Kootenay Lake

Paddle Kootenay Lake: Story 3 - Day 2

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Paddle Kootenay Lake: Story 3 - Day 2

Day 2  - Schroeder Creek Resort to the Village of Kaslo

We broke all the golden rules of the Kootenays and left this morning on time, at 8am from our heavenly camping spot at Schroeder Creek Resort. 17 paddlers with kayaks, SUPs and even a sail on a canoe that was guided by Yoda, with Fred as the passenger. There wasn’t much wind so the sail didn’t really function all that well, but it was a heroic attempt.

It was a 14km paddle as anticipated. We stopped more frequently today to rest the arms and get off and out of the boats. Our mighty 42’ boat from Kaslo Shipyard kept everyone safe and hydrated. Our favorite stop was at Wing Creek Resort where the owners met us on the beach with a cooler of chilled water, juice and granola bars. Muchly appreciated Deb and Kevin! We carried on for the last hour, around the final rocky point to Kaslo where we were greeted by the Mayor and other delegates and citizens of Kaslo.  What a grand welcome!

Hot stuff

After arriving and settling into the Kaslo Municipal Campground and the Kaslo Hotel, we had intended to go for a walk on the picturesque Kaslo Trail, but after 4-1/2 hrs of being on the water in the heat, it was sadly decided that we would hide from the heat until it cooled down a bit. We heard that the day was 32 degrees – yikes. Thanks Val for offering to take us on the walk. We will come back and do it on a cooler day, when we are less exhausted. With the heat hopefully giving us some reprieve we will be golfing 9 holes up at the Kaslo Golf Club later tonight. If you haven’t golfed it yet, it’s a beauty with the course overlooking the lake and big glorious trees all around.

Planning for Day 3

With 42 people planning to paddle, and temperatures hitting 38 degrees, we will definitely be on the water at 8am sharp. We'll journey from Kaso to Woodbury Resort and Marina. Thanks for following our grand adventure. 

Paddle Kootenay Lake: Story 2 - Day 1

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Paddle Kootenay Lake: Story 2 - Day 1

Day 1 - Davis Creek Provincial Park to Schroeder Creek Resort

Some days in life are better than others and today was one of those days I’ll remember for a long time. After almost a year of planning, today was when it all came together, and it was definitely worth the hard work.

People arrived at our waterfront camp site at the newly renovated, stunning, Davis Creek Provincial Park. They signed in, everyone helped each other carry their boats and gear to the beach; we did a safety talk and with smiles and apprehension off we went. Fantastic! Yahoo! Finally, out on the water paddling, breathing, sharing stories, soaking in the views and dipping hands and toes into the water to refresh and connect, to her, our Lake.

We're Off! Our First Day Was Warm and Lovely 

With glass-like water, and unseasonally warm temperatures, our 9am departure resulted in 3 hours of stellar paddling. 14 of us paddled, chatted, and probably, like myself, gave thanks to an amazing day. With our 42' Candide boat from the Kaslo Shipyard we had a safe journey, as the boat moved up and down the lake checking on paddlers. We finally stopped for lunch at 12 kms, a bit later than planned, but everyone seemed to be doing pretty good. Our lunch spot was hilarious because our planned 17 km trip was actually only 13 kms. It seems that as the crow flies, or as the boat paddles, from Davis Creek Provincial Park to Schroeder Creek Resort it is only 13kms. So when we stopped for lunch we were actually only 1km from the campground. But all the same, it was wonderful to all sit together, relax, laugh, eat and enjoy our successes.

Our Lake is a Tempermental Quick Changing Lake 

Now, after lunch was a different story. Wind. Where did that come from? We made our way around the bay into the open water and whoosh, there it was, that forbidding wind. Waves, whitecaps and rocks to our right had us all paddling hard and mono-directional to make it to the Schroder Creek dock. The bank of rocks protected us as we approached the boat launch and restfully unloaded from our boats.

 

Lakeside Hospitality at Schroeder Creek Resort

The operators at Schroeder Creek Resort were over the top – coffee when we arrived, then a huge bucket of ice filled with a variety of drinks delivered to our campsite. Is this place for real? They sincerely asked “If you need anything, just come ask.” We of course took them up on their offer and got assistance with wifi, phone, happy hour, and some very refreshing towel pucks. We'll come back here for certain. One of the paddlers is even thinking about renting a site for a year!

