Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day Five: Beautiful Fernie, B.C.

Castle Rocks hike
Fernie is a little known town, but is definitely worth a visit. It has a delightful main street with over one hundred years of history, and includes most of the amenities we are accustomed to in the big city. However, the wonderful thing about Fernie is the 360 degrees of pure mountain beauty meeting you at every corner. It includes a few restaurants, both casual and upscale; we grabbed a quick bite at Big Bang Bagel, one of the many shops on the main strip with a clever name, and found much needed energy for our day hike in the signature breakfast bagel. The town also has some great specialty stores, such as Womb to Grow, a maternity shop run by a doula (a woman trained to help during pregnancy, birth, and after the baby is born).

Our big adventure for the day was a 3 hour hike (return) to Castle Rocks. After twisting around a gravel road for several minutes, we parked on a side road and embarked from there. It is not that well marked for visitors from out of town, but fortunately we had a guide, a good friend from Ontario who purchased a condo there last year.

We followed three trails to get to the top: Roots, Hyperventilation, and Castle Rocks. Roots was mostly flat, wide and easy going as a trail, but it started to get steeper and was one-track after that. In difficulty it was a “Blue” which turned into a “Black Diamond”, the same rating they use for ski trails. For much of the hike we were in the woods, but when we approached Castle Rock itself, a dark orange and grey entity that rises starkly against the blue sky, the trail opened up. The views were magnificent panoramas of mountains with grey tops and green slopes, which lead down into the valley where the town resides. You can see Fernie Alpine Ski Resort, while The Three Sisters rock formation stands out above the rest of the mountains, majestic.

Mountain bikers are known to walk their bikes up the mountain and then bike back down. It seems like a magnificent thing, but much too extreme for my liking! Overall, Fernie is a wonderful place for those who love the outdoors; it is a haven for people who like to hike, bike, camp or swim, and is full of friendly people.

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