Golden B.C to Kelowna
Sept 28 – Golden B.C to Kelowna
We woke up to another fresh camping morning in time to see the sun rise over the hills and cast a nice hue over the mountains in the distance. Some hot chocolate made on our camp stove and some PB&J-wiches later, we were ready for the day.
I was a bit bummed out that we hadn’t flown the Phantom 3 since Dinosaur National Park (Were we allowed to do that? I’m a bit unsure…) so we set it up and surveyed some easy flight plans. When we fired it up there was a warning of “strong radio interference ‘fly with caution’ “. The flight route was already a bit dicey (requiring me to navigate through some nearby trees) and we took the “better safe than sorry” route and packed up without starting the motors. I’m still looking for a few practice days to gain enough confidence to fly it in a bit of wind and over uncertain terrain.
Next, we went to Northern Lights Wolf Center to visit and learn about the wolves there. Fun fact: despite their varying colours and size, there are only two wolf species (The Grey Wolf and the Red Wolf [a wolf-coyote cross])… well, that was according to the Wolf Center. There does, however, appear to be some disagreement on that point:
The first large study of North American wolf genomes has found that there is only one species on the continent: the gray wolf. Two other purported species, the Eastern wolf and the red wolf, are mixes of gray wolf and coyote DNA, the scientists behind the study concluded.
The wolf is known as a “keystone species” and is protected in the National Parks. Even in Canada, though, a wolf cull has been approved yearly in order to keep the wolf populations in check in preference to Elk. According to the Wolf Center, though, this is simply bad science as, in fact, wolf play no significant role in reducing the Elk population.
As a real-wold example, back in the 1930’s wolves were entirely eliminated from Yellowstone and, as a result, other predators left, the deer & elk populations exploded and ate up vast areas of vegetation further disrupting the balance. Beaver left (they are also a keystone species involved in creating wetlands that other animal & insects & birds rely on) and even entire tree species began to die out.
In 1995/96, fifteen wolves from Alberta were released in Yellowstone and within two years the ecosystem had begun to heal — even the beaver had begun to return. It’s a fascinating story but, unfortunately, a lesson not learned in many areas of North America where the wolf cull continues. Obviously, this is a complex and controversial subject but, if nothing else, our visit to the Wolf Center gave us a lot to think about.
Next we continued on through Glacier Park. We wished that we had much more time because the area called to us. It was as beautiful as the Banff area but felt more “off the beaten track” and low-key — just our style. We shot through a bit quickly and even missed a few prime glacier viewing pull-offs (due in no small way to the fact that pulling off meant certain death by the ever-present 18+ wheelers sitting six inches off our rear bumper).
Those of you who have read Pierre Burton’s book, The Last Spike or who remember the TV series The National Dream might have been keen to stop (as I was) at the location just off of Hwy 1 near Revelstoke of where the actual Last Spike was driven in 1885. As fortunate coincidence would have it, we were just in time to catch the Rocky Mountaineer as it pulled away from the station — passengers waiving a goodbye to the small crowd watching them depart. It was like a movie scene.
Finally, we arrived in Kelowna and to the hospitality of Charlene Hodgson, John’s Sister. She had some interesting and enthusiastic conversation, fantastic Okanagan wine, appetizers, a kebab BBQ, and more waiting for us. I must tell you, we’ve a lot to “Pay Forward” from this trip so far already and Charlene went all out.
We loved our short stay in Kelowna. Chris commented that Charlene’s place is “like a beautiful penthouse, but on the ground floor”. With no word of a lie, it’s that and bag of chips, and more. The open concept and sublime decorations will satisfy the artist and bohemian side in anyone and the practicality and utilitarianism of the space will similarly impress those with a penchant for pragmatic design. Kudos Charlene — you did a great job!