Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Gateway to Big Sky Country

Yesterday I went for my very first snowmobile ride. Imagine writing that after living in SK for over 30 years?? I find the whole process of moving the machine to the road, unloading, etc., etc. a bit too time consuming - I'd rather put the skins on the skis and start hiking. The smell was a bit offensive, although it gets better once the ride begins. My rookie driver (Dave) had a bit of difficulty on a couple of the turns - just way too much snow, even for Bombardier. We jumped off twice to avoid turning it over on ourselves and had to dig it out of the snow once. However, it did get me up 8 km on the Blue Ridge FS Road and we snowshoed another 3 km. The sun actually came out and we had fabulous views. Starting at the bottom, I wouldn't have made it up that far.
The ride down was good. I'm enjoying the new "shoes" but like all modern inventions, they don't work as well in deep snow as the old beavertails. They are great for climbing over all the snowpiles banked up along the roads as I "shoe" into and out of town.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Happy Christmas, Happy Solstice

For the very first time we celebrated Solstice as "christmas" and today has been a quiet, unassuming holiday. On the 21st of December, we opened presents with Mum, Dad, Andrea and Demitri, had a ski/walk, cooked a wonderful Ferraro's Foods (in Rossland) fresh turkey and ate ourselves silly. Today, December 25th, we got up at our usual time, had a light breakfast followed by a good walk. After a very "Christmasy" lunch of cheese, crackers and seafood, we've been sleeping, reading and enjoying the fire. There will be cold turkey with all the trimmings (TX beans about to be put into the oven) and perhaps a couple of games of crib to round out the day. Happy return to longer days to all!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Yes, Hell Really Is Freezing Over!

This is our latest purchase - last Thursday we went to Sears in Nelson and bought our very first dishwasher!! The sales were good and last night we actually tried it out. It's very quiet and seems to work. There's still dishes to do, of course, and I feel a bit guilty about all the water we'll use. These newer models are supposed to use a minimal amount of water. It does make the kitchen look much more finished and we only have to add a couple of rows of tile to complete the floor. Now if you don't believe hell is freezing over, read on to the next post about Dave's recent purchase.

Toys for Boys

If you can't tell what's going on in this photo, it's a picture of Dave making adjustments to his recently purchased second-hand ski-doo!! Even though I totally disapprove of skidoos I can't complain too heartily because Dave has purchased very few toys for boys over the 36 years of our marriage. Some people here have told me I'm going to love it because we can get above the "lid" of the mountains and get up into the sunshine. I'll reserve judgement for a wee bit yet.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

The Clothesline

I couldn't resist taking a picture of my clothesline yesterday - it was a perfect day for drying clothes, although the long shadows that occur in the Koots at this time of year do not give much opportunity for sun to shine north of our home - the location of my clothesline. We had wind, though, and most things dried partially.
Last night we had our first killing frost and I'm afraid that the pots are gone. The raccoons have been enjoying coming to the bird feeder that is posted on our deck railing so we need to remember to bring it in each night. They spent part of their time last night picking sunflower seeds out of the flowers in one of the deckpots. A late and lingering fall has been most enjoyable.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Lookout to Loki

As the last week of November begins, you can see that we finally got some clear skies in the Koots. This is Mt. Loki across the lake in the Purcells; it is one of the most distinguishing mountain landmarks in the area. Dave managed to climb it this summer but I have enjoyed watching its many moods. This picture was taken Wednesday while on the Wednesday Walk with 15 other keen hikers. We walked above Fletcher Falls along a ridge with lots of open views of Kootenay Lake and the Purcells. We then tramped through woods to an Old Growth Forest - I found that a bit hard to do on a sunny, cloudless day - give me my sunshine!
Interesting to observe the garden as well, during the waning days of this dreary month. My lavendar continues to bloom, 4 deck pots still look pretty good and a couple of my groundcovers have a few flowers on them. I did pull out the sweet peas - not because they were frozen, but simply because they were receiving so little light the blooms wouldn't open. We carried leaves from Mirror Lake to cover the garden beds, but I refuse to cover the last remaining vesitges of summer on one perennial bed: it still just looks too fine!

