Posts in Outdoors

Why You May Not Survive the Mystic Trail at Mabel Lake

If you ever find your way up to Mabel Lake (via Lumby or Enderby) you’ll drive off paved roads into the forest and are likely to find a quiet, out-of-the-way lake with no cell reception. If this sounds like the beginning of every horror movie you’ve ever seen, congratulations you’ve seen through our preamble.

In classic horror cliché, we arrived Saturday with fresh food and cold beer to an already in-progress birthday party. Adventures kept pretty close to the campsite that initial day due to the fact that we were a big crowd and it’s fundamentally impossible to motivate our group to much more than a 1km ‘hike.’ The sun was hot and the sand was hotter, it was about all you could do to stay conscious all day. Exploring required more effort than we would muster smoldering under a scorching summer sun. Temperatures in the shade were reaching 32º+ and borderline uncomfortably frosty dips were important to help revitalize at much needed intervals throughout the day.

Pictured Here

Pictured here: comfortable shade and not-at-all the gateway to someone’s harrowing descent into madness.

Come Sunday, most members of our group made their way back to civilization and only the 3 of us remained; myself, Mitch & Katy. I had mentioned trails or waterfalls I thought I recalled from my youth that were nearby. Back in the day, my parents and I would go camping often. Of the many destinations we visited, Sugar and Mabel Lake were pretty regular. I guess the proximity to our house in Lavington made them pretty ideal for a quick trip away from home and, perhaps more importantly, an equally quick trip back at the end of a sun-baked weekend. We were already on the hunt for firewood that day so we thought we’d kill two birds with one stone, find the campsite host, and ask about any notable landmarks. After all, there is no way this could end with us being chased through the woods by the Blair Witch.

Maybe using the word "kill" was just asking for trouble.

Maybe using the word “kill” was just asking for trouble.

Upon meeting our host, she directed us a short trip up the road. She mentioned Cascade Falls (a place we couldn’t find to save our lives) and, at 15 1/2 forestry kilometer, The Mystic Trail. A ‘magical’ little path whose name is missing about two adjectives and three exclamation points. The campsite host’s description of “a cute little area where someone carved some neat things into the hill” really undersold the horror of what we were about to encounter.

"Oh good. This isn't foreboding."

“Oh good. This isn’t foreboding.”

The trail is adjacent to a haunted bridge and marked by a staggeringly-large amount of shoes nailed to a tree that locals have taken to calling the shoe tree. We won’t speculate why and assume any reason for this name is surely lost to time. Looking back, I suppose it’s my own fault that “neat things” didn’t immediately infer that they would be unspeakably nightmarish things. Maybe I was expecting stick-man drawings on rocks, or GRAD2013, or even Robbie + Julie 4Ever in a heart. Definitely something over-emphasizing the permanence of youth.

Hindsight

Here “someone carved some neat things” like this spinal column, unpleasantly twisted into the guise of the Ogopogo’s evil twin.

Naturally hindsight is 20/20, or it would have been if our eyes weren’t plucked straight from their sockets while tempting the curse of the Mystic Trail that we absolutely didn’t just make up.

I want to believe this place is only unintentionally terrifying and probably meant to evoke feelings of whimsy in adults and children alike. Makes sense. Everyone knows little boys and girls enjoy mutilated skulls and trash dolls displayed in gruesome manners meant to mock death in many creative ways.

I See You

Even with warm, summery Instagram filters, this is only barely passable as the least paralyzing piece of art present.

Now, there’s nothing saying any of these bones or parts are from humans. For example, we escaped alive and slept through the night with only a few mosquito bites to show for it. Had this mockery of the human death experience been made of actual persons we’re pretty sure only one of us would have escaped alive. I’m half-Mexican and Mitch is the big, white guy, sooo clearly the survivor would have been Katy.

"Hey. Haunt here often?"

Especially after I literally taunted the “artwork.”

Jokes aside, it was a pretty sweet little tour and quick way to beat the heat. Just don’t spend the night inside the tiny, abandoned cabin or pee on any of the dolls and you’ll probably make it out unscathed.

That or you'll find yourself buried in this patch of Skull Daisies. Which were exactly as petrifying as you'd expect.

