Alpine wandering

Alpine wandering
  

Happy BC Day!

Had my first trip into the alpine this weekend. 68km east, as the crow flies, of Kelowna is Granby Park. Home to the southern interiors largest pristine watershed. The Granby Range makes up the southern most mountains of the Monashees and is prime grizzly territory. The peaks aren't as gnarly as you'll find between highway six and Revelstoke but the forests are beautiful and the alpine offers grand views.  

Logging on the outskirts of the park makes for easy access. You can drive to 5600' at which point you come to a 'No motorized vehicles from June - October' sign. A hike up a gentle slope will get you to the summit in about 1:45.We passed a band of wild flowers between 6000' and 7000' feet and saw some humongous deer. Probably the largets I've ever seen. The park also has mountain goats, lynx, cougar, bobcat, wolverine and martin. None of which we saw as we were making a racket to ward off bears.

 Arhur(s) lake (the 's' seems to be optional depending on what map you look at) nestled under Finlayson Ridge can be seen in the following picture and is now defintely on my list of brackish ponds to sample.

Looking East from the summit provides a cool view of Big White and Little White which are both the same elevation as Mt Arthur.

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Way up the creek

South Okanagan Exploring

Had an interesting adventure this weekend. Myself and a friend ventured up onto the Okanagan Highlands above Okanagan Falls. The 201 forest service road was immaculately groomed. Unfortunately this didn't make a difference for some cherry picker workers from Keremeos who were hitch hiking do to low fuel levels while on route to a back country rave at Clarke Lake. Being the kind Canadians we were, we picked them up and delivered them to their destination. Then ventured on to Allendale lake which is totaly new territory to me. It's a man made lake with 6 forest service rec sites. 

We opted to venture a bit further and try to find a spot with less humans. This took us to Solco Lake. High in elevation and off the beaten track. We managed to find ourselves a sweet campsite that was isolated from the other inhabitants of the lake. Had a moose escort on route too which was a bonus. The first 90 seconds of the video at the end of this post is some eye candy of the lake. It got very cold at night and made for some cool mist in the morning. 

On our return into the valley we stopped for a few valley views and stumbled across a petrified log. 

 Once back in the valley we ventured through the Vaseaux Big Horn Ecological Reserve and entered into Vaseaux Creek canyon. The temperature dropped immediately as the steep canyon walls engulfed us. The creek flow was mellow enough to allow us to walk up the creek as required in some areas. Real time creek levels can be viewed here. The water level when were there was 1.029 (m).

After four km of sweet hiking we came to an interesting waterfall feature that wasn't really passable safely with our current gear. The hike up to this point provided some stunning views of rock formations. Massive cliff walls made up of many layers of different types of rock. Huge overhangs and outcroppings popped up around each new bend. 

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Miserable Mission

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In the summer of 2013 I hiked into Divide Lake in Okanagan Mountain Park on a cell tower access road. Divide is a  narrow lake near the summit that's wedged between two large rocks that resulted from some unpleasant tectonic rumblings. We spent the night at Divide lake and then dropped down the western slopes for 90 minutes to Baker Lake. It's the largest lake in the 10,000 hectare park and has a delighful little tent spot. It's ridiculously remote and terribly appealing.

Divide Lake

Filthy Divide Cabin

Baker Lake

 It was this trip that really turned me on to the beauty of the park. It inspired me to spend too long on Google Earth planning future expeditions. After several more hikes and camps in the park I set my sights on an mysterious lake which is suspiciously big to be unnamed. I plotted out a route, plugged in my GPS and set off with a friend. Not knowing what we were getting into I thought it important to call this lake Miserable Lake so as not to get our expectations up. 

Two factors were sketchy about this mission. The first being that it required several kilometers of bushwhacking in some of the Okanagans most gnarly terrain and the second was the lack of pottable water. Fortunately the bushwhacking wasn't too bad and we were able to get to the lake which offered a source of water. To be 10.7 kilometers away from civilization on a hot dirty rock without water could certainly be miserable. Upon arrival I was able to jump in, cool off, relax and drink while I swam which is something that you don't often get to do.

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Dangling a Carrot on Canada Day

Dangling a Carrot on Canada Day

Finally got up Carrot Mountain in West Kelowna. Most hiking friends of mine have been up there and most seem to agree that it's a grunt.

Compounding the grunt factor was the camera baggage. I was somewhere around 70lbs. Fortunately there is a waterfall about half way up that we were able to fill extra water bottles at so we didn't have to pack all the water all the way. This water source seemed to appear and disappear as we hiked. I suspect it is spring fed but we used the water for cooking and coffee and boiled it. The mosquitos in the valley on the hike up were positivley horrific.

Once up top the southerly views are great over West Kelowna. The wind was absolutely howling so we were forced to camp away from the cliff edge to get some shelter.

