Sunday afternoon skating party on Skaha Lake

Rare combination of temperature and weather conditions make Skaha Lake the South Similkameen’s biggest skating rink



 

Sunday, February 9 saw several dozen members of the Kaleden community gather on the shoreline of Skaha Lake for an impromptu skating party.

Cold temperatures combined with calm days and nights last week resulted in Skaha Lake freezing over almost completely – an event that was apparently common enough in pioneer days, but has rarely happened in the past twenty years.

Shortly after noon on Sunday, several pickup trucks laden with hockey gear, food and camping gear made their way down to the Kaleden shoreline just south of Sickle Point.

Roughly a dozen of Kaleden’s youth took to the ice with sticks, skates and pucks after clearing a rink in the sheltered ice of Sickle Point. Others took to the open ice of Skaha Lake itself, where skaters could glide for kilometres.

“My ankles are getting tired from all the skating,” admitted Jake Stocker of Kaleden, after leading several friends back from Banbury Point and beyond, midway through Sunday afternoon.

The ice, for the most part was exceptional on Sunday, flat and relatively clear of snow. Except for a small patch of open water in the centre of the lake, well beyond the shoreline, Skaha Lake appeared to have reached a safe level of ice thickness for skating. In some places in shallow water around Sickle Point, the ice was clear enough to see the lake bottom.

This year marks the first time in roughly a decade that Skaha Lake has frozen solid. Pioneer accounts recall winters in the early part of the last century when it was a common event.

 

“In the winter of 1909-10 we had to go down to Okanagan Falls three times a week for our mail,” wrote W.H. Corbitt in The History of Kaleden, “the lake being frozen over, we could skate down most of the time.”