Exploring British Columbia: A Road Trip in the West Kootenays

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As a wellness coach, Catherine Roscoe Barr knows about the restorative power of travel. This allows her to reconnect with nature and loved ones while making new connections with people and places. Says Catherine, “it’s a chance to learn something new. It’s about connecting to yourself and your partner, and about being truly present in the moment.”

A man and woman lay in a fold-out roof-tent on top of a yellow Jeep

Catherine and Aaron travelled in a fully-outfitted Jeep, featuring a fold-out roof-tent. Photo: Rick Graham

These observations came into focus for Catherine and her husband, Aaron, on their recent visit to British Columbia’s mountainous Kootenay Rockies region. The couple, who celebrated their wedding anniversary while on the trip, loves to travel and explore new places. Catherine is also a freelance travel writer, and they have lived in Australia, the US, and various parts of Canada. A Jeep, a map, and the open road is the perfect adventure for these two, who welcome the spontaneity of road trips.

Nakusp and Upper Arrow Lake | Kari Medig

Catherine says, “I love an adventure. I have no fear of getting lost. I think it’s exciting to see new things and choose a new route. If you have the mindset that it will be an adventure then there is no ‘lost,’ there are no wrong turns—it can always be fun.”

As urban residents (Catherine and Aaron live in Vancouver), visiting small towns and meeting new people offers fresh perspective. “It’s great to have friendly, authentic, open conversations with people. It makes the experience more whole, and more interesting,” says Catherine. “It’s liberating to come to a community where people are happy to share, because you know you’ll find things you couldn’t find on your own. You could show up unannounced, unknown, and they would be happy to share where to eat, where to camp, where to bike, and where to do those special things that you wouldn’t be able to do in the city.”

Nelson | Kari Medig
Kaslo | David Gluns

Catherine and Aaron’s itinerary included some of the region’s communities like Kaslo and Nelson, known for their laid back charm and adventurous, outdoorsy citizens. 

The Nakusp Farmers' Market | Kari Medig

The couple stopped at the weekly farmers market in Nakusp, and visited other local producers for a taste of the region. “Visiting farmers’ markets for your food makes you much more connected to it, and mindful about where it came from. I know where it was grown, I know what season it’s from, and that it’s fresh and will taste amazing. It builds such a sense of community when you support farmers and local makers and artisans—it’s a much more intimate and connected experience.”

Halcyon Hot Springs, near Nakusp | Dave Heath
Mount Revelstoke National Park | Ryan Creary

They also explored the wilderness with visits to Mount Revelstoke National Park and other protected parklands. Catherine notes, “Nature doesn’t only make you feel good, but it actually positively affects your health. It’s one more reason to get out and experience it.” Aaron and Catherine found serenity in the mountains, and appreciated stepping away from the rigours of their daily routine to see the big picture.

Always check trail conditions before you head out, and no matter what outdoor activity you are planning, be prepared. AdventureSmart and Leave No Trace are great resources to help you get informed before heading outdoors. Follow the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials.

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