Category Archives: Tracks And Trails Blog

Unique posts written on Hiking, Camping, Backpacking and Trekking by outdoor authors including Clayton Kessler: Kelowna, BC Canada.

World's Largest Cave - still being discovered!

One of the reasons I love to hike is because it seems that I always find some unique natural feature that amazes me. Could you imagine finding a cave over 6 Km long and in some places200 m high?

Cavers find an exit in 6.5 km long cave in the Jungles of Vietnam.

This world’s largest cave was first discovered in 1991 when a Vietnamese Jungle man named Ho Khanh. No one had entered it prior because the loud noise from the wind and under ground river freaked everyone out.


In mid April 2009, after hiking for six hours, negotiating a deep chamber and 2 underground rivers, a British – Vietnamese expedition reached the chamber of the amazing hang Son Doong cave.

For more pictures and details of the trip go to this news site.

World Reknown Okanagan Mountain Biking Trails!

Mountain bike trails seem to be everywhere I hike in the Okanagan.  I like to mountian bike but I would never take these crazy jumps and ramps that seem to be built in many hiking areas.  I admire the passion that mountain bikers have for the sport.  It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to accomplish what has been done in the Okanagan.

I was emailed this mountain biking question recently;

Q) I am interested in visiting Kelowna for the long weekend and doing some mtn biking. I really liked your website and found it very informative. What are the best maps for the area? What are the primo areas? Is it possible to ride around Okanagan Mountain Park in a day?
Any advice you can give me regarding mtn biking in Kelowna would be appreciated.

A) Thanks for visiting Tracks And Trails and emailing your question.  Being that I am not crazy enough to take the extreme single tracks and crazy ramps and jumps that are out there, I have put together a Mountain Biking Resource for the Okanagan that you can view via this link. It includes where to get trail map info as well as fourums to get up to date mtn biking  intel.

My thoughts on Primo areas are;  (Okanagan Park does not have the jumps built)

1) Gillard Forest Service Road.  Dude you just gotta be there.  This place is alive bikes! (motor and non)

2) Powers Creek! Holy Smokes – you aint seen nothing till you been here.  I think I noticed a forum (on PinkBike) that said there was a world class competition here at some point.

3) Glenmore Hills has lots to offer.  Enter the hills at many points from Clifton to the Dog park just past the Kelowna Land Fill on Glenmore Road.

4) Okanagan Mountain Park could probably be seen in a day by ….maybe Phil, or someone else who bikes 400 km just for kicks so they can enjoy the feeling of thier lungs coming alive in agony and pain!

What you want to do here is enjoy the park.  Start with a ride through Wild Horse Canyon, camp at one of the backcountry campsites, continue way up to any one of the several lakes and then loop back to Kelowna by taking the Old CN Trail or exit to the KVR along Mountain Goat Trail (you will have to carry your bike some parts) and ride down to the Kettle Valley Trestles.  Please comment here when you are complete!  I would love to hear about it.

I would have mentioned the Crawford Trail area but I have heard that mountian bikes are not allowed anymore???  Anyone care to comment.

Wápupxn (Lynx) Transboundary Monitoring Trial - Derickson Trapline - West Kettle River, BC

The Okanagan Nation Alliance wildlife program is pleased to say that we’ve concluded our lynx live-trapping and collaring effort for the 2015-16 winter. Our target was to capture and collar three lynx as an operational trial toward a better understanding of lynx movements through the Kettle River landscape and genetic relationships to lynx in Washington State.

Three lynx, all males, were successfully captured, GPS collared, ear-tagged and released; all on the Derickson Family Trapline in the West Kettle River drainage, Syilx Territory. Trapping, handling and release went smoothly in each case. The ONA wildlife Lynx being tagged team will now move into monitoring each cat at least monthly by VHF radio with the intention of recovering data stored onboard the drop-off GPS collars later this year or as soon as practical in 2017. Each cat is permanently ear-tagged with small matching blue swing tags marked with a unique number and the letters “WDFW”. If sighted or reported, please convey the information to me!

Photos L-R: Trappers Ray & Graeme Derickson with Amber; Trapper Russell Baines with Russell; Amber in the live trap; ONA biologist Al Peatt with Thumper.

