I met Stefan Farrow five or six years back. He supplied me with a lot of pictures, video, and trail head data for the Okanagan. Having been involved with the management of a campground, teaching folks how to sail in Okanagan Lake and helping to save them when they forgot how as a Search and Rescue Volunteer, Stefan’s knowledge has been a great asset for this “outdoor” website. Stefan says that an outdoor website is a bit of an oxymoron…not sure what that makes me as the webmaster for TracksAndTrails.ca. Getting to know Stefan a little over the past several years, I have noticed one amazing characteristic of his is “attention to detail”. You can see what I mean if you read the 20 000 plus words that describe his adventures as a young lad embarking on the Duke of Edinburgh adventure. Enjoy Stefan’s outdoor interview and learn one of the most important method of survival!
How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?
I would not so much say that I was introduced to the outdoors as much as I was I have always known the outdoors. I was born into a family that owned a KOA Kampground in Salmon Arm, and almost all of my early childhood memories are of being in the forests and clearings that surrounded the wooded camping area. After moving to Kelowna, my family continued to spend most weekends hiking and many years in boy scouts.
What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?
Locally in the Kelowna area, my favourite place to adventure is Myra Bellevue Provincial Park in East Kelowna. The area is excellent for mountain biking, trail riding, and hiking, with many trails and terrain of various difficulties. The area offers some amazing views, and yet is well shaded to protect from the summer heat. Using the trail system you access the Kettle Valley Rail Bed and extend your adventure. Outside of the Kelowna area my favourite place is Cathedral Lake Provincial Park.
Stefan Farrow Trekking in the Cathedrals
The main area of the park is not accessible by personal vehicle, and requires that you either pay a resort contractor to shuttle you in on their private road or make the whole day trek in. However, whichever way you choose the diversity of eco-systems to hike through and some of the most amazing views I have ever seen make it more than worth it. The main camping and lodge area is located in a forested area around several crystal blue lakes, and you can hike from their into alpine flowers, barren alpine and even lush waterfront zones.
Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.
A favorite past time of mine has been geocaching. The first cache I searched for and located was in the Bellevue Provincial Park Area. I spent an hour or so hiking to the general area and the went the last few hundred meters with my GPS guiding the way. After arriving at the location I spent the next hour looking for the cache with no luck. Eventually I left figuring I would come back another day. A week or so later, I returned but this time brought along my german shepherd for her weekly outing. When I reached the top of the hill that the co-ordinates led to my dog was attempting to chew open the cache which she had found without prompting or effort. Suffice it to say I continued to take her on every hunt as long as she was still able.
Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.
I myself have not experienced a wilderness medical emergency, however, I spent many years with Central Okanagan Search and Rescue and am a certified Wilderness Medical Responder. There are many lessons that were learned from my experiences with SAR, however, the most important is the STOP procedure. When something goes wrong, someone is hurt, or you find your self lost follow the acronym STOP. S for STOP (sit down, take a breather and do NOT PANIC), T for THINK (where did you last know where you were or what do you need to survive), O for OBSERVE (are there familiar landmarks and what do you have or is around you that you can use), and P for PLAN (decide what to do and discuss it with your group or say it out loud if you are alone). By following this principal you can help your self out of most any situation. The next key principal when in a wilderness emergency is to break free of traditional thinking patters and begin to think in an objective oriented method. This means that just because you have always “boiled water” a certain way before you need to forget that and say, “I need to boil this water”, now given what I have, how do I do this? Effectively, you must turn your “auto-pilot” off and really think about how to do everything again. This is especially true of treating injuries as you may not have a commercial splint or even some good sticks to use, and might have to use tent poles, or a ice climbers axe instead. Of course the old boy scout motto is the ultimate piece of advise – Be Prepared.
Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?
Once while cycling the Kettle Valley Railway about a days ride south east of Merritt, I awoke one morning and upon opening the door to my tent was looking directly into the eyes of white tail deer only 2 feet away. Neither of us moved for a good minute before the buck turned and slowly made his way of my camp.
If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?
As my adventurous project for my Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (also known as the Young Canadian’s Challenge) I cycled the most the Kettle Valley Railway from Beaverdell to Osoyoos, and Penticton to Hope and Merritt over three weekends. Without a doubt the lesson learned was that you can never, ever, in a million years think that you know what the weather will be like. Point in case – May long weekend, and my companions and I are huddled in a highway underpass near the old toll booths hiding from the blizzard blowing past the entrances! Once again the old adage comes back to mind; Be Prepared!!
What is your favourite outdoor website?
Isn’t the idea of an outdoor website a bit of an oxymoron? To be honest, I gather information off of so many websites relating to outdoor adventures and equipment that I could not even begin to pick one as a favourite. However, I suggest that everyone check out www.adventuresmart.ca for some great safety and preparation tips. Get you trip plan there and use it every time you go out, I do!
What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?
That depends on what I am looking for, but I have to admit that I do like MEC if I need very specific equipment, however, I try to support the local outdoors stores. AG Outdoor Superstore, Venture Gear, and Outdoor Adventure Gear.