 

We chose to make a loop out of the trip and decend down the eastern trail. This was similar in steepness to our ascent and a bit slippery with shale. The views and lack of mosquitos made the decent better in my opinion. The hike up was 90 minutes and a bit less for the trip down. Round trip is 6km. 

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City views from McDougall Rim

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McDougall Rim is the prominent mountain to the west that can be seen from pretty much anywhere in Kelowna. It's gentle slope rises up to 1400m and is home to Hayman Lake which is actually more of a swamp. Below McDougall Rim is Rosevalley Resevoir which is a popluar hiking and biking destination. This is a sweet hike with spectacular views starting just after the 2km mark. It's a well used single track trail that climbs quite conistantly. It's not terribly steep but is long if you go to the top. There's no potible water and it's bear country so be prepared.

Hiking access to McDougall Rim starts off of Bentley Rd. in West Kelowna above Bylands Nursery. After a couple of kilometres of private road you come to an obvious parking lot at the cattleguard. Mutliple atv/4x4 trails head up the hill to your right (north). If you stay right you'll find a well groomed hiking trail that winds its way up but it is much shorter to head straight up and you will eventually bump into the main hiking trail. 

 

On this particular trip I took my drone and my Kessler Second Shooter and Pocket Dolly camera slider to shoot some timelapses. I opted for a hammock rather than the tent to save space and weight all though I was still maxed out at 70lbs. With all the prominent views towards the east and clear skies I wasn't in a huge rush to catch sunset but was hoping to get as high as I could before dark. After a hot, grunt of a hike I came to my usual camp spot at 2.3 km (image below from a previous trip). There were no suitable trees for the hammock so I pushed on to the next viewpoint.

Another 30 minutes of mud puddle avoidance and mosquitos clouds I rounded the final corner to find two large trucks and a bonfire. Certainly a more civilized approach than I took. After generously sharing some ciders with me (I only brought a small flask of whiskey) we discovered that these delightful rednecks and I had crossed paths twice in the previous few weeks. Once they stopped to say hi when eating lunch on a back country ski trip at Big White (post season) and on another occassion they had seen my tent at the top of Boucherie on a early morning hike. Weird. Makes me think we should be friends. 

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Drone flying above Peachland

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 My latest piece of video production equipment is a drone which is also known as a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) or a UAS (Unmanned Aerial System). To fly a drone commercially requires much more behind-the-scenes than you might think. Especially if it weighs more than a kilogram. You need to have training which includes safety protocals, aviation weather knowledge, knowledge of Transport Canada aviation regulations, Restricted Operators License - Aeronautical for a radio and more. You need a medical form from a doctor, a visual observer to be with you to help maintain security of the operation area and watch for hazards including other aircraft. You need to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) from Transport Canada which (at this point in time) requires an application for every commercial flight. These applications take as many as 22 business days to get approved. You must have maintenance procedures in place and documented as well as a current flight log. It's a lot of work but the opportunities and footage that can be obtained are pretty cool. 

 The places I can train and recreationally fly my drone in Kelowna are very limited. Most of Kelowna falls within Class D airspace as seen in the picture above so when learning to fly a drone I needed to venture off into the boonies. The Regional District of The Central Okanagan's Parks and all of the City of Kelowna's and West Kelowna's parks are no fly zones without permission. 

 As of late I've been getting out as much as possible to practice flying and train the visual observers I'll be working with. In the opening shot of the video below I'm using an advanced feature involving waypoints. I can pre-fly the route and set waypoints with camera direction and hazards in mind. Upon completion the controller uploads the waypoints to the drone and it flies the route perfectly smoothly then hovers at the end of the route. Pretty cool.

Some more info for those interested:

Airspace viewer, Transport Canada knowledge requirements for UAS, Transport Canada Drone Safety for recreational users

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Dilworth Summit

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This was my first venture out with my daughter this year. My daughter, her friend and myself spent the night on top of the peak of Dilworth Mountain. It’s super easy walking access on a windy paved road that climbs steeply up to the radio towers.

 Because my daughter brought her friend I stayed in a hammock nearby which has a built in mosquito net and the kids took the tent. It was the first ever time camping for the young lady accompanying us and she was very excited.

 

 When you are on top of a mountain and you have nothing to do it forces you to take a step back and appreciate the beuty that surrounds you. the beuty can come in many different forms and especially when it's pointed out to you by a nine year old.

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First Hike of the Season up Mount Boucherie

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I love to be outdoors. Now that ski season has ended I try to get out in the local Okanagan hills as much as possible. This usually involves hiking with far too much gear up one of our local mountains and spending the night.  As often as not I'm by myself which suits me just fine. There's something very peaceful about being away from all the h...
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