Summer Adventures in Merritt & Nicola Valley, BC, Canada

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Growing up in Merritt, BC

Growing up in Merritt

Why I love growing up in Merritt

 

“…I never had any friends later on like the ones I did when I was twelve..”Richard Dreyfuss spoke these words in the final scene of my favorite movie “Stand by Me” . For me this quote reflects my growing up in Merritt with my friends. While we may have never searched for a dead body, we did have some memorable adventures. Whether it be getting my two friends and I lost on a mountain and picking ticks out of our hair on the way down, or floating down the Nicola River in dollar store rafts, my group of friends and I did it all.  

 

Being raised in Merritt, My playground was the outdoors. Everything was in walking distance, and even if it wasn’t, we would still walk 2.5 hours in the scorching 40-degree weather to find a new cliff to descend into the river.  Summers were spent playing on the river, or trying our best to leave early to get the ‘perfect’ spot under the shady tree at Monck Park beach. Dirt biking up to the lookout point up Promotory , and geocaching in Lower Nicola.  

Hunting season in the Nicola Valley

As the leaves changed colours, so did our interests. I had completed my hunting core that past April. All I wanted for my birthday was to do an overnight hunting trip with my dad. On one brisk September’s day my father and I set out for our overnighterWe set up our camp under an old fir tree, 15 minutes outside of Merritt.

After we finished setting up, with a few hours of daylight left, we started down the rough terrain below us.  Although we never shot anything, we did come across a small group of mule deer heading towards the timber. About 15 minutes after we had spotted a beautiful large black bear. We sat and watched the bear in admiration for quite some time. When we got back to camp, I sat underneath the fir tree with a breathtaking view of the Nicola Valley. I relaxed as my father prepared supper. The trip is one I will never forget. 

Wintertime in Merritt

When snow starts falling in the Nicola Valley and winter approaches, Doug’s once green lawn turns into an ice rink. If you don’t have skates to wear, he supplies them without charge.  Sledding and snowshoeing in the Nicola valley are a thing my family and I have always enjoyed and now it is our family tradition,

it’s not a successful sledding trip if you’re not leaving without a black eye (at least in my family anyway!) .

Kane valley in Merritt

The lights when I come into Merritt always put a smile on my face; the streetlights are always so beautifully decorated that you just can’t help feeling that Christmas spirit. Of course, my most favorite thing about living in Merritt at Christmas time is the parade. It’s usually me, my mother and brother’s tradition to go every year to the Christmas Parade. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. No matter how old I get, I will still get that feeling of pure joy when I see the ‘Frosty the Snowman’ Norgaard truck float, and even at the end when Santa appears.  

  

I really couldn’t wish for a better place to grow up in. I know that when I get older and leave for school, a part of me will always be here in Merritt. There are so many memories and adventures built here and I’m so proud and grateful to be able to explore The Nicola Valley and call it my hometown. The mountains and lakes have so much to offer that I hope that in the future more  kids grow up and have a similar childhood to mine growing up in a small town.  

  

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Bird Watching in Canada

Bird Watching in Canada

Bird watching in Canada is a favorite past time for thousands of people all over the world. It is no different right here in Merritt and the Nicola Valley. I Love birdwatching in Canada, and the Nicola Valley too. I do go out on occasion with some of our local Pros, like the great people at  Nicola Valley Naturalists.   When I do take that time, I am always amazed at the knowledge and at what they can spot and see! These nature and bird experts are amazing! 

Doing what I Love. Nature and Nikon

I just happened to be doing what I love, which is being outdoors and exploring and this happened! It is like a gift! This is the real deal bird watching in Canada!

I was sitting in my “Palace” my new to me, travel trailer (that I love BTW) and just outside on the lakeshore was this beautiful yellow, black and yellow bird! Camera time! I grab my Nikon and go sit in a chair close by waiting for the return! And “HE” did! This time with a baby! The baby bird started to sweetly  hop around, first on the branches of the berry tree, and then onto the ground and rocks just below! All fuzzy and cute as a baby bird can be, I start snapping away!

Bird watching in Canada is very rewarding

The little one was looking at me, looking around, waiting for daddy. Sure enough daddy comes back with some food! mushed up berries. Baby waits. Daddy hops to the ground and as you can see in the picture, this is what I saw! Isn’t this amazing?

Bird watching in Canada Western Tanager

Bird watching in Canada Western Tanager

Anticipating for the right moments to take pictures, I was once again rewarded!  Look who scurries over to see what is going on! The cutest chipmunk! He sits calmly on the rock, back turned to the baby bird as if to say “I know your there but I don’t care!” Baby bird stating right back at him also seeming to say, “I know your there and I don’t care either.” Then they looked at each other. Both caught in a stare. They both sat still for a moment both as calm as could be. 

The Western Tanager

Thanks to All About Birds I was able to learn more about the Western Tanager and so many other species. All the information you will ever need for Bird watching in Canada.  Here are some  cool facts and other information I learned about this bird.

A Male has an orange-red head, brilliant yellow body, and coal-black wings, back and tail. Females and younger ones are  similar to the males but have somewhat of a  dimmer yellow-green and black. These birds live in open woods all over the West, particularly among evergreens, where they often stay hidden in the canopy. Nevertheless, they’re a quintessential woodland denizen in summertime, where they fill the woods with their short, burry song and low, chuckling call notes.

Cool Facts

  • While most red birds owe their redness to a variety of plant pigments known as carotenoids, the Western Tanager gets it’s scarlet head feathers from a rare pigment called rhodoxanthin. Unable to make this substance in their own bodies, Western Tanagers probably obtain it from insects in their diet.
  • This species ranges farther north than any other tanager, breeding northward to a latitude of 60 degrees—into Canada’s Northwest Territories. In the chilly northernmost reaches of their breeding range, Western Tanagers may spend as little as two months before migrating south.

 

  • Male Western Tanagers sometimes perform an antic, eye-catching display, apparently a courtship ritual, in which they tumble past a female, their showy plumage flashing yellow and black.

 

  • Around the turn of the twentieth century, Western Tanagers were thought to pose a significant threat to commercial fruit crops. One observer wrote that in 1896, “the damage done to cherries in one orchard was so great that the sales of the fruit which was left did not balance the bills paid out for poison and ammunition.” Today, it is illegal to shoot native birds and Western Tanagers are safer than they were a century ago.

 

  • The oldest Western Tanager on record—a male originally banded in Nevada in 1965—had lived at least 6 years and 11 months by the time he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Oregon in 1971.

Bird watching in Canada photographs

It was fantastic! I know I had a big smile on my face as I sat and watched these three, and I knew I was capturing a great photos. Here is additional images I captured that afternoon. Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them. 

 

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

 

  Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

 

Local Naturalist and Bird watching

I have been able to spend enlightening times with our local experts at Nicola Valley Naturalists. They have wonderful friendly experts, and some great programs for everyone. They started a new one this year called Merritt Nature Kids!  How cool is that? 

