J.P. Squire's Secret Okanagan Spots

Finding that special spot

Welcome to the SOS series 2.0. It's not Save Our Ship! Or Save Our Souls! Or Save On Socks (at Sal’s Irregular Sock Emporium)!

Several years ago, the Sheriff launched his SOS series for Secret Okanagan Spots, places you wouldn't ordinarily know about. It's not an emergency situation but you will always remember the acronym.

Recalling all of those SOS special spaces, the Sheriff, Constant Companion Carmen and kayaking buddies returned to Lily Pad Lane last weekend and stopped on the way for the spectacular view at the Oyama Lookout. We also returned to Gardom Lake via e-bike from Armstrong on Wednesday.

Lily Pad Lane, our nickname, is the channel between the north end of Oyama Lake and Streak Lake. Timing is everything which is why we returned last weekend.

Hundreds of lily pads were sprouting their bright yellow flowers in a dazzling display of Mother Nature's wonders. There is no current so you can lazily paddle through and take numerous photos. (Caution: Don't leave your iPhone lying on your lap. And if you see CCC's iPhone through the murky water near the Streak Lake end, it's probably too late to save it.)

The outing wasn't without more drama as a dark cloud hovered over the ridge to the east and thunder rumbled after each lightning flash. We initially decided to head south instead of north but raindrops followed us. Wet, we decided to hit the channel and sun greeted us at the Streak Lake recreation site.

On the way back to Oyama, we stopped at the Oyama Lookout. There are no signs but if you keep an eye on the west side of the road at a sharp switchback, you will see a bare area with paths leading up to a panoramic view of Wood and Kalamalka lakes, and the isthmus.

Located near the town of Enderby, Gardom Lake is a popular fishing and recreational destination. From Vernon, travel north on Highway 97A through Enderby and turn left at Highway 97B towards Salmon Arm. The next major left is Gardom Lake Road.

According to the Gardom Lake Stewardship Society public use of this hidden piece of paradise has increased in recent years. Activities include boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing (angling and ice-fishing), wildlife watching, swimming and beach use.

There are two parks on the lake - Musgrave Community Park and Gardom Lake Community Park, which both have hand boat launches. Teal Road has a small trailer boat launch.

As well as public use, the lake is home to a Canadian Veterans Holiday Camp, Gardom Lake Bible Camp & Retreat Centre and 40 residential properties. A group of volunteers established the Friends of Gardom Lake in 1992 and incorporated as the Gardom Lake Stewardship Society in 2015.

A quick reminder

Big White Ski Resort has its Freeride Days MTB Festival on July 20 to 22 featuring slopestyle events, big-air competitions and the best trick showcases by some of the world’s best riders.

SilverStar Mountain Resort has its Crankworx Summer Series on Aug. 4 to 6 featuring the Rheeder Slopestyle, a Gold-level Freeride Mountain Bike (FMB) World Tour Slopestyle event with course designed and built by local athlete Brett Rheeder. The Sun Peaks concert lineup has Jana Seale on the Village Stage on July 21 and Zuffalo on July 29.

Feedback from readers

Re: Our Calgary e-bike excursions with pouring rain, hail, thunder, lighting and Alberta headwinds.

Gianni Liguori of Kelowna says: "LOL. When we lived in the Prairies, we had many similar experiences while hiking, cycling or boating where it would go from the most beautiful summer day to the ugliest weather a human should ever experience… within minutes.

"Canada Day long weekend circa 2001. It snowed in Saskatoon. We were at youth provincial soccer tournament in the semi-final so the game start got delayed several hours until the snow melted. We won, went on to the final and won Provincials that year. Haha."

Re: Staying cool in Okanagan heatwaves.

Brian Sutch of Vernon says: "I remember even back in the 1960s we used to put a wet handkerchief around our neck tied at the front when flogging our way up to the alpine huts prior to a climb and soak it at every trickle of water we crossed. Don't know how I would have survived some of those 2,000-metre hut flogs without them. LOL."

After I wrote the column, I remembered hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with CCC in mid-May. Wet towels around our necks, shirts soaking wet! Started before 7 a.m. and it was 37.7 C (100 F) and climbing when we got to the bottom at 11 a.m. My feet were burning so I took off my hiking boots and socks, and walked into the Colorado River. The water was so cold that within 30 seconds, I couldn't feel my feet.


Elevation Outdoors based in Kelowna will host the seventh annual On The Lawn lawn bowling tournament during the weeks of July 20 and 27, Aug. 3 and Aug 10.

Each week, 20 teams of four will bowl it out on four evenings, complete with music, a barbecue, wine, beer and cocktails at fhe Kelowna Lawn Bowling Club in City Park. There are prizes for Most Fun Team, Best Team Name and, of course, tournament champion.

Since its first year, the largest fundraiser of the year has raised more than $100,000 to provide programs for underprivileged youth in the Okanagan. This year’s event will provide more than 85 full scholarships for snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking and sailing programs

Team registration is sold out but Elevation Outdoors is still looking for food and beverage sponsors. Contact Corrine at [email protected] for sponsorship opportunities or to get on the mailing list for registration information for next year as the event sells out quickly every summer.


Back by popular demand, the Osoyoos Desert Centre has a series of Nature Talks this summer, free with centre admission. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy under the new pergola and afterwards take a guided tour along its boardwalk trail.

At 11 a.m. today (July 16), you can join biologist Lia McKinnon from the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society for a talk about Our Tenacious, Slippery, Slithering Friends. Learn about tenacious toads, slippery salamanders and slithering snakes. After the talk, stay to meet the society's favourite ambassador, Nora the gopher snake.

On July 22, the topic will be What Makes Antelope Brush so Special?

Jef Vreys, currently pursuing his master’s degree at UBC, will explain what makes antelope brush ecosystems some of the most intriguing and unique habitats in Canada, how it's essential to the vast diversity of species at risk that live within ranging from butterflies to badgers. He will also talk about the threats and challenges that are facing many of the remaining habitats.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

J.P. Squire arrived in the Okanagan Valley from flatland Chatham, Ont. in the middle of the night in the spring of 1980. Waking up in the Highway 97 motel, he looked across the then-four-lane roadway at Mount Baldy and commented: "Oh my God, there's mountains." Driving into downtown Kelowna, he exclaimed: "Oh my God, there's a lake."

The rest is history. After less than a month in Kelowna, he concluded: "I'm going to live here for a long time." And he did.

Within weeks and months, he was hiking local hillsides, playing rec hockey at Memorial Arena and downhill skiing at Big White Ski Resort. After purchasing a hobby farm in the Glenmore Valley in 1986, he bought the first of many Tennessee Walking Horses. After meeting Constant Companion Carmen in 1999, he bought two touring kayaks and they began exploring Interior lakes and B.C.'s coast.

The outdoor recreation column began with downhill ski coverage every winter as the Ski Sheriff but soon progressed to a year-round column as the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff.

His extensive list of contacts in Okanagan outdoor recreation clubs, organizations and groups means a constant flow of emails about upcoming events and activities which will be posted on Castanet every Sunday.

You can email the Sheriff at: [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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