Monday, 17 November 2008

A Step Back in Time

Municipal elections just took place in B.C. this past weekend. I worked as a scrutineer for the encumbent Regional Director for the Central District of Kootenay. It was refreshingly archaic as all the votes were hand counted and we had to wait around for a couple of hours to find out the final tally. I'm not sure how many polling stations were actually "out there", but I believe it was four, plus the advanced poll. Kaslo poll was by far the largest of the 5 polls. No one could find any results for our area on the CBC radio carrying the results or on their website. We waited until nearly ten o'clock for a phone call (to some this might be considered using technology) from "up the lake" to receive the poll results from Argenta and Meadow Creek. We then added up the total votes en mass - in our heads - just like elementary school! Our encumbent won handily; in B.C. elections like this winning by 150 votes is considered to be a bit of a landslide. Last time he won by 12 votes. Our candidate is pretty "green" and two more people of the green persuasion were elected to the Board of Directors of RDCK. As well, community planning seems to be alive and well in this part of the Koots.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Pot's Getting Better

The purpose of this post is to promote envy in my prairie gardener friends: I was able to pick sweet peas on November 5th and a couple of my deck pots look pretty darn good as I write this. In fact, the yellow mum gets better and better every day.
We're into the low cloud stretch here in the Koots so these bright spots really help. I love the extended fall around here. The rose hips are a brilliant red and most of the rose leaves are just beginning to change colour. Drifts of larch needles cover the Pine Ridge Road and a pileated woodpecker regularly visits the trees around our home.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Middle of Somewhere

I'm thinking today about Hallowe'en and how nice it is to NOT be working! We're probably about half-way to the winter solstice and it's definitely that "between things" time of year. Here's a picture from just north of Yellowstone National Park when we were definitelyin the middle of a snowstorm and the middle of the northern hemisphere. I'll be sorry to have the time change on Sunday because that means preparing dinner in the dark. On the plus side, it'll be light enough to encourage me to get up earlier once again and I know that I'm a morning person. Feeling just sort of in the middle of things today.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Highway 31 Revisited

Yesterday was another blue sky day in the Koots so we travelled up Highway 31 to explore some new areas. One place we discovered was the community of Howser that probably has the best campsite in B.C. in it - and its free! It is located on Duncan Lake and has lovely sites along the lakeshore and TWO sandy beaches. I've never liked Duncan Lake but did learn that it is partly au natural - the Duncan Dam made it grow by 40 km in length. Actually, the Duncan Dam didn't look all that bad either, for a dam!
We saw 13 bald eagles fishing along the Lardeau River and pictured here is the Gerrad Bridge as it crosses the Lardeau - B.C.'s remote Highway 31. Not visible in this picture, but about 50 m off the road, was a grizzly feeding on the carcass of an animal we couldn't identify. The ravens were in on it too.


This post has nothing to do with ego or anything related to it. I planned to write about Idaho because I enjoyed our travels through it last week. I was referring to Lewis and Clark as "the boys" before we left - I loved visiting the Salmon River which Clark decided was not a viable route to the west. We didn't get to see it in its fury, but I'd like to explore this area - it's absolute wilderness - south of the Salmon is an area called the River of No Return. Sagajewa was supposed to be born in Idaho - here's a picture of her supposed birthplace. She's another example of the old adage about women being the sucess behind a man - or men, in this case.

One thing that I've been curious about with Idaho is that Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove, Last Picture Show) refuses to go there because it is the headquarters of the Aryan Nation. Today I decided to google that information - yes, the headquarters are in Hayden, ID. Looking at the 2 sites that I chose to click on I was met with these slogans: "Stop the Hate - Segregate" and "The Whitest Website on Earth". I refuse to provide any links to these sites and I'd have to say that Larry is on to something.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Thoughts on Yellowstone

I haven't been to Yellowstone since 1991 and it was interesting to revisit with a new perspective as a "mountain dweller". I found the landscape strangely unappealing, although the geysers are always amazing and where else can one see something like that? The fact that this blue sky was the only bit we did see during our 3 days of visiting probably plays a role in my feelings about it. I LOVE the rivers, but I'm crazy about water. The forest was so blah - all pine and there were no fall colours to enjoy. The heights of land were mere hills. I did find the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone as amazing as my first visit. I wonder if my feelings for this place of unusual beauty have changed because I now live in one of the most amazing places on the planet if you like mountains, rivers and lakes. Dave's got some great pictures from our trip to the States and they can be viewed at this link:

Wood Splitting II

I previously wrote about how much I've enjoyed wood splitting here in the Koots. Well, this week we had a chance to experience a mechanised version of this same event. Neighbours of ours couldn't get their wood splitter to work so they told Dave if he could get it going he could make use of it. Of course Dave had it working almost immediately. We had to try it out to make sure it actually did work - pictured here is the splitter and the wood pile we created in less than an hour. It really works very well. I think I'm going to suggest that Dave and I buyone as our solstice gift to each other. The only drawback I've noticed so far is that it isn't the calorie burner of the older method but it's sure good on the Carpel Tunnel syndrome.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Five Cent Solution