It’s dinner time now, some homemade chili, a rainbow trout caught this afternoon, perhaps a beer, some music on the boat, and then a good night's rest. Tomorrow is another big paddle day, 12km to Kaslo. We’re looking forward to meeting up with the locals and Mayor as we arrive at the SS Moyie, about 11am. Come welcome us in, or even better, come paddle with us. We’ll be departing Schroeder Creek Resort at 8am, Kootenay time.

Come Paddle With Us

For more photos check out our facebook photo album. Photos are from our blessing at Jewett School on June 24 where the children wrote and performed a song for us wishing us well on our journey. A very special and heart warming experience. We also rafted down the lower 3km of the Lardeau River with Nelson Whitewater Rafting for the afternoon which was beautiful, rich in animals and vegetation and mellow. The album also includes photos from Day 1. Too much to share over the past 2 days, but hopefully it entices you to get out and enjoy Kootenay Lake and all she has to offer.

Living the Dream on Kootenay Lake

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Living the Dream on Kootenay Lake

Steve Kerr — Shaping a Life on Kootenay Lake

You look at the trajectory — from a small Quebec town, similar in many ways to Nelson, through Lake Louise and the Rocky Mountains, a short detour in the Okanagan finally settling in Nelson — and it's easy to see a person who is shaping his life in the same way a mason might shape stone, or a woodworker might hone his craft.

Listening to Steve Kerr tell his story is like watching a piece of fine art emerge from a rough cut stone or untempered block of wood. 

Like many drawn to this area, Steve has created a life from his dreams, passions and skills. In a way that might seem remarkable elsewhere but is all-so-normal here, Steve has made a good living hewing stone. As a mason, he makes a living. But to make a life, to bind passion with business sense, he's started Kerr Boards, crafting gorgeous paddle boards from sustainable, local lumber. In this way, he's found that space, that quietude, where he can slowly grow his business, his craft.

He loves creating the boards. They are a work of art, with no compromise. When he talks about being on the water, he's in his element, time stands still, he's in the story, living it as he tells it.

Building a Life in Nelson and on Kootenay Lake

It's not always easy, creating an ideal life of integrity in this mystical place. But there is something about our area that encourages that lifestyle: create it and they will come. Visitors notice right away when they walk along our main streets. Shop after shop of small business people in both Nelson and Kaslo showcase either locally made or sourced products. The Nelson Brewery Building, where Steve Kerr makes and sells his boards, is home not only to Kerr Boards and the Nelson Brewing Company, but also our local coffee roaster, tofu maker, and several other artisans. 

Steve's story is a Nelson story. It's a Kootenay Lake story. It's the story of a man who came here, was drawn here by the snow, the promise of the powder and the lifestyle and then found a way to stay. Make a living, a life. The sum total of all the dreamers and artisans living in our area create the magical spot that draws so many people as visitors each year, and entices many to stay and join the ranks. It's attractive, for sure: Kerr Boards is a perfect example of that combination of exquisite craftsmanship mixed with the quiet integrity that happens when you fall in love with an area, a region. The wood for the handmade hollowed boards is locally sourced sustainable cedar from Harrop-Proctor, the veneer sourced from fir and birch in the woods on his property. 

The Boards as Backbone to a Community & Calling

It's funny: Steve is a professional mason. He works locally, and also as far as Alberta and northern British Columbia where he works on fine homes. But his passion is on the water, challenging himself and others to push themselves, find their limits. He surfs rivers, carves waves where he can find them, tests eddies and knows this lake and its tributaries as if they were a part of himself.

Masonry and creating Kerr Boards share an intense level of dedication and craftsmanship. But the true passion, it is obvious, lies in the creation of a community of athletes who use his boards, who ride them on Kootenay Lake and, hopefully, one day, far afield. Who share his love of the sport, his love of water and sport and being in nature.

