So, a few weeks back I dusted off my DM credentials and took a friend out for some refresher dives in Okanagan Lake. Of course, it was 6˚C out, 2˚C in the water, and we were rocking wetsuits. Tired of diving by the bridge, a few minutes of research unveiled a tantalizing opportunity at Bertram Park. A wall dive and indian fire-pits within a 200m walk on the shore! The choice was a quick one. My boss provided us tanks from the shop at work, Inland Divers Underwater Services Ltd. Then we met up at teh hill overlooking the small park, then the fun started.
On arrival, we discovered that the park was open all year, but parking was seasonal and use out of season meant parking at the top of the hill instead of in the conveniently located parking lot. After a slippery, snow covered hill, we changed by our cars (fortunately the combination of military service and being divers had scrubbed us of a fair degree of self consciousness), and headed down to the shore. We decided to try our luck at the general area of the fire-pits first. It was a pretty standard refresher dive. Kit check, review of what everything does and how it works, and a bit of buoyancy practice. The water was cold. Very cold. Even by Canadian standards. We didn’t go too deep, but we had a good explore… and failed to find the fire-pits. At this point we realized that maybe looking up what indian fire-pits, as used by tribes and band sin the Okanagan region used, might have been a good idea. The second dive wasn’t much better. It was shorter though, as we were both succumbing to cold despite the efforts of our 7mm BARE Arctic wetsuits. Our maximum depth was 16m, although like much of the lake in that area, we could have gone much, much deeper. The indian fire-pits are between 7m and 5m in depth, making them an easy dive (if you can find them), and the currents were nonexistent.
What we did find lots of, and oddly clustered, were golf balls. In the great vis of the cold, cold water, they were easy to pick out against the background. We also found what we would term as “Ogopogo Holes”, odd dug in points along the slanting bottom. They may be the remains of cache points, but only further dives could determine that. We did eventually locate rough stone circles with the remains of burned material in them, but then I discovered the cruelest joke of the day; I had forgotten my SD card, and my camera had been filling its internal memory with the limited photo opportunities that had presented themselves.
Over all, the dives were good. Vis was decent, the weather nice and the family we encountered during the surface interval was fun to talk to. We’re planning a return to the site when the weather warms up a bit, and to hit the wall dive portion. So… too cold, no SD card, no fish, an unintended search exercise (for the fire-pits), and a bit of a hump to get gear to the site. Lessons learned!