Sunday, November 2, 2014

Rain forests and rain shadows

The prevailing westerly winds hit the BC coast laden with moist air from the Pacific Ocean. When they hit the Insular and Coast Mountain ranges they are forced upwards, cool, and are no longer able to carry as much moisture. The result is rain, mist, and snow on the west side of the mountains, along with the rich vegetation of the northern pacific rain forest.

The east side of the mountain range looks considerably different since the winds are now devoid of moisture. As they drop down the east slopes they draw up the water from the land - producing conditions for the pine forests, dry grasses, sagebrush hills, and deserts of the Cariboo and Okanagan regions in BC's Interior Plateau.

By the time they are forced up once again by the Columbia and Rocky mountain ranges they are ready to soak the western slopes before moving on the the western plains.

Sicamous rests at the juncture between the central highlands of BC and the rain shadow of the Columbia Mountains. It also sits on the shore of Mara and Shuswap Lakes - the latter a large H-shaped lake boasting an idyllic location for boating, fishing, hiking, and all forms of outdoor adventure. This is the region of the Adams River salmon run - where millions of sockeye salmon complete their 4-year cycle, returning to their birthplace to spawn and die.

The long line of houseboat rental businesses along its shores reinforces the claim that it is the houseboat capital of North America. They are all tied up for the winter and the merchants are taking a "shoulder season" reprieve in anticipation of the winter-sport enthusiasts soon to arrive - or, like Wilma and Gary, have headed to warmer climates before the snow starts to fall.

Sicamous is also the junction for highway 97A that will take us away from our 12-day love affair with highway 1.We are planning to visit my brother and niece in Kelowna then Fran's brother and another niece in Penticton before heading on to Vancouver.

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