With the first yellow bells of spring now popping open above the buttercups on sunny slopes and warm temperatures forecast for the coming long weekend, everyone will be out and about in the back country.
Quite the opposite of last year when snow remained at mid to higher elevations until nearly June, it’s already melted except in ravines and shaded spots this year.
Since it was quite a dry winter, the ground is not nearly as muddy as it is during snowmelt some years, so hiking conditions are pretty good in many places, except at higher levels around the valley.
Spring is a great time of year to enjoy the many wilderness parks our regional district maintains at or near the valley bottom.
That’s where the first grasses and wildflowers of the season can be spotted and where the most critters, from birds to ticks, can be found.
Although the birds are great fun and I love to hear their spring songs again, the ticks are another matter altogether.
To avoid being bitten by a tick, cover up well, tucking your pant legs into your socks or boots, and walk on cleared trails in tall grass or wooded areas. It also help to use an insect repellant containing DEET.
Once you return home, check clothing and scalp for ticks and be sure to check youngsters and pets as well.
With that in mind, many regional parks will this weekend, because of the good weather, rather than waiting until April 1. They are Bertram Creek, Cedar Mountain, Kaloya, Killiney Beach, Kopje, Lebanon Creek, Mill Creek, Raymer Bay, Reiswig, Scenic Canyon (both Field Road and McCulloch Road parking areas), Three Forks, Traders Cove, Westshore Estates and Woodhaven, as well as parks that are open all year round.
Trepanier Creek Greenway Regional Park remains closed until further notice because of the wildfire last September.
In Kelowna, the road into Knox Mountain Park opens again for the season today, but remember that all city parks are smoke-free zones.
Anglers should remember that their fishing licenses expire this weekend and new ones must be purchased. When you do so, you’ll be able to pick up a copy of the new fishing regulations synopsis where you get their license.
Invasive Hawkweeds of Western North America will be the topic at April’s Central Okanagan Naturalist’s Club meeting at 7 p.m., April 9th in the Evangel Church on Gordon Drive. Guest speaker will be David Ensing of UBC Okanagan, talking about ID and control of hawkweeds.
The club is planning a project in Chichester Marsh and is looking for information on when it began as a wetland park, old photos of it and why it was named after Bertram Chichester, a long-time Belgo orchardist who died in 1969 at the age of 70.
If you can help, e-mail Sherrell at: Sherrell@shaw.ca
In the meantime, enjoy your outings this weekend, but don’t do anything illegal, like off-roading or making new trails.
Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.