Don't know what to do with a nickel any more? Send it to Trail, B.C. where the cost of an hour's parking is 5 cents. Andrea is collecting nickels to have in her office on Trail's "Bay Street" (that really is the name!) so that clients can use them in the meters outside on the street. How often do you actually have a nickel in your purse/pocket? Alas, I didn't have the camera out so didn't get a picture of these truly amazing parking meters - they look like all the others in every place I've ever visited - but there you go - 5 cents to park! And we say that everything's gone up in price!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Perfection Itself

Yesterday we had a perfect day in the mountains. We took our neighbours up to Monica Meadows, two hours away from here up the Glacier Creek FS Road. It's such a beautiful drive. After arriving at the trailhead, we took about 90 minutes to get to the meadows. Our neighbours are pretty inexperienced hikers and could use a little more practice to really get in shape. Dave and I hiked up to the glacier viewpoint and I took this photo on the hike down from the ridge. The larches were at their autumn peak. The skies were absolutely crystal clear. There was no wind, no insects, and no cloud. A perfect day in the mountains.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Shufflin' Along Through A Day

On our recent trip to the East Koots we had the opportunity to make good use of the ipod. I love it!! It's really an essential piece of travel equipment in the mountains because the radio range is very limited. One thing that I realize that I REALLY like about the ipod is the Shuffle option. I remember hearing Kelley Ryan speaking about the "shuffle conspiracy" she felt her ipod had because it wouldn't play some of her favourite pieces. I've found this ipod isn't too fond of The Stones, but seems to really like Dylan and Paul Simon.
Why I love the shuffle option is that I like a little more variety in music than a whole "album" offers. I like the music, but 3 or 4 songs by one group is enough for me. The ipod delivers. If I get a selection that doesn't interest me at the moment it's a quick job to fast forward to the next choice. Thanks, Scott - the ipod is an important part of my day while preparing meals or travelling through the Koots.

A Fall Day

This a.m. we spent the morning clearing a little more garden space while listening to all the stuff about the world financial crunch on "Sunday Morning". It's almost time to plant the garlic! I did plant 24 daff bulbs throughout the perennial borders and hope the deer will leave them alone.
This p.m. we took a very "ungreen" drive - up a forest service road for 12 km after driving for 30 minutes to get to it. We then hiked into Ross Lake. I'm not too happy with any of my photos, but this avid 12 year old reader made me think of myself and a day I had at Shannon Lake in early August. There's nothing better than a good book with feet dangling in a lake!

Friday, 26 September 2008

How To Sh** In the Alpine - ACC Style

On the heli ride in, the toilets were the first thing that I spotted! The hut is also very visible in our 3.5 minute ride from the FS road to the Conrad Kain Hut. Dave spent the first day with the crew helping to load the "barrels" to fly down to a pumper truck. As an ACC friend in Saskatoon used to say, "now the shit's really flying!"
I do have to give a word of complaint about the Hut bathrooms, however. This hut had a "urine only" toilet very close to the hut and it was fine although if it's icy, one has only to misstep and have a pretty dramatic ride down a mountain. When a rope has to be attached to the hut for people to get out to the bathroom, I think some serious rethinking needs to be done. At least here, women could use this toilet. At the Neil Cogan Hut, women had to brace the winds along a narrow ledge out to the bathroom - I carried in a litre of wine to that hut which I never did drink so I didn't have to use the bathroom!
The picture here is the sh** toilet used by both sexes. I do love the roofline! Again, we had to amble our way through ice, snow and creeks to get to this place of business. The good thing was the absence of cliffs leading to the abyss. The ACC is very generous about flying in lots of wine and beer to keep its crews amused in the evenings, but these trips to the bathroom really put a damper on the whole thing. Maybe its just my age showing!

Two Days in the Bugs

We just spent two and a half days in the Bugaboos of the Purcell Range. Staying at the Conrad Kain Hut, this was our view!! It's stark, dramatic, and I'd have to say "unfriendly". But hey, I'm no rock climber! The time up there was spent doing volunteer work as hut clean up crew. The "guys" worked on the hydro and heating systems, getting them ready for winter. I cleaned the cupboards and swept and washed the floors. It was good to do housework as the heating system wasn't working at all and it was a fine way to keep warm. I didn't have to cook at all and Darren, our trip leader, was most able in the kitchen. As well, how can anyone say anything against a guy who also knits??
Our first day in, Dave and I hiked to the "upper" campground - basically a stone henge and not a place I'd ever want to pitch a tent. The second day, the day we "worked", it snowed off and on all day. On Thursday, our hike out went pretty smoothly even if there are chains to keep you on the trail and a ladder one has to ascend/descend. The heli ride in on Tuesday let us forget about the 700m vertical gain. It's quite a nice trail but not for sissies. It was a cool time in the Bugs - in every possible way.