A major objective of  Nicola Naturalist Society is to provide education and information on the wild organisms and ecosystems of the BC interior. Especially those that are found in the Nicola Valley area.  They have regular meetings at the theatre at NVIT. (Nicola Valley Institue of Technology), and have all kinds of great field events like amphibian monitoring and the Christmas bird count.  They can count me in for that one this year.

You don’t have to be a birder to participate in the count. Join one of the best and historic bird watching in Canada events, just go. Bring a camera and binoculars and share with us what you see.

Happy Bird watching in Canada and the rest of the world too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things To Do In Merritt, B.C.

Things To Do In Merritt, B.C. 

Spring, summer, fall or winter you will find many things to do in Merritt, B.C.

Seek out new stores

New and different “Things to do in Merritt, B.C.” just has to include new and different places to go. There are some new businesses in town and it took me less than 10 minutes to find two of them.

Both “The Bee’s Knees” and “Petals and Plants” are new shops on Quilchena Avenue in the downtown core and several more will be up and running by the time you read this blog. Seek them out and enjoy something different!

The Bee’s Knees

Owner Amanda loves her job! She started out with the idea of selling clothes from home but that idea sure mushroomed! So she  began “The Bee’s Knees” in March 2018 but outgrew that tiny space almost immediately!  Next, Amanda moved to her present location in the 1900 block of Quilchena Avenue in July, taking all her great ideas (and clothes) with her! 

This lady knows how to dress her clients! Amanda will offer you ideas and combinations you probably would never have thought of yourself. She is one creative business  owner and if you are an old doll like me, her advice will help you update your wardrobe, or at least bring it into the 21st century!And, bless her, the woman carries plus sizes too! Don’t be embarrassed. Ask Amanda! Shop here at The Bee’s Knees where you won’t be all alone!

Check out “The Bee’s Knees” for great event clothes, vintage looks and up-to-the-minute designs too!

Amanda will even do your nails to match your outfit! At the Bee’s Knees you will certainly leave happy, even if you just go to look! Check out Bees Knees Boutique on facebook.

Petals & Plants

The next new place I came across when I was hunting for “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” was Petals & Plants. I heard more than one person say “Finally, a flower shop in Merritt!”

Yes, it is a flower shop- and more! Vicki, the owner, started her shop because, as she puts it, “I’m not great at retiring. I missed the people.” She won’t miss them here! The place has been full of customers and visitors every time I’ve stopped by! In addition to flowers, of course, Vicky carries lots of constantly changing items that make great gifts, so the place is likely to be full of people as well as petals & plants no matter when you go. So check it out!

Enjoy a mini spa day

For a list of “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” why not include a mini spa day! Start by going to the Aquatic Centre for a workout, followed by a swim, sauna and whirlpool. Then, take a hot shower, scrub with an exfoliant, pat down with a soft towel and use plenty of body cream. There. Now you are all soft and energized! Feels good, doesn’t it?

Afterwards? Keep your prearranged appointment at one of Merritt’s several hair salons for a wash, trim and blow dry. Then have a complete mani-pedi since many salons do both. And while you are there, try some new makeup too!

Now, you feel as fantastic as you look, so treat yourself to a nice lunch! Also, why not enjoy the rest of the day shopping?

 Return home happy, relaxed and revitalized, a new you!

Things to do in merritt, B.C.

Seniors aquafit

Take a Walk

Among the best and easiest “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” is to take a walk! Enjoy some of our gorgeous scenery and beautiful parks! Check out the possibilities in my blogs Walking Around Merritt” and “Parks in Merritt”and have some fun in any season. Incidentally, if you have kids with you, winter is a great time to walk in the park! Make snow angels, snow forts, snow people or snow pets! In addition to this, you can pack a snow picnic and add thermoses of hot soup and hot cocoa! Yum! You will have just as much fun as the kids!

Things to do in Merritt, B.C. -Parks

Ready for a picnic after a walk in one of Merritt’s parks

Check Out the Library

These days the library goes way beyond a simple place to read and borrow books. There are many “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” right in our library!  Yes, we all know about borrowing cd’s, dvd’s, and audio books. In addition to these standbys, there are also many children’s reading programs, crafting classes, story times, adult literacy programs and art classes. Besides all this, there are computer classes (and computers to use), knitting, crocheting, gardening, painting, food preserving and various discussion groups that meet at the library. Surprised?

Add to this list some very interesting lectures and guest authors who do readings. Or, if you want a quiet, peaceful day, pick out a book, sit on the comfy sofa by the fireplace and just read!

With all this available, I’m sure you will find many “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” that will entertain you at any time of the year!

Have a Pub Lunch

Well, we all like to eat, don’t we? So of course I include food in my “things to do in Merritt, B.C.”  blog. Not the regular restaurants this time, though. The pubs!

A few years ago a friend dragged me, kicking and screaming I’ll admit, to a local pub for lunch. What a revelation! I actually had fun and a good lunch- at a reasonable price! Also, the lunch crowd was lively and fun. I could hardly believe it! I enjoyed myself!

Most pubs in Merritt have daily lunch and dinner specials. Try one! You will be surprised at how good pub food can be! And no, you don’t have to order alcohol with your meal if you would rather have coffee! However, a burger and a beer can go down nicely when you are in the mood.

Bonus- no one will give you a “look” if you laugh a little loudly with your friends!  

 Look at the seniors programs

If you are a senior, or know one, check out the goings-on at the Seniors Centre. This group certainly adds a lot to the “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” list. Try some of the following programs:

  • Vinyasa Yoga @ the Civic Centre
  • Seniors Free Swim @ the Aquatic Centre
  • Stretch & Stability @ the Aquatic Centre
  • Noon Hour Aqua Fit @ the Aquatic Centre
  • Stand Tall, Don’t Fall @ the Seniors Centre
  • Cribbage
  • Bingo 
    Things to do in Merritt, B.C.

    swinging seniors

                                                                           
  • Duplicate Bridge
  • Carpet Bowling .                                                           
  • Court Whist
  • Physically Challenged Floor Curling                                 
  • Floor Curling
  • Floor & Table Shuffleboard
  • Drop-in Lunch
  • Drop-in Activities, Fridays
  • Rummoli & Games
  • Drop-in Activities, Saturdays
  • General Meeting
  • Potluck

Wow! And some people think seniors aren’t active!  Compared to what? Test out some things from this list and see if you can keep up!

Go bowling

How long has it been since you got a group of friends together and went bowling? Have most of us bowled regularly (we’re talking 5 pins here) since we were kids? Or maybe not bowled regularly since we were kids! If you’re looking for “things to do in Merritt, B.C.”, bowling is a fun one with the bonus of being genuine exercise! Check out Merritt Bowling Centre.  Enjoy noise, laughter, exercise and yes, food! Bring back some of the good times of yesteryear. Repeat often.

What Else Can You Come Up With?

 While there must be dozens more ideas that I haven’t even touched on, these are a few to get you started. What new ideas can you and your friends come up with?

Your senior blogger signing off for now.

Diane 

 

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Merritt BC Canada Things To Do – Mountain Biking!

Merritt BC Canada Things To Do – Mountain Biking!