That or you’ll find yourself in this patch of Skull Daisies, which are exactly what you’d think they were if you were expecting them to be lots of tiny bird skulls.

Thanks to Katy (@ktken on Instagram) for snapping pictures while my iPhone cowered in the vehicle.

Off to England: The Lake Monsters Take on the English Channel

Photo by Angelique Duffield www.BrightSparkMedia.ca

The Lake Monsters in our team suits: Phred, Denise, Tracey, Leora, and Mike. Photo by Angelique Duffield

Well, the time has finally arrived! The Lake Monsters head to Dover, England this week for our chance to tackle swimming the English Channel. We have been told by our support boat captain that if the weather remains good we will likely make our attempt on August 1st. If the weather doesn’t cooperate right away, we have until the 6th of August to make our attempt.

Just as a refresher: the Channel is 35km across in a straight line, but because of the currents we will likely swim a greater distance than that. We are not allowed to wear wetsuits and the water temperature in the Channel is currently 16ºC. We’ve been training in the lake since it was 8ºC so that we won’t become hypothermic in the 16º water. Our start time will likely be around 1 or 2am as that is when the tides are retreating from the English coast, giving us some help getting out into the Channel (but we’ll have to start by swimming in the dark with glow sticks on our caps to make us visible to our support boat). We each swim for one hour at a time and then rotate through. If anyone can’t complete their shift, touches the support boat, or touches anyone on that support boat before their hour is up the entire team will be disqualified. The swim will be monitored by a member of the Channel Swimming Association and will be considered “complete” when a swimmer from the team clears the water line on the French coast. We anticipate that it will take us between 15 and 18 hours based on our swimming abilities, but again if we run into rough waters, jellyfish, or bad currents it could take us much longer.

I am excited to go and feel that we are ready! The majority of the team completed the Interior Savings Across the Lake Swim this weekend and we all put in good times for that 2.1 km swim. Now we get to take it easy on our bodies until we get to Dover and start training in the cold water again (our lake is currently around 22ºC).

My last submission for Awesome Okanagan will be published in late August or early September (after I get back from my travels) to let everyone know how it went. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Awesome Okanagan (particularly Brandon) for letting me use this forum to talk about my experience training for this over the last year and for being so supportive of our swim!

Finally, we are raising money for the Y Strong Kids campaign as part of our Channel Swim attempt. If you’d like more information about this charity or would like to support my team please go here.

Fashionate: Stripes!

While it’s not unusual for the picturesque views and locations of the Okanagan to form the backdrop of innumerable photo-shoots, I can bet you’ve never seen African Safari animals involved!

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Recently L.G. photography, hairstylist Melanie Stipdonk and myself teamed up to do a creative shoot at the unbelievably unique Rawhide Ridge Zebra Ranch. With a little help from our friends at Frakas and Nateah Studios, we developed a Warrior Woman Safari setting, right in our own backyard!

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As we made our way to the distinctive farm, we were greeted by quietly perched Peacocks. There were Emu’s casually lounging about and the whole feeling it evoked was sublime. We trudged through mud until we finally came to our location, marked by a bold and striking Zebra. I pulled my high heeled gumboots up and we began what was my first-ever Zebra shoot!

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Equipped with a gorgeous Mink Pink summer frock, a Mink Pink velvet and lace top; both from Frakas, Leopord print shoes by Steve Madden, and Earrings made by Nateah Studios, we investigated gorgeous, sprawling fields in the hopes of making a little magic happen.

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What an opportunity mix real prints and textures together. Adding a pop of colour in a pair of blue shoes, a multi-print dress, or power-clashing leopard and zebra print. Don’t be afraid to wear contrasting colours or prints, just make sure there is one cohesive theme to tie the items together. Frakas is home to some amazing accessories that can help to complete your outfit, whether it’s a colour block bag or a new bib necklace.

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Love these killer shots by A-OK contributor Lise Guyot? Follow her photo postings on our blog!