Friday, 12 September 2008

On A Clear Day

Taking advantage of a high pressure system with lots of clear, sunny weather, yesterday morning we opted to hike up London Ridge. We'd spent a bit of time trying to find the trailhead. When you know where to look, it's so obvious it's embarassing! The hike is rather boring for the first half but once we got above the treeline, had fabulous views. The change of the season is very evident with the blueberry plants putting on a show of red. The reassuring thing about getting to the top of this ridge is that yes, I can still climb 1100m (and get down!) and I could recognize so many landmarks from our hiking this summer. It was lovely to stand up there and see all the places that we got to know during the hiking season this year. It didn't hurt to have skies that reminded me of prairie skies, too. We really could see "clear to the horizon".

Road Trip to Robson

Many readers knew that I had planned to hike the Berg Lake Trail with my family. This picture of Kinney Lake, shows the low level of fog and mist that we experienced - hence, no heli ride to the top of the trail. We walked the Overlander Falls Trail instead and then took Mum and Dad out for their 66th wedding anniversary, celebrating in Valemont. The next day (the day of the photo) we opted to hike half of the Berg Lake Trail so that we could do 24 km and see much of the area. We had mixed weather conditions and a perfect temperature for hiking. The day had its own share of adventures, but we did all get to White Falls (at about km 12) and my 88-year old Dad didn't blink at the length of the journey. My next plan for him is Monica Meadows, one of the nicest hikes in the Koots. Another good thing about this road trip was getting reacquainted with Wells Gray, where a new hiking friend took us up Trophy Mountain and the largest mountain meadow I've ever seen.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Because We Can

I had lunch with 8 other retired teachers today, the first day of school in B.C. We did it "because we can" - a nice mix of people and I felt a bit like Mallory when asked why he would climb Everest: "because it's there." This may be a yearly thing and it would be a nice tradition to maintain along with my THWTB tours. It looks as if I'm one of the few remaining Kaslo "on call" teachers this year - one got a job and 4 others have truly retired and taken themselves off the list. I hardly know what to expect from those changes.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Hello September

Even when I was working, September has been one of my favourite months. Today we went off with the "Sunday" hikers to head into Krao Lake and beyond. The rain started at about the time we got on the trail and you can see the snow that came down as we approached the lake. We didn't go beyond. Pretty much hiked the entire thing in a mix of rain and snow. Had a couple of very nice views of Kootenay Lake in its southern entirety although the fog was hanging above it and it was a bit difficult to get a good picture. I had the chance to try another forest service road and explore a new area - this is above Cody Caves. I even had time to make a few jars of dill pickles in the afternoon rain.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Home for the Holidays

This is the first year that I've ever spent an entire summer at home, not travelling more than 2 hours from my door. The exception was the triathalon in Penticton, but otherwise, I spent summer in the Koots. It was a wonderful mix of things to do and I love being able to leave for hiking by deciding at the last minute and still get home for beer before dinner.(see Mt. Reco for a good example) The other great thing is that I could enjoy my garden every single day and keep up with the deadheading and watering. My "100 km diet" of hikes seemed to work like a charm for me this year and I sometimes wonder if I ever need to leave south-east B.C. ever again. We are heading to do Berg Lake at Mt. Robson this week so I am taking a wee vacation - to hike, of course!

On Top of Mt. Reco

Today, we woke up to cloud and cold. By 8:30 a.m. that had cleared and it looked like a grand day. By 9 a.m. we headed off to Mt. Reco, a peak I'd scouted out in mid-July when attempting to do Texas Peak. It worked like a charm - 90 min. to the top and about 700m of elevation gain. We even got to follow a trail! It did start to snow while eating lunch - but hey, this is Canada and it IS August 31st, after all. Had some good views in the "short distance", but many peaks in the fog. We could see Slocan Lake. Took a "short cut" on the way down - not so sure if that worked but about 90 min. down as well. Saw a cinammon-coloured black bear just below Jackson Basin as we drove out - and the heavy rain began to descend. Back in Kaslo by 3 p.m. and quite a balmy day here for the last day of August.

