Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Walhachin ~ Wooden Irrigation Flume ~ Kamloops, BC

We love Kamloops, BC for many reasons, some of which is the scenery that surrounds us and the incredible treasures that can be found out there in that scenery.  We took an autumn days drive west of Kamloops on Hwy 1 to find one of those treasures and then found even more.

Water tower from days of old
The day was dull and foggy but we had hopes that this would not interfere with our treasure hunt.  The fog, or low lying clouds just might add some drama to the photos so I am excited to test that out.  It worked here but for the most part, was not an issue once the morning fog lifted. 
Western town trading post
This small western town, looking like a movie set is near the Deadman Creek Rodeo Grounds and has caught my interest before. There was no one to talk with, though and I’ve not been able to find any information on it yet but I will keep searching and pass it on when I do find it. 
Thompson River at Juniper Beach Campground
There is a government campground, Juniper Beach situated between Savona and Cache Creek down on the Thompson River in a very scenic spot.  We drove down but stopped to get some photos that show the river meandering past the clay banks.  The campground is open this time of year but without services after mid October.  It is a busy place with those services during the summer months and looks like a pretty spot to stay on the river. 
Walhachin Bridge over Thompson River
The Walhachin Bridge, a one way crossing the Thompson River, was built in 1911.  The traffic today would be far less than in the day when Walhachin was making history and the population was 300, much more than the 100 who populate Walhachin today. 
Osprey nest on Walhachin Bridge
The bridge turned out to be home to a couple of nests, which I believe to be osprey nests.  They tend to build them atop high poles but this one huge nest, which will get added to yearly when the osprey returns, is one of two on the bridge.  The other one is smaller but they can get as big as 180 kg (400 lbs)! 
Autumn view from Walhachin, BC
The drive into the sleepy little historic hamlet of Walhachin offers some great autumn views of the Thompson River down below.  The location was once home to a thriving community which began in 1909 consisting mainly of affluent English who were lured here to become landowners of orchards and other crops.  
Walhachin across the Thompson River
The average rainfall for Walhachin, which means ‘land of the round rocks’, is only about 20 cm (8”) a year; not enough to grow crops.  Some of these orchards were on the south side of the river with access to water for irrigation but most were on the north side, which did not have that access.  The river was too far down to pump water from so they had to find a solution.  
Wooden irrigation flume
The solution was a wooden flume that took about 6 months to build and would irrigate the land that was being developed.  There is not a lot of the wooden flume left but we were able to find a section that we had access to so we climbed that hillside, much steeper than it looks, and had some great views from this vantage point.  If only the sun was shining…………. sigh.
Ruins of the old Walhachin irrigation flume
The wooden flume was considered to be a temporary solution until the area was established and better access to water would be found.  This one was used for irrigation until 1914 when a storm destroyed over a kilometer (1 mile) of the structure and the estimates to repair were far too costly to consider. 
100 year old Walhachin irrigation flume
I was surprised to see the actual size of the flume and excited to be able to get these close up photos to share.  It is amazing to think that these were used 100 years ago and still some of it remains but it is a disappearing piece of history and in my opinion, surely an interesting treasure of our past.   
Historical wooden irrigation flume
 I could not find a lot of information about these wooden flumes but what was available was included with the very interesting history of Walhachin, perhaps another treasure to be enjoyed one day.

Our treasure hunt was over for the day. We’d gone out to see the wooden flume but we saw much more.  Although these ‘treasures’ might not have a monetary value, to some they are that and more. Just another reason why we love Kamloops. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Remembrance Day ~ 419 Squadron ~ Kamloops, BC

It is Remembrance Day, November 11, 2013.  The day is overcast and with the significance of this solemn holiday, it seems only right that the sun does not shine on us today.  There are personal memories for some and stories for others but we all know how important it is to recognize those who gave their lives for our county and to remember all who fought for our freedom.

