Land

Ogopogo

Okanagan Lake is home to a monster called Ogopogo. He’s awfully good for tourism. What is he? A sturgeon? A hunk of driftwood? A plesiosaur? Well, maybe not a plesiosaur, not if Scotland’s Nessie is any relative. According to I Love Kelowna, the Sylix people called him “N-ha-a-itk”, or “monster”. Even Canada Post has gotten into the act:

canada ogopogo stamp

Ogopogo: The Bilingual Monster

Notice the Rainbow Tail, signifying, I think, the pot of gold draped around his neck.

Well, I’ve seen the wind work its magic on the lake in Naramata, and the sun follow its curls and twists, and look like a serpent flashing over the water, and I’ve seen this, just a little south, in Dog Lake:

Stone Dog at Dog LakeDog Lake’s Dog, Looking Across to Another Stone Dog on the Other Shore

Most maps label Dog Lake as Skaha Lake, but, still, Skaha = Dog.

And I’ve seen this, just a little south, at the ancient fishing hole at Okanagan Falls:

Water Monster at Okanagan Falls (Stone)Monster Coming Down Over the Hill to the Water

Okanagan Falls

There is a long world history of magical animals being frozen into stone at the beginning of the world, when humans and animals went their own separate ways. It spans the world. By the looks of things, it was no different here. I’m not throwing science and rationality out of the window. I’m trying to make a point about non-scientific consciousness and its ability to read geological forms in a vocabulary learned from living closely with the land.

As a warning, there is a story from Campbell River on Vancouver Island. It goes with this big rock on the shore, pretty much on the 50th Parallel:

Big Rock, Campbell River, Painted as a Salmon

Big Rock, Campbell River

Legend tells of a mythical Grizzly Bear, who disobeyed the Creator and tried to jump over Discovery Passage to Vancouver Island, landed in tidal water, and turned to stone. Pretty neat, except the story was invented by a priest, to add some colour to a letter home. The real story is that this is a chunk of a sea monster, thrown out of the ocean after a terrible underwater battle.

What if the Ogopogo’s origins lay in just such a romanticized notion, told by people struggling to understand the totally foreign land sense of the Sylix? What if the Ogopogo, really does live at Rattlesnake Island, but not as a Plesiosaur or Serpent? What if it is Okanagan Mountain itself? Maybe he looks like this:

Okanagan Mountain from Peachland

Okanagan Mountain and Squally Point, from Peachland

Here’s a closer view of the point itself:

Squally NorthOgopogo’s Head? Or is That Three Ogopogo’s?

Now, let’s look at the same point from the south. Keep the highest hill, in the middle of the photograph, in mind, and here we go…

Okanagan Mountain from Greata RanchOkanagan Mountain from Great Ranch 

Rattlesnake Island, Ogopogo’s home, is just off the point at the upper right edge of the water. The point by the island is the same one seen from Peachland to the north. The high hill from the previous shot, is the one above the tallest foreground tree in the photograph above.

And here it is, again, closer:

Okanagan Mountain Closeup from Greata RanchA Better Candidate for Ogopogo?

This one even has shoulders and fins. So, maybe that’s four Ogopogos, in all?

Hey, maybe there’s a fishy Ogopogo swimming in the water. Maybe not. But since the fire of 2003, with all the trees gone, perhaps the mountain is readable for the first time in a century.

Looks like it to me.

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