By Margaret Miller, a long-time Creston Valley resident
As a long time resident of Creston Valley, I continue to discover wonderful outdoor spots to explore. A few weeks ago, in the company of a few friends, I was introduced to a beautiful hiking trail not far from my West Creston home.
Decades ago, my husband and I were drawn to the valley by its diverse landscapes. Mountains and wetlands, fields and forests, Kootenay Lake, and a network of rivers and channels. We wanted to live in a community with mountain views that was a short drive from the beautiful lake.
Outdoor enthusiasts have a wealth of choices in Creston Valley: quiet channels and moving waters for the paddlers. Local mountain roads and an expanding network of trails for the hikers. Stagleap Park at the summit for the snow enthusiasts. A fabulous array of quiet roads for cyclists, including Highway 3A along Kootenay Lake, which will be the scenic route for the Gran Fondo cycling event this fall.
I enjoy visiting familiar outdoor spots, but am delighted when I discover something new. Last week’s short hike took me along an established trail beside Summit Creek, two kilometres west of Summit Creek Park. Just a fifteen-minute drive from home, I entered a magical world.
The well-defined trail – an old pack trail perhaps – wound uphill on the south side of Summit Creek, a thrilling spectacle of rushing water at this time of year. We followed the earthy trail through tall evergreens shedding the last drops of rainwater and saw alien-looking lichen and impressive moss covered rock faces. Close to the trail, swollen creek water thundered over granite boulders, creating dangerous drops, holes and standing waves. We marvelled at the energy bordering the quiet forest. We stepped over two tiny streams and turned back when the trail became blocked by too much deadfall.
This short adventure got me thinking. What other local treats am I missing?
It’s easy to fall back on what we know. The same walking or cycling path. The same route home from work or town. Nothing wrong with that. Familiar is good, and often those trails or paths are worth re-visiting. Ripple Ridge on Kootenay Pass is a personal summer favourite; the joy of crossing rock benches with 360 degree mountain views never wears thin. Canoeing the south end of Kootenay Lake is another pleasure worth repeating. A wide light-filled bay, apple green leaves rustling on shore, and more than one hundred kilometres of blue ridges at my back. It doesn’t get much better.
But there are undiscovered treats out there too, so I need to think outside the box, study local maps and pick a few brains.
My quest for the new, the unfamiliar is spilling into other aspects of daily life. I opted for a longer route home from town a few days ago, driving on quiet rural streets I’d not been on for years. I discovered large new homes, new driveways, and cleared building sites. I looked down onto the Wildlife Management Area from a new vantage point and waved at people out walking whose faces I didn’t recognize.
This week, my quest for variety will include a few new foods. I’ll buy more local products, try a few new items at the grocery store and more products from the wonderful international aisle. And I’ll re-acquaint myself with some old food friends. Fruit and veggies are high on my shopping list, but I’ve neglected papaya and kiwis, leeks and parsnips for too long and completely ignored kohlrabi. Shame on me!
Many of us enjoy what’s familiar. The usual camping spot or swimming hole. The favourite ball cap or fading shirt. The same restaurant for that night out with friends, the preferred menu item. The same brand of tea or coffee, wine or beer.
But sometimes the familiar seems dull. The same-old-same-old. That’s when it’s time to switch things up, to try new outdoor spots, new local products and services. And these days Creston Valley has lots to offer if we simply look around.