The capture and trapping team consisted of:
ONA wildlife staff: Al Peatt, RPBio (project lead & primary handler) and biologists Autumn Solomon and Alexis Friesen.
Trappers Ray Derickson (Westbank FN); Russell Baines (Westbank FN); Graeme Derickson (Westbank FN); and TJ Gooliaff (UBCO MSc student).

image007 image001

To make this project possible, many other people and agencies assisted in project planning, support and implementation by provision of funds, supplies and/or expertise. These include: Dan Thornton (Washington State University); Jen Watkins and Joe Scott (Conservation Northwest); Scott Fisher and Paul Jensen (DNR); BC Min. of FLNRO; BC Min. of Environment; Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife; Ross Everatt; Dr. Barrie Hume; and Dr. Allan Gill.
Thank you all!

Live trapping with daily trap checks commenced February 27 on the Derickson Family Trapline in the upper West Kettle River drainage; a total of eight live-traps were deployed during several trapping sessions.

February 28: “Russell” a 12kg male lynx captured, successfully collared and released. Russell became somewhat trap-happy, has remained in the area. He was caught and released three times in total.
March 24: all traps disabled for the holiday and crew break.
April 7: four traps re-opened.
April 17: “Thumper” a ~13kg male lynx captured, successfully collared and released.
April 19: “Amber” a 9.6kg male lynx captured, successfully collared and released; all traps closed and live-trapping discontinued for the season.

Should you have any questions, comments or concerns please contact me!
Best regards, Alan

Alan Peatt, RPBio
Senior Wildlife Biologist
Okanagan Nation Alliance
(250) 707-0095 x213

Trip Plan

Trip Plan

Whether taking a short hike for just a few hours or a longer camping trip for multiple days, always tell someone where you are going and what optional areas you may be exploring.

The following is my trip plan for a three day and two night backpacking, canoeing and hiking trip. I was just going to write an email and send it to my wife but even if one person reads this or is reminded to write something down and tell someone where they will be in the outdoors, it may save a tragedy from happening.

Hello Suzanne, …I miss you already! I will be leaving Friday afternoon, driving to Vernon then East to the Arrow Lakes on Highway 6. I will have a little short visit with my folks in Cherryville. After the ferry across Arrow Lakes I will stop at my brother’s place in Hills, just south of Nakusp.

If I don’t stay at my brothers place Friday night I will camp in the woods somewhere around Upper and Lower Little Slocan Lakes. On Saturday morning we will find the parking lot for Gimli Ridge Hike in the Valhalla Provincial Park. After parking there we will hike up to the ridge and come back down. I do not intend to try to summit Gimil …just enjoy the hike to the ridge.

On Saturday night our camp location will depend on what we discovered after our hike if we had time to explore at all….we may camp at the same spot as Friday night .

The itinerary for Sunday really depends on how long it takes us to get going Saturday morning and how fast the boys hike. Gimli Ridge Video My goal for Sunday is to visit Alamo and / or Cody tjen drive home.

I will contact you when I get to my brothers or when I get to Nakusp. That should be no later than 5pm Sunday July 28 Love you 🙂 talk to you soon!

Tracks And Trails

Tracks And Trails  has Trail Head pictures, maps and other information that Rangers have explored or have found out how to explore. is a website that first started to just cover Kelowna hiking trails.  That soon expanded to other trails of the Okanagan and as visitors began to increase into the thousands per month, the founder – Clayton Kessler – decided that more than just his own experiences could be shared and now other Canadian hikers adn campers can register by using contact page and have their hiking pictures and information  posted on the hiking blog.  Any individual hiking site promotional material is allowed and encouraged!

The Tracks portion of the name refers to Rail Road Tracks that have been converted to hiking trails as well as the joy of finding animal tracks in the wilderness and the determining of which animal they belong to.  A favourite outdoor activity of any child is to learn about animal tracks, specially when they lead to the animal in question so that it may be viewed in its natural habitat.

The Trails portion of the name “” is obvious.   Trails are all over Canada – from the Trans Canaada Trail that runs from coast to coast or the trail in city, regional and provincial parks and all throughout any piece of crown land with a vista or natural wonder of some sort!

Wherever your trail leads, fall may be one of the best times of the year to enjoy a Track or Trail and we who bring our experiences and information at hope you travel safe this fall and remind you to not forget your bear spray and tell someone which tracks and trails you are hiking on or looking for.

Top 3 Kelowna Mountain Biking trips.