The Red poppy for Remembrance Day in Canada
I had the idea that we should go out to the airport to get some photos of the airplanes that would be doing a flypast for the Remembrance Day ceremony at Riverside Park at 11am. I expected that these jets would be arriving from out of town in time for the ceremony so was very surprised to see that they were sitting at Fulton Field to begin the flight from here.  That should guarantee some more photos so I am thrilled.
419 Squadron take off from Fulton Field, Kamloops, BC
The Hawk aircraft of 419 Squadron are from Cold Lake, Alberta.  That is the busiest fighter base in Canada and is considered world class.  The fighter pilot training for the Canadian forces is conducted there so we are seeing some of the world’s finest pilots participate in our Remembrance Day ceremony. 
The Hawk aircraft is airborne
The engines roar and takeoff begins but that was over so quickly that I barely had time to get the camera focused on the airplane!  The good thing is that there were three Hawk aircraft taking off and I would have another chance to get a photo of a jet as it went overhead. 
Leaving Fulton Field, Kamloops, BC
The reality of getting a good overhead photo of an airplane leaving the airstrip I am standing at as they fly over at an incredible speed, soon appears to be a figment of my imagination.  I have a beautiful camera with a great lense but there is only so much one should expect of the camera!  
Making formation for Remembrance Day ceremony in Kamloops, BC
The formation soon happens and I manage to get a photo with them off in the distance before they’re out of sight. It is shortly before it is time for their appearance at the ceremony and we can hear them but cannot see them for awhile.  
The flypast for Remembrance Day in Kamloops, BC
A ‘flypast’ is a ceremonial flight by a single or a group of aircraft and the flypast today will honor those who fought for the freedom of our country. The sound and power is amazing when they fly low and that makes for an emotional moment when it is part of the Remembrance Day ceremony. 
'Missing Man Formation' is performed
The ‘missing man formation’ is often used in these ceremonies.  It can be displayed in several different formations, depending on the number of aircraft or significance of the event.  It displays an empty place in the formation and is a tribute showing love, respect and camaraderie for a brother pilot, so very significant for our Remembrance Day ceremonies.
419 Squadron returns to Fulton Field, Kamloops, BC
We waited to watch the squadron return to Fulton Field before we left.  I may not have gotten that special overhead photo I hoped for but the purpose for the visit was to pay respect to those who fight for our country.  From our vantage point, I quietly thanked the pilots of the 419 Squadron for their participation in the Remembrance Day ceremony in Kamloops as well as all of the others who so bravely fought the wars that allow us to live in a free country with all that we have.

Lest We Forget 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

California Bighorn Sheep ~ Visiting Sun Rivers ~ Kamloops, BC

Sunny autumn days offer some beautiful sights to see in our city of  Kamloops and the California Bighorn (also called Sierra Nevada) sheep are no exception.  They’ve made their way to Sun Rivers Golf Resort community for their annual pilgrimage to their Fall grazing ground once again and are making themselves right at home.

California Bighorn sheep going for their sunny afternoon stroll
On a recent visit to the area, we found them wandering up the street and quite oblivious to the traffic and noises of the residents.  When I did park and get out of the car, some watched where I was going and appeared to be curious but not enough to come over to my side of the road.

This California Bighorn is seen running across the golf course to join the others
The green grass of the golf course as well as the planted flowers and shrubs seem to be the perfect diet so is of great interest and are what they come for as winter nears.  They prefer to be near rocky cliffs seen nearby at the west end of the area, to avoid predators and can be seen from the highway where the area is quite rocky.  Their color blends in so well that it is easy to miss them there.

Bighorn sheep navigating the road to get to greener pastures
They do have extremely good eyesight and seem to like what they see here. Their sense of smell is not so good but they manage to find all the good plants they like. Their hearing isn’t good either, so heed them when you drive past, they’re not too road savvy.  The wildlife fence built from the Sun Rivers entrance to the Halston intersection has done a lot to prevent them from getting to the highway and being hit by the traffic.

These Bighorn sheep were watching me from across the street
Rutting season happens in November so their attitude will likely change and it may not be wise to get too close, it may make the ram feel aggressively protective about his ewes.  I prefer to use a big lense on my camera when taking wildlife photos anyway but I especially wouldn’t want to get too close at mating time.  They can run a lot faster than I can.

 Bighorn sheep stop to munch on some tasty plants
 I was interested to learn about the way the sheep segregate for most of the year until mating season in November.  The rams and ewes live in separate herds.  The old ewes take care of the related females and watch over the younger and their lambs plus both sexes of the yearlings.

Curious onlooker from behind the plants
When the rams reach the age of 2 or 3 years, they join the bachelor group.  They all learn survival by watching the older and more experience sheep.  There is an obvious hierarchy among the rams and the young respect the elders in this animal world.  The ram with the biggest horns will be the boss until he is challenged and defeated.

Young one rubs horns against the Bighorn ram's face
We must remember that even if these beautiful sheep are wandering around the front and back yards of our residential homes and they become fairly tame when not being hunted, they are still a wild animal and need to be respected as that. 

The Bighorn sheep stops to enjoy the view of the South Thompson River

During a visit out to Kamloops Lake one summer, we were able to see a large flock of the California Bighorn and got some great photos of that visit.  Click here to see more.

It is amazing that we can share our city with these beautiful animals and just enjoy the view with them, another great reason why we love Kamloops; there is no place like home.