The potential for new trails above Celista

        The old road would just need some clearing for a new trail

The Shuswap Trail Alliance, in conjunction with the CSRD, is always on the lookout for new trail opportunities and the recent mention of the potential for a trail above Celista sparked me into investigating the route. When the Area F Park Plan was first developed it included the option of acquiring a 40-acre parcel called Farrell’s Field. Since then, the CSRD acquired 22 acres of the property, where it now manages a popular outdoor ice rink. Recently, a friend and I explored the old trails in the forest behind the rink and the route between the park and Celista.

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A look back at the development of the regional district parks program

View from the hiking trail in the Blind Bay Hills

The Shuswap is fortunate to have so many unique and diverse regional district parks, from trails, to playgrounds, beaches, bike parks, campgrounds and conservation areas. But this was not always the case, as it took a fair amount of advocacy efforts, followed by public consultation and planning to create the impressive park system that we enjoy and appreciate now. One of the catalysts to the development of the system was the effort to halt the proposed clearcutting of the Blind Bay hills and above Gardom Lake.

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Shuswap rail trail initiative needs support

A section of the proposed rail trail along Mara Lake – photo map courtesy of the Shuswap Trail Alliance

Up until recently, the Shuswap has missed out on the tourism and recreational opportunities that arise from the development of long distance corridor trails constructed on former railway right-of-ways. However, the prospect now exists for a scenic, nearly level cycling and hiking trail along the west side of Mara Lake from Sicamous to Armstrong, which could then connect via side roads farther south. The route is the former Shuswap and Okanagan Railway, built as a spur line to the C.P.R. in 1892, used until 2009 and now undergoing salvage operations.

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At the centre of the Shuswap – Cinnemousun Narrows

It was a delightful way to finish off the summer, paddling to the ‘centre’ of the Shuswap to experience the unique geographical vibes of the Cinnemousun Narrows. Normally, the Narrows is where the motorized crowd hangs out, as it is the busiest stretch of our waterways. We had thought that since this was the second week of September that most of the tourists would be gone and we could enjoy some peace and tranquility in this very special area, but at the Narrows there was still a bustling plethora of houseboats, speedboats, sea-dos and yachts.
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What happened to swimming?

The Shuswap’s defining features are its lakes and rivers with warm water that is ideal for swimming. Yet, if you visit any one of the Shuswap’s many beaches, you will find many sun worshippers who love floating on tubes and rafts, but fewer people who are actually swimming. What happened to the crawl, the sidestroke, the breaststroke, the backstroke and the underwater frog kick? And you cannot you even find a diving board at any of the Shuswap beaches anymore.

For the motorized crowd there is the seemingly endless water parade of speedboats, wake-boats, personal watercraft, and houseboats. Thousands of tourists flock here every summer to enjoy our luscious warm waters, but the number of people swimming is on the decline.

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Summer is for camping

Photo courtesy of Shuswap Wild Wonders

Some of my favourite childhood memories stem from the three summers I spent at camp in Northern Minnesota and those experiences contributed to my decision to live a rural lifestyle in the backwoods of British Columbia. Given the current social problems of childhood obesity and what is termed the “nature deficit disorder,” it would be wonderful if more children could experience the joys of summer camps. Here in the Shuswap there are seven summer camps, with most of them run by faith-based organizations.

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The joy of cross-country skiing at Skmana

With just 18 km of groomed and track-set trails, the Skmana cross-country ski area is small in size, but there is a huge amount of local volunteer support that has made this true gem of a winter playground a major success. Just a few years ago, the Skmana Cross-Country ski club had dwindled down to just 25 people, and its Bombardier trail groomer was becoming old and unreliable.  Under the leadership of the then president, Brian David, the group began an ambitious fund raising project in 2011 to raise $25,000 to purchase a new grooming machine.

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Ski-touring on Queest Mountain

By the number of vehicles in the parking area, it was clear that the word is out about the advantages of ski-touring in the Queest Mountain area. A friend and I arrived at about 9am with two snowmobiles on a trailer that were not needed because the road had been plowed by Louisiana-Pacific, the forestry company that logs in the Gorge Creek area. The day after Boxing Day is one of the most popular days at ski resorts, and so too was it here as there were approximately two dozen skiers and snow boarders ready to enjoy the deep powder on the steep runs without any need to buy a lift ticket.

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Working towards a sustainable recreation plan

The Shuswap Lake Integrated Planning Process (SLIPP) was initiated in 2007 and after three years a strategic plan was developed with three basic goals that address the need for protecting water quality, and ensuring that both development and recreational experiences are sustainable. Since the plan was created, SLIPP has focused on monitoring water quality, improving compliance and enforcement and restoration of foreshore habitat. This year, efforts have begun to develop a recreation management plan for Shuswap, Little Shuswap, Mara and Adams Lakes.

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Mountain biking on Crowfoot Mountain

It has been 38 years since my last trip up to the top of Crowfoot Mountain, when I went up on horseback during a trail ride with friends. After numerous reports about the damage from motorized recreational vehicles that is occurring to the sub-alpine meadows and wetlands, I was eager to see it first hand. Thanks to the extended warm, dry weather we drove the rough road to the summit on October 10th and enjoyed a delightful mountain bike ride to the lookout and back.

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