In response to some discussion, I had to post, in my opinion, the 3 top Kelowna Mountain Biking day trips to take.  My opinion on these top 3 Kelowna trails comes from a viewpoint of mountain biking for fun without having to worry about suiting up with armour that one would need for riding the more extreme singletracks.  Although, the McDougal Rim, Mount Hayman trip would be the most dangerous with some steep skinny sections that I would prefer to hike down!

  1. Myra Canyon on the KVR in Bellevue Provincial Park.  –  In a Provincial Park you know you will get quality trails and spectacular scenery.  Now add the recognition of a National Heritage site and the fact that the KVR Myra Canyon Trestles are part of the Trans Canada Trail and you can’t go wrong with experiencing this historic area.  You may want to look up McCollochs Wonder.  The Trestles would be most enjoyable if you could catch a ride up to the North end and then bike over the trestles and down through Crawford Trails and into Kelowna or down through Little White Forest Service Road and into Kelowna.  The Little White FSR would be a bumpy ride though and the Crawford Section may contain some steep single tracks that would prove difficult to ride for someone like myself – 40 years old and would rather walk down the steep trails than bike.
  2. Okanagan Provincial Park – A Provincial Park that you will grow to love! Even though it was quite thoroughly burned in the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park Fire.  The Wild Horse Canyon Trail is a popular OK Mtn. Park Trail and Divide Lake near the top of Okanagan Mountain is a real gem. Okanagan Mountain Park Map
  3. McDougall Rim Loop.  The true loop takes you through Mount Hayman, Swite and Carrot Mountain and would be around 50km.  The 50 km ride would inlclude a lot boring flat logging roads along Swite and Carrot Mountain with no views so most people enjoy the shorter version of McDougall Rim Loop.  So to sum it up, the series of logging roads that make up the western portion of the loop create a confusing matrix of trails…but the East side of the loop on Mount Hayman is incredible!  Here is the Mount Hayman post with the pictures.  

The Ultimate In Flannel

A Flannel Shirt modeled by a woman at the Rocky Mountain Flannel Company in Banff.
Flannel image used with permission from the Rocky Mountain Flannel Company.

Known as the vacation destination of the Rocky Mountains, Banff is located at an altitude of 1383 m above sea level. By contrast, Kelowna, known by tourists for its sunshine and Okanagan beaches is at an altitude of 344 m. So how is one to dress for the perfect summer vacation? A common BC tour could find one touring the Okanagan on the way to Banff and I’ve come across the perfect addition to your vacation wardrobe for this summer. Typically, I’m not one to comment on fashion, but when a logical choice like flannel can be fashionable, why not weigh in?.

Whenever I leave for the hills to camp with family, it is common to remind everyone to prepare for significant temperature swings from our hot temperatures in the valley to the high altitude temp drops in the Rocky Mountains with clothes that can be worn in layers. The interesting thing is that I’ve always liked plaid (not the same thing as flannel) and now I’ve noticed that flannel shirts are more a trend and I’m feeling a bit fashionable as I consider my pack with a long sleeve flannel shirt to be used in the campgrounds around Banff, where evenings can be quite a lot cooler than at the tugboat beach in Kelowna! To make things real easy, check out the Rocky Mountain Flannel Company as I’ve never seen such an incredible selection of all my favourite shirts!!!

The last person to file a federal homested in U.S.A.

Duane A. Ose
osemtnak @

I am the last person to file a federal homested in U.S.A.
The lake minchumina land settlement area ” Alaska. I did it the old fashioned – way by walking into the land area to choose the land I wanted. To get a feel for what was best. It took my son and I 15 days to hike 57 miles through some of the ruggest untamed land in the interiour of Alaska. Spent another 15 days for a plane to fly us into Fairbanks . I staked new land got a paten, 1’st time owner I was the last to file just to carry the red lantern. You may see an interview of my wife and I on On the road by Jason Davis program date feb. 21-2010

My web site is In it you will see a section of my son and I hike thoose many miles of wilderness. With full packs and being very carfull as there would be no help, save for red flares for passing air traffic twice a week. Flares were used due to a bug (Jardia ) at day 30.A hello copter came the next day as the plane was on wheels and had a schedull to keep But the plane reported the flare. Thank God….. Never been lost just a bit confussed for a few days. Several close encounters with Grizz. twice I naturly new I was about to die, so I was about to fight to the death and both times the grizz’s backed off. Guess I was the meenest…. Cabela’s the only place to shop for any out door needs…