Mountain biking in Merritt – steep and gnarly or smooth and flowy…

Ridge – a BC Trail with something for everyone

One of my favorite things to do in Merritt, BC Canada that never gets old! Mountain biking in Merritt can be as steep and gnarly or smooth and flowy for just about anyone from the beginner to the full-on down-hill animal. Ridge is the kind of BC trail that has a bit of something for everyone.

Merritt bc canada things to do-rock rollover Ridge trail

Pinkbike user “sidecut” shared this photo to Trailforks

Too Much Information

Getting to the top of Ridge is a substantial climb. It takes the average mountain biker about forty-five minutes to reach the top. Too Much Info is the climb of choice for all of the trails in the lower section of Iron Mountain, and one of the best climbing trails around. The switchbacks are fairly long, with a moderate number of level sections to regroup as you ride.

The climb up TMI provides some of Merritt’s best lookout points. The first is atop one of the steeper, short climbing sections that dot Too Much Info. One of the best things to do in Merritt is going for a picnic! This table is a great spot to hang out and enjoy the sunshine while enjoying the view of Swakum Mountain across the valley. It’s one of the best things to do in Merritt BC Canada!

Merritt bc canada things to do-lookout from Ridge TMI trail crossing

Pinkbike user “sidecut” shared this photo to Trailforks

Following that are three more lookouts that provide increasingly panoramic views of Swakum Mountain, the Coutlee Plateau, and the City of Merritt. The lookouts are all located at intersections of TMI and Ridge. Enjoy the sneak peeks of your downhill! Once you’ve completed the switchbacks of TMI, you’re getting close to the top! Three more switchbacks on Lone Pine trail will get you to the Ridge connector. 

High Mountain Ranchland Sunset

It’s always a tough decision for me: go for the gratification of the connector’s shorter climb, or to push up the rest of Lone Pine to the top of Upper Ridge? Both options are worth the effort, but Upper Ridge adds some pretty fun riding. This option also provides another nice rest spot in the open meadow at the tail end of Lone Pine.

The view is great from here! You’ll take in some of the trademark high mountain ranchland of the Nicola Valley. Looking Southwest, you’ll see the tree covered Iron Mountain. This spot is beautiful anytime, but the sunsets are spectacular. Every year at the summer solstice, the local club, Merritt Mountain Biking Association, leads a ride to this spot. It’s worth planning for! 

Things to do in Merritt BC Canada-Upper Ridge trail from Lone Pine trail

Pinkbike user “sidecut” posted this photo to Trailforks

Don’t Get Lost!

After scrambling up from the meadow, along the rocky Southeast switchback of Upper Ridge, you’re finally here! Unless you’re lost! The entrance to Upper Ridge can be missed, so make sure you watch for the left trail fork at the big, lone, pine. 

Okay, so the first thing you’ll likely notice is a sign. It’s a little menacing with its “experts only” warning, and it is warranted. However, it is still rated as a Black trail, so you be the judge of whether or not you consider yourself an “expert”.  Upper Ridge doesn’t waste any time! Right off you are rolling down fairly steep and jagged rocky sections, with some nice flowy singletrack mixed in. 

The Slab

This goes on for a while, with a few sections requiring a pedal here and there. Soon you’ll reach another foreboding sign. In my experience, this is the one to take the most notice of. Again, whether or not you have to be an expert to ride this section is at your discretion. You’ll soon meet an off camber rock slab, after crossing a short bridge/rocky section. This slab is intimidating and I have opted to take the ride around to the right on more than one occasion. It’s the “off camber” that makes it intimidating (not to mention the drop jump ramp at its base that appears to land in the middle of a stand of trees).

On a dry day with at least one of your friends to encourage you, the slab can be cleaned. Just watch this video from Dangerousdave to see how easy it is! He chose the ramp, which I can’t recommend, never having had the guts to attempt it. I take the slab and instead of sticking to the line leading to the ramp, there is a rollover to the right that, although a bit sketchy in its own right, has what seems to be more forgiving consequences in the event of rider failure.

Things to do in Merritt BC Canada- Ridge trail the slab off camber rock

Pinkbike user “Sidecut” shared this picture to Trailforks

Fun Things to do in Merritt BC Canada

Now it’s smooth sailing, well for the most part. You’ll get lots of the yummy flow that follows the slab/ramp in Dangerousdave’s video, plus a few more jagged rock rollovers, one of which ends with a near 90 degree turn after navigating a techy root. To see what’s in store of things to do in Merritt BC Canada, check out this video by Flarix17., for a look at all those rocks and curves, down to the finish at the former Info Centre parking lot.

Mountain biking things to do in Merritt BC Canada Ridge trail wooden feature

Pinkbike user “Canadaka” shared this picture to Trailforks

Mountain biking Ridge is one of my favorite things to do in Merritt BC Canada. There are many others that I think represent the diversity of terrain and riding style in the Merritt area. These trails were built by passionate mountain bikers who were so jazzed by the new sport of mountain biking in the 1990’s that it seems like they must have spent time doing nothing else! Some of them still live here and ride the trails, but many have moved on. 

Since moving to Merritt in 2013 and opening Breathe Bikes, I have met and ridden with a few of the trail builders that first carved out beauties like Ridge. I hope I’ve done at least a passable job of showing them how much I appreciate their work. If I haven’t and you’re reading this, please accept my many thanks! 

Things to do in Merritt BC Canada

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Living and Cowboying in the Nicola Valley

Living and Cowboying in the Nicola Valley

When you hear the word “cowboy” what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Did you know that the term cowboy was first documented in the English language by 1725? It was a direct translation of the Spanish word vaquero — one who manages cattle from horseback, cowboy has the same meaning. Vaquero is rooted in the word vaca, or cow, and stems from the Latin vacca.

For some of us, it is not easy to develop trust when we are dealing with something or someone new. Dealing with a horse is not different. How can you communicate with a horse? How do horses communicate with us? To learn more about horsemanship, let me introduce our guest blogger Miles Kingdon, from Miles Kingdon Horsemanship.

I wanted to cowboy on a big ranch…

cowboyI came from Saskatchewan to the Nicola Valley, in March of 1981,  because I wanted to cowboy on a big ranch.  Most importantly, I wanted a full time cowboying job in cow country.  To live in a land where I could see the mountains and ride my horse across creeks and streams, and view wildlife year round.

I had been a cowboy on the big government pastures in Saskatchewan, but that job was seasonal; finishing for the year when the farmers took their cattle home in the late fall.  Besides, the winters were bitterly cold there, and not conducive to riding year round. 

So I headed to B.C.  When I drove into the Nicola Valley from Kamloops, on Highway 5A (the only highway at that time), I saw vast, beautiful rolling hills of bunchgrass.  I knew that this was the place I wanted to stay.

Streams, lakes, and beautiful wooded hills

My first cowboying job was at the Douglas Lake Cattle Company.  Every day, I rode out in the early morning to look at a new range; with creeks, streams, lakes, and beautiful wooded hills to look at.  Other days, I’d be riding across a sea of grass, and knew I was in the best cow country I could ever see.

