Trail Riding in Nelson BC

One month ago, I mentioned that I would be moving away from Vancouver, a decision which prompted me to declutter and to aim for a more minimalist lifestyle. The move has come and gone. Thanks to a generous offer of aid from my childhood teacher, I once again find myself in my beautiful hometown of Nelson, British Columbia.

Life is slower here than the bustle of the big city. I have had to re-adjust to life in the slow lane. In Vancouver, there was always something to do, a place to go, or a person to see. In Nelson, not so much. These things which require no effort in the city, require motivation and the willingness to get off one’s ass and head outdoors in a city of 10,000 people.

After spending the first week and a half indoors job hunting, I decided to see just how well my city bike could cope with the easiest of Nelson’s many mountain trails. The Nelson Salmo Great Northern Trail runs between the two cities for a complete distance of approximately 48 kilometres. Growing up, our house was directly beneath a section of this trail which quickly became a familiar haunt for my brother and I. This morning, I decided to revisit this stretch of trail which runs south for approximately 4 kilometres, the end of which is marked by two old railway trestles. I threw my bicycle in the back of the car and drove to an access point in Uphill Nelson.

Nelson from Mountain Station

The trail if very flat, though the entire stretch of trail slopes gently upwards. There were a few hikers whom I passed in the first few minutes though after that, I had the trail to myself. Along the sides of the trail, previous travellers have left behind inukshuks and round rings of piled stones, even an old volkswagen which I recall being there ever since I can remember. The first three kilometres were spent peddling steadily, shaded from the sun by the spruce and cedar trees which grow on either side of the trail.

Soon, the first trestle, which spans a gully, came into view. Immediately, it became clear that the hulking relic of my childhood had been refurbished. Gone were the missing planks and giant warning signs which foretold a grisly death to all trespassers. No trolls lurked beneath this bridge with its new planking and metal guard rails.

The second trestle is not far from the first. Below is a dirt road and a white water creek, the sound of which can be heard even before the bridge comes into view. Across the bridge and to the left is a small foot path which I later learned is a part of the Silverking Trail. As a chance to cool off, this shaded trail seemed to be perfectly timed, so I decided to see where it led. Leaving my bike on the side of the trail, I followed the new path for a while until I grew tired of brushing inchworms, which hung across the trail by the dozen, from my face. I turned around and soon found myself by the gushing waters of the stream. I spent a minute in the cool air, then returned to my bicycle and the original trail.

Not much further down the trail, I spied a new trail going down into the forest which seemed wide enough to comfortably ride down. This trail is very different from the gentle, open path on which I had been been cycling. It is steeper and turns in the opposite direction. It is truly in the forest, rather than cutting through it. My bicycle shuttered beneath me as I picked up speed. The rocks beneath my wheels were larger and less easily avoided on this single track trail. After a few minutes in the woods, the trail spat me out into a clearing made for power lines which ran for some distance through the forest. Here, the grass was dry and lupins grew in abundance along the edges of the path. I could see the mountains through the trees where the clearing met a hill. Above, the clouds were growing dark and I could here thunder, though no rain fell. Soon, the trail turned upwards through the woods, back towards the main trail. I had to push my bike up some of the steeper climbs in this part of the trail.

Once back on the trail, I decided it was time to head back. I had covered the area that I remembered, the rest of the trail (which mostly runs in the opposite direction) will keep for another time. I will certainly return to the Nelson Salmo Great Northern Trail, perhaps to ride its entirety. Certainly, I will listen more often to the voices which summon me to nature, to experiences one cannot find in the city.

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