I grew up on a farm in Minnesota & explored the river vally when ever I could…Moved to Alaska to find new land to make my last stand… I’d travel into space if I could – to a new world. Alaska will have to do. I could write a book and will some day. A documentry is being worked on now by a co. in MN. 5-7 hour thing. I have been interview for all the parts . And My filmming is being converted to TV Viewing . the good parts. (VHS) Hike was July 4th 1985. Bear encounters 3 that could have been fatal. Many others not so scary. see web. We live here , Wrights air service. Fairbanks knows us. Very expensive flight. Nearest road is 105 miles. Lon & Lat in web. Was a scout master & Army leader.ETC:
Do your home work and think on this one…

The Great Divide Trail

The Rocky Mountains are home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world, one of which is the epic Great Divide Trail. Beginning in Waterton Lakes National Park, the trail ends near Kakwa Provincial Park.

The trail follows the crest of the Rocky Mountains which separates Alberta and British Columbia. It is a whopping 1100km walk! The route is not well marked, leaving you to explore the trail as you wish through the vast wilderness and incredible sceneries.

Hiker standing on a ridge from The Great Divide Trail viewing the Rocky Mountain peaks.

Hiking the Great Divide Trail is not for the faint of heart and can be a challenge for even the most experienced hikers. Walking long distances in the wilderness can take a toll and you’ll be wise to remember that many wild and dangerous animals call this their home.

You’ll be passing through five National Parks and eight Provincial Parks, as well as wilderness areas, so you’ll need to be alert for signs of black bears, bobcats, and wolves as well as other dangerous wildlife like Elk and Moose. If you get into trouble along the trail, help is not always close by and you’ll most likely be hiking in complete solitude so keep this in mind when preparing for the hike.

A bull elk sitting in the Canadian Rockies sporting a massive set of antlers.

For the most experienced hikers, these dangers only escalate the experience of walking this trail. So if you’re looking for a truly immersive hiking experience then this is the trail you’re looking for, and it’s one that is on so many hiking enthusiasts bucket lists.

A view of Rocky Mountain Scenery from The Great Divide Trail.

If you’re planning a thru-hike, then give yourself around two months to complete the full route. There are only a few towns along the way so be sure to prepare in advance for food supplies and gear. Remember those black bears when planning your food supplies and when preparing food on the trail. The smell of cooking food can definitely attract unwanted visitors to your campsite. Bringing along some bear spray is highly recommended! 

Navigations skills are key, and having experience hiking long distances through rough terrain will do well to prepare you for the Great Divide Trail. A helpful tool to find your way is The Great Divide Trail App by Atlas Guides. You will also need to book your camping spots or town stays ahead of time.

For some of the best resources on the trail, check out The Great Divide Trail Association’s site. They are dedicated to the protection and maintenance of the trail. They have some key tips from hikers who have completed the trail as well as the best information on planning your trip.  

Classified as one of the most spectacular and challenging hikes in the world, completing the Great Divide Trail is a true accomplishment for avid hikers! Few trails in the world offer this kind of remote hiking experience and this trail will leave you breathless as you discover jaw-dropping sceneries and incredible wildlife along the way. Many hikers have described the journey as ‘life-changing’ and ‘more than you can imagine’. It’s everything you want in a hiking experience and more. 

So, when are you going to take on the challenge?

Survival Fire Lighting tips and... what is better - a saw or hatchet?

Thanks to Phil for excellent comments on my last fire lighting post.  The fire building tips are too good to leave in comments so I pasted them below.  Feel free to answer his question at the end of this post.

Just to add to the SAR experience, is that this fire lighting exercise was done at night in the dark using our headlamps. Useful good burning wood is somewhat a challenge to find at night if you are not sure what to look for, you can be fooled and when that wood goes onto the fire it quickly starts to have a hard time staying lit and then you scramble to find more.

Another tip is to collect more wood than you think you will need then triple that, being careful not to damage the environment. I collected my wood and kindling in a large plastic bag so keeping it together was easier to pack around while gathering and if it starts to rain it stays dry. Nothing more depressing is gathering good dry wood then having it rained on. I started my fire with one match and a cotton ball soaked in wax, they are water proof, lite weight and once lit they a very hard to put out in case the wind comes up.