It was a good life at Douglas Lake, but I was still hungry to see what was on the other side of the ridge, so I hired on at Nicola Ranch.  I had a family of my own by then, and being at Nicola Ranch exposed me more to the Merritt Community.  Our children were born in Merritt, went to school and were involved in sports in Merritt. 

A cowboy may not plan on involving himself in the community too much, because of his time spent at work, but he will, through the love of his children and interest in their daily activities.  It is inevitable for the parents.  They will rub shoulders with other parents and become involved in community functions, and as a result, feel like part of that community.

A new learning curve for this cowboy

cowboyAs the years rolled by, my interest in other ranges, and the desire to do better for my family, led me to the other big ranches across BC; the Bar K Ranch, Empire Valley Ranch, and the Gang Ranch.  These places were all a new learning curve for this cowboy.  Learning how to fit into a new environment, and acclimatize to each new system’s way of doing things; all were good for me.  I gained more knowledge about grasslands and different herd management practices. 

Also, very important to me, was making a new string of horses for me to go to work with.  Taking the horses from being young and inexperienced to a finished bridle horse, at each ranch. 

Cowboys and cowgirls from all walks of life passed through our pretty valley. 

A horse experienced at roping and doctoring cattle, cutting, and sorting cattle, and eventually becoming a willing partner that anyone, even my children,  could eventually ride.  And they did.  And until my children gained enough experience to be good help to the crew, the horses would take care of them throughout the day at work, and bring them home safely.

Not only did the horses watch how they carried my children through their formative and impressionable years, but so did the cowboys we rode with, always watched out for them.  Each of those hands became like uncles or aunts to our kids.  This is part of what makes our community so unique.  Cowboys and cowgirls from all walks of life passed through our pretty valley. 

At one time, the native community provided most of the recruits for the cowboy crews, and as the years rolled by, people from all over Canada, the US and beyond came to ride on these legendary outfits; some to move on to new ranges, some to stay and raise their families.  Ultimately, my family and I always came back to the Nicola Valley.  It wasn’t just the ranges and the scenery, the forgiving environment, and the horses, it was the community.  The people, and their empathy for others held us here. 

Back when I was younger, and cowboying at Douglas Lake, one of the older hands did the math and figured we were riding an average of 5,000 miles/year horseback.  Some of us questioned that, but the elders on the crew attested to that figure.  Some outfits were less distance covered on horseback, while some, like the Gang Ranch, were a bit more.

I understand the horse…

So, after over forty years of cowboying for a wage, I’ve come to make a lot of friends in the cattle industry, and I’ve gotten to a place where I understand the horse quite a bit better.  It makes a difference in me, at days end, to count my blessings and tally up how many things were a bit better today than yesterday, with my horses, dogs, saddle partners and life.

It seemed the natural thing to do, once I left cowboying for the outfits full time, to hang my shingle out doing workshops.  To teach the skills we learned going places on horses, and making a living as a cowboy.  So, today, my wife and saddle partner, Possum, and I are making a business of that.  We have two more horsemanship/stockmanship workshops coming up this summer in the valley, at Seven Half Diamond Ranch. 

There’s always a horse, and a person, who could use a hand.

cowboyNow, I can pass on these skills to whomever may be interested in working with horses and cattle.  There’s always a horse, and a person, who could use a hand.  And I really enjoy passing on knowledge to our youth, who, during their impressionable years, grow and gain knowledge the most. That is what they really desire.

Ultimately, after years of freedom and adventure, going places horseback, I had a few good stories to tell, and my wife pushed me to write them down.  As a result, we are looking at publishing our first book later this year.  It will be stories of life horseback, mostly situated in this valley of ours.

Many great adventures

The horse has brought me to many great adventures, and contact with a lot of good people.  The horse will do this for others as well. As long as there’s these grasslands and cattle that need to be maintained, there will be men and women riding down a trail and listening to their spurs chiming in time to their horse’s stride.  I have been blessed to grow in this community, and have come to love this valley, and the people in it.

Thanks, Miles Kingdon! We look forward to your book!

Click here for more info on Miles’ workshops. “Miles Kingdon Horsemanship offers a wide range of clinics, camps and workshops.”

Miles Facebook Page

For more reading on the cowboy experience in the Nicola Valley, read Etelka’s blog on the Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo.

cowboy
 

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Walks in Merritt

Walks in Merritt, Canada

Seven Trails to Choose From

From super easy to good uphill challenges, these Merritt walks offer

Walks in Merritt, Canada

I love walking trails!

something for everyone!

As a senior, walking is something I seriously enjoy! It gives me plenty of gentle exercise while offering interesting nature views, busy urban scenes and sometimes – ice cream! And walks in Merritt, Canada offer all of these!

These seven walks are great not only for seniors but also for everyone who enjoys a good walk. Turn your walk into a serious hike, if you must, by choosing two or more challenging walks in the same day.

I am going to give you step by step walking instructions, but I have included a map of these trails at the end of my blog.

Walks in Merritt #1 – Coldwater River/Voght Street – 3.4 km

Walks in Merritt, Canada

River trail

Are you a bird watcher? Or would you like to see the salmon run? Then this is the walk for you!

Start just past Central School. Enjoy the views as you follow the scenic Coldwater River and the western boundary of Voght Park to Canford Avenue. Next, cross Main St and walk along the river to the bridge.

At the bridge, stop and see the spot where the Coldwater River flows into the Nicola River. Then turn back a short distance to the place where the trail meets Quilchena Ave.

Follow Quilchena Avenue to Voght Street, then turn right and return to your starting point.

Now, isn’t this a great walk? One of my favs to walk, or bike ride!

 

 

Walks in Merritt #2 – Collettville/Voght Park – 3.2 km

Here is another good walk, not only for bird watching but also for salmon viewing. Begin at the corner of Coldwater Avenue and Voght Street and head south along Voght Street.

This walk first takes you past Central School (on your right), then over the bridge that crosses the Coldwater River. Turn right onto Lindley Creek Road, then right again at Fir Ave. Follow Fir Avenue to Hill Street. Now turn right and follow Hill Street. At Main Street, cross the bridge and follow Main Street to Canford Aveue. Now turn right and walk along Canford Avenue to Cleasby Street. Turn left at Cleasby and then right at Coldwater Avenue. Walk along Coldwater Avenue as far as Voght Street. A good place to look for Salmon is as you cross the Coldwater River. And the southern half of this route is the best area for bird watching.

Walks in Merritt #3 – Diamondvale – 2.2 km

Here is a peaceful walk around a residential neighbourhood. Begin at the corner of Clapperton Avenue and Menzies Street. Follow Armstrong onto Bann Street. Turn right and follow Bann for one block. Turn right at Scott Place and in the cul-de-sac look for a walkway on the right hand side. Follow this walkway to Sage Street. Continue on Sage to Clapperton Avenue. Turn right and continue to Menzies Street.

Walks in Merritt #4 – The Flagpole – 1.5 km

This walk may be short, but is it challenging! It is dusty and all up hill! My advice is to choose a coolish day. There is no shade on this route! The walk starts just before the cemetery on the north side of Juniper Drive and switchbacks up to the flagpole.