This week, Steve will join the crew paddling Kootenay Lake. He's been a part of the vision from the beginning, offering ideas and excitement for the dream as it became reality over the past months. Always willing to jump in with offers of encouragement and necessary logistical solutions, Steve will be a part of the paddle from June 25 to July 1. If you see him, say "Hello" and ask him about his boards. Both paddling and creating them. You'll be glad you did.

Paddle Kootenay Lake: Story 1 - How the paddle began

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Paddle Kootenay Lake: Story 1 - How the paddle began

Hi, I’m Dianna Ducs, executive director of Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism. I was inspired to paddle Kootenay Lake from Bruce Kirby’s paddle from Vancouver to Victoria. If you haven’t watched, I recommend it: it is inspiring. So, I took the idea to my board of directors at Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism and they too saw the promise and vision that we could create by paddling Kootenay Lake and inviting you and everyone you know.

 

It seemed like a simple idea, paddle Kootenay Lake and document it through a short video. But it hasn’t been a simple journey thus far. It took a couple months of planning to realize that paddling the lake and inviting the world requires skill, perseverance, strength, lots of logistics and funding.  So, back to the board I went for a re-evaluation of the vision and promised outcomes. They continued to see the potential and sent me on my way; good to go!  Then began the hard work: creating a strong team and the many pieces of the puzzle, and on June 25 we will put the pieces together and show you what she is all about.

She’s beautiful, ya know. From the sun breaking through the saddle of the Purcell mountains and shimmering on her dark, mystical waters, to the final touches of coloured light that penetrate her being, her soul, her pulse. Kootenay Lake is heavenly.

I began paddling her on a SUP in April 2015, up near Meadow Creek, in a full 3mm wetsuit and my husband on the shore watching intently, hoping I didn’t fall into the 4 degree water and freeze. We had success! Over the next few weeks I scouted different boards and paddles and purchased a Think,14’ displacement board and a super lightweight paddle from Hellmans.

I took my new paddling tools and for 2 months learned how to paddle through waves, wind and glass-like moments. It took me awhile to figure out the subtleties of SUP paddling. It’s different than a kayak or canoe, very different. Some friends guided me, and Bob Hellman gave me the final key pointers that redirected me to use my body, arms, the paddle and the board in one fluid motion. Don’t fight it. Dance with the board. Find the sweet spot and paddle, gently. And I did just that.

Paddling became an addiction, wanting to get out on the lake and paddle almost every day. Paddling captivates both your mind and your physical desires. How fortunate we are to have her, Kootenay Lake, at the foot of our communities: Meadow Creek, Lardeau, Kaslo, Ainsworth Hot Springs, Balfour, and Nelson.  Yes, so very fortunate. I believe she is what brings us quirky folk together. She is what makes this area so ridiculously magical.

Figuring out the paddling was just the beginning, then began the need for physical endurance, stamina and a healthy diet. How the heck was I going to paddle for 7 days, over 100km? This is where my dream of visiting Mountain Trek became reality – WOW! Kirkland Shave, the program director, welcomed my idea of promoting the lake to locals and tourists and opened the doors of his world famous health and wellness retreat, located above Ainsworth Hot Springs to me. I experienced one week of intense fitness, healthy foods, massages and personal consultations at Mountain Trek. Did I already say WOW? As I do the final preparations for the paddle, I acknowledge that I wouldn’t be where I am without that intense life changing experience. I’ll get into this in more detail in another story. You’ll be astounded at what Mountain Trek can achieve in one week with their guests.

I’ll leave the journey here and share more in a few days. It is a journey I’m honoured to be part of and excited that you are joining me, perhaps just online, but at least exposing yourself to her; our pulse, our lake, our heart – Kootenay Lake.

Why We Paddle Kootenay Lake

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Why We Paddle Kootenay Lake

Kootenay Lake is a quiet lake: there are no outright bans on motor boats on the lake, but our lake is not overridden by them. As Steve Kerr, of Kerr Paddleboards notes, when people go out on their motor boats on Kootenay Lake, it's often toward a destination: they're headed off toward the east shore, perhaps, or out fishing for the day.