At the end of the day you really have to get outside and practice in the elements to get a real sense of it. Many people can get a fire going but having it stay lit , cooking and boiling water on it for an extended period of time is not as easy as it sounds. Try going out and doing that after it has rained for 2 days or longer or in the snow.

The last tip I have is what tools seem to work best, well this may start a debate but that’s healthy.  I have saws, knives, axe, hatchet.  For me, since I have to be willing to pack my supplies on my back for extended periods of time my choice was a lite weight hatchet and my sturdy knife. I packed my saw for a whole year and it did not even come out to use so out it goes. I was able to build shelter, fire and everything I required with just the 2, even though I had more.

Thats my 2 bits worth

Stuart McLean and a Force of Nature

Toronto, January 29, 2010 – Due to an overwhelming outpouring of support from Canada’s major broadcasters, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is proud to announce that A Force for Nature will be aired across the country. This 30 second PSA, invites Canadians to join NCC in helping protect ecologically significant habitat and our native biodiversity.
Narrated by CBC on-air personality and celebrated author Stuart McLean A Force for Nature will appear thanks to NCC’s generous broadcast partners CTV, Global, Rogers, Canwest, BNN, Channel Zero, Corus, CHEX-TV, CITL/Newcap TV, Sun-TV and the Weather Network. NCC plans to continue the campaign throughout 2010.

2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, and people all over the world are working to safeguard this irreplaceable natural wealth and reduce biodiversity loss. With A Force for Nature, NCC and its broadcast partners are offering Canadians an opportunity to participate in this global issue on a local level.


“What we do is tangible; we like to say we produce results you can walk on. Its not only something that’s important today, its going to be there for our children, our grandchildren, and for generations to come,” says John Lounds, President & CEO, Nature Conservancy of Canada.

2010 has been declared the International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations. Human activity is causing the diversity of life on Earth to be lost at greatly accelerated rates that are often irreversible.

13 species have already gone extinct in Canada – gone forever – and hundreds more are officially listed by the federal government under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Conserve Nature with Stuart McLean

Habitat loss is the greatest factor impacting global biodiversity. It is a main threat to 85 percent of all species classified as endangered or threatened in the IUCN Red List.

Across North America, populations of once common birds such as the Lark Sparrow, the Grasshopper Sparrow and the Loggerhead Shrike have dropped by more than 60 percent over the last four decades.

Close to 70 percent of the North American grasslands are gone; and there is less than one half of one percent of Manitoba’s Tall Grass Prairie left.

Only one herd of Mountain Caribou remains in the South Selkirk Mountains and it has less than 50 members. This is the only herd that travels south into the United States.

Last year, NCC protected more than 90 properties for a total of 174,351 acres.
Learn More

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is Canada’s leading land conservation organization. Since 1962 we have helped to protect more than 2 million acres of ecologically significant land nationwide.

Stocking Derickson Lake

This video shows a lake being stocked with fingerlings from Penticton hatchery. It is a lake that’s never had fish. 
Begin forwarded message:
From: Norman Johnson <>
Subject: RE: Fish trout plantation
Date: September 25, 2018 at 3:16:00 PM PDT
To: Raymond Derickson <>, “” <>, Richard Bussanich <>, Raf De Guevara <>

Hello all

The latest news is that tomorrow afternoon they will be delivering 2,000  Pennask rainbow trout  at a size of 1.2 grams.  The weather forecast is good so we should be good to go. 

limləmt | Thank You

Norm Johnson
Facility Operations Biologist 
kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓  Hatchery         
155 Enowkin Trail 
Penticton, BC     
Mailing Address
Okanagan Nation Alliance
101 – 3535 Old Okanagan Hwy
Westbank, BC V4T 3L7

T 250 707 0095 ext. 351
F 250 707 0166

—–Original Message—–
From: Raymond Derickson [
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2018 12:37 PM
To: Norman Johnson <>;; Richard Bussanich <>; Raf De Guevara <>
Subject: Fish trout plantation

Norm Johnson, Fish Biologist
RB, Fish Biologist
Brain Eli, Councillor, Westbank Indian Band Raf De Guevara, Westbank Indian Band, Aboriginal Rights & Title Andrea Alexander, Secretary of Council WIB

Dear Sirs:

Today is Tuesday September 25, 2018 and fish plantation day is Wednesday September 26, 2018 or (24) hours until we have fish planted in Derickson Lake and our joint progress has been roughly as follows:

