John had been searching all year for somewhere we could retreat during the pandemic and still follow all the health protocols. Nothing was available in the province until late October when he found a week at Panorama Ski Resort in the Kootenays in SE BC. We own a time share unit there that we received from my step-mother many years ago when she no longer planned to use it. Our daughter was recovering from a third surgery on an ankle she broke in Mexico in early February and so was equally as in need of ‘a time away’ as we. We packed up the truck and headed out on Oct. 19.
It was early in the season and the ski lifts were not yet open so there were very few people around the resort. We brought all of the food we needed for the week and cards to play, a puzzle to make, and a few board games for entertainment in the evenings. We planned to find geocaches during the days and had a wonderful week exploring the Invermere/Panorama area.
There is a multi-trail hiking/biking system called Lake Lillian Recreation Area just up the road from the lake. Over the course of a few days we found every geocache hidden in the recreation area. And every one of the hides took us to a place with a wonderful view or a unique geographical feature.
The community of Invermere sits at the base of the Purcell Mountains, a subrange of the Columbia Mountains which are located on the west side of the Canadian Rockies.
We had a view of another hillside of hoodoo cliffs on another hike along the trails.
As we walked the various paths and trails in search of geocaches it was not uncommon to come across one or more deer munching the fall grass.
There are lots of larch trees among the conifers on the hillsides around Panorama and when the sunlight hit just right the contrast in the deep green and bright yellow as stunning.
On another day we walked down the very long, very steep road of an undeveloped subdivision to find a geocache hidden at the canyon viewing platform.
As were were leaving Panorama at the end of the week we really noticed how much ice had built up along the sides and among the rocks of Toby Creek.
We had a wonderful time on our week away at Panorama. It gave us enough of a lift to “stay at home” to the end of the year.
Once we were home again we drove up the one of logging roads in Hunter’s Range every day for several days to check off a missing day on the calendar. There is a challenge to find a cache on every day of the year (not all in the same year) and we had quite a few needed days in October and November. The Hunter’s Range series checked off nine different days in early November.
When you are driving into the hills in the late fall the scenery can change dramatically from one day to the next. We had fog and fall colours and, then, aburptly, winter white.
The community of Enderby is the closest to our home in Salmon Arm. It stretches along the banks of the Shuswap River and one of our days up Hunter’s Range was a beautiful day and the reflections in the river as we crossed the bridge were so pretty I had John pull over on the other side so I could walk back and take some photos.
As I stepped out of the truck in the parking lot I noticed all the leaves of a maple tree had dropped and created a lovely colourful carpet on a fresh snowfall.
Lower elevations and a few days of milder weather and we were free of snow again. We drove around to the North Shore of the main Shuswap Lake and found a couple of geocaches at Magna Bay. Clear blue water and fall colours make for pretty pictures.
There were a series of caches along a road back in the foothills east of Kamloops. We had never been on the Campbell Creek Road before and really enjoyed the drive through the semi-arid ranchland.
The final day of geocache-finding for the year 2020 was a drive in mid-December into the hills west of town to Skimikin Lake. There was a cache hidden on the far side of the lake at the top of hill. We found an unplowed road to walk most the way around the lake and then we branched off on a horse trail before doing a little bushwhacking to get to the site of the cache. Thankfully there was not much snow yet at the spot, because we would not have been able to find the cache if there had been.
We are so very blessed to live in an area of such geographical and botanical diversity. When we add in the changes of seasons we can experience a vast array of colours, textures, and scenes from one day to the next. If one must “stay at home” during a global pandemic this is a pretty good place to do it.