Mid-April is an ideal time to enjoy a couple of early spring days in the sunny Okanagan: apricot trees are blooming, lawns are green, bright patches of spring flowers brighten front yards and all manner of water craft are out on the ice-free lakes. With Calgary under snow cover for the sixth consecutive month, a mini spring break in Osoyoos was just what I needed to steel myself for the next snowfall back in Calgary…and the next… 😉
It was a low-cost trip. I stayed with family, plus after many hours behind the steering wheel (750 km/450 miles), I spent the better part of both days outside, racking up steps and photographing early signs of spring along a few easy walkways:
A public lake shore park along Main Street, Pioneer Walkway amenities include lovely flower beds, benches, picnic tables and public washrooms (which, like all public washrooms in town, were still closed for the season as of mid-April). The water sculpture was not yet operating, so I made do with searching for a geocache. Once I logged the find, I turned around and noticed a big Garmin badge on the truck parked behind me – quite the coincidence!
The mileage and direction indicator got me curious about a few things:
- How did the peak to the east get its name? I looked it up and I learned that Anarchist Mountain is a reference to the unusual political views of the first postmaster in the settlement on the other side of the summit. Before 1922, it was known as Larch Tree Hill. I’ve never noticed larch trees in the area, but I also didn’t know to look for them in this part of Canada. Next trip…
- When did Palm Desert and Osoyoos become sister cities? And why? A few minutes searching didn’t yield any answers. Anyone?
- What was mined at the historic Dividend Mine? Gold.
- And why did I never wonder about this kind of thing when I lived in Osoyoos so many years ago? ‘Cause I was a kid!
This 1 km stretch of paved pathway runs from the main bridge to Lions Park (a relatively quiet beach with a modern and colourful playground). Along the way, you’ll walk through Gyro Park (perhaps the most popular public beach in town), past the Osoyoos Museum, a dog beach, the Lake Osoyoos Sailing Club, a marina and Veterans’ Memorial Park.
Irrigation Canal Walkway
This popular 12 kilometer round trip trail can be accessed from 62nd Avenue (just north of Osoyoos Secondary School) or from the Osoyoos Visitor Centre parking lot. The mixed paved/hard-packed trail generally follows an abandoned section of the irrigation canal that opened up the area for the fruit industry. I didn’t take many photos here; I was too busy chatting with my walking companion!
sẁiẁs Provincial Park (Haynes Point)
With only 3 campsites at sẁiẁs Provincial Park occupied, it was a pleasant walk along the sometimes very busy road that loops out to the end of the point.
I had my GPS along, because there’s an earthcache at the end of the point. But I didn’t realize that I hadn’t properly fastened the battery cover when I popped in a fresh set of batteries that morning. So when I clipped the GPS to my belt, the battery cover stayed clipped to my belt while the unit fell to the ground, knocking loose the batteries and – to my horror – the microSD card had dislodged from its slot and went flying into the gravel!
After the first few minutes of unsuccessful searching, I started wondering how long I should give myself before giving up. That was not something I wanted to consider, because (I think) the purchased maps reside on the microSD card. Fortunately, before it came to giving up, a local couple came along and joined the search. Less than five minutes later, one of them spotted it. And even better, when I slotted it back in, fitted in the battery, carefully fastened the back cover on and fired it up, everything still worked! Thank you again, friendly locals!!
I spotted quite a few guided fishing boats out on the lake, including this one:
One of the strangest things I saw was a mallard duck hen about 3 meters (10 feet) up on a big Ponderosa Pine tree limb:
The north side of the point offers great views of Mount Kobau, still topped with snow in mid-April:
After completing my walk to the end of the point and back, I headed off along the easy 1.5 kilometer wetlands trail, designed for bird watchers and other nature lovers.
Lucky me, I saw an Osprey in flight!
One of the highlights was a 360 degree halo around the sun, which lasted for about 90 minutes. Before/after my lunch break I tried a few different ways to photograph the halo (while minimizing the risk of damage to my camera sensor).
Night Photography from Anarchist Mountain
About 10 minutes out of town, there’s a viewpoint on Anarchist Mountain that looks over the town and across the valley. I headed up one night for some blue hour photography. It was raining and windy, so I didn’t stay as long as I’d planned. Next time, I’ll continue up the highway to the second viewpoint (on the downhill side of the road) to try that perspective. Another option is to head to the viewpoint on the opposite side of the valley; it’s a shorter drive out of town, but overlooks the dump (which can be framed out with careful composition).
The gate that was in place 5+ years ago (when I last drove up here) still blocks public access to Spotted Lake and still bears a sign describing plans to develop a parking area and signed walkways that will provide controlled access to the area. Hope that happens some day because it’s pretty tough to get anything more than a general sense of what the spot looks like from outside the gate.
There’s a lot more to Osoyoos than the few scenic walks I enjoyed, including water sports, golfing, wineries and beaches. The Destination Osoyoos website is good place to start planning your visit to “Canada’s only desert in the country’s best wine region.”
To wrap things up, here’s a close-up of one blossom on the tulip tree in full-bloom in front of the Elk’s Lodge. Each flower is bigger than my widespread hand!
Have you enjoyed some time in Osoyoos? What’s in the area that you consider a “can’t miss” activity, attraction or restaurant?