Category: Festivals & Events

8 Resolutions for 2017 (and How to Make Them Happen in BC)

With 2016 behind us, it’s time to make plans for the year ahead.  Here are my eight New Year’s resolutions that will take me to all corners of the province.

Spend quality time with friends.

Wine tasting at Skimmerhorn Winery in Creston, BC.

Girls’ Weekend at Skimmerhorn Winery. Photo: @Justinecelina via instagram

Remember when you’d spend all day, every day, with your friends, laughing until your face hurt? I resolve to do more than a quick coffee catch-up with friends, and there’s nothing better than an extended weekend wine-touring trip to re-connect.

Do something that scares me.

In 2017, I’ll face my fear of heights in a big way on the Sea to Sky Gondola’s Via Ferrata. The view from the top is a motivational bonus. Who knows, I might be inspired to take it a step further on Mt. Nimbus, North America’s longest Via Ferrata.   

Break a world record.

Snow angels on a sightseeing tour with Compass Heli.

Not quite a snow angel world record. This sightseeing tour with Compass Heli Tours found the perfect untouched snow for two angels. Photo: Nicolas Drader

I’ve attempted to break a few records (no luck so far). This year, I pledge to join others at Panorama Mountain Resort in an effort to shatter the Guinness Book of World Records’ cross-Canada simultaneous snow angels record. The winged action will take place Feb. 6th, in celebration of Canadian Ski Patrol Day.

Try something new.

Tyee Fishing in Campbell River.

Traditional Tyee fishing in wooden rowboats. Photo: Derek Ford.

In 2016, I caught my first fish, and snorkeled for the first time in the Campbell River among salmon. I’m hooked. These new fishing experiences are on my “try” list: fly fishingice fishing, and maybe joining the Tyee Club of BC by catching a 30-pound or larger salmon in a rowboat.

Go outside–be in nature.

Tin Hat Cabin on the Sunshine Coast Trail.

Tin Hat Cabin on the Sunshine Coast Trail. Photo: @Billharding via instagram

A quick reconnect in nature is never far from reach when you live in Vancouver.  This year, I plan to take a longer break, and the Sunshine Coast Trail is ideal. The 180-kilometre (112-mile) route stretches through old-growth forests, towering mountaintops, and coastal shorelines. The trail also has 13 huts, making it the longest hut-to-hut hiking experience in Canada.

Take the ultimate road trip.

Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park in Northern BC, Alaska Highway.

Liard Valley on the Alaska Highway. Photo: Emanuel Smedbol

The Alaska Highway celebrates its 75th anniversary next year, and that means one thing: road trip. The diversity of wildlife, the scenery, and Liard River Hot Springs make this on-the-road adventure a “must” 2017 resolution. 

Meditate more.

This year, I resolve to attend a meditation retreat. A weekend of solitude in the mountains of southeastern BC at Yasodhara Ashram offers both the meditation and yoga needed to rejuvenate and prepare for 2017. 

Run a marathon.

This is the resolution I’m least likely to accomplish, but the Nakusp half-marathon has the added incentive of being near Nakusp Hot Springs for a soothing mineral soak post-run. If I fall short on my training, there’s also a 5K or a 10K option.

What’s on your 2017 resolution list?

Featured Image: Heli-hiking Mt. Nimbus Via Ferrata in Glacier National Park. Photo: Ryan Creary.

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“Pizza” to Powder: Learn to Ski in BC for $25

Eager to slide down a mountain on two planks or one board? Now is your chance to give it a go. Take advantage of Never Ever Days, and learn to ski or snowboard at one of 14 participating BC ski resorts and areas this winter. January through March, snow-sliding newbies can score a lesson, a lift ticket, and rental equipment for just $25—and go from “pizza” (a.k.a. the snowplow) tracks to powder turns.

Learning to ski at SilverStar Mountain Resort.

Learning to ski at SilverStar Mountain Resort. Photo: Blake Jorgenson

Still not convinced to give it a go? Here are five reasons you should learn to ski or ride this winter:

1. Fresh air will boost your mood.
2. Random chairlift chats may lead to new friendships.
3. BC’s ski resorts have already received a ton of snow.
4. Après-ski.
5. It’s only $25.

For more information, check out

Featured image: Big White Ski Resort. Photo: Blake Jorgenson

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Places to Bird Watch in Osoyoos

After a winter of skiing, snowshoeing and enjoying fresh mountain air, springtime in British Columbia’s South Okanagan is a refreshing change. The smell of fruit blossoms and sounds of birds make walking around the picturesque town of Osoyoos so enjoyable, and the valley bottom offers a plethora of wildlife to view.  Many endangered bird species are found in eco-sensitive areas, and Osyoos is fortunate to have several protected areas for bird viewing. Here are five places for great bird watching, courtesy of the staff at the British Columbia Visitor Centre @ Osoyoos.

