Saturday, September 4, 2010

Carrot Mountain Memories

A week ago when we were in Kelowna visiting Shirley's mother, I asked my realtor friend Marvyn Baker to join me in a hike up Carrot Mountain, which is in the Okanagan community we used to call Westbank.  New signs are up on the highway saying "Welecome to West Kelowna..." so I guess the name change is official.

The trail starts out between two houses on Shannon Hills Place in the Shannon Woods subdivision, off of Shannon Lake Road.

Shannon Woods was a 7-phase 175-lot subdivision plus two condo sites that we started in 1994 and built out at the rate of about one phase a year.

That is Carrot Mountain in the background. 

It was while golfing at the Shannon Lake Golf Course on Friday that the urge to take another hike up Carrot Mountain came over me.  Years ago when we built these condos here, we named these condos Fairway 3... but then they changed the layout of the golf course and the condos now overlook the 10th fairway.

I can never forget the day when I got the phone call at about 6 pm. that the condos at Fairway 3 were burning.  I took this photo as we approached the fire from Shannon Lake Road. 

As we hiked up the mountain together I was reminded of the day we shot our annual Acorn Homes photo on the trail.  It was no small job to get this team, some with high heel shoes, up to this viewpoint overlooking Phase 6 of Shannon Woods.

For all of three years Carrot Mountain was like my own Gold's Gym membership.  Every morning during most of the year I would drive to Shannon Woods and hike up the trail to where I had hidden my pick and shovel.  Depending on my schedule I would work building the trail for an hour or two before running back down the trail and heading home for a shower and breakfast.

Behind me is the rock I call "Bridge Viewpoint."  It is one of the few spots on this mountain where you can see the Okanagan Lake Bridge.

I enjoy watching Mt. Boucherie as we climb Carrot Mountain.  As we near the top we start to see Okanangan Lake water above Boucherie... and once on the very top you can see lots of water above.

Just past this huge Ponderosa Pine on the left is a nice little strawberry patch where I have actually eaten some of the treasured berries.  There is a lot of competition for the berries!

Once you arrive at the East Summit you will see lots of cairns along the trail on the top.  It takes about 30 minutes to hike across the top to the Horseshoe Summit.  I remember  being here one Saturday afternoon when the Snowbirds were doing a show in front of the Grand Hotel.  They seemed scary close to us us as they circled over Carrot Mountain several times!

It is an awesome view from the ultimate summit at the Horseshoe Viewpoint.  I was impressed how well Marvyn handled the hike... not bad for being 75!

The ultimate "high" (pun intended) is to see the Okanagan Fame Flower in bloom.  I learned about this flower from Judy Steeves, who writes about Oakangan trails in the Capital News.  She told me that biologists from Kamloops have flown to this mountain in a helicopter just to see this very rare flower that blooms in early June on the Horseshoe Summit.  Each flower is smaller than a 25 cent coin.

Judy Steeves hiked Carrot Mountian one morning with Shirley and me.  We took pictures of flowers and visited.  She knows the names of every flower.  Later she wrote an article on our hiking trail for the Capital News.

The Desert Rose also grows on the mountain top... and I noticed it blooms earlier than the Okanagan Fame Flower.

Shirley poses on top with Mark and Carole Albrecht on a spring afternoon.  Whenever I see snow on Little White I remember what Emmerson Vaughn used to tell us.... "When the snow is gone on Little White the cherries will be ready."

You would have enjoyed watching me launch several golf balls off the summit.  I only took up about six balls that morning, but never found a single one since.  Do you think anyone else has driven golf balls from this summit?

Several groups have hiked to the top.

As we started back down I was impressed to see how well travelled the trail looked... it told me that people are still hiking up here.

It is like two different trails.  Going up on the sunny side was like going thru a desert where it is dry and you need to be on guard for cactus if you go off trail.  The trail down goes thru a shaded valley where there are a couple seasonal waterfalls and much more lush foliage.

The two waterfalls are at their prime during the spring melt.  When we hiked past them last week the moss on the wall behind where the water falls was lush green with only a few ocssional drips of water.

With a chainsaw I had cut steps into a fallen log... and after ten years or more it still works.

On this group hike we used the log steps as seats for this photo of everyone.

If you love photography, Carrot Mountain provides a wonderful opportunity to take flower pictures.  I will do a seperate blog post of just the flowers taken over the years along this trail... all done before the days of digital cameras.

Thank you for joining me on this hiking trail of memories.

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings" -John Muir

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