#CCR – Valhallas
Words: Brian Goldstone
The Kootenay Region of British Columbia is tucked away neatly in the south-eastern corner of the province. Often forgotten by the masses of tourists that descend on Western Canada each year it attracts people looking for raw adventure, quiet lakes and high alpine. Those who wish to live a life away from the hustle of big cities also choose it as a place to settle as most of the towns that scatter the valley have populations in the hundreds and like it that way.
Accompanied by former residents and 7mesh Ambassadors Morgan and Stephanie Taylor (@foundinthemountains) we came up with a route that encompassed all the options this place could cook up. Winding roads that were dwarfed by the towering Selkirk mountain range, the Rail Trail (the old CPR rail line) that opened up options off-road and steep-graded climbs like Idaho Peak meant in a half a day of riding we were able to experience it all.
With a hint of fall in the air, we wheeled out of the sleepy town of New Denver as darkness still covered the glacial valley. Little more than the Rail Trail’s gravel under rubber was heard as we made our way to the once bustling gold mining town of Sandon. It was no more than 30’ on the clock before we took a sharp right-hander onto the well-known climb of Idaho Peak. Usually pursued by MTBer’s, we grinded our way up the 12km gravel access road that usually took hikers to the top of the mountain. As we rose above the valley floor, the road of switchbacks gave us views of the Selkirk range that was highlighted as the morning sun begun to cover the route.
Once we reached the valley floor and hit pavement, we rolled back into town to warm our bones with coffee and local fare as town folk began to fill the streets. The sun had now fully risen over the mountains and covered the valley ensuring warmer temps by the time we made our way onto one of the most scenic roads in the Province. Taking us through Slocan Lake, Roseberry and Cape Horn Bluffs, we spent many kilometres with the snaking road all to ourselves diving in and out of viewpoints of the emerald lake and mountains that showed signs of recent snow falls up top and the ever present knowledge that winter was not too far off in the near future.
We finished up our day’s ride jumping back on the Rail Trail following sections that hung tight on a cliff’s edge before diving into a forest canopy, disappearing into a series of gravel lines. The scene could be found in any number of Hollywood movies. From rushing rivers to an abandoned mining town and even a cable cart that had been adapted to enable your bike to accompany you across the river below, it made this ride truly unique. Not one of miles or pace, but rather the pure essence of exploration.
Another area less trodden checked off the list, but with the full knowledge that we would be coming back here at some point to dive deeper into what the Kootenays has to offer.