Osoyoos Desert Centre

Humingbird at Osoyoos Desert Centre

Hummingbird at Osoyoos Desert Centre. Photo: Kevin Lam via Flickr

The Osyoos Desert Centre has 27 ha (67 ac) dedicated to maintaining the desert in its natural state, including a 1.5-km (1-mi) boardwalk where visitors can read about or take a guided tour to learn about the creatures of the desert. This boardwalk can be accessed by a 4-km (2.5-mi) trail that starts from the British Columbia Visitor Centre @ Osoyoos. This trail follows the old irrigation canal that, decades ago, was used to supply water to the orchards in the area. When visiting the centre, keep an eye out for hummingbirds, Western and Mountain bluebirds, quail, Golden eagles, and Red-tailed hawks. It’s best to visit in the morning, as it gets very hot in the afternoon and most creatures are savvy enough to hide from the scorching sun and heat during the day.

Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre

The outside walls of the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre with the desert hills in the background and blue skies above.

Nk`Mip Desert Cultural Centre. Photo: Amber Strocel via Flickr

The Nk’mip Desert Cultural Centre offers another guided or self-guided walk that focuses on the history of how First Nations people once used the desert land. The natural grasslands of the desert offer several birds species to watch for including White-throated swift, Brewer’s sparrow, Lark sparrow and Say’s phoebe. There is even a chance to see a black-throated sparrow, though they are rare in this area. This walk is unique in that it’s one of the few areas where you can see the terrain in its natural state. The trail is constructed in such a manner that no buildings are visible as you enjoy the serenity of the desert.

Haynes Point Provincial Park

Haynes Point Provincial Park, where you can see and hear the common loon, is located 2 km (1.25 mi) south of Osoyoos.  White-throated swifts, canyon wrens, great-horned owls and yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds can be viewed from look-out towers and viewing benches located along the trail.  The trail is gravel, but in places there are footbridges & raised boardwalk sections over the lower lying areas.  Haynes Point Provincial Park is dog-friendly; however, they ask that you keep your four-legged friend out of the wetland trail area.  An information kiosk is located at the beginning of the trail and provides excellent information and much appreciated shade.  If you decide to walk the length of Haynes Point (approximately a 45-minute walk), you can stop at a designated “dog swimming area”, where everyone can cool off and likely spot a wood duck paddling by.

Osoyoos Oxbows

The Osoyoos Oxbows at Road 22 is a Riparian area. The wetlands are adjacent to a marsh and meadow and there are many birds in the area. An information kiosk and parking area is found at the Okanagan River Bridge. If you hike north, you’ll follow the river channel for 18 km (11 mi) to McAlpine Bridge north of Oliver. Walking south, you can access the Oxbows and see many birds, including Cinnamon teal, Willow flycatcher, Yellow-breasted chat and Grosbeak. You may be fortunate enough to see a nesting Osprey on the bridge, just above your head.  Various species of owls can be found in the Oxbow area, and it’s adjacent to the South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (SORCO) and within walking distance from Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, where wine tastings are by donation to SORCO.

Vaseaux Lake Wildlife Centre

Vaseaux Lake in Oliver with grasslands on either side of the lake, rolling hills in the background and blue skies with white wispy clouds above.

Vaseaux Lake in Oliver. Photo: Tim Buss via Flickr

Vaseaux Lake Wildlife Centre is located on Highway 97 between Oliver and Okanagan Falls.  Birds can be viewed from a 400-m (1,300-ft) boardwalk along the lakeshore to an observation tower and blind.  Cliff birds can be viewed across the highway from McIntyre Creek Road.  This is probably one of the most popular birder trails in the area.  In the spring, you have the chance to see Western meadowlark, Red-naped sapsucker, swallows, bluebirds, woodpeckers and more.  Driving past the area on the highway, Trumpeter swans are sometimes seen near the lily-pads, just a stones-throw away from the highway and parking lot! Vaseaux Lake has such an abundance of birds that they have a banding station there. Keep an eye out for California Bighorn Sheep which frequent the bluffs nearby. The birding trails are host to so many other wetland creatures, including the painted turtles. They can be seen sunning themselves on a log, and it’s such a treat to see so many all at the same time. 

Meadowlark Nature Festival

The Meadowlark Nature Festival held annually in mid-May is a birder’s dream.  Visitors “flock” to the area for this popular five-day, multi-disciplenary event, featuring more than 70 guided tours, including many bird tours, that take participants from Canada’s unique desert in the South Okanagan to the alpine meadows high above the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. Be sure to bring sturdy hiking boots, check the difficulty level of the hikes in advance, and for everyone’s enjoyment, please leave your dog at home.

Related links:
Bird watching in Osoyoos, British Columbia

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