo Deb Martin 2008
My buddy Craig and I left Vancouver just after 7:30am, Saturday morning. We drove up the Coquihalla Hwy, and had lunch at Merritt. Then we headed on the Connector in time for bumper to bumper traffic through Kelowna. I thought the new 5 lane Bill Bennett Bridge was supposed to make traffic go smoother and faster, but we were backed way up the hill.
Before you reach Vernon, you drive along Kalamalka Lake, also known as the “Lake of Many Colours.” The Highway starts off at lake level, as you pass through the town of Oyama, then it rises in elevation, allowing a great view down and across the lake. We checked the odometer, and it was about 9 miles long. We looked across the lake, and we could see our destination. One of the last houses on the point, beside Kalamalka Park – my girlfriend's parents' lakeside home. We arrived just after 1pm.
We are soon at their private dock, swimming in the lake. It is refreshing after the long drive. Kalamalka Lake is beautifully clean and clear tourquoise water. The high desert hills rise around it. There are micro-climates all around, evident by the dry barren Western shore, and the Ponderosa Pine laden Eastern Shore.
Lots of water skiers and wake boarders are riding behind power boats. Personal water craft are noisy Sea-doos. Quiet kayakers paddle past the dock, moving much faster than the relaxed canoe paddlers who all wave to us. It's definitely a busy holiday weekend on the lake.
We sun bathe, sip our cool drinks, read books, admire the scenery, and go for another swim. We watch bald eagles flying over head calling in staccato burtsts, “A-a-a-a-a-a-aaaaaa. A-a-a-a-a-a-a-aaaaaa…..”
– photo Deb Martin 2007
Sunday morning we are up around 9am. My friend Craig is having a hearty breakfast with lots of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. We feed him bacon, smokies and pan-fried mashed potatoes. He is going over to Okanagan Lake for a 42km outrigger canoe races with changes. This means that every 20 minutes, an accompanying power boat will drop off 3 paddlers into the water. These 3 paddlers will climb into the boat, as 3 other paddlers climb out, while 3 remaining paddlers keep the boat moving. It's an annual race organized by the Vernon Racing Canoe Club. He heads over at 10am, to meet his team of paddlers from Penticton. Their Mixed Race starts at 12 noon.
Meanwhile at 11:00 am, I hop into a cedar strip canoe with my girlfriend Deb and her friend Zsuzsanna. We paddle past Jade and Juniper Bays, and around Turtle Head Point. There are some cliffs here that people jump off into the deep water, but nobody is jumping today. Lots of power boats are driving by, on their way to Cousins Beach, and the waves rock our canoe. Zsuzsanna does a good job steering a canoe for the first time in 8 years. I am sitting in the middle relaxing with Tess, the little border collie, while my girlfriend paddles in the front. I drink my water and pass them drinks.
We paddle all the way into Cousins Bay, to the beach where I count 11 power boats pulled up to shore. We are the only canoe I see. Lots of mountain bikers and hikers have also made their way to the beach. I play in the water with Tess. She loves chasing the water splashes I send in her direction.
– photo Deb Martin 2007
On the way back, I paddle in the front of the canoe. Zsuzsanna remarks how fast the boat is moving, and it's great having a dragon boater paddle the canoe. Deb explains how important it is that 20 dragon boaters all paddle in time together. When I speed up, Deb tells me to slow down and relax, remarking “You're not in a race.”
Back at the house, we head up for a quick lunch, then back to the dock for more swimming, reading and sun bathing. We watch an osprey flying over the lake, then swoop down to pick up a fish. Unfortunately a sea-doo buzzes nearby with a boat towing a water skier, and the osprey flies away over the lake. It suddenly appears over our dock. It's white speckled body, a marvelous wonder to see, with its long dark pointed wings flapping overhead.
– photo Deb Martin 2008
I go swimming, wearing with my personal floatation device. I discover it's a great and easy way to float. I don't have to tread water. My girlfriend always teases me that I have so little body fat, I sink easily making it such an effort for me to swim. I have such fun floating and swimming with ease, I decide to swim over to Jade Beach in Kalamalka Park. Over at the park, there are lots of people swimming and having picnics. Two power boats are anchored just outside the swim area. Meanwhile, there are other power boats on the other side of Jade Bay. Lots of Sea-doos are racing around in mad circles. Some of them come dangerously fast close to the swimming area. It would be a tragedy if somebody lost control doing a fast turn and the machine careened into the swim area. Unfortunately such accidents always happen somewhere in the summer. Thankfully no accidents occur. But I find it noisy, and decide to swim back to our dock, where I play water splashing with Tess the border collie.
Todd bobbing in the water – photo Deb Martin
A small flotilla of kayaks and canoes paddle by, and I swim out to greet them, bobbing in the wake of yet another power boater or jet-skier. It's a BC Day long weekend, and a popular BC lake is BC crowded.