As a Kelowna kid, crossing the bridge feels like an impossibility. It’s a real life case of West Side Story, but with fewer songs (and hopefully less insidious racism). Ridiculous, maybe, but all you Kelowna kids know in your hearts that you’ll drive anywhere in Kelowna to avoid crossing the bridge, even if it would take less actual time to just drive to the Westside.
When I got my job over there – maybe five minutes past the bridge – it felt like I’d signed up for the foreign service. I kissed my loved ones goodbye, I packed my (lunch) bag, and I began the daily (nine minute) commute back and forth. Like people that join the foreign service, being in a such a distant land changed me. The people, the culture, the food (Subcity Donair, mostly) – West Kelowna, man. Basically the same as a semester in South Africa.
One benefit of my Westside experience? Mount Boucherie. That ish is a good mountain. I know Kelowna has Knox (an excellent mountain, if I do say so myself), but Mt. Boucherie has some pretty sick views of its own, and it’s not as busy as Knox can get.
This past weekend, Dani and I followed up on a rumour she’d heard that the south approach to Mt. Boucherie was “[West] Kelowna’s Grouse Grind.” I can now – sore muscles and all – report that the rumours are unfortunately true.
The trails start just off of East Boundary Road – turn left on Bartley from the Highway and follow the road for about a kilometre as it turns into East Boundary. You’ll pass a big yellow building on your right, and then the small parking lot comes up pretty quickly on your left (with a park-looking sign noting the trails just above the parking area). There’s not much warning, so keep an eye out.
There’s a few paths that head up Mt. Boucherie from there, and they’re all well signed out and mapped. We started out to the right, on the Andesite Grinder trail. It heads straight up around the back of the mountain and then curls around to the viewpoint at the top. We wandered back the Rush trail – a set of extensive switchbacks that slowly zag down the south face of the mountain.
It’s a good hike, and was very doable in the snow – well-trodden, and the views were incredible. We took about two hours at a fairly average clip – I made Dani stop for a few rests on the way up, but we jogged a lot of the way down to stay warm.
You know what they say – the world is a book, and those who never [drive five minutes across the bridge to the Westside] read only one page. Don’t be a one-pager, and maybe also don’t be the kind of lame-o who refuses to visit nearby communities – get out there.