Monday, 25 August 2008


This morning I was awakened early by the ringing of a cell phone - it was actually Andrea's phone, sitting on my sister's kitchen table, with an alarm ringing to wake me at 5 a.m. This was my second year of To Hell With The Bell Tour and I found it a bit ironic to be awakened by my kid's phone on this particular morning. Anyway, had a fun drive back to Kaslo from Penticton. The second peak you can see in today's picture is the Giant's Head in Summerland. I hiked this on Saturday a.m. Great views all round. I took this picture while in Penticton waiting to start my job in the triathalon bikelot. Today I turned the ipod on high and sang my way home to Women and Song, Connie Kaldor, Quartette, and Joni Mitchell. Slow travel over Paulson Pass where a real thunderstorm raged. Great times over the Mt. Baldy cutoff between Oliver and Rock Creek. Even though I travelled alone it was my own special To Hell With The Bell Tour II.


Just back from my daughter of steel's triathalon and thought I'd use this picture of her bike for today's post. Andrea wasn't feeling 100% on Saturday - nerves or bad food/water, who knows? - and she didn't eat much that day. I spent the p.m. hanging out at the bikelot and meeting a few triathletes, escorting their bags to their bikespot. Our "sister of steel" woman slept okay and felt good on Sunday morning, race day. She had a fabulous swim - 3.8 km in 1 hour, 5 minutes. Her first transition was also good as she passed us about 2 km up the road at 8:15. The 180 km bike ride was a real workout. Cloudy skies prevailed - hurrah! Afterwards, I found out that Andrea's stomach cramps returned and she nearly gave it up - couldn't find a medi station nearby so persevered. The last 40 km of the ride were great, she said, and I visited with her at transition two. This was my "post" for Sunday. I worked at the bikelot, in the "catch and rack" category, which really only turned out to be racking. Got to do lots of walking, escorting bikes to their assigned spot in the lot - a total of 2427 bikes - I got to rack the highest numbered cycle at about 5 p.m. Andrea went through that transition at about 2:45 (bike time of 6h30 min.) and then onto the marathon. My job ended at 5:30 (any athlete not into the bikelot by that time earned a DQ) and so off to the street to watch our woman finish up. This was done at about 7:40 - found her 2 km from the end of the route by recognizing her pigeon-toed run and then went on to cheer again at the finish! Official time of 12h 35min. and number 978 across the line! Iron Sisters Rule!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Premier Hiking In the Koots

We'd been hearing about the delights of Monica Meadows for a couple of years now. In 2006 we opted to visit Jumbo Pass in the same area and last year the road was closed all summer. This year we finally got to Monica!! This trail equals anything I've ever hiked. It's not too long, has a very easy access and the views at the top are unbelieveable. The viewpoint looks out at dozens of glaciers - too many to really count! Another benefit is the fact that the trail passes through a meadow which just happened to be at its peak blooming period this week. We're heading back there in the fall to enjoy the larch trees. Saskatchewan readers - if you're visiting us in the Koots be prepared for a 600 m gain, 8 km hike because I'm dragging you up here - it's just too good to not see.

115 Deadfalls On The Trail, 115 Deadfalls on the Trail....

Monday I did a very challenging hike for me and I have the battle scars to prove it. We travelled up the Glacier Creek FS Road - one of the most scenic forest service roads we've found in the Koots so far - and hiked into MacBeth Icefield. We didn't make it. The weather was relatively cool to start and the hike up through the valley is pretty long but quite flat. It's a pretty good trail. As we started the uphill part, more and more windblown trees crossed our paths. When we got to the steep part of the trail, even more blowdowns covered our path. As a bit of a compulsive counter, I decided to count them on the way down. Yes, 115, so I couldn't help but think of the old song about beer bottles. We reached this viewpoint of the MacBeth waterfalls cascading down the cliff. It was too hot to really think about being this high up and crossing the moraine to get to the glacier view. So if I want to see that I guess I get to try 115 deadfalls on the trail again!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The Contemplative Hiker

On Monday I was out with the "Sunday Hikers" and our objective was the peak on the left side of the picture. This scramble was too much for me. I managed to do a wee bit of a bushwack and then had to cross a boulder field, never my strongest mountaineering skill. I could tell that I was holding up the group. Following lunch, I opted to return to the lovely lake in the picture (Shannon Lake), north of New Denver in the Slocan Valley. I always carry a book with me wherever I go so I spent a couple of hours contemplating the mountains and reading a good selection of short stories. I had to do a wee bit of route finding on my way out and felt pretty good about how I handled my lone time in the wilderness. The guys who did make it to the summit didn't get back to the car until nearly 6:30 so we had a fairly long day.

