Steeves/Trail Mix: Ominous sounds not always what they seem

Out in the bush, or high up on a mountain lake, things are not always what they appear to be...

Ominous pattern of water spouts on a high mountain lake can mean many things.

Ominous pattern of water spouts on a high mountain lake can mean many things.

It was very quiet at the high elevation lake we’d been fishing and we’d come in to light a fire and roast a couple of hot dogs for lunch.

There were some menacing black clouds moving across the sky, as well as some beautiful fluffy white ones backlit by the sun and with blue sky as the background, so I was trying to get some photos of the effect of the two.

Suddenly, I heard the oddest rustling noise. It wasn’t like an animal or a bird moving through the bush because it was too consistent: not like steps amongst the underbrush, but steady, like wildfire.

I looked out across the lake, which was bordered on all sides by thick forest, and instead of the loon, diving for fish, or the occasional ring where a fish rose to the surface, there were small fish jumping far away on the other side of the lake.

However, it continued and it wasn’t just the occasional one jumping; there were hundreds and the phenomena was moving across the lake toward me.

As each one jumped out of the water there was a water spout or spurt that leaped nearly a foot into the air above the surface of the lake, so across the lake it looked like hundreds of white sticks rising out of the lake above the dark blue surface of the water.

And that rustling continued, moving inexorably toward me across the water.

Suddenly, I realized there were no fish jumping; those were huge drops of water being hurled into the lake from that black cloud above us in the sky.

Then it became obvious those were not drops of water, but big hailstones, the size of my thumb, and they began hitting me and bouncing off the ground all around me.

I ran for our vehicle and once inside it became an all-out onslaught of banging and pinging as a flurry of hailstones slammed into the tin roof above our heads, bounced off the windshield and the hood and covered the ground in white.

Our little campfire stopped shooting out the occasional flame as it died down, instead emitting curls of smoke and ash as the hailstones landed and melted against the heat, steaming as they evaporated.

The seats of our camping chairs sagged with the weight of the ice balls and the ground went from being dusty and dry to being muddy, with spurts of dirt hitting everything in sight; and then running with dark water as the storm subsided into a torrential rainstorm.

Instead of a day of fishing, we’d had a morning, and now all we wanted to do was get out from under that black cloud, if only the rain would stop long enough that we could rescue the boat and our gear.

It took a soaking to finally gather up all our stuff, and we literally did drive less than a kilometre away from the lake before the downpour had quit and everything was dry.

Ain’t the weather weird?

I may have got skunked that day, but I had a note from Larry Martin, in response to my story about the mysterious kokanee kill in Okanagan Lake a few weeks ago, along with a pic of the beautiful big kokanee he caught in Skaha Lake last week.

His comment was that he doesn’t mind catching smaller fish much of the time as long as there’s a chance of catching such beauties occasionally.

I’ve also seen a pic of a young moose cavorting around this week right within the city limits of Kelowna!



Now that August is here, make the most of this last month or so of summer, with something special like a voyageur canoe trip with my friends Jordie and Laurie Bowen of Selah Outdoor Explorations.

They’re planning a trip around Vaseux Lake in the south of the valley Aug. 16 and another across Okanagan Lake to Rattlesnake Island Aug. 18 for a little adventurous exploring with the family in a big voyageur canoe. For details, go to:

Or, if you’d prefer to spend very little for a great family outing that is informative while you walk, take the Kelowna Museum’s walking tour of historic downtown Kelowna. The next ones are Aug. 11 and 18, and they begin at the Okanagan Heritage Museum, 470 Queensway Ave. at 10 a.m.

Each is about an hour long, and includes a guided walk by some of the city’s historic buildings and monuments, for a donation to the museum.

Enjoy the weather of summer, whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at you.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.






Kelowna Capital News