This is a good walk to exercise both your heart and your leg muscles. It is popular with dog owners but do remember to take water for your pet and yourself. Once you reach the flagpole, you reap a generous reward. Not just the workout itself but also the gorgeous, panoramic view of Merritt and the valley.

Walks in Merritt #5 – Parker/Juniper – 4.7 km

This walk offers some good views of Merritt. In addition, in spring, birdwatchers may want to take time to seek out meadowlarks around the golf course.

Begin at Grimmet Street and follow Parker Avenue to Juniper Drive. Continue along Juniper past houses, the cemetery (on your right) and the golf course on your left,  to Nicola Ave. Watch out for truck traffic on the lower half of Juniper above Norgaard Ready-Mix. Also along Nicola Avenue to the bridge. Turn left at the stop sign and follow Nicola Avenue to Cleasby Street.

Then left onto Cleasby and follow this street to First Avenue. Next, turn right and continue walking. Notice the beautiful Sikh temple on your right and the river on your left. When you reach Voght Street, turn left and continue up Voght Street to Grimmet. This last stretch is up hill. Central Park will be on your left, a fun place you may want to explore another time.

Walks in Merritt, Canada #6 – Rotary Park and Trails – 1.3 km

Walks in Merritt, Canada

Rotary Park Trail

This trail is popular not only with senior walkers, but also with bike riding children and dog walkers too.

Built by the Rotary Clubs of Merritt with the help from the City of Merritt and the City Public Works employees, this route starts at the eastern edge of Rotary Park. It follows the north side of Central Park. From the other direction, the starting point is near the RCMP station.

At Rotary Park, the paved walkway links to the path around the park’s circumference. This is an easy and pretty walk.

Lots of grass, trees, shade and flowers. If it is summer and you have children with you, bring bathing suits. They will enjoy the spray park and you will too!

In addition to all this, there is a band shell and music in the park so check this out!      

 

Walks in Merritt #7 – Walk of Stars/Murals Downtown Merritt – 2.4 km

Walks in Merritt, Canada

Walk of Stars display seen throughout Merritt

Do your handprints match those of the Merritt Mountain Music Festival’s past performers? Try them out and see! Almost 70 plaques of Country Musicians handprints are waiting in Merritt’s downtown core!

In addition, ten giant sized murals of country performers are painted on the sides of buildings in the downtown area. This is an easy, flat walk passing several restaurants, stores and (big bonus) places selling ice cream!

I may be a senior blogger but everybody loves ice cream! Yumm.

Let’s see you out on these walks around Merritt, Canada! I’ll be choosing a couple of these to do again soon!

Special thanks to the Rotary Club of Merritt for allowing us to share their map and some of their trail descriptions with you.

walks in Merritt, Canada

Enjoy these walking routes throughout Merritt.

 See you on the trails!

From your senior blogger,

Diane

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Bikepacking Merritt

Bikepacking Merritt – the Epic 1000

The BC Epic is a 1000km traverse across South Central BC

 I rode as fast as I thought I could, without injuring or killing myself…

Darch Oborne participated in the BC Epic 1000, and tells us about the bikepacking adventure. In his words…

The BC Epic 1000 is an offroad, unofficial, completely self-supported bikepacking ride/race in the spirit

bikepacking

The beginning in Merritt, BC

of the underground “Tour divide” style and under the same rules. No registration (other than on the website), no support, no insurance, no prizes – it is simply a plotted route with a suggested time for an unofficial group ride. Show up and ride at your own risk.

The BC Epic is a 1000km (1040 to be exact), 11,000m elevation traverse across South Central BC starting in Merrit and ending in Fernie (or vice versa if you choose) mostly along the Trans Canada Trail. The route is about 80% off road on mostly old decommissioned rail grades

The BC Epic 1000 bikepacking ride, since 2015

2018 was the third year of the bikepacking race, created by Dr. Lennard Pretorius of Kamloops. Jame Oborne and Lennard are also the first two riders to complete the Merritt 150 Epic on June 16, in eleven hours and forty-seven minutes. Lennard rode the first and second ‘1000’s’ and had a course record for a while. Virtually single-handedly, Lennard conceived and organized the Epic, seeing it grow from sixteen riders in 2016 to sixty-seven entrants in 2018. Quite an achievement! I predict there will be 100 racers in 2019.

I’d guess that of the sixty-seven riders entered, ten were extreme athletes, with three or four being extremely extreme, ie: 600 miles of off-road riding in less than three days, with less than six hours of sleep! Most of us “racers” chose to get at least some sleep (four to six hours in my case). nightly. Usually right at the side of the trail, after an evening meal at 9 PM, consisting of a couple of energy bars!

Many racers had lights and rode into the dark. My strategy was to ride as fast as I could without injury and to ride long, ie: from the crack of dawn at 4 AM to dark at 9 PM, to at least try to keep up with the middle of the pack.

The grades are less than three percent, but just relentless

The route is mostly old railway bed, including the KVR to Midway and Columbia Western to Castlegar. The grades are less than three percent, but just relentless, such as the climb out of Princeton to Summerland and Christina Lake to Castlegar–they just go on and on and on! But, through beautiful upland fields of flowers, several trestles, tunnels, raging rivers, beautiful forests, lovely meadows are all part of the Epic.

Many bikepacking racers stopped and took pictures of the beautiful features, often allowing me to catch up to them. Then there’s the torture of the Grey Creek Pass. Sixteen kilometers of ‘up’ on gravel, rutted road, at grades to sixteen percent–hike a bike for fifteen kilometers! No fun at all, after already being on the trail for four days.

It is self-supported, meaning you carry what you think you’ll need for each section ahead, including food and water. You can stop at towns or houses for provisions–root beers and double teenburgers–YUM! (I had some coupons from the mail).

I carried my small stove for a quick coffee

bikepacking

Darch begins the Epic 1000

You carry what you think you’ll need to give you a good sleep, dry riding etc. I carried my small stove for a quick coffee/hot choc in the AM (I only used it twice), and I used a Kelty Thermarest pad, summer bag, and Tyvek covering, all wrapped up in my 1/2 body bag from Kiwanis Surplus store. The bikes of choice are Surly big boys, with 2.5″ to 2.8″ width tires.

I used my Transition Smuggler 29″ with gravel tires (2.5″ on the front and 2.3″ on the rear) until I broke the Hammerschmidt bottom bracket bolt about 3 miles N of Beaverdell at 6 AM on Day 3. Luckily, my son James was in Vernon and after a two-hour wait, he arrived with his Trek hardtail 29″.

Within another two hours, I was on the road, with most of my gear mounted on it. It proved to be a lively, but “hard-on-the-ass” steed and I was able to finish the race with it. Thanks, James–my option was to hitch to Kelowna and buy or rent a bike (sure, on Canada Day)!

There are no support stations, no route markings

I rode as fast as I thought I could, without injuring/killing myself, which was mostly fourteen to sixteen in the saddle daily, with four to six hours of “sleep” at the side of the trail. I figured that if I rode slow and steady, and long, I could maybe keep up with some of the pack. After day one, I only saw two riders for the next five days. We were all so spread out over the 600 miles. Most riders carried a SPOT GPS tracking device, so I checked my relative position a few times, but that’s disheartening when I was (only) halfway, in Grand Forks and Evan Deutsche had finished in Fernie!

