Monday 3 December 2012

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The Trek to Layer Cake Mountain

We have something unique to the world here in Kelowna. Other than being the birth place for two of the three MKTS children, an event which the city still hasn't managed to find funds to commemorate, Kelowna is the home of Layer Cake Mountain. This mountain was formed from lava flows a long time ago, but what makes it unique is the even layers in which the lava hardened. Scientists used to think that it was the result of numerous separate lava flows over time, but now the popular theory is that it was just one big lava flow. As for why it hardened in equal layers...well that's a good God question. If you prefer though, and you understand a lot of big words, there's a sort of explanation here.

Layer Cake Mountain

Strangely, even though this wonder of Canada is located right here in my hometown, I've never made the journey to see it in person. Sure I've seen lots of pictures of it, and you can catch a glimpse of it when driving back to town from Big White, but I've never gone and found a spot where I could see the layering for myself close up. Part of this can probably be attributed to the poor grades that I racked up in high school Geology, and my general lack of interest in all things rock based, but a larger contributing factor is most likely the fact that I'm incredibly lazy. You see, one of the few things that I do know about Layer Cake Mountain is that it's located at the end of the Mission Creek Greenway, and I know from overhearing fit people talk that the Greenway is a 16 km hike. That's about 15.9 km further than I'm comfortable with, so the odds seemed fairly stacked against me ever getting to see the mountain in person.

Layer Cake Mountain

Eventually though, I began to feel a little guilty about never having gone to see Layer Cake Mountain. I mean, if it had been a 16 km trek for an actual "layered cake", I would have made the journey long ago, and simply avoiding the trip because the payoff wouldn't involve any cream cheese icing seemed like a rather shallow approach to take. So I began doing some research and once I did, a little secret that was probably known by every resident of Kelowna except me revealed itself...

You can start from either end of the Greenway.

Layer Cake Mountain Kelowna

It's not as well marked as the entrance down by the lake, but you can start your journey from the east end of the Greenway as well. In fact, if the purpose of your visit is solely to see Layer Cake Mountain, you don't even need to venture onto the Greenway. There's a view of Layer Cake Mountain from the parking lot just off Field Rd. All this time I've lived in Kelowna and I wouldn't even had to leave the air conditioned comfort of my van to see the mountain? That's inexcusable, and probably punishable by law (I'm a little fuzzy on the justice system rulings here), so to make amends my daughter and I got out of our car and started walking along the Greenway.

It took about 200 meters, still within sight of the caretakers cabin, before we came to a bench facing an opening with a full view of Layer Cake Mountain. I felt like an intrepid hiker reaching a hidden waterfall after a three day climb (Hey! It's comparable!) and a sense of accomplishment began to swell up inside me. We took a slew of pictures, and texted everybody we knew to let them know of our amazing accomplishment. Of course, the fact that we were able to text people was probably a good sign that this wasn't a true wilderness experience, but sometimes you find cell service in the strangest places. Buoyed by our success, we started to venture a little further down the trail, but within a few steps our phones downgraded from the LTE network to 3G, and we began to worry that perhaps we'd gone further than we should without provisions and a trained guide. In the interest of my daughter's safety, we turned back.

Girl Phone Layer Cake Mountain Kelowna

The point of pride still remains though. I now tell everybody I encounter that I've made the trek to see Layer Cake Mountain (which really is an awkward replacement for "Hello, nice to meet you") and as an added bonus, my daughter and I can now lay claim to having made it to the 16 km point of the Mission Creek Greenway. We've even got pictures to prove it, and everybody knows that pictures don't lie. The only thing that can put a damper on our achievement is if people happen to read the true story here, or if you guys tell them. I'm not too worried about that though. Unless you've just started reading MKTS, you're probably still picking yourself up off the floor from reading that we actually got out of the car. Sorry about that. I'll try not to let it happen again.

16 km mark Mission Creek Greenway

Written by Steve Pratt