A couple years ago, I was watching America’s Funniest Home Videos (AFV) and they showed a clip of an unusual looking critter swimming across a pond with its head held high above the water. It turned out to be a small snake that slithered up the other side.
Then recently, I was thinking about an event that happened shortly after we arrived in Winfield and it made me wonder about our famous Ogopogo. Native lore speaks about this creature long before the white man ever arrived so I have always believed that there must be something that so many people were seeing but have remained skeptical that an ancient sea serpent had somehow escaped extinction. But what about a modern day serpent?
A wood-fired stove served for cooking and heat in the little house we were renting when we first arrived and it was probably in the fall of 1950 that I went with Dad across the lake to get a load of wood with the Model A. Dad worked over there for Robert Simpson during the week and evenings he would cut up slash for firewood. The Model A was a sedan so we packed the entire space behind the front seat and on the back seat floor to ceiling with wood. We were heading back to the ferry along the west-side road and just as we rounded a turn, there was a log across the road. We were at top speed (about 20 miles per hour) with a full load so there was no way those mechanical brakes could get us stopped in time so over we went bumpity-bump. It was only then that we realized that it was not a log but a huge snake that was crossing the road headed for the lake. When we finally got stopped and walked back, there was no sign of the snake and no blood. Dad reckoned it was a bull snake but this thing was at least 4 inches through and given the road was at least 10 feet wide and we never did see the head or tail; it must have been a good 15 feet long. Who would have believed that there were snakes that big in the Okanagan? But, like the old saying goes, if you see one, there must be plenty more.
If you have ever watched any snake swimming with its typical back and forth motion and then associate that with the AFV video clip of a snake swimming holding its head up high and then accept that there have always been enormous snakes along the banks of Okanagan Lake, suddenly we have a viable explanation for good old Ogopogo. I wonder if any local herpetologist has ever encountered or even heard of a snake of that enormity.
By Gary Hein