There are no support stations, no route markings (other than Trans Cda Trail signs) and you rely on your GPS (my old Garmin did not function well at all—should have tested it more thoroughly). I carried a SPOT tracker with an SOS button for extreme emergency, but it enabled my family to track my slow progress towards the finish in Fernie. The SPOT ate batteries and I had to re-supply twice–not able to find AAA Lithium in Midway or Greenwood. Carry more spares!

And speaking of spares, you have to carry anything you think you’ll need to repair yourself and your bike, and for any weather, etc. As for a Hammerschmidt bottom bracket bolt (we’d just changed the bottom bracket days before the race–go figure)! I carried three tubes and used only one, but a few racers slashed their tires and went through several tubes.

I kept looking for Lance Armstrong’s care packages

bikepacking

You carry what you need

Of the 29 scratches (non-finishers) in the race, most were for human failings, ie: tendons/hamstrings/chafing etc. Mechanicals played their part, but most racers had put many, many miles on their steeds and knew what to expect of them. I did several ‘long’ rides on local gravel roads, ie: six to seven hours and did an overnight trip to Princeton and slept in the bush.

I should have “trained” harder, faster, and longer, but at seventy-three, there’s a limit to my strength and endurance, which I knew beforehand.  All through the race, I kept looking for Lance Armstrong’s care packages, but alas, I found none.

I passed so many lovely lakes and streams that I desperately wanted to dip in and just stop and enjoy, but I did not succumb until the last evening at Koocanusa lake. What a joy to swim and wash after five days of hard riding! On reflection, maybe except for the awful Grey Creek Pass, the route would be nice to do in, say, two weeks, in a group–still riding hard, but stopping to smell the roses…often.

Who wants to do it? The Epic 1000

Nope, not again, for me…unless? I’ll be pleased to assist other Nicola Valley rider who wants to do it and I’ll continue to help Lennard with organizing a BBQ, home hosting, etc. The BC Epic 1000 is a free event, totally volunteer, which turns my cranks for sure. Any riders wanting to try bike-packing, I’d be glad to loan equipment and accompany you if desired. Go to Bikepacking.com for the best info. The kindred spirit of the racers was super, although, as stated above, I rarely saw another racer after day one, until the finish.

My thanks to my family and friends who sent texts of encouragement along the way, those who helped

bikepacking

Darch’s upports- Travis Fehr of Breathe Bikes, Merritt. And wife Catherine

with the BBQ, home hosting, and to Mayor Menard who came out at 7 AM to start the race. Thanks to MMBA for renting the Park for the BBQ, which was appreciated by all the racers, as they got to meet each other–often for the first time.

Racers filled over fifty Merritt motel rooms the night before, and many will be back to enjoy the hospitality they experienced as well as the mountain biking on our great trails. A win for all.

Ride On!

Guest Blog post (and ride) by Darch Oborne

Executive Director of Merritt Mountain Bike Association

Thanks, Darch! Epic effort!

For more on Darch, and his contributions to our biking experiences in the Nicola Valley, click here.

And for those of you who would like to get on board this sport…

From the site Bikepacking: Simply put, bikepacking is the synthesis of mountain biking and minimalist camping. It evokes the freedom of multi-day backcountry hiking, but with the range and thrill of riding a mountain bike. It’s about exploring places less traveled, both near and far, via singletrack trails, gravel, and abandoned dirt roads, carrying only essential gear. Ride, eat, sleep, repeat, enjoy!

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Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo

Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo

Celebrating 60 Years

Dedicated to celebrating and preserving the western culture and way of life 

Experience Nicola Valley

Rodeo action at the Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo – Merritt Pro Photo

Our western culture and lifestyle is important to us.  Not only has the Nicola Valley Rodeo Association (NVRA) spent the last 60 years celebrating and preserving this culture , it also hosts a wide range of equine and livestock events. Furthermore, the NVRA hosts everything from professional rodeos to 4-H and high school events! The Nicola Valley Professional Rodeo takes place on the September long weekend every year. For 60 years, our Nicola Valley has welcomed competitive professionals. They are now vying for $20,000 in prize money. This is  the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association’s (CPRA) Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo.

60th Annual Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo

September 1 -2 , 2018.  Celebrate 60 years with us!  

We offer close-to-the-action covered grandstand seating, free parking, food concessions and beer gardens. We also include crafters, saddle makers and vendors selling all things uniquely western.  In addition, come watch the professional cowboys and cowgirls  fight for a position at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR). The Labour Day Weekend is busy in Merritt, not only with our Annual Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo but also with the Fall Fair.   Come visit our valley this September long weekend and celebrate 60 great years with us!

 Performance Times:

Experience Nicola Valley

Bronc Riding – Merritt Pro Photo

  • Saturday, Sept 1st @1 pm
  • Sunday, Sept 2nd @ 1 pm

 2018 Rodeo attractions:

  • Wacey Mulvahill Wild Pony Events
  • Stock saddle bronc and peewee barrel racing
  • Beer Gardens, food vendors and onsite concession

Admission:

Tickets available in advance at Merritt Summer Nights Market at the gate, or by contacting: 

Melissa Dinsdale: 250-315-9305,  or  Haley Rutherford: 250-378-5059

Pricing:

  • Kids 10 & Under: Free 
    When accompanied by an adult (maximum two children per adult) 
  • Students & Seniors: $13
  • Seniors over 80 – Free
  • Adults: $15 
  • Admission:  CASH ONLY- No dogs allowed

Bus service is available to the rodeo grounds. See the schedule below for full details. Bus schedule

What you can find at the grounds

Experience Nicola Valley

Out of the chutes – Merritt Pro Photo

The Nicola Valley Rodeo Association operates and maintains grounds that host not only the annual professional rodeo but also the little britches rodeo and everything in between. This venue is  perfect for equine and outdoor events. It offers stalls, bucking chutes, announcers, box seating and even a covered grandstand.

Rodeo History

Rodeos in the Nicola Valley area started with people just wanting to have fun! We still do!

July 1st always brought out crowds eager to see the Cowboy Race, Hurdle Race and the Ladies’ Race.  not to mention any other entertainment on offer!

Victoria Day was always a major celebration. It included horse racing, gymkhana events, athletic sports and of course,  the big parade! There were marching bands, floats and huge crowds!

Lower Nicola offered special train fares for any events held there. Of course, people took full advantage of these deals and lined up for tickets! They looked forward to these early stampedes for months ahead!  They also prepared for them months in advance! The annual Bachelors’ Ball was the gala event!  Personal invitations were sent out to the valley’s single ladies who hoped to find that “special someone”.

It began as a Stampede

The Rodeo began its life as a Stampede 1934.  Workers scrambled to build corrals and chutes right in Voght Park. Zack Walker became manager, Leo Morrissey secretary-treasurer. Hans Richter brought a string of bucking horses from Kamloops Reserve to challenge the riders. The real action took place on August 3 and 4, 1934.  John Guichon, Harry Ferguson, Sid Brueke and Tom Shuter were the judges presenting prizes.  Winners took home prizes up to $100 for bronco riding, steer wrestling and other events.

