Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Kootenays

We are back home in Squamish after our trip to the Rockies. The weather is warm and it's shockingly dry, but it's nice to be back in familiar surroundings. On our way home, we stopped for one week in the Kootenays to enjoy summer in the Interior and had a really nice time visiting with my family. It was hot, but we managed to find lots of water in which to cool off. We stayed near Salmo, across the highway from Eerie Lake. Here's a picture of the barn on the farm.

Our mission each day seemed to be to seek out some good swimming. The Interior is great for this as lakes and rivers abound. We spent one afternoon with my mother at Champion Lakes, a twenty-minute drive from Salmo. Here's Elise covered in sand shaped like a mermaid. She loves to play in the sand, but we found that her indoor pool swimming skills did not translate very well to the lake. She preferred to use her "floaty" instead of swim on her own. At least she enjoys being in the water...

While in Salmo, Pam and I went climbing at a limestone area called Metaline Falls just over the border in the US. There is a fair amount of limestone (good climbing rock) in the northern part of Washington and I was interested in checking it out. Amazingly, this cliff was only about a 30-minute drive from Salmo. This is a view of the cliff above the bridge, just west of the town of Metaline Falls.

This is a view of town from the top of the cliff. The actual cliff was quite high, but the zone in which we climbed was quite small - smaller than I was expecting.

The view up up the river. It was a hot day, so Pam and I swam in the river before we ventured to the cliff to climb. The river was slow, but the current still tried to drag us away from the swimming area. To approach the climbing, we drove to the top of the cliff, hiked through open pine forest and then descended a fixed ladder to the cave. It was a pleasant spot.

This is Pam below the cave. The stone was quite nice, but the walls were short. Also, this cliff seems to get very little traffic so the routes were somewhat dirty. If this cliff were closer to a major city, it would be very popular. Regardless, we did a number of short climbs and socialized with the only other climbers there, a couple of guys from Florida!!!

Despite being small, the rock still formed the classic limestone features: drips, pockets and tufas.

A couple of days later, we traveled to another limestone area called Marcus with my father. This zone is also in the US and closer to Spokane. We went for an overnight trip and camped at a nice spot next to the Columbia River. It was smoking hot, but we cooled off in the campground swimming area before dinner and bedtime. Again, Elise would not swim unassisted, but did venture out with her "floaty". She enjoyed getting on and off the raft and fooling around with Grandpa in the water. Here's a view of the swimming raft and the river.

Elise and Grandpa in the Columbia River just as evening was settling in.

The view of the climbing cliff above the campground. The cave is barely visible in the trees, just right of the centre of the photograph.

While at the cliff the next day, I managed to sit down right beside some poison ivy before realizing what it was. I got a bit of a rash, but nothing too bad, luckily. We never worry about it on the Coast, but I need to be more vigilant in the Interior I guess. The climbing was good, but it was very hot again. At least this cliff was higher than Metaline Falls and seemed to get more traffic. The cave was deep and impressive.

This is the wall right of the cave. The rock quality was mediocre, but the climbing was still fun and physical.

Looking out of the cave at the Columbia River. After climbing, we swam in the river again before heading back to Trail and dinner at The Colander, a local Italian restaurant of note.

The next day was our last and we filled it with activities. Here's Elise and Grandma in the canoe at Eerie Lake. We paddled out in the morning and fished from the boat. We caught a sunfish and got it on board. Elise put it in her bucket filled with water, but it splashed frantically, which scared (and soaked) Elise. I tried to get a picture, but Elise threw it back before I could get the camera out. You'll just have to take my word for it I guess.

Late in the afternoon, we drove over the US border again to swim in a small, but beautiful spot called Crescent Lake. The pond is surrounded by limestone, which I believe gives it this aquamarine colour. The water was super clear and we enjoyed swimming, relaxing on shore and some unsuccessful fishing. We even saw a small bear near the end of the lake!

Our journey home was pretty uneventful. We were shocked to find that most of our grass had turned brown after a long, cool June that had left it very green. Fire bans are in effect! If all goes well, we will spend the rest of the summer in Squamish and then head to Maple Canyon in September for some camping and climbing. We've purchased our tickets to Turkey and will be gone from October 21st to December 15th. It should be a great fall.

We hope you are all enjoying the summer!


  1. I live in Metaline and I have never heard of a cave on Washington Rock (The name of the granite cliff in Metaline Falls) Can you tell me where on the rock you found it.

  2. HI Pete,

    Sorry I missed this. To find the cave, which is small, you have to first get to the summit of the cliff. We did this by driving up the highway and then traversing on logging roads across the top. Once on top of the main cliffband, you kind of descend along a trail to the east (sort of). This leads down to a series of metal rungs which drop over a 20 foot cliff. At the base of the rungs is a short trail that leads to the cave. Check it out and tell me what you find.