Kokanee Glacier – Not the beer but the park is a wilderness gem of an adventure destination. The beer with the similar name is not too bad either.
The Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park covers over 32,000 hectares located near the community of Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. The park is decorated in trails, mountain peaks, alpine lakes and populated with wildlife. On our most recent trip we saw bear and owls.
It is one of the oldest parks in BC, first established in 1922. The wilderness park is located in the majestic Selkirk Mountains situated between the Kootenay and Slocan Lakes.
Throughout the park are 30+ alpine lakes – some accessed by trails and some by float planes- and three glaciers (Woodbury, Caribou and the Kokanee Glaciers).
On our last trip into the park we arrived early in the season so we could view the glaciers in their prime. However, the FSR (Forest Service Road) leading into the park did not cooperate as it was in rough shape covered in dead fall trees and blocked by domino line of snow avalanches.
The obstacles stopped our 4×4 in its tracks. The rest of the road leading to the trails were explored on foot, side-stepping wash outs, fast flowing run off creeks and climbing over more deadfall trees.
We were alone on this trip, some say we were crazy to be exploring so early in the season. Our breathe was still visible like walking into a fog bank as we huffed and puffed up the trails. Nature was putting on a show which was tailor made for people like us who like it wild and rough.
Our group investigated some of the trails – at least the ones we could access. The wet season transformed many of the trails into mush consisting of a broth of mud, pine needles and leaves.
It did not take the mud long to creep up our legs and coat us, head to toe, in a brown sludge. To many people this would be discouraging… not to us… this was what exploring in the wilderness was all about – getting down and dirty inundated by crisp forest scents and surrounded by the sounds of crashing water and breaking ice.
Alone in the wilderness, the trails were our guide. The rain joined us on our hike – on and off – lightly and hard. The rain provided the rhythm for our steps and became our musical entertainment. Tap, tap, tap smashing against our rain gear. No worries we were well prepared protected in our rain gear, layered in clothes and camouflaged in layers of mud.
There are over 100+ kilometres of wilderness trails in the Kokanee Glacier Park. We have yet to explore them all.
The trails explore alpine peaks, glaciers, meadows of flowers, run-off creeks and mountain lakes.
Backpacking is best from July to October after the snow melt. We could not wait, we arrived in the park in late May on our last visit.
Our most memorable trail in the Kokanee Glacier Park is the Gibson Lake Trail which leads explorers through the Kokanee Pass passing by the base of the Kokanee and Outlook Mountains. Wow… is how you describe the scenery.
On every visit we try to spend a couple days exploring this beautiful park surrounded by snow capped mountain peaks and the echoes of crashing rivers.
Every trip we pack up our hiking gear and photo equipment and set out on foot to the base of the Kokanee Glacier. Over the years we have seen how it is changing in size and form. Climate change at work. Often, high in the mountains during this time of year the fog rolls in, the air is wet with mist and the visibility is poor – but the thrill is never gone.
The longer trails in the park connect to wilderness campsites and park cabins suitable for overnight accommodations. The trails are challenging and should only be attempted by backpackers in good physical shape and equipped with the proper gear and equipment. Remember, prepare for all weather conditions when hiking and backpacking in the mountains as the weather conditions change very quickly.
All in all … this park is a treat and we look forward to the next visit soon!
For more photos and information on the Kokanee Glacier Park visit our website at : http://www.kootenayseh.com/nelson/parks/kokanee-glacier.htm .