Forget Your Watch – You’re on Kootenay Time (Part 1)

Posted on November 6, 2012


I have recently returned from a short getaway in the Kootenay region of our beautiful province. The scenery is gorgeous and never disappoints no matter which season you’re travelling in. Our trip from the Okanagan to the city of Nelson included arid hills, lush farm land, forested passes, serene lake views, car ferries, wildlife viewing, quaint villages and artsy offerings. At times, the route winds and twists up through the mountain passes, so we try to not rush the experience. Personally, I tend to stick with passengering while Hubby works on his Indy 500 skills. It’s best to have some flexibility getting to our destination, because there’s always something calling us to take a photo.

All the colours at your feet

Normally, our road trips inland are from late spring until early autumn, retreating from the scorching heat that summers often hold in the Okanagan Valley. This time, Hubby and I realized from the weather forecasts that we’d be travelling on the fringe of winter conditions up on the passes, so we prepared ourselves with warm jackets, winter tires, etc. We loaded up the MP3 with hours of eclectic music and off we went.

Roadside ferns change to copper in the Autumn

Pretty much all of the tourist attractions and seasonal kiosks selling artisan crafts shut down by the end of September. But where retail opportunities were lacking, Mother Nature delivered ten-fold in richness of foliage. Every hill was postcard ready. Shots of gold-coated spruces and birch trees intermingled with the rich dark greens of evergreen spruce and cedar. The highway was often lined with coppery-brown mounds of ferns. As the elevation increased, the golds disappeared temporarily, as new snow weighed on the fir boughs and covered the rocky shards below. Two seasons on display in a single afternoon – outstanding!

Fishing boat on Slocan Lake

The lake views throughout the Kootenay areas are amazing. A cute little car ferry travels across Lower Arrow Lake (perhaps a 10 minute duration?) before the drive northward along that same lake. Massive osprey nests weighing about 100 pounds each perch high atop wooden utility towers, and they’re fascinating to watch during the nesting season. The area here is famous for its hot springs, and the village of Nakusp is a friendly place to stop, with several historic sites to visit. This is where we begin to notice how decidedly unhurried the pace is, and how likely it would be to chat up with a local historian at the coffee shop, but only after sampling scrumptious home-baked scones or granola bars. But there’s more the Kootenays have to offer … (See Forget Your Watch – You’re on Kootenay Time (Part 2).)