* Derickson Lake Fish Study completed years 2015/2016 
* Letter of support from Westbank Indian Band to Howie Wright, Fisheries Manager May 22, 2018
* Wednesday September 26, 2018 will be fish plantation day by helicopter cannot provide exact time of day 
* Ceremonial and cultural fishery ceremonials held Sunday August 26, 2018 by Westbank Indian Band membership, Okanagan Language &  culture Instructor Delphine Derickson & Corrine Derickson, Masters Degree Student & Derickson Family Trap Line Trappers Steve  Derickson & Ray Derickson
*      Derickson Lake conditions determined to be ideal for rainbow trout fish plantation
* Okanagan Nation Alliance have contributed fish and donor stock for out plant
* two trained crew members for fish transfer and release 
* to be done follow up monitoring of fish harvest statistics & prepare biological material for ONA fish health lab
* other unmentioned duties & donations  

Contributions, efforts and time have been put forward by Government of BC Fishery & ONA & membership of Westbank Indian Band, all in support of this fishery.  Westbank Indian Band leadership please do submitt $(5000) financial contribution to Okanagan Nation Alliance re: letter of May 22, 2018.

Thanking You

R. N. Derickson      

SPOT - Real Life SOS Equipment Review

SPOT Review in a recent backcountry hiking adventure.

My son begun the planing six months ago. I had hoped to go with him but couldn’t take the time from work. He Planned to drive into Stein Provincial Park or “Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park” and summit Siwhe Mountain. This climb include hiking alpine mountain ridges with no known trail and lots of scrambling to find a safe way up.

It was only a few days prior his departure that I found out that all of his other hiking buddies could not accompany him except one. At this point I researched the SPOT satellite messaging and tracking service complete with the ability to record his track for review after the trip and purchased it at London Drugs (would have gone to “True Outdoors” in Kelowna but Jesse was only a night away from departing and I needed to get the system in his hands right away so he could get familiarised with it.

My first consideration was the batteries. They are lithium batteries and online forum research showed that the one set should last their five day trip and up to two weeks. Great! Next I had to purchase a $99 (in Canada) plan that would allow a few basic pre-set messages to be sent to designated emails texting phone numbers (up to 10 I think) – that was easy. I had to contact the recipients to see who their carrier was so the message would be configured correctly. After the contacts were set up we set the three messages: 1) The Check In/OK message – I had six recipients and the message was :

Made the summit.
2) The second message was the default help message – it is sent to everyone on your list but not emergency services. I consulted with Jesse and created this:
“This is the default HELP message. Come get me and bring tow rope.”
3) The third optional Custom message was: “Running late please contact work.”
4) The SOS message did not have to be configured and the button when pushed would send the co-ordinates to a company that SPOT has contracted to receive the co-ordinates when the SOS button is pushed and then contact local Search and Rescue Groups and RCMP.
The final step was to test it all. BAM! We didn’t even have to leave the house unlike many handheld GPS units that don’t pick up the satellites inside and our home co-ordinates were picked up and sent to all the phone numbers so we were set! The nice thing was that all the directions of how to hold each button to send each message is on the back of the SPOT and there was a quick reference card that could be carried on the person.
After they finally turned on the SPOT and hit the tracking button, we could see how far they were able to drive down the forest service road and at which point they camped and began the climb. This was all nice and heart warming for a lot of reasons, 1 – this was the first major backcountry multiday hike these young men were taking and we parents were relieved to be able to see their progress via the Google Map that is used on the website where you could log into your account. I should mention that the tracking service actually brought the entire service fee to $149.00 The SPOT was $169 after tax so the total outlay was over $300. But the service would last a year so good value if it all works when you need it.

