As the grass greens up, stems sprout and flower, and trees bud out in the valley bottom, you tend to forget that at higher elevations, it’s still winter.
So it was quite a surprise to discover last week that heavy loads of new snow were weighing down trees along either side of the Okanagan Connector of the Coquihalla Highway, and there was also snow on the roadway.
However, it was just like driving into a different world from the Pennask Summit, all the rest of the way to the coast, with bare ground, few patches of old snow, and green-up beginning.
Because of a snow advisory on the Coquihalla route, we elected to return via the Hope-Princeton Highway which we hadn’t taken in quite some time.
We’d hoped to avoid a dangerous, snowy drive back to the Okanagan, but as we headed toward the old Hope Slide, we drove into winter again, and a blinding snowstorm of large, wet flakes, which luckily weren’t staying on the road.
However, by Allison Pass, it was over and the road was bare of snow, as was the forest on either side, much to my surprise.
And, when we got closer to Princeton, we were amazed to see huge herds of elk and mule deer grazing contentedly by the side of the road on the new grass that was sprouting.
It must be spring, and Monday is Earth Day in Canada.
To me, Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the seasons and what they bring to the natural world. And, that experience was a reminder how differently the seasons manifest themselves at different elevations and in different geography.
Planning and planting gardens are great Earth Day activities for families, as are picking up litter and otherwise restoring natural areas where vandals have done their dirty work.
Recently I’ve had a couple of reports of vandalism done in the back country with burned cars left behind and hundreds of shards of orange clay targets littering the ground where some shotgun-happy trap shooters blasted away in the bush with no regard whatever for who may wish to enjoy that spot after them.
In Kelowna, you’re invited to pick up a NeighbourWoods tree at Mission Recreation Park Arboretum beside the Capital News Centre. Only residents can buy the trees, but for those living in Glenmore, the North End or Downtown, pick yours up between 10 and 11 a.m.; Mission from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Rutland and other areas, from 1 to 3 p.m. Trees are $30 and residents are asked to bring exact change.
As well there’ll be tree planting demonstrations hourly; samples of OgoGrow; and a ceremonial tree planting with the mayor at 11:30 a.m.
Funds for the trees came from Air Wick, which was presented because Kelowna was judged the Best Smelling City in Canada by a Facebook vote last year. Who knew, eh?
What a great way that would be to celebrate Earth Day with your family.
If, instead, you decide to go fishing on Wood Lake, remember that the recent crash in kokanee populations in that little lake has made it necessary to open it to kokanee fishing only for six weeks, from April 15 to May 31, with a daily limit of two fish.
The rest of the year it’s closed completely to fishing for kokanee, including catch and release.
Conservation officer Terry Myroniuk warns anglers are not permitted to target kokanee in their fishing efforts there for the rest of the year, and COs will be out checking anglers.
In fact, he was out this week and checked eight boats. He was pleased all knew about the new closure on kokanee, all had their new fishing licences, as well as their boat operator permits. However, six of the eight were in non-compliance when it came to safety equipment on their boats.
Fishing success was low, which isn’t surprising considering the low numbers in the lake right now.
Both Kal Lake and Okanagan are open year-round for kokanee fishing, with a daily limit of two in Kal and five in Okanagan.
No sign of bears yet, but I’m sure they’ll be out of hibernation in the coming weeks and some of those will be attracted to the nearest garbage can, so make sure yours are all put away inside, out of reach of hungry bruins.
Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.