Keloha Music and Arts Festival 2013

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Kealoha is a Hawaiian word which translates to “The Love”. The Keloha Music and Arts Festival is beautiful people coming together and creating magical moments under the hot Okanagan sun. This 3-day, all-ages festival is an all-weekend extravaganza of love, art, and good vibes. Over 30 talented musical acts share two stages in Waterfront Park, serenading and making dreams come true. The grassy knolls of the Island Stage provides a natural amphitheatre complete with shady trees to sit under when the heat starts to take its toll on you and The Sandbar Stage, located on the beach, is perfect for rolling out a towel and digging your feet in the hot sand. Or, you can cool off in the refreshing waters of the Okanagan Lake.

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Yukon Blonde

Between the stages there was plenty else for you to see and do. Lakeside Lounge and Paradise Beach provided a tropical get away for adults wanting to indulge themselves with an intoxicating tonic. VIP pass holders could skip the line-up and enter Paradise, an exclusive area complete with tables and private port-a-potties. Sponsors Big Surf and Palm Bay provided the perfect tropical summer brews for the sun drenched fiesta.

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The Trews

If you were a Hungry Patron you could make a trip to the Food Plaza where an assortment of vendors sold mini-donuts, hamburgers, tacos, pizza-by-the-slice, and more. Everyone’s favorite neighbourhood restaurant Kelly O’Bryan’s was even on hand to sell their famed Pachos. My favorite lunchtime item was the Bronco Burger from the Good Stuff Foods vendor with their reasonable prices.

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MUTEMATH

Those with a creative side could visit Art Avenue, a stretch of space between the Sandbar Stage and Food Plaza, which hosted drop-in yoga, paddle boarding, sandcastle building, gymnastic performances, and interactive art installations. The sidewalk was even transformed into a giant chalk canvas for the public to express themselves on. Installations included pyramids in the sand, and a volcano frothing bubbles.

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Dear Rouge

Sunset Way, the path between the Food Plaza and Island Stage, became home to a small village of vendor tents where small businesses sold clothing, accessories, and more. The tent I spent most of my time at was the Merchandise Tent where you could buy CD’s and T-Shirts from your favorite bands at the festival.

Continue Reading…

A-OK Rooftop Sessions: JoyfulDoor

For this A-OK Rooftop Session, JoyfulDoor and Awesome Okanagan climbed a mountain at a time of day A-OK isn’t usually awake at (especially after working until 4am the night before). The view was incredible from the top of Layer Cake even if the weather wasn’t entirely co-operative. We got in a few takes of their song “Calcium” before we were rained out. Silver lining: we lucked out on the best audio take with some perfectly timed thunder.

Neat little history lesson, Layer Cake Hill is a volcanic land form composed primarily of Dacite [day-site], volcanic rock with a high silica content. It shows unique layering that has not been seen anywhere else.

Like what you hear? Catch JoyfulDoor opening our Hot and Dry Canadian Summer Kick-Off on Thursday July 4th. Awesome Okanagan and Cariboo Brewing invite you to join us the first weekend of July to celebrate our love of local music, too-hot days and festival-ready style with 10 bands over 3 days.

Lille Gard Music & Arts Festival

Happening this weekend at the Bottega Farm Inn is the 4th annual Lille Gard Music & Arts Festival. The festival opened tonight with Ten-Ten-Ten “Under the Stars,” a display of assorted performances by musicians, poets, dancers and artists. Tickets were ten dollars to see ten performances each ten minutes long. Thirty dollar weekend passes were also available, which would allow you into the festival for all three days.

Saturday will feature thirteen new performances and end with an Open Mic hosted by the Streaming Café. Sunday will feature a Pancake Breakfast hosted by Metro Community and six more performances. Visual Arts will also be exhibited in the gallery and on the grounds during the course of the event.

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Tonight consisted of musical performances by Singer Songwriters Norm Strauss and Brent Tyler, family east coast fiddle group Chloe, Kyle & Co., opera singer Sandra Babbel (with accompaniment by classical guitarist Alan Rinehart), and Caroline Mackay on Celtic Harp. Nygel Metcalfe performed his Spoken Word poetry, Burnet Mclean spun a nine minute story, Dylan Ranney and Liz Dumontet created a mural, Hailey Neufeld performed ballet, and Jordan McAlpine’s dance group performed an original modern dance piece.

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Lille Gard is organized by the TribeHouse Artist Collective, which is “a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring the relationship between the Christian faith, Art, and Social Justice”. All profits raised by the festival will be donated to two charities, “Hands in Service”, which helps people in Kelowna with health concerns or disabilities, and the Najenga Congo Project, which helps build schools and homes in the Congo.