In any case, it's notable that Kootenay Lake is a lake that co-exists peaceably with many craft, and certainly I'm not the only one to notice that many people enjoy paddling on her.

http://www.sturgeon-nose-creations.com/historyThe First Paddlers: the Kootenay or Sturgeon Nosed Canoe

Of course the original craft paddled on Kootenay Lake was the Sturgeon nosed canoe, or yaksumit, used by both the Sinixt and Lower Kootenay Band (Yaqan Nukiy). This canoe is also traditionally known as the "Kootenay Canoe" and was regularly used up until the beginning of the twentieth century. 

The Kootenay canoe is perfectly suited to our lake: it loves both bullrushes and turbulent waters. The willow tree used to create the craft would be felled in spring when the sap was running, according to Nancy Wynecoop, a Sinixt elder, who related her memory of making the boats in the book, "Geography of Memory" by Eileen Perkes. 

Today at Selkirk College, Jessica Morin is leading a group of students in recreating a Sturgeon-nose "Kootenay" canoe, helping to keep that tradition alive.

Canoes, Kayaks and SUPS: Paddling Kootenay Lake

Why we paddle our kayaks, canoes and SUPs is tough to hone in on, but Bob Hellman of Hellman Canoes nails it: "They have become a way of defining myself, a way of connecting to nature and a way of being in touch with my spirit." 

Exactly. There's a culture to paddling, especially paddle boarding, that Steve Kerr likens to the surf culture on the coast, or the snowboard culture in the alpine. Mike Kelly (full disclosure, he's my husband) is an avid skin-on-frame kayak enthusiast, and is fairly obsessed by the exhilaration he feels so close to the lake on his Aleut ikyak (Aleutian Island kayak). Whether it's witnessing a beaver dam being built or getting caught up in a sudden swell, the lake provides a way to be in the moment that rivals the best yoga retreats.

http://kerrboards.com/Speaking of yoga retreats: Once SUP paddlers have mastered their craft, the next step, at least on Kootenay Lake, seems to be mastering yoga on the SUP. Steve Kerr relates one memorable occasion, surfing on his SUP, where he became aware of the near-surreal timelessness as he stood on his board, doing yoga, surfing in place where the water created an eddy over a fallen tree. 

As he says, "It's the mellowest thing."

And it can make your heart beat faster, too: It can be fast paced, white water, rushing, wild, windy and raw. Paddling Kootenay Lake, you can "be one the moving water in a way that is so much more exhilarating" than in a boat. 

If you'd like a real thrill, of course, there's the rafting option, too. Whether with Lardeau River Adventures or Nelson Whitewater Rafting, you can experience exciting class 3+ rapids as well as quieter paddles. 

Perhaps the ultimate reason why we paddle on Kootenay Lake is that it's fun: naked feet and wiggling toes on the board, wind rushing through your hair as you sit in your kayak or canoe, the river is always changing: the nooks and crannies, the infinite features as the current moves and the wind picks op or dies down. Kootenay Lake is not a still lake. 

Come Paddle With Us This Summer

Kootenay Lake has many opportunities to enjoy a paddle this summer. From Lardeau to Kaslo to Balfour and Nelson, there are lots of places to rent craft or go for the day on guided tours. Take a look at our information here on Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism for a great start to ideas for your summer paddling experience

Experience Kootenay Lake this summer: consider yourself invited.

___________

Top photo: http://www.sturgeon-nose-creations.com/history

Second photo: http://kerrboards.com/

Kootenay Lake: the heart of our region

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Kootenay Lake: the heart of our region

For thousands of years, Kootenay Lake has drawn people to her. As ancestral home to the Lower Kootenay Band, Kootenay Lake was navigated with sturgeon-nose canoes. Later, more people immigrated here and planted orchards along her banks. Still later, those orchards were submerged as the Lake became a crucial source of hydro electricity.

And in modern times, Kootenay Lake is still drawing people to her. The Lower Kootenay Band recently bought Ainsworth Hot Springs, perhaps a nod to the importance of tourism in the area. Hellman Canoes, Kaslo Kayaking, ROAM and so many other businesses flourish by providing watercraft to willing boaters and paddlers.