View SPOT Review in a larger map
So here is where the equipment failed. On the 14th there were two gps points sent via satellite to our phones and emails. The first point was when they turned the unit on and the second point was sent at 8:53 AM where Jesse stopped rolling at the bottom of a cliff covered in compact snow. The miraculous event was that he lived with just minor abrasions. However, due to concussion like symptoms and a very bruised and battered body in addition to lost sleeping bag and ice pick, he decided to push the SOS button on SPOT and get help and get out to safety. The two flashing green lights on the SPOT that denotes the message was sent lit up and they waited and rested where he lay at the bottom of a remote cliff. Near night fall they assumed no one was coming and Jesse felt he was rested enough and ready to get to a better camp location.
On the parents end my message to my wife and the other two parents was that, maybe the batteries died or they turned it off. Don’t worry about the fact that the last GPS co-orinates were sent after a short period of time (the sudden stop) because earlier the cloud cover had made a weird location marker as well and the young men were obviously on their way home so why would the last point be going in the wrong direction. So…..we eagerly awaited their return ….and I began to think about who to contact to go find them based on the last known position.
On the Wednesday evening that they showed up, we were happy to see them, happy to see a miraculous result to a death defying fall but … incredibly angry the fact that SPOT did not hold up to a fall in an emergency and did not send a message. The SPOT information says that it is impact resistant. This was a crazy fall but the SPOT was in the top of the backpack while a Canon L100 HS camera was on the hip pocket of the back pack and received several dents to its case but …worked perfectly fine. So the men said they turned on the tracking and had it on all the way home and it said it was working. The next morning I contacted SPOT via their form that allowed me to enter in all the details and numbers of the incident and  I reviewed the terms and conditions of the unit – they are pasted in part below along with a SPOT customer service contact info. I also followed the SPOT trouble shooting procedure….I tested it and the three red lights came on that indicated a system failure. I showed this to Jesse and I reapplyed the same test but this time it said all systems worked. So I pushed the message sending button and ….no it did not work. So I sent this note to spot via their customer service form and will follow up on the issue to see how it is dealt with as it all plays out. Here is a copy of what I sent:
“I purchased SPOT because my son was ready to go on a remote backpacking trip. I paid an additional $150 for tracking and emergency SOS services. This was his first multi-day backpacking trip and he was going with our friends’ son. My son is 20 and our friends son is 18. Myself and my friends were so relieved to have the SPOT system. We successfully tested it before they left and they turned on the tracking enroute. My friends and I had watched the tracking closely. They were in rugged territory with ridges and several gps points were a bit off. That was understandable. On their way back my son took a tumble from the top of a ridge, down old snow and across rocky terrain at the bottom before coming to a stop. Total elevation drop was about 140 meters. Where he stopped was the last gps point sent. His friend found him about an hour later. After resting in that location with many abrasions from head to toe, dizziness, a sick feeling, soreness in his left arm that left it useless at the time in addition to lost gear such as a sleeping bag to stay warm for the last night of camp, they decided to push the SOS button. They rested and waited in that rugged location for about 8 hours at which point they decided that help was not coming even though the SPOT said a SOS message was sent. At home watching the track, we thought that the atmospheric conditions screwed up the signal again and they must have just turned it off or the batteries died. We received no message after the last co-ordinate. I am completing a trip report on – my site that has received 16000 visitors last month so I hope you can find some accurate answers. Before I do a full report I can wait to see what your technicians say about the unit. Please let me know if I should send it to someone specific or just use the typical system and bring it back to the store where I purchased it. PS-the canon camera that my son had in hip pocket of the backpack as opposed to securely tucked in the top of his back pack like the SPOT, is dented and took a beating but still works fine.”
I read that SPOT would get back to me in 72 hours ….it is now Saturday August 18 2012 – close to 72 hours …but not quite.  I should note that I did get a “Thank you” page after submitting the form and I will now call SPOT customer service tomorrow if I do not get an email. So this is not the full report…..the update will be here as the situation progresses.
Spot was helpful. But the best they could do for me was to provide a refund.
The following map shows the last two points that the SPOT sent.


SPOT Equipment Replacement Program.  Please see the SPOT Equipment Replacement Program Extended Limited Warranty or Service Contract for the applicable terms and condition.  Pricing and terms may vary by region.
2.11            Additional Services.  Additional bundled and optional services may be added to your Basic Service or bundled service plan.  Varying services are available by region, such as SPOT Assist services and Premium SMS services.  Please check Sections 11 through 14 below to see what optional services are available in your region.

2.12            SPOT Linkage Fee.  The SPOT Linkage Fee is applied to optional services that require SPOT to transmit messages from your SPOT Product to an external service provider, such as the GEOS SAR Membership, SPOT Assist roadside and/or SPOT Assist maritime (the “SPOT Linkage Fee”).  The SPOT Linkage Fee may be charged separate from the associated service or may be bundled within the total cost of the associated service and is subject to change from time to time.  The SPOT Linkage Fee is a flat, non-refundable charge, and shall not be pro-rated should you subscribe to or terminate your service mid-term.  Additionally, the SPOT Linkage Fee will continue to be charged with each renewal unless canceled by you in accordance with section 3.4.  If you did not purchase the associated external service from SPOT, then it is your responsibility to ensure that your external service is current and active.

