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Published: September 30th 2005
Paint Pots, East Kootenays
People used to use these colourful muds to make paints
Today's journey took us out of the Rockies and into the Kootenays, a lesser known but no less spectacular set of mountain ranges. We were prepared for everything on the way back home to be somewhat of an anti-climax after the Rockies, but the Kootenays region turned out to be quite a discovery in its own right. Most of our day was spent driving southwest towards the hippy centre of Nelson, but we did make time to stop off for a quick walk in the East Kootenays to see the 'Paint Pots'. These giant, opaque, ochre and red ponds, and the surrounding muds, were used in times past to make - you guessed it - paint. I can testify to the effectiveness of the mud at fulfilling this purpose, as I somehow managed to get completely coated in the stuff. Quin had a merry old time taking incriminating photos and laughing at me as I attempted to get the splotches off my pants and shoes in the river .
The area just beyond the East Kootenays is filled with lakes and lush green hills, interrupted at intervals by the occasional town. The worst of these was Cranbrook, a truly
ugly suburban nightmare of fast-food chains and flat, grimy strip malls, the worst caricature of an all-American, hole-of-a-small-town I've ever seen. We made a bee-line out of there and continued through to Kimberly, modelled after a 'Bavarian village' (in a rather fake, kitschy way), before taking a long, winding route along lake shores to the ferry. I imagine the ferry crossing over to Nelson would have been quite scenic but due to reduced off-season scheduling, we instead ended up waiting several hours in our car and crossing after dark. So all we saw was blackness ;-).
After weeks in the wilderness, driving in a 'city', small as Nelson is, was a bit of a shock to the system. Needless to say, we managed to get quite lost and it was a while before we found our hostel. Yes, yes, we've finally caved in and decided to treat ourselves to a bed for the night .
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