Whether you soak in the lake, paddle along it, live beside it or sunbathe near it, Kootenay Lake provides a gathering place for many of us who find ourselves in this area. The communities along it are as diverse as the people who come here, offering gifts as unique as Kaslo's "Little Switzerland" spirit to Nelson's eclectic arts vibe to the rural beauty of Meadow Creek and Lardeaux. Balfour's fishing compliments the region and Ainsworth provides an atmosphere of centuries-old geothermal hot springs and splunking mixed with a lovely village feeling.

Kootenay Lake is a complex combination of all that flows into her: the tributaries that begin high in the Selkirk and Purcell mountains meet in her, mixing things up and providing a playground that gives and takes as it flows and drives us each to play a little harder, to try a little better and to respect this lovely lake. The winds pick up and you are off, sailing or windsurfing fast down the lake. Or the glassy perfectly quiet waters you started paddling on suddenly get a bit choppy, requiring your full attention as you finish your morning paddle. Just enough to be a reminder to you of the power of this wise old lake.

In her depths, the largest trout in the world hide, taunting the best anglers to find them. The deep fiords are some of the deepest in British Columbia, adding to the mystery and complexity of Kootenay Lake. Sternwheelers have sunk in her depths, and divers still to this day enjoy plumbing the sunken treasures of this magnificent lake, one of the largest in British Columbia.

Summer is just around the corner, and we're getting ready to enjoy Kootenay Lake together with you for another season of paddling, sailing, sunbathing and fishing.

As Claire de la Salle, of the non-profit group "Friends of Kootenay Lake" notes, water is chemically neutral. There is something inherently soothing and peaceful about all water, but perhaps, surrounded as she is by such majestic mountains, there is something especially soothing and grounding about Kootenay Lake. Almost as if, through her utter strength, she is giving us permission to calm ourselves in her presence.

For whatever reason, enjoy Kootenay Lake with us this summer. If you'd like to hear updates about this and other happenings in the Nelson Kootenay Lake area, be sure to sign up for our newsletter and stay in touch.

Spirit of the Waterfront CONTEST

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Spirit of the Waterfront CONTEST

Water Week in Canada and Kootenay Lake

Life in the Kootenays is surrounded by freshwater. From the headwaters of the Columbia River at Columbia Lake in the east to Kootenay Lake in the west, we spend our summers in canoes and our winters skating over lakes. We fish to catch dinner and drink our eight glasses of daily water—we are physically, emotionally and spiritually dependent on freshwater.

Canada Water Week (March 16-22,  coinciding with World Water Day on March 22) is a celebration of our freshwater from coast to coast to coast. This week is a time to get to ‘Know Your Water.’  Living Lakes Canada, along with many other water stewardship groups within the Kootenay region and across Canada, host events and organize activities to encourage water stewardship and engage communities on water quality issues in their watershed. Visit canadawaterweek.com for a full list of events.

This year, Living Lakes Canada, in partnership with Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism, is holding an “I Love My Lake” species identification contest. The Spirit of the Waterfront banner on Nelson Avenue brings the shoreline and water life of Kootenay Lake and surroundings to Nelson. The “I Love My Lake” contest will provide an introduction to local water knowledge and local water stewardship groups and the projects we are doing to help protect Canada’s rivers, lake, aquifers and wetlands.

Venture down to the 700 block of Nelson Ave and take a stab at identifying the birds, fish, turtles and any other wildlife you can find for you chance to win great prizes such as The International Selkirk Loop—a book about the animals and landscapes of the area, Ainsworth Hot Spring passes, Touchstones Museum passes and SS Moyie passes!

Contest rules:

Submit your species identification list of the wildlife and critters for the “I Love My Lake” contest to the Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism Facebook Page.

  • Species identification by common name. Hint: There are a total of 29 species.

For clues:

  • Take a picture by the Living Lakes Canada and “I Love My Lake” logo on the “Spirit of the Waterfront” Banner and submit using the #ilovemylake on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook or email raegan@wildsight.ca
  • Take a picture of yourself at your favorite spot on Kootenay Lake, using the #ilovemylake and tell us why you love Kootenay Lake on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter for 15 species.
    • Twitter: LivingLakesCa
    • Instagram: livinglakesca
    • Facebook: Living Lakes Canada
    • Email: raegan@wildsight.ca

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