Wild Days! sponsored by the Slocan Lake Stewardship Society (SLSS) are free family nature walks held at various locations throughout the Slocan Lake watershed. In August 2018, three Wild Days! engaged families, community members, and visitors in the watershed for fun outdoor adventure and environmental learning. The 3-hour long programs encourage participants to explore and make sense of some of the small, wondrous creatures as well as large, spectacular features that surround our communities in the north Slocan Valley.
Our 2018 Wild Days! funders included the Regional District of Central Kootenay Area H, Recreation Commission #6, Hills Recreation Society and Columbia Basin Trust; and co-sponsoring organizations included the North Slocan Trail Society, Kootenay Community Bat Project and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Okanagan Centre.
2018 Event Highlights
Saturday, August 4 from 9:00AM – 12:00PM Hosts of Valley of the Ghosts, Sandon
We explored the Valley of the Ghosts from old saloons in Sandon to recovering forests with saskatoons along the K&S Rail Trail. We started with a walking tour through history led by Hal Wright and Vida Turok that included spellbinding stories of the mining heydays and natural, political and economic events that led up to the present. Historical photos were passed around to inform participants and spark their imagination along the way. Both adults and kids enjoyed seeing the restored train engine, the kids especially loved ringing the train’s bell while adults listened to tales about the competition between CPR and Great Northern to see which would the first to establish rail service to Sandon. The group made a quick visit to the Silversmith Hydro Power Generating Plant (still operating after 120 years!) before heading across Carpenter Creek to the old Kaslo & Sandon rail line, now a popular recreation trail. On the trail, painted cardboard cut-outs of common leaf patterns were given to four teams of kids looking for plants with alternating, opposite, lance-shaped and maple leaf-shaped leaves that they collected in bags as samples of the variety of different types of plants with similar leaf patterns found along the trail. A treasure hunt booklet helped everyone identify the “Top 12 common plants” in the Sandon forest to encourage learning about the plant species that comprise the recovering forests around Sandon. Everyone enjoyed eating saskatoon berries and wild cherries along the trail. Local experts on Sandon history were Hal Wright and Vida Turok; and local botanists were Marcy Mahr and Jim Moore. This program was co-sponsored by the North Slocan Trail Society which provided a wonderful, nutritious snack for everyone at our turnaround point.
Saturday, August 11 from 9:00AM – 12:00PM Toads & Bats Take to the Trails, Summit Lake
The tour began with Elodie Kuhnert leading a bat treasure hunt along the trail to encourage discovery of the variety of bats in our region, the habitats they prefer, and why some are listed as species at risk. Along our route, the children enjoyed finding models and photos of a dozen or so different types of bats. One of the finds was a net that is used by researchers to capture bats so they can be weighed, measured, and tagged. Then Kat McGlynn took over leading as the group encountered wet areas on the trail that had a migration of baby toads (toadlets). This provided a great hands-on learning opportunity for why their migration at Summit Lake is so special and important to this area’s toad population. The children each held a toadlet after scrubbing their hands with gravel and water to remove any residue from sunscreen, food, or other materials that might be harmful to the toadlets. As a bonus, beavers treated participants to wonderful examples of their dams constructed along the edge of the trail this year! Mud dams along the length of a section of trail created a high enough water table that participants could look right across and into the ponds, and where a few toadlets were spotted swimming. Local experts were wildlife biologists Elodie Kuhnert from the Kootenay Community Bat Project and Kat McGlynn from the Summit Lake Western Toad Research Project. This program was co-sponsored by the Hills Recreation Society and Kootenay Community Bat Project. (We had special permission from FLNRORD as a “guided exception” to walk along the rail trail at Summit Lake since public access had been closed to protect the annual Western Toad migration.)
Saturday, August 18, 8 pm-10 pm. An Evening with the Stars, New Denver
Experts Colleen O’Hare and Guy Mackie delivered an interactive presentation that took participants on an exciting tour of our universe describing planets, stars, galaxies and black holes; and revealed interesting recent discoveries as well as many of the mysteries still to be explained. In addition to the slide show, a spectrograph instrument was used to demonstrate how different elements have different wavelengths, and how this is used to determine the elements present in the universe. There were many “oohs” and “aahs” as participants looked through special glasses to view the variety of distinct patterns of colors generated by hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen and water vapor. The low lying smoke from wild fires obscured actual night viewing of any stars or the moon so the program ended earlier than scheduled. Also, the smokiness is likely the reason for lower attendance that expected. Having it at the campground gazebo was a good location and encouraged campers to attend (and also made getting an accurate count of participants challenging).
Experts were Colleen O’Hare, Guy Mackie and Olaf Lutz. This tour was co-sponsored by Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Okanagan Centre.
A combination of nine experts led the tours this year: Hal Wright, Vida Turok, Marcy Mahr, Jim Moore, Elodie Kuhnert, Kat McGlynn, Colleen O’Hare, Guy Mackie and Olaf Lutz .They represented a broad range of disciplines from history buffs to botany, wildlife biology and astronomy, all of which infused into each event interesting hands-on experiences and facts about our cultural and natural world.
This year a total of 110 people attended Wild Days!