Vernon Creek

Resident recounts the trip water takes from local hills to the ocean

Polson Park is truly a wonder of amazement. The stone-topped picnic table I am sitting at is directly adjacent to Vernon Creek, which starts it journey from the hills that surround us here in the Vernon area, to its eventual end in the Columbia River, more than 500 miles from here. And that’s just driving distance. There are portions of the journey that are not accessible by road.

Vernon Creek starts as snow in the hills. The melt runs down into both Kalamalka and Okanagan lakes. Vernon Creek starts at Kal Lake and flows into Okanagan Lake. Okanagan Lake flows south past Penticton into Skaha Lake and Skaha flows into Vaseux Creek, at Okanagan Falls, and into Vaseux Lake.

Now the fun begins. The trip is long and winding. At times meandering, at times re-adjusted for the orchards and wineries, south to Osoyoos Lake, where it now leaves Canadian soil.

The south end of Osoyoos Lake is at Oroville, Wash. There it now becomes the Okanogan River (note spelling). The Okanogan is a fair sized river that meets the Columbia River drainage system at Brewster, Wash.

There are six hydroelectric dams on the Columbia from where the Okanogan meets and there are 14 in total on the Columbia.

The river becomes the border between Washington and Oregon at Kennewick, Wash., right near Walla Walla, Wash.(best town name ever).

There it flows almost due west, forming the border to Vancouver, Wash. and Portland, Ore.

Then it flows north (changes course) to the end point into the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Ore./Cape Disappointment State Park, Wash.

I guess that time I peed in Kal Lake, it ended up in the Pacific.

Kerry Hutter