Winter Waterfalls

Winter has hit the Thompson-Okanagan. Snow is falling, ice is forming and my breath is evaporating in small white puffs in front of my face—but if you think that will keep me from adventuring outdoors, you don’t know me very well.

 

Before the hike

I’m not immune to Canada’s cold. I catch a chill quickly and easily. I can’t deny the allure of staying inside, sipping a cup of steaming tea and curling up like a cat in a blanket. However, British Columbia’s outdoor scenery becomes even more secluded, stunning and rewarding to explore in winter. So, decked out in two pairs of long johns, wool socks and a toque, I set out to find two winter waterfalls in Kelowna’s residential area.

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Crawford Falls is located in Southwest Mission. Also known as Canyon Falls, this hike is accessible through Canyon Falls Court, a small cul-de-sac with limited parking. The entrance to the trail is quite obviously marked by a “Kelowna City Parks” sign.

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You can see the first falls from the upper trails, but getting closer becomes a bit of a quest. Ropes strung between trees help hikers maneuver their way down a sheer drop. A large warning sign excusing the City of Kelowna from any incurred injuries marks the entrance to the rope descent. The City has recently created another, easier path that zigzags down the hill and incorporates a chained-up ladder. While it’s great to have this option, I still suggest taking the ropes if you’re able to.

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The route isn’t long, but it’s incredibly steep. When going down, face up the hill. Hang onto the ropes (it may help to wear gloves, especially in winter) and lean back slightly. It’s imperative to wear proper footwear. I had on Keen’s new Revel iii, which are meant for wet/winter hiking. This is NOT the place to wear flip flops!

Heading down

After about 20 minutes of heart-pounding descent, I arrived at the bottom. A thundering waterfall greeted me. Crystal clear froth slipped over jagged black rocks. Driftwood bobbed in the current, trapped between rocks in the shallow rushing river.

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The waterfall stretched 20 feet high and a few feet wide. Icicles clung to wet rocks and logs. Nearby stones were dabbed with frost. The falls glowed an eerie blue. It seemed impossible that 30 minutes ago, I was standing in a city suburb.

I hoisted myself over the rocks, taking care to avoid slippery sections. I climbed up to the far left of the waterfall. Once I was above it, I hopped from rock to rock to cross the stream and inched my way to the edge of the falls, dangling my feet alongside the cascading water.

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I crossed back over the river and kept walking up the path. After 10 minutes or so, I found the second waterfall. These falls were significantly taller, reaching about 40 feet and spewing out in a straight, thin line. In the spring and summer, hikers can walk behind the falls and climb the cliff next to them, but in late November, it was far too icy to dare.

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Sunlight filtered down into the curved rock basin. Clumps of wet snow congealed at the bottom of the falls. I admired the rushing water from an ice-covered rock until my bum grew numb. Satisfied, I hiked back over the first waterfall and opted to take the ladder route back up the hill.

The ladder routeOnce on top, I took the “official” trail for about 10 minutes, staying to the right at any forks in the road. Soon, I arrived at another steep pathway equipped with ropes. This one was much easier to get down. I landed at the summit of the second waterfall. I stood as close to the edge as I dared, but the sudden plunge over the cliff was intense and nerve wracking.

Unfortunately, the cliff-face next to the creek has been covered with graffiti tags. I found far too much rubbish lying around, left by previous hikers. Please, if you are choosing to enjoy British Columbia’s incredible nature, respect it. There’s a garbage can near the entrance, so pick up whatever leftovers you find to help keep this place beautiful.

I’ve hiked Crawford Falls in the summer as well, but I can’t deny how much more beautiful the rushing water looked surrounded by crystals and blue frost. Don’t let the cold and snow keep you indoors—take a couple hours to get outside and fall in love with the world in winter.

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This hiking article was brought to you by our friends at Keen.  Whatever outdoor adventures come your way, the Keen Revel III will help take you there.

A Weekend at the Camping Cabin: Serenity Views, Nakusp

Note: I receive accommodation in exchange for an honest review. I only choose places that seem awesome to me, and I only say a place is great if it truly is.

We arrived at Serenity Views in the dark. The property was easy to find from the given directions (turn down 15th, and take a left on 23rd). The lights outside the main house flickered on at our arrival. We were greeted by the temporary inn keeper, Susan. She handed us a flashlight and lead us down the (very) short walk to the Camping Cabin, where we’d be spending the next two nights.

DSC_0007A faint glow guided us towards the quaint wooden building. Inside, the Camping Cabin was toasty and warm. A fire was burning in the wood stove, heating up the inner area. There was a bed, a couple sitting chairs, a large kitchen sink, a gas stove and a lamp. Rustic pots and pans, mismatched mugs and cooking utensils were stacked on shelves above the sink. Directly outside the heated area was a covered porch, equipped with a small dining table, chairs, an egg swing, a make-shift sofa and one last lamp.

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Candles flickered as we put our bags down. I smelled pine and smoke.

I immediately felt at home.

Mark fired up the BBQ outside and cooked us some schnitzel while I read the Welcome/Information package left for us. It was chilly eating on the deck; it had started rainy lightly. That night we fell asleep cozily to the sound of cracking firewood and sparse rain.

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We woke up to more rain. It took us awhile to get a fire going. There’s a composting toilet (which looks like a normal toilet, in my opinion) inside the cabin, but it’s requested for guests to use the outside one. Running out to the nearby outhouse wasn’t difficult—it’s about ten steps away—but putting on our layers to brave the cold was slightly unenjoyable. Still, I have to admit it was one of the coolest outhouses I have ever used (did I just say “cool” and “outhouse” in the same sentence?). The only door is a heavy curtain which, to be honest, I never closed. It’s pretty sweet staring out into the forest as you pee.

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Brian and Marilyn don’t usually rent out the Camping Cabin in November, as the water is shut off so the pipes don’t freeze. I had convinced them that we could handle the cold and the resulting experience was better than I could have expected. Rustic. Real. Secluded. Romantic.

That morning, we cooked cheesy scrambled eggs and brewed piping hot coffee on the propane stove inside. We walked down a slippery path to our own private beach, admiring gorgeous skipping stones in vibrant hues of purple, orange, yellow and green.

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That evening we had planned to meet up with some other travellers at one of two pubs in the tiny town. However, once we got a fire going, there was no way I could be coaxed out of our cozy cabin. I’d taken off my two pairs of long johns and slipped on my MEC booties. We cooked a thick, warm potato leak stew with fresh ingredients from the Saturday farmers market and settled in for our second night at Serenity Views.

If you’re lucky enough to stay in the Camping Cabin, set aside some time to wander the trails. The property is huge! Also check out the small Art Gallery in the garage, containing bronze art and stone jewelry created by the hosts’ daughter, Shannon, pottery and walking sticks made by Brian, and sewing/quilting items handmade by Marilyn. Mark bought me a beautiful pair of turquoise stone earrings for our two year anniversary.

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It’s easy for me to recommend Serenity Views as a scenic, quiet, romantic getaway. My only regret is not staying longer. I will definitely be back!

Best Thing: No traffic noise, no blaring headlights and no wifi! I don’t think I’ve ever been so relaxed in my life. I wanted to do more—to rent the canoe or go fishing—but I can’t deny how good it felt just to sit in the warmth and stare out over the clouds that hung across the lake.

Worst Thing: Doing the dishes and cleaning up before leaving. It only took an hour, but I still missed my dishwasher.

All in all, Mark and I had a fantastic experience at Serenity Views. We spoke to others who stayed at the Camping Cabin in the past, and they agreed: this is the place to stay when visiting Nakusp.

For more about the Camping Cabin, click here.