Exuberant secrets of the Kootenays

The lesser known trails and panoramic views that make living here more than just worthwhile.

“What a day this has been,

what a rare state I’m in…”

Alan Jay Lerner

Peter Warland

One evening, during those hot days of August, I had a call from a stranger. I was in a very cheerful mood so I picked up the phone. The caller, a man who told me his name, announced that he was doing a survey and was asking folk their opinions on how they felt about living here in the East Kootenay.

As I said, I was feeling extremely cheerful that evening, exuberant even, and so politely told the caller that, although I didn’t have the time to chat about his survey, I had elected to come to the East Kootenay because I’d admired the look of the valley when I first visited, I have lived here for over fifty years, loved my life here and, what is more, I had no intention of leaving until, as they say, ‘I shuffled off this mortal coil’.

The reason for my happiness that particular evening was that Paul and I had just returned from an exhilarating day in the local Rocky Mountains. After a few abortive attempts, we’d re-discovered a trail that had led us easily to a high ridge and to a panorama that had taken away our collective breaths.

That trail had been a close-guarded secret of a few local people. We both had known of its existence but had been unable to unravel its secret until that joyful day when we’d heaved our ancient bodies on to the ridge and stared at the panorama before us.

And there was no-one else there, virtually no evidence of human activity but for a small pile of rocks marking the head of the trail. We’d felt privileged to be there.

A few weeks before, we’d returned battered and bleeding from an earlier attempt to find a practical way up to a nearby ridge. After too many hours, we’d made it; it wasn’t a practical route; I’ve still got the scars.

But this time, there, laid out before us, was the whole Wildhorse Valley and its peaks, basins and pretty lakes. We knew them all.

Paul looked as excited and as young as a man of his years was able; I merely felt a tad more youthful than I ought to have done.

We sat for a while, Paul and I, soaking in the heady atmosphere. Way to our left were the Nine basins where we both had climbed, skied and camped innumerable times. Paul recalled setting up his tent in a meadow that had been filled with Grass of Parnassus. I thought back to discovering a brilliant coloured hummingbird frozen stiff almost at the top of Mount Dingley. We chuckled as we recalled skiing, almost in the dark, down the basins to where our snowmobile waited and then refused to start.

Across from us lay Bear Creek and its two tiny lakes, a popular hiking place these days. George and Maggie, his wife, first spotted Bear Lake from the mountain above it. They’d climbed from the Summer Lake side and were determined to get to it. A week or so later we discovered the new logging road up towards the basin and off we went. It wasn’t easy, we recalled; the game trails had been few and far between.

And there was the East Fork of the Wildhorse from where, when the logging roads still existed, we’d climbed Mount Sneath and Mount Haley plus a high, unnamed peak that friend Sandy labelled ‘Mine’, and where I’d watched two college girls tie their jackets about their waists, pull the tails up between their legs and ‘bum slide’ at breakneck speed down icy snow slopes as I aged far too rapidly.

Further to the right on that glorious day quite recently we looked over at Boulder Creek and the backside of Mount Fisher, a fine peak that we’d both ascended several times but now avoided because of the ‘hordes’ that go there these days. We’d rather climb, as we did on that glorious day so recently, where few others care to tread.

Just Posted

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Ryan McKenzie of the Kimberley Trails Society made an in-depth presentation to City Council describing the initial steps of the Electrify the Mountains eBike trails project. This is a look at the project one map.
Kimberley City Council hears details on Electrify the Mountain project

At the meeting of City Council on Tuesday, June 8 Ryan McKenzie… Continue reading

The Kimberley Public Library invites kids of all ages to join the 2021 BC Summer Reading Club. Kimberley Public Library file
Kimberley kids invited to join summer reading club at Public Library

The Kimberley Public Library invites kids of all ages to join the… Continue reading

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

The rainbow flag flies beside the Canadian flag outside the University of the Fraser Valley’s Chilliwack campus on June 26, 2020. Monday, June 14, 2021 is Flag Day, and also June is Pride Month. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 13 to 19

Flag Day, Garbage Man Day, International Panic Day all coming up this week

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Most Read