Today the Wednesday Walkers did a brisk 13 km up Keen Creek Forest Service Road - love a hike along a lovely creek with lots of old growth cedar visible along the route. It's also a very cool place to be on a hot summer day. The other thing I love is that some of these hikers are in their late 60's and can walk with the best of them!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

A Little Piece of Heaven

I've had Valhalla Provincial Park on my hiking "list" for several years now and on Monday a.m. I finally left for this "little piece of heaven". It took us about 3 hours from our place to reach the trailhead. We'd heard about the long access route - it's about 40 km on a good gravel road until the last 3 km. It's a lovely route. The trail into Gwillim Lakes is one of my new favs. It's not too long - about 3 hours of backpacking - there's only about 20 min of forest walk and even it affords a few scenic mountains views.

In an hour, there's a lovely lake called Drinnon Lake, and after that it's pure magic! The walk goes across several creeks and past numerous mountain lakes and tarns. The meadow flowers were glorious.

Upon arrival at Gwillin Lake (the lower lake hosts the campground) there's not much to do except enjoy the views in EVERY direction. On Tuesday, we did a circuit above the lakes and had even more amazing views to enjoy. I like this place!

The Garden Gecko

I mentioned earlier that I'd be giving a garden progress report during the season and I haven't done that. Here goes: the zuccini look wonderful but aren't producing very large zucc. The beans have started and the sweet peas and scarlet runners look lovely. I am impressed with my south desert gecko presiding over the garden affairs - hanging out with the carrots and beets. The sunflowers have started to bloom and my daylilies have never been nicer. We're eating raspberries on a regular basis but know that we'll be depending on the fruit stands for many of the things we haven't yet grown. This summer, I've been able to eat TWO home made cherry pies (not made by me, alas) and they've been the best ever!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Kootenay Mountain High

The regular Sunday Strutters were taking a week off this Sunday after last week's gruelling True Blue Mountain. Happily, but disastrously, I had been in Trail playing in a Swiss Teams Bridge tournament. Sue and I had a difficult day at the bridge tables but not as tough as the folks slogging up True Blue.
Today, I went off with 4 other hikers to a place known as Texas Peak. We didn't get all the way to the peak but had a very nice vantage point in all directions from a smaller summit on the route. This picture is looking west and there's a couple of peaks in the picture which are supposed to be easy scrambles. The hiking season is in full swing and today we were happily out of all signs of smoke. In Kaslo's valley there's a big fire just south of us and things are getting hazy in mid-July. Send us some rain!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The Not So Secret Garden

There's nothing secretive about the showy flowers of the zuccini plant and I love them. They are so visible in our beds which border the driveway. I have loved watching my vegetable garden grow from the windows of my home. It's doing reasonably well, at least where the soil is better than gravel. We ran out of compost, so the garden looks a little less inviting the closer to the garage one gets. We could certainly use a really good rain, but having a 10 metre walk to our local produce is what summer is all about. Enjoy the local eats, readers!

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Happy Canada Day!

I know that this isn't a Canadian flag, but it's a flag that I did purchase as a fundraiser for the Langham Theatre in Kaslo. It's been painted by a local artist and did hang in downtown Kaslo for several months. In March these display flags were auctioned off. It seemed fitting that Canada Day was the day we finally mounted the "garden flag". Thanks to Dave for doing such a great job.
I celebrated the day by participating in Kaslo's first Canada Day 5 km Walk/Run. Of course, I walked it, but it was good to walk with a "real walker" and we finished in just under 50 minutes. We walked through part of "lower" Kaslo and part of the river trail - what a good way to celebrate our awesome country and the beautiful Kootenays.

Good Old Summer Time

We now have two screen doors to open up during the night and get the breeze blowing through the house. I love them! This is the one which faces west, and not the one that is most frequently used but it's darn hard to get a good picture of the other one. There is something so reassuringly summerish about the slap of that screen door as it closes, however. It just takes me back to Canadian summertime "lake country". How very lovely to be living in it.

Monday, 30 June 2008

It's Hiking Season!

I've actually been out on 3 really good hikes this week. Wednesday, the women of the Wednesday walkers hiked the Galena Trail from Sandon to New Denver. We had 14 hikers and two dogs. The picture I've included is the first two women crossing Carpenter Creek on the cable car.

Saturday p.m., Andrea, Dave, Carroll (Dave's brother) and I drove up to the one clearcut that we can see from our place. From there, we hiked through the trees and REALLY bad mosquitoes upto a ridge. I gave up before the ridge, but I did get a view of Fletcher Lake.

Sunday, the Sunday Strutters went up Whitewater Canyon - very, very nice. Pictured in today's blog is Whitewater Mountain. The trail was very good - 450m of elevation gain over 5.5 km and we had some snowfields to cross. The campground was completely snowed in and there won't be any scrambles up Mt. Whitewater any time soon. We did have an opportunity to see one large, male grizzly in the valley opposite to us - another group of 13 hikers!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

School's Out for Summer!