Storekeepers decorated their windows, restaurants offered ‘Stampede Specials’.  Pioneer families held mini reunions.  And, of course there was the giant parade! No one missed that unless they were unconscious!

Advertising for the 1935 event at the Voght Park Stampede Grounds guaranteed “a fast, snappy exhibition” as well as “a clear view from the grandstand”. Admission was 50 cents. Of course, the parade was as big a draw as the stampede.

In 1941, the Stampede was cancelled due to the second world war. It was revived in 1959 by the Nicola Valley Riding and Roping Club. Vern (Blondie) Ellingson, Gordon Walker and Ted Spencer took the reins  in 1966 and ran the Stampede as a private enterprise. The organization and volunteers helped wherever they could.

The Stampede soon grew beyond an amateur rodeo and attracted high calibre professional cowboys. Soon, it became a 3-day Labour Day weekend event. When Ted Spencer was killed in an accident in 1969, his widow, Larein, handed the venture over to the community.

The Rodeo Association is formed

The Nicola Valley Rodeo Association was formed and then renamed the NV Memorial Rodeo Association in honour of Ted Spencer. John Collett managed it over the next decade. Furthermore, with a lot of donated material and man hours, the rodeo arena was erected at Collettville.

Scaled back to two days, the 1978 rodeo saw 196 competitors, including 46 of the top 50 Canadian Rodeo Cowboys. They were  vying for $10,000 in prizes!

The 1981 joint Rodeo Fall Fair land purchase started the task of building new facilities.  All levels of government and many local businesses contributed. 1982 saw the first official Rodeo Fair Days.

This Labour Day Weekend we will enjoy the Nicola Valley Fall Fair in addition to the Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo, and the parade! 

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Street Market Art – Merritt, BC

Street Market Art – Merritt, BC 

Community Art in Merritt, Canada

Youth Take Leadership and make Summer Nights Street Market Art

Street Market Art

Amy Maclaren’s creative flower crown

Street Market Art is happening every Friday night for the whole summer. Amy Maclaren has laid out a plan for character creation – decorating crowns and hats, belts and sashes, masks, and even shoe fun. And her fellow workers, Amrit Ahuja, Felize Omori, and Alexia Clark are a part of the action on the downtown Quilchena block in Merritt Canada.

The Nicola Valley Community Arts Council is employing these four young people through the Youth Employment Program. So this summer, the arts community has help with all kinds of projects and programs!

From the Street Market, to Open Mic Nights, to Corbett Lake Paint Outs this young group is pitching in to make our summer events successful.

 

From Prep to the Market

Street Market Art

Alexia and Felize create flower crowns

First comes the idea of setting up an NVCAC gazebo at the Friday Summer Nights Market, and enlivening it with activities.

With Amy leading the way for this arts project, the activities planned are all about costume and character building. As a student in Costume Design, Amy’s creative direction includes everything from coloured sketches to rainbowsequins.

Amy sources her materials for the market activities in town, materials accessible to everyone who lives here or are visiting the Nicola Valley.

 

Street Market Art

Everything tied or taped down

Gazebo and other necessities are gathered and set up on Quilchena Avenue, the main block. Our first night’s set up was a gusty wind challenge. Duct tape and bricks were in place before flowers and feathers. 

Merritt is a windy town, so the locals are prepared.

But after our first night, we are adding a few bungee cords and table clips to our bin.

The YEP workers get everything set up, and then two of them leave to set up and help at Open Mic. Amrit works the sound and Felize and Alexia welcome the audience there at the Kekuli Cafe..

 

Neighbours on the Street Market

There is room for over 20 vendors or non-profits to set up on the town’s busy block. From a big food truck to gazebos, to small tables, the block is almost full. The Farmer’s market is to the west of us. And a variety of displays is to our east. 

Janet Roth is overseeing the Love to Dance Academy’s table. She is there to let people know what a great dance studio we have in town. And encourage memberships in the Love to Dance Society that supports it. 

Street Market Art

Janet Roth at the Love to Dance Academy table

Charlene Lively has set up the Pro Rodeo display, with information and some news about the High School event that was taking place just that weekend.

Street Market Art

Charlene Lively at the Pro Rodeo display

There are jewelry tables and displays of woodwork by local craftsman.

Tina has set up her Humble Hobo Hotdogs Stand at the end of the block. And there is a new Curried Chicken food truck that has line ups for their generous portions.

And there are baked good tables to pick up something sweet.

Music at the Friday Nights Market

Street Market Art

The Strange Companions

We can hear country music coming from the speakers on the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, right on Quilchena Avenue, our main street.

And if we keep going, more music…

A favourite local group, the Strange Companions, have committed to several Friday nights at the street market for the summer. They have created a board of info and calls to action, like “Go on over to Open Mics…” Read while you stop to listen!

This group has been playing together for years, with musicians and singers coming and going. We never know who is going to show up when we know The Strange Companions are playing… 

 

Back at the NVCAC Gazebo

Street Market Art

Felize and Amy help kids fancy up at the Arts table

Amy and the Youth Employment workers lay out the week’s art activity. Their first work was fancy name or character cards creation with foam letters, sparkles, and shape stickers.

The second week flower and birds were provided for crowns and embellishments like coloured feathers and foam sparkle stickers were attached to cowboy hats

Last week, the YEP workers got busy with face painting and created characters for the children coming by.

What’s up this week?

Support from the NVCAC Directors and Members

Beside our art activity table, the NVCAC Directors set up a membership table under our gazebo, ready to encourage passersby to join our Arts Council and support the arts in all of the the Nicola Valley. 

Street Market Art

Mischelle and Gale discuss the Street Market action and the dancing nearby.

Two active members, Director of Programs Mischelle Pierce, and artist and Gallery supporter, Gale Simpson, discuss all the arts action happening in town!

This week, right at the end of our Friday Nights Street Market, some good music and dancing is happening at the Adelphi Hotel. Some of our great country and western musicians play there regularly. And people come from far and wide to hear them and get up on the dance floor.

This weekend there was a group from Arizona dancing up a storm. Not sure if they were heading out to the Rockin River Fest event in the Valley. Or if they just staed in town and enjoyed the action right here on the main street.

 

Visitors from Hobart, Tasmania

Street Market Art

Jane, Jasper with mom Lani, and Jean

It’s Jasper! My grandson from down under. Jasper is chatting it up with Jane Bartle, NVCAC Treasurer, mom Lani, and president Jean Kiegerl. I think Jean is selling Jasper an Arts Council membership.

And I know Jasper ended up with enough RCMP Musical Ride tickets to take all of us! 

Jasper and family weren’t the only visitors from out of town. We have travelers weekly, often from Alberta, the States, Europe, coming to experience the Nicola Valley.

Join us for some  Street Market Art!

Come down on Friday nights 6-9pm. See what’s up, buy or make an embellished cowboy hat or flower crown. Check the current week’s activity!

