Tuesday ramble near Sparkling Hill looking down on Adventure Bay on Okanagan Lake. (Colin Baxter photo)

COVID-19 curbs North Okanagan outdoors club

Group looking forward to new faces once it can resume activities

Even getting outdoors is proving difficult amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With social distancing and parks closures, a once-active group of outdoor enthusiasts has been curbed.

The Vernon Outdoors Club provides year-round outdoor activities for people that are looking for a healthy lifestyle while meeting new friends.

Current President Rudi van Zwaaij said he tried the club in 2014 and has never looked back. He was impressed by the vast range of outdoor activities to choose from, but especially that all events are well organized and run by volunteer leaders. But COVID-19 has stopped the approximately 250-300 members in their tracks.

“We normally marshal at a meeting place and carpool from there to the trailheads, but currently due to the COVID-19 isolating recommendations, the club’s activities are shut down until the pandemic is over,” said van Zwaaij.

Winter snowshoeing came to an end in March, after which time the VOC usually offers several programs from April 1 to Oct. 31 that include cycling, rambling and hiking.

“In Vernon and the North Okanagan, we are blessed to be surrounded by wonderful outdoor recreation opportunities in all geographic directions,” said van Zwaaij.

The biking program on Mondays and Thursdays caters to various levels of cycling enthusiasts, and each week there are different routes planned. These groups ride at a moderate pace on paved roads but can include easier off-road trails. On many days there is a choice of shorter or longer rides. In September there is an opportunity to take part in a week-long bike camp, which this year is in Merritt.

“On Tuesdays we ramble, which are generally shorter and easier hikes of 5-12 km in length at a moderate pace, often followed by an optional social. A great way to meet new friends and stay active!”

Sunday is hiking day, and as the season progresses these hikes also progress in challenge from shorter local hikes, early and late season, to more challenging longer hikes of 15-20 km at higher elevations in the summer. Often there are choices on the same day to take part in an easier or more challenging hike.

“If you have never hiked in the Monashees, please come along as you will be amazed,” said van Zwaaij.

In August, the VOC puts on a week-long hike camp, which this year is in Revelstoke.

As part of community service, the VOC is active in maintaining all their trails to ensure they are safe for the enjoyment of users throughout the year. If you would like to become a member or need more information, visit vernonoutdoorsclub.org. A membership form, as well as the calendar of scheduled events, is available on the website.

“Once we are through the COVID-19 pandemic we look forward to re-starting our activities, and meeting new people. Please stay safe.”

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@VernonNews
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Snowshoeing above Sovereign Lake on BC Parks trails. (Colin Baxter photo)

Bicycling in Coldstream on Kal Lake Road with East Vernon Hill in the background. (Colin Baxter photo)

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