I worked yesterday at the local school, certainly not expecting to have any work this week. However, it was the local "field day" and I got to spend the day outside and earn money. I have to say that I noticed the lack of wind, and not needing to pick dirt and sand out of my teeth following the day at the track. This particular meet was more of an old-fashioned play day - we had egg/spoon races and 3-legged races, along with regular runnning and jumping and throwing activities.
The school at the right is the high school in Nelson. I worked there in early June for a day and had the most spectacular view from the top floor classroom - looking out towards Pulpit Rock, the BOB (the Big Orange Bridge), over Kootenay Lake and the bend in the water, where the Kootenay River really commences. I don't think I'd be able to work too hard in a classroom like that - the view is too much of a distraction. I supervised two French exams and had a wonderful day at that school too. I think I managed 21 days of work this year which pretty much doubles the previous year.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Sunday Strutters

I know that I've written about Wednesday Walkers. I had heard about the "Sunday group" who would hike but had never really connected with anyone to discover who, where and when. This winter, I did find a good contact and today we did our first hike with the group. This was a hike up Davis Creek to Fishhook Lake, pictured to the right. The climb is very steep for about an hour and then pretty much levels out. We had a mix of sun and cloud, a few drops of rain, but the group moves well and it was a pleasant excursion - we learned about hundreds of hikes we've never heard of prior to today. I've called the group "Sunday Strutters" but I'm not too sure how that name will fly with this hiking group. I hope we can do more as the summer progresses.

First Bouquet, 2008

On June 4th I finally picked my first garden bouquet - here is a combination of Siberian iris, catmint (Walker's Low which I love and seems to be deer-proof), and lupines. I had gathered seed from the roadside to get the lupines and planted them last fall - now we have a few although I expect they will all be blue. It's been a very slow start to the garden and we have had several plants blooming, but it was a thrill to actually pick the first garden bouquet and soon the wildflowers should really start to show their stuff! Today, June 8th, the first daylily opened with two blooms, aptly names 'June'!

Saturday, 31 May 2008

My Very First Rhodo!

After all the deer damage we seemed to have this winter on our shrubbery, I have one rhodo bud that they all missed! Here is my very first rhodo - ever! It seemed to take quite a long time to come out but today it is showing itself very nicely.
The garden has been planted and is mostly a picture of small black stakes. I'm singing that old prairie tune again - we need rain!! It only rained twice in the month of May, and not really very hard. This past week I've been watering and have succeeded in having a few plants germinate. The perennials are looking fairly nice, although we must wait for later blooms. Last Sunday, I planted an entire new bed with my SK Siberian irises, daylilies and some ornamental grasses, both new and old.
Happy gardening, readers.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Singing To the Best of Them

Many of you readers probably don't know who this is - Arlo Guthrie of Alice's Restaurant fame. Last Saturday I went to a good old-fashioned sing-a-long with 30 other people. What a good time we had! A group of Kaslovians gets together once a month with one top-notch pianist, a couple of guitars and a couple of harmonicas. I know that it helped that the woman who hosted us had a baby grand piano and an even grander view of the Purcells and Kootenay Lake. We sat in a big circle; there's a super songbook and everyone picked a song. It was when the woman next to me picked "City of New Orleans" by Arlo Guthrie, that I knew that I was in the right place. I, of course, selected Connie Kaldor's "Saskatoon Moon", but we sang from Gilbert and Sullivan, Flanders and Swann, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and another of my favourites, Stan Rogers. I know that next time I'm aiming to pick "Rise Again". The other neat thing about this event is that it was totally alcohol-free. I haven't had such a good time in ages.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Wednesday Walkers

I've been raving to my SK friends about the wonderful women I've met who gather every Wednesday for lunch and a walk. Yesterday, we crossed Kootenay Lake and walked to a place called Fry Creek Canyon. Here we are on the bridge which crosses the chasm, hardly able to hear one another because of the roar of the water. Yes, the B.C. snow melt is coming down the mountains! For this special day we did invite a few others to join us (notice the men) and I was happy to be able to include Andrea and Demitri who were visiting at the time. We also had a wonderful tour of a small community where people are pretty much living off the grid and have lived close to the land for several decades. Wednesday Walkers is one of my weekly highlights!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