Street Market Art

Wearing their embellished cowboy hats

Sashes? Shoes art? What Street Market Art are we up to?

It’s usually free, with people making donations to help us buy the next week’s activity materials….

Go to Nicola Valley Arts Council Facebook page to check out the next event!

And be sure to come down and see us, listen to some music, grab some food, stop and chat. Make yourself a crown!

Jano, Arts and Culture Blogger

 

 

Street Market Art

Vanessa Trenholm led a community canvas painting again!

 

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Smoked Trout at Harmon Lake

Smoked Trout at Harmon Lake

Making smoked trout while camping is easy and fun.

So, would you like to know the secret to great Smoked Trout?

A secret about how to make the best smoked trout in all of the world? OK, at least the best in Nicola Valley? I am about to share it here! Keep reading!

Preparing for Smoked Trout

The Process

Teresa and Brad, camping friends I met last year here at Harmon Lake, have graciously shared their tips and techniques with me to share with you, the world!

Not only is this amazing to the tastebuds, it is a fun thing to do together with friends and family!

To make our Harmon Lake Smoked Trout you need…

  • nice fresh trout that you had fun catching.4-6
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 6-8 C water
  • 2-3 C ice cubes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup non iodized coarse salt, kosher salt, or just salt
  • paper towels
  • rubber gloves
  • cutting board
  • one strong large knife
  • 1-2 fillet knives
  • a good set of fishing bone tweezers!
  • containers and/or ziploc bags for brining.
  • Smoker
  • smoker chips
  • tray for air drying
  • plastic wrap

The Trout

First things first!  To make Smoked Trout, you need them! Catch them, buy them, ask your friends for theirs, it doesn’t matter. But you need fish! We happened to catch ours the day before! It doesn’t matter what size as you will fillet them and place them on the rack by size for best and even results.

The Process – Preparing the Trout

Filleting the Trout! Have the right tools to make this important part easy.  Having the right tools from the get-go will make your learning easier and you fillets clean cut and “pretty”.

I watched  as my friend masterfully filleted the trout and deboned them. She used a tool she purchased  specifically for deboning fish, and it worked great. You could use pliers, but she said this tool was worth every cent! 

Get started

Cut the head off first. then make a straight cut, across the fish, down to the bone near the tail. Starting at the cut. angle the knife on the fish and also angle the blade slightly up over the backbone and fillet away. Once you start to fillet keep the knife blade on the  angle above the bone. With a clean smooth motion, filet the fish, keeping the blade just above the bone.

Keep going!

It may take some practice but when I did it it just took a few times and I was sliding the blade right up to the end. It really wasn’t that hard, just practice and a feel for it.

I learned that there is a technique and once you get the hang of it it becomes pretty easy!

Once both sides are filleted, you can fillet out the inner bones.  This is a bit tricky to explain but I will try!  Take the tip of the blade and cut lightly under the bones about 1/2 inch in. Start over and repeat with smooth motions. Three or so cuts should do it. Cut that piece off the fish. Clean up the edges with a clean swipe down the edges. Voila! A Fillet!

Tips for preparing the Trout

  • A good filleting knife will make the task easy and make your fillets look PRO!
  • Use  a paper towel under the trout on the cutting board to help stop it from slipping & sliding.
  • Don’t leave your fish in water (in the cooler where they could sit in water for example) after they have been cleaned. they will get soggy.
  • Keep the knife at an angle about 45 degrees with the fish.
  • Once you start to fillet keep the knife blade on a slight angle above the bone on with a clean smooth motion, filet the fish, keeping the blade just above the bone.
  • Leave whole or cut into proportions that you would give away.
  • Practice.

The Process for Brining the Trout

This is simple yet tricky, the right mixture of the the salt (and what kind of salt), brown sugar, along with the right amount of water and then the brining time! My friends  secret sauce is 1 part salt to 2 parts sugar.

Dissolve the brown sugar and salt in 2 cups of water. Add about an additional 4-5 cups of water after you have dissolved salt and sugar. Taste test the brine. If you go “Echhhh! Too much salt!”, add more water and you could add some more brown sugar. You do want it to taste salty like the sea, but not so much that you can’t swallow it!

We used two extra large ziplock bags and and split the brine mixture in 1/2. Put the fillets into the bags. Seal the bags and refrigerate 2-3 hours. More time for larger fillets!

Tips for brining

  • You can experiment with different kinds of salt.
  • The brine should be ice cold to work the best so add some ice cubes about 2-3 cups.
  • Trout do not need to brine as long as other fish.
  • Put the fillets in ziploc bags to brine and make sure the bags are sealed. Get as much air out as you can.
  • Put the bags into a container that will fit in your fridge in case the bag leaks.
  • Do NOT brine in a metal container! Use glass or plastic.
  • The brine mixture proportions is the most important part and it will be different every time.

The Process – Smoking the Trout

Air dry the fillets on a surface of parchment paper or plastic wrap (never use metal) for about an hour.

Smoking time varies as does our weather! So you have to vary it each time. Wind and rain are not your friend for smoking fish. So let’s say its 70 degrees and no wind. Your smaller fillets should be ready in about 90 minutes. You can leave on the bigger fillets for an additional 1/2 hour.

We are using a Little Chief Smoker with alder chips, which pair well with trout!

The smoker is running from a 12 V battery and an inverter. We charged the battery with two 75 Watt solar panels. A generator works great too!

Tips for smoking the Trout

  • Keep the smoker out of the wind.
  • Keep the smoker off the grass as in the summer it can be too dry and dangerous.
  • Line the bottom tray of the smoker with foil. 
  • Use non stick spray on the racks.
  • Wipe the trout skin with a paper towel before putting on the racks for “less stickage”.
  • Do not over fill the racks as you need the smoke to get in-between each fillet
  •  If you’re smoking some glazed with brown sugar, put the glazed ones on the bottom racks.
  • Put the thicker fillets on the outside edges as the smoke comes mostly up the sides.
  • Start timing from the time you see smoke.
  • No 2 batches are the same ever!

How would you like your fish smoked? Mild, medium or well done?

  • 2 hours for mild
  • 3-4 hours for medium
  • 5 hours for well done

The more fish on the trays the longer it will take.

When the Trout has smoked enough

Air dry for about an hour before removing the skin and refrigerating. Make sure the fillets have cooled down first. Best to place them on a paper towel and in a container or ziplock bag The paper towel is there to absorb any excess moisture. So, if you take them out of the smoker and they seem a little too dry, don’t set them on paper towels.

Teresa and Brad’s Philosophy: Keep it simple for best results! Particularly with trout as trout is so delicate!

Share and enjoy!

Moister or dryer, it’s up to you! When the trout fillets are smoked the way you like them, loosen from the rack right away or they will get stick to the rack. Take a picture and share! You earned the right to brag!

Then quickly put them away or they may just go missing. AKA, eaten all up!

That is how to make the best smoked trout in the Nicola Valley.

Trout, and other fish, have been smoked throughout history. Click here for some more information

 

Do you have special tips and techniques you want to share?

I would love to hear them! And see you at Harmon Lake!