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There is a popular question asked frequently when arriving in Kaslo for the first time: What is there to do? This usually comes after you step out of the car and soak in the incredible mountain and lake views! Then reality sinks in, there is no Cineplex Odeon, we don't have a professional sports team, and we definitely don't have a mall... in fact, you could walk the entire town in about an hour.
So what do you do?
My wife and I recently had friends from Kelowna visit us and they asked this very question. After we had them settled and the first bottle of wine had been opened, we sat out on the patio overlooking Kootenay Lake and the Purcell Mountains. There were some oohs and ahs before the inevitable conversation:
"What are we going to do this weekend?"
"Well, what do you want to do?"
"Is there anything to do?"
My wife and I laughed as we began to plan our weekend.
We began the day by venturing into town for breakfast. The debate between the Treehouse Restaurant, the Kaslo Hotel, the Blue Belle Bistro, and a number of other
choices was finally won by the Kaslo Golf Club's Clubhouse Restaurant. Truthfully the food at all of them is incredible, but the view off the deck at the Clubhouse won out. After breakfast, unfortunately the two guys couldn't convince the girls to swing the clubs with us, so they scampered into town while we played the 9-hole course, which happens to be the oldest golf course in the Kootenays (est. 1923). We met up with the girls in town and they had found a number of goodies at the Live Art Shop, Kootenay Mountain Sports, Willow Home Gallery, Figments, and The Clothes Hanger, to name a few. It was decided that we should get some exercise, so we headed out of town on foot to the Kaslo River Trail. The trail has been constructed and groomed by the Trailblazer Society. It takes about an hour to do the short loop of the trail, unless you stop every 5 minutes to take pictures.
The hike brought on hunger and was followed by a quick pit stop at Mountain King for burgers and ice cream! Only about 100m away from Mountain King's outdoor dining area is National Historic Site, the S.S. Moyie.
The Moyie is a dry docked sternwheeler, the world's oldest intact sternwheeler, located on the shores of Kootenay Lake and has long been a symbol that has become synonymous with Kaslo. We stepped into the Visitor Centre and chatted for awhile before touring the beautifully restored boat, rich with history as it was the last operational sternwheeler to travel the lake. Decomissioned in 1957 after a 59 year career, the Moyie stands proudly as a symbol of years of hard work by the Kootenay Lake Historical Society. Not to mention, the bridge of the vessel has an operational steam whistle that echoes through the entire village!
After we toured the ship, we hustled to Eric's Meat Market to pick up some steaks and head back to Wing Creek for an evening BBQ. A relaxing evening with great food and a few more glasses of wine were a perfect end to a busy day in Kaslo. The funny part of the night was our guests thinking that we would be out of activities for the following day.
Breakfast at home to begin the day as we prepared to head back into town for the morning surprise. We had booked an early paddle with Kaslo Kayaking! Paddling our way across Kootenay Lake, we worked our way to the East side where we grabbed photos of the Native hieroglyphs on the cliff faces that frame to far shore. The folks that run Kaslo Kayaking make it very hard to have a bad time and being out on the water is pretty spectacular! We were joined by some other friends and the morning slipped by quickly as we had far too much fun learning the intricacies of kayaking. For half of our group it was the first time ever in kayaks.
Lunch needed to happen quickly after kayaking, so we headed over to Buddy's Front Street Pizzeria for a woodfire baked pizza and a cold beverage. Afterwards we grabbed supplies for a evening hot dog and marshmallow roast on the beach at Wing Creek.
Before heading back to Wing Creek, we ventured south about 10 minutes to Fletcher Falls. Fletcher Falls is a well-kept secret only a 5-10 minute hike off the highway to a spectacular 150 foot waterfall with walking trails that almost put you underneath it. Those brave/crazy adventurers can wade out into the pool at the base of the falls and get up close and personal.
Tuckered out from our day, we headed back to Wing Creek and down to the beach where we started a beautiful fire to sit beside, even pushed the canoe out on the water for awhile, apparently some of us didn't get enough paddling in earlier. The stars came out and we each had way too many hot dogs and definitely way too many marshmallows.
What's left? Breakfast on the patio and a packed lunch for the day's adventure. We decided to venutre North to the top end of Kootenay Lake. Our first stop was Duncan Dam. Completed in 1967, the area around the dam offers a spectacular network of trails and channels that includes our second stop of the day, the Meadow Creek Spawning Channels. After soaking in the beauty of Duncan Lake and the intricate working of the dam site, we hiked around the spawning channels. At this time of year it is a lovely place to walk and picnic, but September Long Weekend is when the real action goes down. The Kokanee Salmon, the only landlocked salmon species in the world, run in the early weeks of September and a sign of their fertility is the bright red colouring that they take on during this time. We stopped for lunch before heading back to the vehicle. There was one other stop before heading back to Wing Creek: the Marble Quarry.
The Marble Quarry is hidden in the woods off the highway North of Meadow Creek and it is most definitely not a tourist attraction. Hidden extremely well from the highway traffic, only locals know about this little hideout. Once a bustling enterprise, what's left is a cavernous hole in the side of the mountain and a unique collection of graffiti from artists with a wide range of skills. We snapped some photos and honked the horn inside the cavern for fun, then we jumped back in the vehicle.
The sad part of the day was that it was now about 3pm and our guests had to pack up and head back to Kelowna. We laughed as we said goodbye and told them to come back soon because we still had so much to do! We didn't have time to take them to the Hot Springs, or the old growth Cedar forest, or to Buchanan Lookout, or to Fry Creek, Monica Meadows, Idaho Peak, or Kootenay Glacier, to name a few.
There is no question that the activities are plentiful, the shopping is unique and cultured, the restaurants are extraordinary, and the history is enlightening. Just ask anyone from Kaslo "The Question" -- we have the answer!
Can't wait to see you here,