Daytripping into BC's mighty Purcell Mountains
One of our favourite things to do is set up a cozy camp somewhere nice, then set out and explore the area for a few days.
When you're on the road the default is to pitch tent every evening and decamp every morning, but if you find a place with a bunch
of things to do it's great to create a more comfortable camp and unwind for a few days. That way you can just roll out in the morning,
then come home in the evening and relax. It's kinda like moving the comforts of your home somewhere new for a few days. It's great.
This month we teamed up with Coleman Canada's "Get Outside Masters Program" to do exactly that. Camping on the shores of Kootenay Lake,
we took a couple day trips into the Glacier Creek area, hiking two of the Purcell's most stunning trails — Monica Meadows and Jumbo Pass.
The Purcells are a pretty old mountain range, much older than the upstart Rockies just to the east. Bounded by the Columbia River,
the Purcells cast a vast rain shadow over the Kootenays, so you'll find inland temperate rainforests of hemlock and cedar in the
West Kootenays and drier pine forests in the East. They are a mighty range, filled with glaciers and granite spires, and much of
the area is rugged untracked wilderness.
But it's a long drive out, so we wanted to camp for a few days, explore the area, and make the most of it. We set up camp on the
shores of beautiful Kootenay Lake, where we could hang out by the water, go for morning swims, and lounge around in comfort.
Our first hike was up to the Monica Meadows. A relatively gentle hike, you quickly ascend to a broad alpine meadow dotted with larch
trees, blankets of wildflowers, a couple little lakes. With great views of the Macbeth Icefield, the Cauldron, and the towering triple
threat of Amen-Ra, Isis, and Osiris, there is plenty to look at as you explore.
Our second hike was to the Jumbo Pass. One of the last areas of vast intact wilderness in BC's Southern Interior, Jumbo has been
in the news a bunch the past couple decades due to a proposed and controversial ski resort. Home to one of North America's most important
grizzly bear populations, many locals are opposed to the development, raising awareness about the necessity of keeping truly wild spaces.
It's a beautiful area, and we were excited to head out and see it for ourselves.
On the border between the East and West Kootenays, Jumbo is accessible from two trailheads. We took the slightly more difficult
(but closer) West Kootenay approach. A bit longer and steeper than the Monica Meadows trail, most of the hike was is through forests,
with views only once you near the top of the pass and beyond. But once you're up the views are magnificent.
Jumbo is a popular trail, and its no wonder why. There's a little 8-person cabin available if you book ahead, a bunch of ridges and
summits to explore if you have the time, and some world-class powder and ski touring come winter. Just there for the day, we clambered
up the trail behind the cabin and out onto the ridge for a couple hours, gazing out over the sprawling Jumbo and Glacier Creek valleys.
Sometimes it just seems crazy that places like this exist, only a day trip away.
This post was created as part of Coleman Canada's 'Get Outside Masters' program, where we're contributing
a series of blog posts all about camping. Head over to
Get Outside Canada
to read our tips on setting up a nice comfortable basecamp, and more.