Lardeau River

The Lardeau River is only an hour and a half north of Nelson, but it’s like traveling to the coast. The smell of salmon is everywhere at this time of year. Kokanee, a landlocked relative of Sockeye that became trapped after the last ice age, are plentiful in this river and so are the other wildlife species that feed on them. These include Bald Eagles and of course Grizzlies, the latter commonly congregating in salmon spawning rivers. In this part of the world, however, dams have long since blocked the migration of oceanic salmon, making the Kokanee a valuable food source once the berries have dried up.
The salmon and bear mix is still a natural phenomenon that takes place on the Lardeau and one that everyone can watch from their car, a bridge over the river, or- as in our case- a canoe bobbing down rapids.

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We didn’t see any bears while paddling yesterday- this one was sighted within a few minutes of arriving to the river. Regardless, our float provided its own excitement with some dicey (for me) rapids I was lucky to make it through. I only dumped once!

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Posted on 09/17 at 09:55 PM | Comments

Baldface

Baldface Lodge is literally in Nelson’s backyard, yet it seems a world away and wild. Five minutes into riding their hallmark new singletrack a couple of days ago, we ran into four (yes four) cougars plodding along the trail. Good thing we were wearing shammies and the cats weren’t doing the loop in reverse. You read it: loop, and shammies. Indeed, this is a cross-country trail hosted by a mechanized cat-skiing operation. Mike Kinrade, pro rider and director of Baldface’s biking operations is spearheading the revival of the lodge’s summer scene with the new 6.5km “Lake Trail” (it’s being called for now). I was glad to be on site to test it out. 

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The trail starts above the new lodge and traverses to a ridge where it then follows a path cleared out for the snowcats. This is where we saw the cats. Then begins a sweet, winding descent with beauty banked corners and sections through subalpine meadows. We had fresh snow to deal with but by the time we descended into the forest it had melted. This was fortunate because the primo sections were still to come. Just when the emerald lake came into view, we started railing into some incredible berms- still fresh enough to spray up plenty of dirt. We stopped and shot photos in this spot before continuing down to the road, stopping only when the densest patches of huckleberries lured us in. The trail isn’t actually a complete singletrack loop yet; we drove up the 2.5km back to the lodge so we could save some legs for the 6000 or so feet of descending still to come. Before that, we had to climb back up to Cherry Tops, one of the high points in Baldface’s tenure where Wild Turkey begins, then links to Swamp Donkey and eventually with a bit more peddling to the final drop to Kootenay Lake via Shannon Pass trail. With the exception of the old and new sections of Swamp Donkey, these trails are a bit more burly and I have the scars to prove it. During the day two black bears joined us in the berry feast to round off our believe-it-or-not wildlife sightings.

All in all, a great day. Thanks Jeff and Mike for getting us out and to Rod for riding a few sections more than he probably wanted to.

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Posted on 09/13 at 08:19 PM | Comments

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