Forget Your Watch – You’re on Kootenay Time (Part 2)

Posted on November 9, 2012

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The trip changes course and we now travel into the mountains where the sleepy hamlets of New Denver and Silverton are located at Slocan Lake. Residents there are proud and respectful of their pioneer history, lovingly restoring several old establishments and mining archives. (Unfortunately, due to the rough access road, opportunities for viewing the old Sandon mining settlement only exist during the summer tourist season.) The lake waters are clean and clear and a stroll along its shore is certainly exhilarating.

Again we climb through another mountain pass, bringing us to the immense stretch of water that is Kootenay Lake. It is wide and deep and is certainly a rival for our own Okanagan Lake in size.  We stop at Ainsworth Hot Springs for a brief stay to soak in the hot pools and embrace the sauna-like, natural cave where old and young come for the therapeutic properties of the 40 degree Celsius waters. (In contrast, you can take a quick plunge in the 7 degree Celsius plunge pool – if you dare, or if you enjoy the shock treatment.) The locals come year round, and the hot soak does wonders for achy muscles and joints.

Nelson as viewed from the city slopes.

Travelling slightly southwest, we arrive at the city of Nelson. Set amidst the slopes of blazing fall colours, the terraced residences and buildings are very picturesque. A beautiful city park greets visitors as they cross the large girdered bridge into downtown Nelson.

Osprey sculpture, Nelson lakeside park

Lovely stone buildings mix with western, 1900-era frontages. The town has many hills to negotiate, but it’s worth the investigation. There is a relaxed feeling even in its downtown heart. Posters for hippie-like music festivals and craft fairs are commonplace in every coffee shop (of which there are many).

Nelson’s best coffee shop

A lively patron at Oso Negro

Our favourite coffee hang-out is Oso Negro. It has a casual, artsy feeling about it with its detailed copper railings outside and warm cedar timbers inside. It doesn’t matter when we go there, we have always come across the most interesting selection of people (and by that I mean bordering on bizarre), just dropping in for a java fix. (This trip, so close to Halloween, made for that little bit crazier a crowd.)

Pirate ship on Kootenay Lake

Returning back to Ainsworth Hot Springs, we relished in more time in the hot pools and their lovely on-site restaurant. I could have stayed there, at the risk of looking like a stewed prune, but we had to return to Kelowna for work the following day. The mini getaway was great. Oh, how I wish I was close by those mineral springs now, especially after many afternoons of raking the autumn leaves in the backyard. It’s just not the same when it’s a bath tub soak.

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