One thing that confused me at first walking around Nelson BC was that people seemed delusional about what time of year it was. I kept hearing people taking about how they were sure winter was on its way when it was obviously at least 30 degrees outside. Then it hit me. They WANT it to be winter. Most people come this way for the snow. Well I’m happy to be the weird one here. I can’t ski to save my life but hitting up some of Canada’s beautiful scenery in the warm sunshine, that’s something I can handle. So on beautiful summers day, when I got the chance to hike up into the alpine regions without donning my snow shoes, how could I resist?
Nelson boasts some wonderful scenery pretty much anywhere you go, but to get into the really stunning alpine regions you need to go up some pretty rough roads before you hit the trail. Luckily for me, my friend’s in-laws were taking their four wheel drive up to a trail near Kokanee Glacier and were nice enough to bring me along.
We started our hike at the Gibson Lake trailhead, where I noticed that a lot of the cars had chicken wire wrapped around them. Apparently this is for people who are doing an overnighter because porcupines are around in the night and like to chew on peoples’ brake lines. Lol! Canada.
Anita tells me early on that the only trouble with this hike is that the first section is pretty boring. I’m already pretty slack jawed by my surroundings so the rest of it must be good! This would be a great place to bring someone who was new to hiking to get them hooked. In regards to effort vs payoff, it’s one of the best hikes I’ve done. You get above the tree line for some stunning views very quickly and without too steep a climb.
The climb up from Gibson Lake brings us to Kokanee Lake, and here I can see what Anita meant about the first section being boring. I wouldn’t go quite that far, I quite liked the first section, but from here on out the scenery is just incredible. Everywhere I look reminds me of a postcard. Massive peaks and trees tower over a perfectly blue lake. Everything is pristine as can be. This is also where I discover pikas, adorable little rodents that live in the rocky areas around lakes. I thought squirrels were cute, but man, these are something else. They look like a very rotund mouse, with big ears and no tail. They sit out on rocky outcrops and chirrup to each other across the lake. There’s plenty of other wildlife as well. We’re treated to various squirrels, birds of prey, and chipmunks all along the trail.
The track winds all along Kokanee Lake through the rocks where the pikas live and comes to a meadow on the other side. August is the perfect time of year for this bit, beautiful wild flowers are blooming across the valley. It takes us a long time to walk the short easy distance because rushing through here is impossible. Everything’s just so lovely, with little streams and all sorts of different flowers to discover. You couldn’t design something like this a make it any more beautiful than it already is. Gardeners, sorry but nature will beat you at this game every time.
After the wonderful meadow, the trail curls up a short climb and past Keen Lake and Garland Lake, two smaller lakes between Kokanee and Kaslo. This section is one of the higher bits as well, so along with the two beautiful little lakes there are some gorgeous views where you can get a bit more up close and personal with the surrounding peaks. A further short amble brings us to Kalso Lake, which Kokanee Glacier Cabin overlooks. The cabin itself is gorgeous and it couldn’t be in a nicer location. There are some cool kids hanging around the place that I bet have made the climb up here all by themselves. One of them is talking to his Dad on a walky-talky and proudly tells anyone who’ll listen about how his dad is up on the ice. Too cute.
We’ve still got a bit of steam left after looking around the cabin so we make a further short climb towards the glacier as far as the historic Slocan Chief Cabin, which is a lot smaller and more rustic than the fancy new lodge down the hill. Still pretty cozy, it’s not used as a cabin anymore but been converted into a small museum. Worth a look around if you have the time.
The way back is backtracking through bits we’ve already seen, but the light has changed a lot giving a fresh perspective on everything. I fell utterly spoilt to have spent the whole day in such a wonderful place. To top everything off, we see two golden eagles swooping around on the way back. A wonderful end to a perfect day.
Listening to: Electric Pow Wow Drum – A Tribe Called Red