I have mentioned the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club in a number of my posts at Tracks And Trails. The club does an enormous amount of work in promoting the Okanagan outdoors and the many safe, educational, and environmentally sound ways to enjoy the area. I recently contacted Rick Gee, a Okanagan Naturalist hiking guide and club director for an interview. I would highly recommend making your next hiking trip one with Rick on Oct 18 to Thunder Mountain!

Rick Gee

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?
I go hiking with the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ (Club Director in charge of summer hiking) and Nordic Cross-Country Club (Director for snowshoeing. Sometimes I go by myself.

I was introduced to the outdoors by parents who went camping when I was a little guy. Mainly in BC and Alberta.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

My favourite hiking area is Lake O’Hara in particular and anywhere in the Rockies in general.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

Here is a story about O’Hara, I was there in the fall many years ago. It was raining in the parking lot and the rain turned to snow partway up the road. We set up camp but slept in the kitchen shelter since the snow was so wet. The next morning,  the clouds were less than 50 metres above the lake but I went to Lake Oesa, in a bowl about 300 metres above Lake O’Hara, and at the level of Lake Oesa, the clouds stopped abruptly. The sky was blue, the sun was warm, the larch were golden, and the mountains had a coating of fresh snow.

Second story about O’Hara – I was there in the fall, not the same year as the previous story. I was sitting against a rock in the sun in the Hanging Garden of Babylon, an old name for part of the Opabin Plateau. I was watching a band of goats going left to right along Yukness Ledge and a group of hikers on Yukness Ledge, going right to left, just below the goats. There was a corner between the groups. I’m not sure which was more excited, the hikers or the band of goats, when they reached the corner at the same time!

Have you been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

Been lost – no, but occasionally confused. On Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, I missed a buoy marking where the trail went off the beach into the trees. I had to climb a cliff to get off the beach then bash through salal to find the trail. On the Chilkoot Trail this summer it was so foggy I missed a trail marker, but I was able to find the route by listening to a group ahead who were singing to keep their spirits up.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

Encounters with wildlife – Pika on my toe. Marmot leaning against my leg licking salt. Squirrel balancing on a rope between trees to get my food bag. Nothing life-threatening.

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?

Backpacking – I’ve been on many trips, the first was in 1971 to Berg Lake.  Some good backpacking advice is to buy quality equipment. Keep it light. Going by yourself can be enjoyable but the load will be heavier. Poly underwear is wonderful!

Favourite website? – I suppose I should say yours, but I really don’t have a favourite.

Favourite store? – Outdoor Adventure Gear (Kelowna) and MEC (everywhere but Kelowna).