Nelson is a city located in the Selkirk Mountains on the extreme West Arm of Kootenay Lake in the Southern Interior of British Columbia.. It was named afar a previous governor of the Province (not Lord Horatio Nelson). It is famous for its impressive collection of restored heritage buildings which survive from its glory days in the late 1800’s when a silver rush took place in the nearby mountains.
We began our day by leaving Revelstoke on Highway 23. The scenery along this road is really impressive. We know that it is only a foretaste of the sights we will see when we get to the ‘real’ Rocky Mountains, but it is very scenic never the less. We first travelled along the southern edge of Arrow Lake with its back drop of high rocky peaks. These are still covered with snow. At Blanket Bay, we stopped to look at the scenery and found the very active Sutherland Waterfall.
Further on,we reached the inland ferry (run by the Highways Department) that crosses the lake. True t form, we arrived just as it had finished loading and there was no room for our extra car. This meant an hour’s wait until the next service. There was a food caravan selling coffee, but the lady who ran it was far more interested in reading her book than a chat with her customers. After a little while, another car (and then many other vehicles including log trucks, semi’s and enormous bus-sized mobile homes) were all lined up waiting to cross the lake. The driver of the next car in line told us about some of the tinngs to look out for along the road and we are grateful for meeting him, otherwise we would have missed out on two quite outstanding sights. The ferry took about 20 minutes to cross the lake, and we were treated to some beautiful views of the mountains and their reflections in the calm waters.
We stopped for lunch in the little town of Nakusp. From here, we headed overland towards Kaslo on a rather good, but winding, mountain road. Someway along this road was a turnoff to a ghost town named Sandon which is all that is left of a once thriving silver mining town. I don’t think that I would have bothered to take this side road without the recommendation of the man at the ferry.
The first surprise along this road was the sight of a brown bear foraging along the roadside verge. On our previous trip to Canada, we managed ro see vague silhouettes of bears in the distance, but here was one just a few yards from the car. Wow! Several other drivers stopped and the bear seemed completely non-plussed. In fact, it walked across the road and stopped right behind our car which was very frustrating as the other people were clicking away with their cameras and we couldn’t even see it, We were certainly not going to get out of the car to look for it.
At the end of the road, we came across the second highlight – the old ghost town of Sandon. All that is left are a few houses and a couple of old buildings. The old city hall is still standing and looks rather pompous in an otherwise deserted landscape. There is also a little hydro poet station that has been operating now for over 100 years and further down the valley there is a silver mine that looks as though it may be still operating.
Back on the main road, we passed a number of swampy areas where little lakes were prevalent on the flats. It struck us that these were completely unnatural and then we woke up to then fact that they were beaver dams. in at least one of them, the beaver lodge was obviously visible.
We finished our day by driving the final 90 kms to Nelson where we found a hotel for a couple of nights. Tomorrow, we intend to explore this little city and see some of its heritage buildings. It is a bit of a ‘hippy’ town with lots of art and craft businesses. It’s also the place where many American draft differs moved to live during the Vietnam War.