Have you ever looked at a road and thought, “Huh. I wonder where that goes?” Yeah, me too. Just this week, in fact.
I went to the neighbourhood of Glenrosa in West Kelowna because a newspaper article said that bears had been spotted in the area. Once I arrived, I wasn’t totally comfortable with the idea of driving around an unfamiliar neighbourhood peeking into people’s backyards hoping to see a bear. Glenrosa Road, however, that was intriguing. I decided to follow it and see where it took me. Besides, if there were bears, they might just as easily be on that road as any other.
It didn’t take long for traffic to fall away and I found myself alone on a road climbing up into the mountains. It was early in the morning and the temperature was still comfortably cool. Long shadows fell across the road, and I almost didn’t see the three mule deer just off the road on my right. I stopped and tried to get in a few shots but awkward lighting made it difficult to do. And there were mosquitoes! When did they get here?
Mule Deer, Glenrosa Road
I love getting out and seeing what new wildflowers are in bloom. I do my best to identify them, using three different sources, but I freely admit that I could be wrong. The Indian Paintbrush is one that I am sure of.
The road began to get rough. There were large potholes and I slowed down to accommodate. Not that I was going fast to begin with – I like to take my time and drive slowly when I am the only one on the road. If another vehicle does happen to come along, I pull over and let them pass so I can continue my journey un-impeded.
I came to a fork in the road. There was a lovely marsh to my right and I got out to stretch my legs while considering my next move.
Marsh, Glenrosa Road
Then I had a revelation. I could look at a map!
Glenrosa Road went to the left, where it ended. But if I were to go right, I’d be on the Jackpine Forestry Road which connects to Bear Lake Main. I could then follow that all the way to West Side Road. Aren’t maps cool?
Wild Strawberries, Jackpine Forestry Road
I spent a few extra minutes with the map, just to see what else was out there. It’s going to be a busy summer.
There were hundreds of butterflies along the road, Mourning Cloaks, Angelwings, Swallowtails and one I’d never seen before – a Pacific Orangetip. The others liked to warm themselves on the rocks and the road, but the Orangetip I tried to follow wouldn’t land anywhere at all.
Mourning Cloak Butterfly, Jackpine Forestry Road
Everywhere I looked, there was something to see. Some of it was breathtaking and some of it just made me sad. It wasn’t the clearcuts. I may not like them but the Alberta girl in me still gets it. That’s industry.
View from Jackpine Forestry Road
No, it’s the wanton destruction I see all along the road. Empty beer cans and shotgun shell casings. Remnants of dangerous bonfires, burned out vehicles, and ATV trails everywhere. I’m appalled by the lack of respect shown to the land. No doubt there are many ATV enthusiasts that would disagree with me, but really, BC, we can do better than this.
The condition of the road had me moving at a dead crawl. There were ruts so deep you could break an axel, or go off the road entirely. It was a bit surprising considering the road is marked as an emergency exit.
I came across a family of Yellow Pine Chipmunks playing in a pile of partially burned furniture and a Nutall’s Cottontail on the side of the road.
Yellow Pine Chipmunk
There were more deer, both Mulies and Whitetail and plenty of birds. But no bears.
I came to the next crossroads. Left would take me to Jackpine Lake. Right would put me on Bear Lake Main headed toward a lake called Lambly. I stuck with the plan, leaving Jackpine Lake for another day. When I arrived at Lambly Lake, I was amused to learn that it was also called Bear Lake. No wonder I couldn’t find Bear Lake on the map!
Bear Lake is gorgeous, beautiful, still, blue water with an island in the center, inhabited by geese, shorebirds and loons.
There is a large campground there, but there was only one site occupied while another person fished from the back of his SUV.
This lake looked perfect for kayaking, but more than that, I longed to set up a tent here and listen to the loons call out in the long hours of twilight.
Spotted Sandpiper, Bear Lake
After a bit of exploring and signing a petition to have road repairs done, I moved on. From here the road was in fairly good shape. Gravel and a bit washboardy but far easier to navigate. I picked up the pace a little.
Wooly Groundsel, maybe
I came around the corner to a straight stretch. What was that up ahead? Was it…? Could it be…?
Yes. It was a bear. Oh, he was a beauty! Cinnamon, probably about three years old. Even though I was a good 200 meters away, as soon as he saw me, he turned and darted back into the woods. I drove slowly up to where he had disappeared and turned off my engine. I thought if I was quiet enough, he might come back out. I waited for about fifteen minutes before concluding it wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t get a picture. I was a little disappointed, but not really.
I saw a bear!
American Chipping Sparrow, definitely not a bear