Archive for the ‘Okanagan’ Tag

Burn Down, Build Up   2 comments

It was 2003, August, a typical summer day in the Okanagan.  Nothing was ever typical again in the Kelowna area after the day a lightening strike started a fire that became a holocaust along the ridge above that city, descending toward the 90,000 or so residents present at that time.  It was like a fiery curtain dropping upon the stage of a Wagnerian opera.  The latter true because there were great heroes in the battle to fight this thoughtless enemy.  Over 60,000 acres were scorched, hundreds of homes destroyed and many others damaged with many people displaced for over a year, if not forever.  Finally contained 36 days after it began, smoldering fires occasionally relit all the way into the spring after the snows melted.  Yet, there were those heroes during and after the fire.  During, it was the firefighters from many locations that came to battle the beast.  While much was lost, not one life was lost.  The Okanagan Mountain Park Fire had many specific affects on the people of the area.  One in particular was the destruction of 14 of the 18 railroad trestles that formed a key section of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail through Myra Canyon.  In a few short miles there were 18 trestles clinging to the side of the canyon walls at over 4000 feet, but 3000 feet above the valley and the town of Kelowna below.  The KVRT is a huge trail project but for biking amateurs like us this is the section most visited due to the incredible scenery, trestles and tunnels.  This, along with the wine, attracts many tourists to this area in the Okanagan.  But the fire threatened all of this.

Photo “stolen” without credit from a kiosk on the Myra Canyon Trestles section of the KVRT. The destruction of one of the 14 destroyed trestles, of 18 along the trail.

Faced with destruction of the trail’s trestle’s, and in the context with so much other reconstruction, the region, city, civic groups and businesses came together and completely rebuilt the trestles.  Much of it, if not most, with volunteer labor often working in precarious situations.  If you bike at all, you must come here to see the fruit of their efforts.

Sammy is a trail host for this section of the KVRT.  She is a friendly and enthusiastic supporter of the trail.  Her friends are jealous of her job which takes her outside all day, meeting and helping people on the trail.  She will fix a tire and patch up a scrape.  She loves her job and it shows.  She and another trail host clearly remember the events of 2003, though they were still young.  She and her family were evacuated but her companion host’s family lost their home to the flames.  He and hundreds of others had to live with family or friends for over a year until their homes were rebuilt.

Sammy, a trail host on the KVRT, a mature and enthusiastic supporter of the trail who remembers the horrors of the great fire of 2003.

Today, evidence of the fires is all too plain.  The boundary between destruction and preservation is often measured in feet.  Ten years later, though black  charred trunks stand like an army’s spikes the lower forest is regrowing, providing lush habitat for many animals, flowers, berries and cover.  What is not so good for us in the long haul may be best for a forest, as painful as that might be.

Lush regrowth 10 years after the fire.

Trestles hang precipitously above the canyon.


Posted July 7, 2012 by papaandnana in Roadtrip

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Sad having to leave Vancouver with less done than we had wished due to the weather we moved eastward.  We don’t really like to think of it as beginning to move towards home but so it is.  There is still much to see and do and the weather has suddenly become our friend.  We were able to see a beautiful Bridal Veil Falls along our way.  Seems like every place that has waterfalls has a Bridal Veil Falls.  This was a nice one.  We moved through Manning Provincial Park which had soaring mountains and seemingly endless forests.  It was soon clear that we were in bear county and sure enough, nearing the Okanagan region we spotted a young cub.

Another Bridal Veil Falls.


Giant moss covered trees.


Manning Provincial Park looking into the US.


Don’t blow away Nana!

Big Horn Sheep.


We finally arrived in Kelowna.  You probably haven’t heard of it.  For those of us who had not heard of it, well, we are idiots.  This place is fantastic.  Low accessible mountains all around, wineries by the dozens in the area, beautiful lake, trails, food, cherries and other fruits, cheeses, vegetables of all types, crafts and most of the food you eat will be locally produced.  We stayed at Myra Canyon Ranch which is a B&B.  It is up the ridge and the last ranch before entering a large park area.  The views to the valley below, Kelowna, the lake and the mountains, are stunning.  Easily enjoyable from the large hot tub, a great place to survey the vistas and sunsets.  The owners are gracious, helpful and make a really good breakfast with homemade bread and local produce.  No TV’s here.  Peace.  Well except for the dogs that get a little concerned about the welfare of the estate or are trying to keep the horses in line.

From here can be explored the wines, foods and trails of the region, all in close proximity.  More on that in the next post.  You have to wonder, do the people who live and grew up here appreciate fully what they have?  Isn’t that often the case?  Isn’t that one reason we have traveled nearly 4,000 miles, looking for more when sometimes we don’t allow what we have to affect us as fully as it should?  So when this journey is done, maybe it will be time to do just that.  Appreciate more fully what we have.  We do love North Carolina.  So many we have spoken to want very much to visit there.  Do we just crave something different when we should crave beauty wherever we are?  Yes, that is harder to do in some places more than others, maybe almost impossible.  For those in those circumstances, especially those that are young, do all you can to get out, move on and find a place that later in your life you will have no regrets for the choice you have made.

Myra Canyon Ranch Bed and Breakfast


View of Kelowna, lake, mountains in trees in the heart of the Okanagan.


First sunset.


Day is done. But up here the light lingers on the horizon until nearly eleven o’clock.


Posted July 6, 2012 by papaandnana in Opinion, Roadtrip

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