The Waves

Here is the finished product. It actually looks pretty nice and it's wonderful to have a place to track dirt BEFORE entering the house! However, we do find that the surface undulates quite a bit so I just have to call it our friendly driveway, waving to greet us every day. We may have to pick up some bricks and put down more sand under it in a few areas but we'll see what it does when a good rain falls and where the water travels. I'd have to say I was a bit disappointed in that part of it all - the look of the finish - because we did work very industriously at this project. There's lots to love about it and I have to say it was good arm exercise!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Pounding the Pavers

We got our delivery of paving stones on Friday afternoon. It took a bit of time to get everything unloaded as we had 8 pallets (see left) unloaded from a Nelson truck. We got right to work and you can see one empty pallet. Saturday we were out of town but this morning we got busy once again with a soft, gentle rain coming down. It seems to be going fairly quickly. I bring the pavers up to the area and Dave lays them in place and pounds them with his mallet. I can manage about 20 pavers in the wheelbarrow. There are 360 paving stones in each pallet for a total of 2880. We've managed to work our way through 3 pallets now. Our pattern is shown at right - pretty simple and straightforward and so far we haven't had to do any cutting. It's coming. Pounding these pavers, we hope, will level out the driveway and give us a place to clean pots, wine jugs and all the stuff we do and perhaps we'll track a little less dirt into the house???

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Gate Expectations

It's taken nearly a year but we have our gate up in the driveway! It was always so awkward trying to get the wire to hook over the post especially in the dark. It's so good to have a replacement. I think it looks pretty stylish, actually, and this picture doesn't do it justice. I still have to get out of the car to open the gate - we don't actually have a closing on it yet and are just using a bungee cord so the next step for me is to see if we can get an automatic opener. That might be beyond these gate expectations but it's great to have this improvement. Dave's getting to be a pretty fine woodworker don't you think?

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The Thin Edge of Spring

This picture wasn't taken today but it is taken from the Kaslo River Trail. Yes, the Trailblazers are at it again. I went to my first work party along the trail, clearing up the brush that has been cut down along the path. It was lovely to hear the Kaslo River in the background but I did get a taste of every type of weather - and yes, even a few flakes of snow.
In the afternoon, I traipsed off with the Wednesday Walkers and we headed uphill from Upper Kaslo and we had a taste of everything weather-wise. We hiked in falling snow, beautiful sunshine and a few windy squalls. I didn't take the camera with me so no new pictures for the post. On the bike ride home the aroma of the swamp lanterns was prevalent and it sure was nice to see those cheerful, yellow flowers. We saw several alpine plants on our walk, always understated, but still signs of spring. It was hard to tell whether today was a winter or a spring day but I guess that's what I get for travelling to Upper Kaslo on April 30th!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Raising the Beds

This spring my goal has been to get some garden beds into the sunshine. Mission accomplished! Dave built these on Wed. and Thursday of this week. Our plan is to put paving stones onto the top part of the driveway and I'm going to be planting my veggies and a few perennials in these sunnier garden beds along the driveway. I already like the look of it and only have sweet peas, spinach, chard and lettuce planted so far. Yesterday it became covered with 2 cm of snow and that remains today. However, it IS going to get better. Watch this spot for future pictures of the garden and the driveway as we get more work completed. By the way, the swamp lanterns have started to bloom in the swampy bits near our neighbourhood.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

It's the Journey, Not the Destination

We actually had a couple of days this past week when it began to feel a tiny bit like spring. I went to work for 3 days and on two of those days it wasn't snowing in the early a.m. so I ventured out on my bike. This ride is pretty cool in the mornings but not in a bad way. It got me thinking about my other journeys to work over the past few years. In Saskatoon, it often was a long, cold ride in spring. I always liked the ride, however, because while riding to and from work I felt that I got a sense of the seasons instead of having them simply slip by and be finished before I'd even noticed. In the Isle of Man, I got a 15 min. walk along the Irish Sea and stone walls with sheep grazing behind them in order to pick up my ride into Douglas each day. Here, I sometimes get a 40 minute ferry ride to get to the other side of the lake.

While riding into Kaslo in a couple of more weeks I could easily begin to encounter bears and I usually see deer in our neighbourhood every day. The resident coyote family hasn't shown itself yet. I did notice that the swamp lanterns (or skunk cabbage if you prefer it) are starting to grow and a wee bit of yellow from the future flower is showing itself. It all makes for interesting every day journeys that are so enjoyable, even if one is going to work!

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Socks By Cath (and Anne)

Keeping up with those folks from the Knitwear Deli I completed a project this week! Doesn't this pair just knock the socks off you? I received this wool from my friend Anne who bought it in New Zealand. It was such fun to knit and now I have a new pair of socks! Hope the weather warms up so I can show them off under my Birks. Yes, it is okay to wear socks with sandals in the Koots.