3.               PLAN.  Your Service Plan consists of the SPOT Basic Service and any bundles or optional services selected by you either when you activate your SPOT Product or any that you may add during your Term.

3.1              Term.  You agree to remain as a subscriber for the minimum period stated in your Service Plan’s Term, or if no Term is specifically stated in your Service Plan, for a Term of twelve (12) months starting on the date of service activation.  Available Service Plan terms may include:  a yearly term with prepayment in full, a yearly term with prepayment prior to each service month or a multi-year term with prepayment in full.

3.2              Renewal.  All Service Plans automatically renew at the end of their Term for an additional one (1) year Term unless you cancel by notifying SPOT as provided in Section 3.4.  Where required by law, SPOT will provide you with advance notice of the renewal of your Service Plan.  All Service Plans are pre paid plans.

3.3              Non-Refundable.  Pre-paid Service Plan fees are non-refundable unless SPOT cancels the service, in which event you will receive a pro rata refund for airtime for the unused portion of the Service Plan.  Pre-paid Service Plans may not be transferred to a third party account; however, upon your request, they may be transferred to another SPOT Product within your own account.

3.4              Cancellation.  To cancel your Service Plan, you must notify SPOT in writing or contact SPOT Customer Service at 866-OK1-SPOT (651-7768) within thirty (30) days prior to the end of your Service Plan’s Term, or within thirty (30) days of SPOT posting a change to this Agreement which you do not accept.  To notify SPOT in writing, you must email your notice of cancellation to and provide your name, your address and the ESN from the SPOT Product for which you want to cancel Services.  The ESN for your Spot Product is located in the battery compartment, under the battery of your SPOT Product.  You may call SPOT Customer Service at 866-OK1-SPOT (651-7768) if you have questions.

Sportz Truck Camping Tent - Styleside 5.5 Bed

I just ordered my new motorhome!

I searched on my laptop and while I searched my wife and son searched via smartphone for best prices on Ford’s tent accessory package option. I was surprised to see that there are not too many websites with deals on this tent in a box. I found the price on a few websites but when I called my local Ford Dealer their price was about the same, $289. I ordered it and it will be  here in a couple of days. After we use it for a trip to the east Kootenay’s I will update this post and write up a review.

Sportz Truck Camping Tent set up on Truck - Styleside 5.5 Bed

Sportz Truck Camping Tent – Styleside 5.5 Bed

Silver Star Mountain Wildflowers Are In Full Bloom!

The multi-coloured mountain wildflower show is decorating the top of Silver Star Mountain.

“We had a slow start to the summer, it even snowed in July!,” exclaimed Roseanne Van Ee, Silver Star’s Mountain Naturalist and Tour Guide, “Now, all the recent heat and sunshine has the flowers popping out all together for a spectacular show”.

Sub-alpine rhododendrons

Sub-alpine rhododendrons - photo used with permission from

Van Ee goes on to describe, “Usually the yellow/red Columbines and orange Columbia Tiger Lilies bloom before the red Indian Paintbrush, white Valerian, blue Lupine and yellow Arnica mix, followed by the various purple Asters and Pearly Everlasting bunches, but they’re all out now!”

columbia lily cr

Columbia Lily Cr - photo used with permission by

The best way to experience not only the wildflowers, but also a bit of mountain history, ecology and geology, is to join an afternoon Mountain Wildflower Tour where hikers are guided on a downhill stroll through the best wildflower meadows,  to the remains of the Silver Queen mine and cabin and to the most spectacular valley and Columbia mountain viewpoints.

This year, Van Ee is giving tips and hints to improve your digital photos.  “I’ve always been a photo buff and enjoy helping others get the most from their automatic cameras.  Tour participants are really happy to learn a few tricks that create way better photos to impress their family and friends.”


Lupine - photo used with permission from

The tour starts with a chairlift ride to the top.  Monday to Thursdays the group walks down to the Comet chair, but on Friday and Saturday the village chairlift allows for a shorter walk. Participants enjoy a lemonade and cookie picnic at the end.

Leave the valley heat for a refreshing mountain stroll.  Pictures and tour descriptions are found or phone the Summer Ticket Office at 250-558-6010.