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Lille Gard runs on Saturday  from twelve o’clock noon until 11pm and on Sunday from 9am until 3pm. Day Passes are still available at the gate and online, so grab yours while you’re reading this and don’t miss out on the fun. Treat yourself this Saturday and Sunday to local favorites, including the likes of Andrew Judah, JoyfulDoor, Ari Neufeld and much more!  Bring friends, family, and a lawn chair (or blanket) and be prepared to have a good time.

Trek-It Tuesday: Summer Solstice at the Little Tunnel

Little Tunnel, Naramata

Solstice 2012 – Little Tunnel, Naramata

Summer solstice is nearly here bearing days of exaggerated sunlight so why not take the opportunity to get out and explore this awesome valley of ours. The KVR’s Little Tunnel sits high on the Eastern Hillside, above the village of Naramata, overlooking the South Okanagan valley with sweeping, panoramic views of its entirety; the scattered ponderosa pine and bunchgrass give way to the neatly manicured vineyards of Naramata and then to the beaches and cityscape of Penticton as Skaha Lake disappears around the bend on the horizon. To the West lies Trout Creek and Summerland tucked neatly at the foothills of Giant’s Head with Brent Mountain prominently sat in the mountains beyond and finally to the North, where if you tilt your head just right, you may be able to peer past Okanagan Mountain Prov. Park to Peachland. Be sure to bring your camera! Especially if you decide to come between the two weeks around summer solstice (June 21) where the Sun sets so far North, it peeks through this incredible, cliff-hanging orifice engineered by Andrew McCulloch nearly 100 years ago.

Little Tunnel, Naramata

Perhaps the best thing about this scenic location is most certainly its ease of access for all ages. The KVR’s moderate grade allows for a myriad of methods to travel the 8.8km round-trip route to the tunnel with cycling, walking and driving being the most common of tactics. Be sure to share the trail.

The KVR Trail above Naramata, BC.

Cycling the KVR Trail above Naramata, BC.

If you are arriving from Penticton or Naramata, head along North Naramata road until you reach Smethurst road, a right hand turn heading up the mountainside, and follow it as it meanders up the hillside and intersects with the Kettle Valley Railway at a parking lot about 5 minutes up. Here you can park your car and walk to the tunnel (~1.5 to 2 hours round-trip) or at least read some of the informative maps and boards explaining the history of the KVR and its significance to the local areas. From the parking lot head North (left as you look uphill) and continue along until you reach the tunnel, or stop at some of the old rock ovens that were built by the railroad workers during the construction of the route. It is also possible to arrive from Kelowna along the KVR and past Chute Lake but is more of a full day trip as opposed to a quick excursion however if you do decide to do so, be sure to check out the Big “Adra” Tunnel, also referred to as “McCulloch’s Wonder” for its horseshoe bend through 490m of bed rock, which is situated en route to the Little Tunnel. Happy ventures.

Big "Adra" Tunnel, Naramata

Big “Adra” Tunnel, Naramata

On the Road to Shambhala! 2013

Destination: dancefloor. You’re are on the road to Shambhala!

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Announcing their lineup (which is actually too big to even post here, download this PDF) via newsletters today, Shambhala is only two months away! Air, bus, car, bike and thumb. Come August, 10,000+ people will be on the road to Shambhala Music Festival and experience Kootenay legend. Massive PK Sound, lasers, lights, dance. Under the starriest sky, among giant trees, beside the Salmo River, six stages deliver an experience of movement unlike any other.

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To get this party started, Shambhala invites you to attend an official on the road celebration, July 25th 2013. Sixteen locations celebrate each of their Sweet 16 years. Stay tuned on Facebook and on their website for on the road pre-party locations.

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Have your wheels already hit the road? Car packed? Truly on your way? Stop at Shambhala friendly locations along the roads leading to the Salmo River Ranch. Find them on their website or simply look for Shambhala stickers and banners enroute. If you own or know a business that would like to participate, simply email info@shambhalamusicfestival.com with the subject “ON THE ROAD”. Shambhala will mail a kit and post the business and location on their website!

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