By Paul Bucci and Fiona Anderson
Triumph Social Media Travel Writers
For those of us from British Columbia, who know our local sights like the backs of our hands, being surrounded by super-natural beauty is nothing new.
That is, until you travel to a new part of our spectacular province.
We’ve never understood the popularity of the Kootenays. After all, how does it compare to the roaring surf of Tofino, or the raw, rugged beauty of the Fraser Canyon, or the lushness of the Okanagan, with its vineyards, wineries and orchards?
It’s easy to dismiss the area as an Albertan Riviera, a place where those land-locked people go to seek a little water, wind and waves.
How wrong we were.
We started our trip in Nanaimo and took the ferry to Horseshoe Bay before heading eastward on the Trans-Canada Highway, heading for a family reunion in Red Lake, Ont., the furthest north you can drive in that province.
The first two days were family-focused, first visiting grandchildren in Mission, B.C. and then to Paul’s hometown of Kamloops, B.C.
It was from Kamloops where the adventure really began. Just north of the city, the road splits off to Highway 97 and then at Vernon it veers off on Highway 6, a road that meanders 400 kilometres through the Kootenays going from Vernon to Salmo. It’s a road neither of us had seen before, and judging from the traffic, nor have many other people.
Along the way through Highway 97, the beautiful green valley with rich hayfields, creeks and rivers was at odds with the year before when forest fires and extreme drought and heat ravaged parts of the area.
We drove through Monte Lake, where fire had destroyed part of the village.
On this day, however, the sun was shining, the hills were green, and the village appeared to be already well on its way to recovery.
We spent our first night in Lumby, a cute little community near the edge of the Monashee Mountains. We nestled down for the night at the Lumby Lions Campsite, a great little facility with excellent wifi and nice, spacious RV sites.
Although there’s a great little walk in the area called the Salmon Trail, we were anxious to get on our way. So we continued on to Nakusp.
The Kootenays are jaw dropping, with bright blue waters, rich, fertile farms, towering mountains and huge, beautiful trees. It’s the kind of place where you want to cheer on every hilltop and marvel at every stunning view.
We have travelled through British Columbia so many times we couldn’t possibly count. But it’s not until you are in an RV looking for more interesting routes that you find them.
That’s how we found Highway 6.
Built in 1941, Highway 6 passes through the Kootenays and the Okanagan, winding its way through a through a twisty-but-spectacular route.
Along the way you’ll bump into the Needles Cable Ferry, which crosses Lower Arrow Lake between the communities of Needles on the west and Fauquier on the east.
We had made a vow to ourselves to be as active as possible on this trip, and we took time for Paul to do a quick 10-kilometre paddle and Fiona to go for a jog on a path in McDonald Creek Provincial Park on the Arrow Lake reservoir just south of Nakusp.
Arrow Lake is a little like an inland sea. It’s a dammed portion of the Columbia River, stretching 230 km, with the Selkirk Mountains to the east and the Monashees to the West.
Our Nissan Frontier had a little trouble hauling our small trailer up some of the hills. But it persevered and we crossed mountain after mountain, slowly but surely.
We stayed at the Nakusp Municipal Campground. The village is beautiful, with a vibrant little restaurant scene and a glorious beach at the foot of downtown.
If we were to do this route again – and we will, we’re already planning it – we’ll spend some time exploring the Nakusp Hot Springs.
It took us two days to travel this route and it was well worth not rushing.
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Fiona Anderson and Paul Bucci, from Triumph Social, are travelling across North America this year, first by bicycle from Florida to California and then by truck and travel trailer from B.C. to Northern Ontario and back. Both are veteran writers, editors and social media marketers.
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